DETROIT POLICE SEX SCANDALS: WHO IS MONITORING POLICE BRUTALITY?

  • Chiefs Ralph Godbee, who retired Oct. 8, and Warren Evans had affairs with subordinates who oversee police misconduct
  • Killer cop Eugene Brown’s partner Vicki Yost was one of first DPD liaisons to DOJ for consent decree governing brutality
  • Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick bedded USDOJ police “consent decree” monitor
  • At least 50 police killings from 1999-2012, most during federal oversight, also rapes, frame-ups and other brutality

By Diane Bukowski

October 10, 2012

Ralph Godbee, then Assistant Detroit Police Chief in charge, talks to the media about the police killing of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010.

DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced the retirement of Police Chief Ralph Godbee Oct. 8, in the midst of allegations that Godbee had an affair with a subordinate, Officer Angelica Robinson. He had promoted her to the Internal Affairs division of the Detroit Police Department, which investigates allegations of police brutality, among other matters.

Bing said he regretted Godbee’s departure after a 25-year career, the last 16 years of which he spent in high-level command positions.

Internal Affairs Officer Angelica Robinson

“I got to know Chief Godbee quite well with his tenure, and respected him as a leader, who was also well respected in the community and in the Police Department,” Bing said. “His leadership skills, his commitment to the community, superceded from my vantage point a lot of things that had been alleged in the past.”

Former Detroit police chief Warren Evans and DOJ liaison Monique Patterson.

Godbee and his predecessor Warren Evans each admitted to affairs with Detroit Police Lt. Monique Patterson prior to Bing’s appointment of Godbee. Patterson at the time was the DPD liaison to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in charge of overseeing an ongoing 11-year “consent decree” reached in 2001.

Killer cop Eugene Brown’s partner, now Inspector Vicki Yost, was one of the DPD’s first liaisons to the DOJ for the consent decree re: police brutality.

In 2000, The DPD was found to have the highest per capita rate of killings by police in the U.S, after this reporter broke the story of Officer Eugene Brown, who killed three men in separate incidents, in 1995, 1996, and 1999. From 1999 through 2012, documents show Detroit police killed at least 50 other men and even one little girl, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010.

Ironically, one of the DPD’s first liaisons to the Justice Department was Lt. Vicki Yost, Brown’s partner when he killed Lamar Grable, 20, on Sept. 20, 1996. Yost testified in his favor during civil lawsuit hearings, after first taking the Fifth Amendment during a previous deposition. Grable’s family later won a total of $6 million dollars as a result of the jury verdict which found Brown liable despite her testimony.

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had affair with DOJ police consent decree monitor Sheryl Robinson Woods, for which she was fired.

Yost and Patterson’s counterpart in the DOJ, Sheryl Robinson, a contractor with Kroll International, was fired in 2009 after U.S. District Court Judge Julian Cook, who oversees the consent decree, exposed her affair with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

At a Detroit Police Commission meeting October 4, Ron Scott, president of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc, who has supported Godbee, downplayed the scandal.

Ron Scott, president of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc., which split from the original coalition.

“If people want to be concerned about titillating and salacious things, then they should go to a peep show,” he said.  “Let’s grow up, people. Let’s find out what the truth of the matter is and if there is something wrong, let’s do it. Let’s deal with it and let’s move on and move the department ahead, but if there’s nothing wrong, then let’s move on, too.”

A woman at the meeting told the Commission, “We are worried about the safety of the citizens, especially with the officer on Twitter and Facebook with the city revolver in her mouth complaining about the female drama. Is she going to be put back into the street with a city police revolver, or is she going to be put somewhere where she can get some psychiatric help and get over Chief Godbee and his female catfish drama? The leadership is too busy chasing catfish instead of the criminal, and I am here and we’re here to demand that the chief be removed.”

She referred to Lt. Robinson’s post of a video of herself threatening suicide after she discovered Godbee had gone to a national police convention with another woman. Robinson later said in a TV interview that Godbee, who is also a minister, has had numerous affairs. He is currently in divorce proceedings, but was not during the affair with Patterson.

Rodrick Carrington, Lamar Grable, and Darren Miller were killed by Officer Eugne Brown in 1995, 1996, and 1999. He has never been charged, was promoted to sergeant, and remains on the force.

Family members and victims of police brutality after a Police Commission meeting around 2002, included First three at left: Akua Tuere, Aaron Grable, Jamella Sombai, at right from center, Arnetta Grable Sr. (in blue), Cornell Squires, Arnetta Grable Jr.

Most media coverage of the “titillating and salacious things” has ignored the likely criminal dereliction of duty by all involved. Whether the victims of police killings and brutality and their families over the last dozen years are ready to “move on” as Scott recommended is questionable. Not one Detroit police officer has been charged with murder during that time, although several have been charged and acquitted in non-fatal shootings.

Detroit protest against police brutality includes Tashi Kiya (r).

Dennis Crawford was shot to death by Detroit police officers Barron Townsend and Laron York in 2004. Townsend, with officer Steven Kopp, went on to kill Tommie Staples, Jr. the father of five, in 2007. Both killings were reported by the Voice of Detroit. The officers have never been charged.

“For the record, I thank you for reminding others of these senseless crimes at the hands of our very own police force, ‘Detroit’s Finest,’  the mother of Crawford’s son commented on VOD. “ Dennis was shot 15 times; not 4 and he had no weapon at all. My son, who is now 20, has continued to suffer from the loss of his father through adulthood. As a mother, it’s very hard to keep my son from becoming a product of his environment. I fear that the judicial system does not analyze or own up to its contributions to the behavior patterns and emotional guilt of children who have lost parents (or loved ones) at the hands of those who have taken an oath to serve and protect.

Detroit cop Barron Townsend and his partners killed both Dennis Crawford and (shown in this photo second from left) Tommie Staples, Jr.

“Dennis was a good person and did not deserve to die that way. Those officers never considered that he was a father, a son, an uncle, or a loved one. I know for a fact that Officer Townsend is still patrolling the streets; he ticketed my son for being out past curfew. That evening [my son] came home with a startled look on his face, like he had seen the devil himself. Out of curiosity, I checked the name on the ticket, surely it was him. Now as a mother, of a son, who lost his father to this man, how would that make you feel? It’s justUS and justice has not been served.”

Former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings

Godbee’s bland, pleasant face and manner have belied his top roles in the Department during two decades of rampant killings, rapes, brutality and frame-ups. The police chiefs under whom he served included Benny Napoleon, Jerry Oliver, Ella Bully-Cummings, and Warren Evans, all of whom claimed “respect in the community” as Bing commented regarding Godbee.

Godbee was in charge of former Mayor Dennis Archer’s Executive Protection Unit from 1995-1999, years during which Detroit ranked as the police killing capital of the country.

Three-time killer cop Eugene Brown grins after his promotion to sergeant. His fellow officers cheered despite knowing of his murderous history.

Three-time killer cop Eugene Brown served on that unit. An internal police review of his killings of Rodrick Carrington, Lamar Grable, and Darren Miller recommended that he face criminal charges. Former interim police chief Benny Napoleon ditched the report until the Michigan Supreme Court ordered its partial exposure. Brown has not been charged to date, but was promoted to sergeant.

Godbee was head of the DPD recruiting unit from 1999 to 2002, during which he said 3o percent of the officers on the force at the time were hired. According to a DPD bio, he was appointed Commander of the Ninth Precinct in 2002 and afterwards became Commanding Officer of the Risk and Policy Management Division of the Detroit Police Department. He became Commander of the Eastern Operations Unit in March, 2005 and was appointed assistant chief in 2007.

Detroit cop Joseph Weekley (l) who killed 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones (r) as depicted in drawing below, on May 16, 2010.

Godbee is perhaps best-known world-wide as the face of the DPD after Detroit Officer Joseph Weekley and a military-style “Special Response Team” raided the home of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in May, 2010 and shot her to death in front of her grandmother, father, aunt, and little brothers and cousins, for the benefit of the cameras of A&E’s “First 48.”

Godbee was acting police chief at the time because Evans was out of the country. The little girl’s family asked police officials at least to come to their home to issue an apology, but neither Godbee nor Evans ever did so. Weekley was charged only with involuntary manslaughter and has been out on personal bond ever since the child’s death, while the court system postpones his trial until her father and uncle are tried in the killing police said led to the raid.

Police officer Brian Huff.

Also during Godbee’s tenure as assistant chief, Detroit police officer Brian Huff was shot to death in April, 2010 inside what then Police Commission Chair Mohamed Okdie said was commonly known to be a drug house operated by the police. A young man, Jason Gibson, was charged and convicted despite the incredible fact that when he allegedly exited the house, facing dozens of white cops who were shooting at him, he sustained only a wound to the buttocks.

Some of the other killings and police misconduct which have taken place during Godbee’s tenure in the top ranks of the department, since 2001:

Jan. 1, 2001:  30-year-old Jerome Knox was shot to death, with one hollow-point bullet in the back, by Third Precinct Officer Arthur Leavell, as he ran from an illegal search of his friend’s van. Knox’s mother won a $2 million court settlement.

Former Detroit Police Chief Benny Napoleon cleared three-time killer cop Eugene Brown. In 1995, Napoleon led a SWAT-team raid on the apartment of a 48-year-old Black woman, Jimmi Ruth Ratliff, who died in a hail of bullets as she prayed from her Bible.

2001:  Police Chief Benny Napoleon cleared three-time killer cop Eugene Brown. An internal police document recommending that Brown be charged was later exposed. The family of Lamar Grable won $6 million after a jury verdict, and the family of Darren Miller won $3.5 million in a settlement.

2001:  Casino patron Willie Hamilton brutally beaten by Officer Thomas Donahoe, who had been sued five times previously for brutality. Although the beating was caught on tape, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Amy Hathaway dismissed charges against Donahoe.

2001: Officer David Krupinski acquitted in the shooting death of Errol Shaw, Sr., in Aug. 2000. Shaw was deaf and could not hear his orders to drop a rake he was carrying in his own back yard. Members of the prosecutor’s office went to parties to support Krupinski. The prosecutor was Mike Cox, who later became a right-wing State Attorney General.

Mike Cox prosecuted cop David Krupinski, who killed Errol Shaw, a deaf man with a rake, in 2000. Cox’s subordinates attended fundraisers for Krupinski. Cox later became a right-wing, pro-choice, anti-affirmative action state attorney general.

Oct. 1, 2001: Jerome Boyce shot twice in the back to death, by Sgt. Kevin Kemp, a 25-year veteran, outside a west-side bar.
Both had been inside the bar drinking. ensued. Boyce’s weapon was never found. Witnesses said Boyce was running from Kemp when he was shot. Atty. Geoffrey Fieger later won a $1.425 million court settlement in the case.

Oct. 2002: Eight Detroit cops indicted in theft of large quantities of cocaine from the evidence room. They later got off, with only one civilian employee convicted.

Nov. 14, 20o2: Victor Gonzalez severely beaten in the head by Officer Robert Feld, who had been sued at least five times in previous brutality cases, including the beating of Cornell Squires in 1998. Squires’ father sustained a fatal heart attack trying to stop the beating. Squires’s son was later framed up by a friend of Feld’s, William Melendez, for alleged carjacking.

June, 2003: City of Detroit agrees to two federal consent agreementsunder which the U.S. Dept. of Justice was to monitor police patterns and practices of brutality, including police shootings of civilians, conditions at police lockups and allegations that officers illegally conducted dragnets, arresting witnesses and others to coercetheir cooperation in homicide investigations. The consent agreement remains ongoing in 2012.

Detroit cop WIlliam Melendez, known as “Robocop,” was ringleaders of a group of cops who conducted an LA Ramparts-style reign of terror on the southwest side for years. Nine were charged by the federal government but acquitted.

February, 2004: Nine cops from the Third and Fourth Precincts, including William Melendez as ring-leader, tried by the U.S. government for numerous assaults and frame-ups of southwest side Detroiters, including the near-lynching of one man. Witnesses against the white and Hispanic officers included Black police officers. In what many called jury nullification, they were acquitted. The government dropped charges against nine other cops awaiting trial in the same case.

2004: Six killings  by police, with 15 non-fatal shootings, documented by this author in The Michigan Citizen and in the federal monitor’s report.

June 25. 2004: Daron Caldwell, falsely charged with second-degree murder and other offenses related to shootings at Hart Plaza that resulted in one death. Charges were later dismissed after it was discovered that the police had fabricated evidence and reports in a “rush to judgment.”

Nationally-known Atty. Geoffrey Fieger won an undisclosed settlement in federal court against cops who killed Dennis Crawford in 2004.

Nov. 11, 2004: Dennis Crawford, killed by officers Barron Townsend and Laron York during a domestic violence call. The cops shot him 15 times during a struggle on the front porch, although he was not armed. Lawsuit by Geoffrey Fieger settled in federal court for an unknown amount in 2o06.

Jan. 2005: unarmed motorist, still unnamed, shot to death by cops as he waited with his stalled vehicle on Detroit’s east side behind an apartment complex. Witnesses in the complex said the shooting was unprovoked.

Feb. 2, 2005: Wilbert Burks, 39, killed by cops after they responded to a domestic violence call on Dolphin, near Fenkell and Lahser. “It was overkill,” a neighbor said. “They had over 28 shots and he never shot off a round.”

Footlocker store allegedly robbed by Allante Powell. Police claimed he pointed a gun at them from closet in basement where he hid, but no gunshot residue was found on his hands, and no fingerprints on a gun.

Feb. 12, 2005: Allante Lightfoote-Powell, a 16-year-old Osborn High student, killed by cops in the basement of a vacant house on Maddelein after allegedly robbing a Foot Locker store at Gratiot and 7 Mile. His friend wrote on Black Planet: “My Nigg Lante` you were tha kindess most silliest person some one cud ever know I`ve been knowin you since 5th grade seem like foreva cuz we was close like dat and now your gone but your not 4 gotten I`ll for eva miss and LOVE u and please believe I`ll take good care of Johnell and you kno Iwill cuz thatz yo boy…maybe one day I`ll be pushin his lil one in a stroller u neva kno… ”

Feb. 12, 2005: unnamed youth, 16-20, shot to death by cops after allegedly pulling a gun on McDonald’s workers, who ran out the back door. Police chased him, claimed he shot one of them, then killed him, allegedly in a shoot-out in the driveway of a home in well-to-do Rosedale Park occupied by young children.

Occupy demonstrator.

Feb. 2005: Two men wounded by police in other alleged shootouts.

July 3, 2005: Anthony Scott, 25, shot to death in his car by police at a gas station, who claimed he had a knife. Others in the car denied he reached for it.His widow, Bobbi Jo Wethington, said during a press conference held by then State Rep. Hansen Clarke, “The police are about killing you.”

State Trooper Jay Morningstar celebrates acquittal with his family.

April 14, 2005: Eric Williams, a homeless man who had lived for a long time ont the streets in Detroit’s Greektown district, was shot to death by State Trooper Jay Morningstar. Detroit police who were standing by did not stop the shooting although they admitted they knew Williams was not a threat. Morningstar was later acquitted.

Aug. 7, 2005: James A. Stone, known as Poppa Stone, died in custody at the Second Precinct on Grand River after pleading to go to the hospital for several days. His grandson Darius Stone, who was also jailed there,  became sick with asthma after screaming for help for his grandfather. Neither man ever got to a hospital.

Note: Ironically, Bing and Godbee re-opened the Second Precinct station in July, 2012, with both celebrated as heroes of the community in video below.

Feb. 1, 2006: Rosetta C. Williams, killed by Kevin Lorenzo Collinsat church. after police failed to arrest Collins earlier for assaults on Williams’ daughter.

Alleged rapist cops Michael Parrish and Michael Osman at civil trial of one of their victims.

Jan. 2006 through June 2006 (at least) – Detroit cops Michael Parish and Michael Osman rape dozens of Black men on Detroit’s southwest side, by conducting illegal anal cavity searches for drugs on the public streets. At least four judges dropped trumped-up charges against the victims, including Byron Ogletree, who faced 38 years in prison and testified at City Council. Neither cop was charged; Osman was promoted to sergeant.

OCT. 3, 2006:Inspection by federal monitor’s office shows that only 15 percent of Detroit police car videotapes are functional.

Brandon Martell Moore’s family and friends after his funeral.

Nov. 26, 2006: Brandon Martell Moore, 16, unarmed, shot in the back to death by off duty police officer Eugene Williams, moonlighting as security at an east-side store.  Williams killed two other men off-duty during his tenure with DPD, slammed a 16-year-old student into a wall at Osborn High, and wounded his police officer wife in a domestic dispute.

Nov. 26, 2006: An unidentified young manshot to death in a hail of gunfire by police who chased him after he allegedly tried to rob a Family Dollar store.

Artrell Dickerson, 18 when he was killed by Officer Kata-Ante Taylor.

Feb. 12, 2007: Artrell Dickerson, 18, shot in the back and killed by officer Kata-Ante Taylor as the teen, already wounded, lay on the ground next to Cantrell Funeral Home a friend’s funeral.  Eyewitnesses said Taylor “stood over him and executed him. There was no gun nowhere near him.”

May 1, 2007: Detroit and Detroit Public Schools police attack a demonstration against school closings, held by students as young as fourth-graders. The students and two teachers were pepper-sprayed, beaten, dragged by their hair across the street, and falsely charged.

Young students after tear gas assault by Detroit and schools cops during protest against school closings at Northern High School May 1, 2007.

Jevon Royall

July 7, 2007: Father Jevon Royall, 30, unarmed, shot to death outside his home in front of his family by police officers Edward Brannick and Michael McGinnis at the site of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, 40 years later.

Sept. 2007: Davontae Sanford, 14 and developmentally disabled, charged in the deaths of four people in a drug house. Hit man Vincent Smothers confessed to killing the four, and said Sanford was not involved. Sanford is still in prison.

Taminko Sanford pleads for the release of her son Davontae, falsely charged by Detroit police at the age of 14 for a drug house killing another man confessed to.

June 2, 2008:  Tommie Staples, Jr., shot to death by Detroit police officers Barron Townsend and Steven Kopp after they chased him into an alley because of his role in monitoring police stops of neighborhood youths. His family later won a court settlement of $2.5 million. (See photo at beginning of story.)

July 1, 2008: SHELTON BELL, JR., 16, shot to death by off duty cop when he ran after demanding keys to car, when cop pulled his gun. Bell, Jr. was shot ten times, five in the chest, three in the back, once in the head behind his right ear, and once in his left arm. None of the shots were at close range.

July 2, 2008: Elizabeth Sanders and her boyfried Jude Beckowitz falsely charged by police  for killing her six-month-old fetus. Medical records showed Sanders had in fact miscarried a short period into her pregnancy, in a hospital.

July 14, 2008: Police killed an unidentified man they claim emerged from a house on the west side, pointing a gun.

July 18, 2008: 35-year-old Robert Hill, shot to death after police rammed the bicycle he took to his niece’s home to defend her from domestic violence. The officers claimed that Hill pulled a gun, and pointed it at them.

James Willingham and Jeffrey Frazier

Nov. 4, 2008: Detroit police never investigated the deaths of Detroiters James Willingham and Jeffrey Frazier, after a high-speed state trooper chase down E. Davison near Ryan, with no police car lights or siren. Willingham lost control of his motorcycle trying to avoid Frazier, who stepped into the street unaware.

Aug. 13, 2009: Detroit police chase ends in explosion, fire, death of woman motorist. (Video below.)

Imam Luqman Abdullah

Oct. 28, 2009: Imam Luqman Abdullah, leader of a mosque in Detroit’s poor Black community, shot 21 times to death in a raid coordinated by a joint task force of feds, Detroit and Dearborn cops. Detroit cops themselves raided the home that served as his mosque. No charges have ever been brought in his death.

May 16, 2010: Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, shot to death by Detroit cop Joseph Weekley Jr. during a raid being filmed for the First 48. Cop Kata-Ante Taylor, killer of Artrell Dickerson in 2007, ran her body out of the house before her family could see or hold her as she died.

May 21, 2010: Damion Gayles, 20, shot in the throat by state troopers blocks from Aiyana’s home, causing a momentary uprising in the neighborhood. Witnesses said he did not point a gun at cops after a 40-minute chase through the community. Again, Detroit police did not investigate this shooting or refer it to the Wayne County Prosecutor. (Photo below right.)

Damion Gayles, shot in throat by state troopers shortly after Detroit police killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

June 17, 2010: Lyvonne Cargill, mother of Je’rean Blake, allegedly killed by Chauncey Owens, and her family brutalized by white police while cleaning up after a memorial birthday party for Je’Rean. Police shot at one man.

July 4, 2010: DeMarlo Hobbs, 31, shot to death while riding a bicycle when stopped by police; they claimed he had fired at a house the day before.

July, 2010:Unidentified man, a robbery suspect, shot to death on east side. Officers claimed he had a gun.

Sept. 2010:  (Video below) Unindentified man shot and killed by Detroit police during manhunt for shooters of two Mumford High School students. Police claimed he had a gun and pointed it at them, but said they were not sure if he was involved in the Mumford shootings.

Sept. 17, 2010: Police kill 22-year-old-man, an alleged carjacking suspect, at Seven Mile and Burt. (Video below.)

Maryanne Godboldo speaking at rally July 7, 2011.

March 24, 2011: Maryanne Godboldo and her 13-year-old daughter Ariana are held captive in their home by a police team using helicopters, tanks and assault weapons for 12 hours after police tried to remove Ariana based on what was later found to be an illegal court document. After Maryanne surrendered, police kidnapped Ariana and took her to the Hawthorn Psychiatric Facility, where she faced constant abuse. Godboldo was charged with major felony counts for resisting the officers. Two judges later acquitted her of all charges, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is pursuing the criminal case against Godboldo in the appeals court.

84-year-old Charles Griggs’ home on Adeline, where police shot him when he went to the front door on March 24, 2011.

March 24, 2011: Police shot 84-year-old Charles Griggs at his front door in the 1000 block of Adeline. They claimed he pulled a gun while they were executing a search warrant for his grandson, who did not live there. Griggs was struck in the arm and leg, with one bullet traveling perilously close to his spine. The police were in plainclothes. Grigg’s attorney Otis Culpepper denied he had a gun. “He was watching television, he heard loud knocking at his door, and then he walked to the door to see who was breaking into his house and he was shot,” Culpepper said.

August, 2011: Robert Coffee, 16, shot to death by retired cop after he allegedly robbed a McDonald’s. Fleeing the scene, Coffee was shot 8 times. A gunshot wound to the back, which penetrated his lungs and heart, was likely the fatal shot. Photo of McDonald’s afterwards shows front windows and door boarded up from cop’s gunshots.

Ian May, 18.

March 23, 2012: Ian May, 18, shot to death, in the back of the head, by retired cop Lamar Nowell, acting as security for the Dollar General in the E. Lafayette shopping plaza, as he fled the scene of an “inside job” robbery for which employees of the store were arrested. Nowell had a previous record of brutality while he was on the force.

June 15, 2012: Police in riot gear raid home of Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ grandmother Mertilla Jones, hitting her and her 14-year-old grandson and calling them racist and sexist names.

Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and other grandbabies after recent police raid on her home.

Some related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/06/16/riot-police-terrorize-aiyana-jones-family-the-night-of-killer-cop-court-hearing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/12/ian-may-death-vigilark/nte-justice-at-work/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/25/gibson-guilty-on-17-counts%e2%80%94have-we-lost-our-minds/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/04/more-brutality-and-corruption-likely-under-police-chief-ralph-godbee-said-former-police-commission-chair/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/10/25/ella-bully-cummings-killer-cop-chief/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/12/staples-family-wins-2-5-million-in-police-lawsuit/

ALSO READ SOME OF THIS AUTHOR’S ARTICLES ON DETROIT POLICE, BEGINNING WITH SERIAL KILLER KOPS, DURING BENNY NAPOLEON’S ERA, AT Serial Killer Kop – stories by Diane Bukowski in The Michigan Citizen.

Video below from YouTube shows astonishing display of police force after a traffic stop of a man with an older woman who appears to be his mother. Videotaker notes police never found drugs or guns in his car, but it is shown being towed anyway. Such stops have been common across the city.


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MICHIGAN ACTIVISTS RALLY TO SUPPORT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND U OF TEXAS PLAN

BAMN rally on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol against Proposal 2, which banned affirmative action in Michigan institutions in 2006. It was later overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a major victory, but Michigan Atty. General Bill Schuette appealed for an “en banc” hearing of the whole court, which is also taking place today, Oct. 10, 2012.

 Michigan Affirmative Action Activists Rally to Support BOTH Affirmative Action and 10% Plan in University of Texas Admissions

  • Press Conference
  • Wednesday, October 10, 2012
  • Noon (or whenever oral arguments end)
  • At Steps of U.S Supreme Court
  • For more Information, contact Kate Stenvig at 313-575-9329 or Donna Stern at 313-468-3398

A contingent from the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) will be attending oral arguments in Fisher v. Texasand then holding a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the court session.

March to support affirmative action in Washington, D.C. 2003

 

Members of the contingent include UM Alumni who organized the student intervention into Grutter v. Bollinger and the 2003 50,000-strong March on Washington in defense of affirmative action, plaintiffs in BAMN’s pending challenge to Prop 2, the 2006 state ban on affirmative action in Michigan, as well as minority students who are currently having to contend with diminished educational opportunity under the Prop 2 ban.

“BAMN supports both aspects of the Univ. of Texas current admission policy. The Ten Percent Plan, which makes up 75% of the UT student body, is by far the most democratic, equal, fair and transparent admissions system of any elite university in the country.  The traditional “holistic” plan which now comprises 25% of UT admissions, enables out-of-state, non-athlete, underrepresented minority students access to the University, as long as race-conscious affirmative action policies are in place to counter-balance the factors which capture racial and class inequities in educational opportunities. These factors, most importantly heavy reliance on standardized test scores, always give applicants who attend privileged majority-white high schools a huge unearned advantage in a competitive admissions system,” said Kate Stenvig, BAMN College Organizer.

In this Feb. 13, 2012, file photo, demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after a panel heard oral arguments in San Francisco in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Proposition 209, which barred racial, ethnic or gender preferences in public education, employment and contracting. As the Supreme Court revisits the use of race in college admissions in October 2012, critics of affirmative action are hopeful the justices are poised to roll back the practice. A new report out Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 offers a big reason for their optimism: evidence the nine states where leading public universities don’t use affirmative action have succeeded in bringing diversity to their campuses through race-neutral means. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Large numbers of gifted and hard-working students from not only poor and Latina/o, black, Native American and immigrant communities, but also from poor white communities, who never even would have applied, let alone gained admission to UT Austin under a conventional admissions system, even one with affirmative action, have been able to utilize the educational opportunities UT Austin provides, to develop themselves, to let their talents shine and to uplift the dignity and pride of their embattled and struggling communities.

“Ending the affirmative action component in the context of the UT Austin admissions system would reserve twenty-five percent of UT Austin seats for students who come from privileged majority-white schools. Utilizing factors such as standardized test scores, alumni preference, access to advanced placement courses, high school rank and extra-curricular activities would give a huge unearned advantage to wealthy white students and those from privileged schools. In this context the affirmative action plan challenged by the petitioner is the only measure barring this special admissions track from becoming a blatant white-privilege track for those wealthy, white Texas and out-of-state students who expressly do not qualify under UT Austin’s predominant Ten Percent admissions track,” said Donna Stern, BAMN National Coordinator.

“We promise you this, if this court rules against affirmative action, BAMN will immediately file suit against the use of any “traditional” admissions system, because it will be nothing but a special admissions track for privileged white and, to some extent, Asian students,” said Shanta Driver, BAMN attorney and Chairperson.

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) www.bamn.com,  855-ASK-BAMN , P.O. Box 24834, Detroit, MI 48224, admin@bamn.com


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CALI DEATH ROW PRISONER STEVE CHAMPION, TOOKIE WILLIAMS’ FRIEND, ON HUNGER STRIKE

Steve Champion’s book, “Dead to Deliverance, A Death Ros Memoir.”

By Mary Ratcliff, editor, San Francisco Bay View newspaper

October 9, 2012

http://sfbayview.com/2012/death-row-prisoner-steve-champion-tookies-friend-on-hunger-strike-since-oct-4/

Stanley “Tookie” Williams, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, executed December 13, 2005.

 

Word has just reached us that Steve Champion, a prisoner on San Quentin’s death row well known as an inspirational advocate for justice and as one of the trio with Stanley Tookie Williams and Anthony Ross, began a hunger strike last Thursday, Oct. 4.

His demands – still unmet – are listed in “The struggle never stops,” published in the July San Francisco Bay View newspaper and reprinted below. He asks that all who believe in justice call and write the warden and Corrections Department (CDCR) spokespersons to say:

We are aware of Steve Champion’s hunger strike and concerned for his health. We look to you to respond to him promptly, constructively and appropriately.”

Call and write:

Also, click on http://www.change.org/petitions/san-quentin-prison-warden-kevin-chappell-respond-to-prisoner-steve-champion-s-hunger-strike-demands-constructively to sign online.

Prof. Tom Kerr

 

“Steve Champion, death row prisoner and author of ‘Dead to Deliverance, A Death Row Memoir,’ has been held in administrative segregation, without phone and other privileges, since just prior to the execution of his friend Stanley Tookie Williams in December 2005,” writes Steve’s friend, Professor Tom Kerr of Ithaca College, in an afterword to Steve’s essay, “Gang validation: The new inquisition,” published Feb. 18, 2011.

It was Professor Kerr who learned and confirmed today that Steve started a hunger strike Oct. 4. Letters from both Steve and his comrade Anthony Ross are reportedly on their way, their delivery perhaps held up by San Quentin authorities. But we cannot wait to save Steve’s life.

Like Tookie, Steve is a brilliant writer and leader widely admired and loved on both sides of the prison walls. Professor Kerr adds in his afterword:

“Steve Champion, in his death row memoir, describes his early life in Los Angeles and the allure for him of the Crips street gang, his incarceration and experience in the U.S. prison system, his life on death row, and his growth and struggle as a human being. He also offers a critical analysis of the prison system, especially capital punishment, and describes how through sustained collaboration with Stanley Tookie Williams and Anthony Ross, he evolved on death row from a high school dropout into an accomplished writer and student of the humanities.”

Jabari Shaw, former prisoner and current activist with All of Us or None, heralds George Jackson at the rousing Occupy San Quentin rally Feb. 20, 2012, just outside San Quentin’s main gate Photo Wanda Sabir

 

A lot of history is evoked by Steve’s hunger strike. San Quentin’s infamous Adjustment Center is where “Soledad Brother” George Jackson was housed when he was assassinated Aug. 21, 1971, the day commemorated every year in Black August. In turn, George Jackson, probably the most famous and influential U.S. prisoner of all time, was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s excuse for executing Stanley Tookie Williams.

The governor wrote in denying clemency to Tookie, triggering his execution hours later, on Dec. 13, 2005: “The dedication of Williams’ book ‘Life in Prison’ casts significant doubt on his personal redemption … (T)he inclusion of George Jackson on the list [of Black heroes in the book’s dedication] defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems.”

Steve Champion’s “Gang validation: The new inquisition” begins by reporting a cell search and the confiscation of his legal materials and other writings “for possible gang validation. The reason for the action, I was told, was my possession of a Kiswahili dictionary and the book ‘Soledad Brother’ by George Jackson” – this after 28 years on San Quentin’s death row, with that book in his cell for most of those years.

George Jackson, field marshal of the Black Panther Party, assassinated by San Quentin prison guards Aug. 21, 1971.

 

Recalling the rebellion of Aug. 21, 1971, and fearing a repeat in response to Tookie’s execution 34 years later, San Quentin authorities confined Tookie’s closest friends, Steve Champion and Anthony Ross, to the Adjustment Center, an extremely restrictive form of solitary confinement much like the infamous Pelican Bay SHU. Thus, now that solitary confinement is recognized worldwide as torture, the particularly intense torture endured by Steve Champion is purely retaliatory. Steve is being tortured for his friendship with Tookie and Anthony and their admiration of George Jackson.

Steve writes in “Gang validation: The new inquisition”: “Prison administrators know that if even one prisoner shuns George Jackson’s books or other leftist material because he thinks he might be labeled a gang member and placed in the SHU, then the strategy of suppression is effective. …

“[Even] ‘apolitical’ prisoners will recognize on a general level that their own existential condition can be compared to George Jackson’s. It is this identification with George Jackson that makes him symbolically powerful and very much alive. And for this, he must be vilified and punished, over and over again – suppressed and chased away from anyone who dares consume his words.”

The Attica rebellion in upstate New York Sept. 9-13, 1971, saw thousands of prisoners take over the prison, protesting intolerable conditions and infuriated by the assassination of George Jackson at San Quentin on Aug. 21, 1971. The secret of their unprecedented strength was their multi-racial solidarity. Here, Black and white prisoners sit on a wall during a meeting called by the organizers.

 

In the same essay, Steve also addresses what is likely to become – only three days from now – the number one prison story across the U.S.: the “end of hostilities” between prisoners in California declared by the leaders of last year’s hunger strike housed in the Pelican Bay SHU. That declaration is contained in “California prisoners make historic call for peace between racial groups in California prisons and jails,” published in the October Bay View.

Steve writes: “What also facilitates the suppression of political consciousness is the unending cycle of ethnic and sectarian violence that permeates the U.S. prison system. Violence is micromanaged to perpetuate racial hatred and division among prison groups.

“And let me be honest: Prisoners make it easy for prison administrators to accomplish this when they fail to redress the stark contradictions between their intransigent conflicts against each other and the repressive and often brutal treatment meted out to them by the prison regime.”

San Quentin warden Kevin Chappell.

 

Solidarity among prisoners and between prisoners and all who believe in justice is the way to stop the madness of mass incarceration. Steve Champion’s hunger strike is a prime opportunity for showing prison administrators a better way.

The Bay View urges readers to flood San Quentin and CDCR with messages similar to the letter sent today by Professor Tom Kerr to San Quentin Warden Kevin Chappell with a link to Steve’s list of demands:

“Dear Warden Chappell,

“As Steve Champion’s friend and editor, I am writing to comment on the hunger strike that I understand he began on Oct. 4. Steve’s CDCR number is C-58001.

“Judging by his writing, by my nearly nine years of correspondence with him as his editor and friend, and by my several personal visits, Steve has, in 30 years on death row, become a remarkable person.

San Quentin death chamber.

 

“I know that he would only resort to an action as dire as a hunger strike if he felt it were the last resort to get legitimate, if negotiable, grievances addressed. I know that he has long endeavored to work within the system, even when he has been critical of it.

“I hope you will view his hunger strike as an opportunity to reconsider or revisit the prison’s position on some of the issues he describes in his 602 petition and listed in his article in the San Francisco Bay View this past July: http://sfbayview.com/2012/the-struggle-never-stops/.

“I hope you will also ensure that Steve is treated respectfully and appropriately, as he protests against policies and procedures that he strongly believes to be excessively degrading and punitive, even in the extreme situation of death row. I trust that you will both respect the convictions and integrity driving his protest and work quickly toward a constructive solution.

“Thank you for considering my thoughts.

“Sincerely,

“Tom Kerr, PhD, Ithaca College”

Your message may also be as simple as the one noted above: “We are aware of Steve Champion’s hunger strike and concerned for his health. We look to you to respond to him promptly, constructively and appropriately.”

Video below: Johnny Cash’s 1969 performance at San Quentin. Other videos showed he played to a segregated audience then, composed solely of white prisoners, although the majority are Black and Latin. But his message resonates still, as prisoners of all races have issued a historic call for unity.

For ease of reference, here are Steve Champion’s demands: Continue reading


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RIOT POLICE ARREST STRIKE SUPPORTERS AT ILLINOIS WALMART WAREHOUSE

Strikers outside Elwood, Illinoise Walmart warehouse.


By David Moberg

Tuesday Oct 2, 2012 

Several hundred supporters of strikers at a giant Walmart warehouse near Chicago converged on the tiny town of Elwood, IL, on Monday, effectively shutting down this key hub of the big retailer’s distribution center for most of the day.

“Today’s CPH—zero,” cheered warehouse worker Phil Bailey, using the managers’ abbreviation of “cartons per hour,” the dreaded standard for the seemingly always more intensified pace of work in the warehouse. Warehouse Workers For Justice (WWFJ), an organization launched and supported by the United Electrical Workers (UE) to raise standards for the industry, reported that managers had sent the day’s workforce home early.

Union and community organization members, clergy, Walmart retail workers, and civic leaders rallied in a nearby parking lot and marched around the two big buildings, before 17 leaders from the supportive constituencies sat down in the late afternoon across Centerpoint Drive, outside the main gate.

Members of Chicago’s southwest suburbs’ ‘mobile force team’ arrested peaceful protesters outside a Walmart warehouse yesterday. (Courtesy of Pat Barcas)

A couple dozen police officers, clad in heavy black helmets and riot gear, and backed by military-style vehicles, assembled on Walmart’s property. Their equipment—which seemed like overkill for a protest negotiated in advance—had all been purchased with money from the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, specifically for this “mobile force team” jointly operated by a consortium of local police forces, according to Elwood police Chief Fred W. Hayes.

The riot police marched trough the main gate of the warehouse, then handcuffed and arrested the non-violent sit-down protestors on minor traffic obstruction charges, as both they and other demonstrators sang, “We shall not be moved.”

On September 15 a small group of workers walked out of the non-union facility after management fired—then later changed tactics and “suspended”—some key leaders, including Bailey. He is one of four named plaintiffs in a class action suit that lawyers working with WWFJ filed two days earlier. Workers charged their immediate employer, Roadlink Workforce Solutions, with committing wide-ranging wage theft and related violations of state and federal employment law.

Workers during California warehouse strike (link to story below).

 

Although Walmart owns the warehouse, it contracts with Schneider Logistics to manage operations, including the further subcontracting of actually providing workers to temporary employment firms like Roadlink, which employs about 125 people at Elwood.

In a situation made more chaotic by management’s actions, more workers were fired or suspended on September 15 when they tried to present a petition about their grievances to management. About 30 Roadlink workers initially, now up to 38, said they were striking over unfair labor practices—management penalties for engaging in legally protected collective action—as well as the issues in the lawsuit and petition.

This may be the first warehouse strike in the huge warehousing operations that have grown rapidly over the past three decades in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, which according to World Business Chicago is the world’s third-largest intermodal transportation hub. Continue reading


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WHIRLPOOL SUBSIDIARY KITCHENAID APOLOGIZES FOR DEAD GRANDMA OBAMA DEBATE TWEET

Benton Harbor residents march past Whirlpool offices in protest of the Senior PGA sponsored by Whirlpool and Kitchen Aid, on May 26, 12.

  • KitchenAid tweet cites Obama’s grandmother’s death three days before 2008 election
  • Benton Harbor residents have been boycotting Whirlpool/KitchenAid for years for destroying their city.
  • VOTE NO ON PROPOSAL 1 TO REPEAL PUBLIC ACT 4 NOV. 6, 2012.

Part of rally against PA 4/Whirlpool takeover of Benton Harbor in 2011.

VOD: the story below concludes that a so-called “gaffe” by a KitchenAid employee won’t do permanent damage to Whirlpool’s KitchenAid brand.

However, it fails to note that the people of Benton Harbor, Michigan, home to Whirlpool’s world headquarters is, are BOYCOTTING WHIRLPOOL due to the damage it has done to their 96 percent Black city, with the country’s highest poverty rate. 

Rev. Edward Pinkney (center) wears shirt denouncing Whirlpool and KitchenAid for “crimes against humanity.” Detroiters Cecily McClellan (l0 and Les Little (r) flank him.

Whirlpool closed its plants in Benton Harbor and then proceeded to take over the city’s public property including beautiful Jean Klock Park on Lake Michigan.

It is one of the corporations behind the “dictator law” called Public Act 4 under which the state has appointed “emergency managers” and established consent decrees that now have absolute power over the assets, revenues, debt payments, jobs and services of cities across Michigan, including Benton Harbor and even Detroit.

It is no accident that a management-level KitchenAid employee with access to the company’s official Tweet system made these remarks. They reflect the corporation’s political views as a whole.

By Martha C. White, NBC News contributor

KitchenAid is famous for its mixers, but the brand learned the hard way about the perils of mixing personal political views with official company messaging on social views.

On Thursday morning, parent company Whirlpool was in damage-control mode after an offensive message was sent from the company’s official Twitter account during last night’s presidential debate.

Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’,” the Tweet read, a response to a reference President Barack Obama made about his grandmother’s passing. It was quickly deleted, but not before a flurry of screenshots and retweets thwarted the attempt at erasure.

Marcher confronts PGA tourists in Benton Harbor May 26, 2012.

KitchenAid’s senior director of marketing Cynthia Soledad followed up with a series of Tweets apologizing for the “irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand’s opinion.”

“It was carelessly sent in error by a member of our Twitter team who, needless to say, won’t be tweeting for us anymore,” she wrote. “That said, I take full responsibility for my team. Thank you for hearing me out.”

In a statement, Soledad said an employee intending to Tweet the comment from a personal Twitter account mistakenly sent it from the company’s account instead. “Appropriate actions are being taken” regarding that employee, she said.

In general, branding experts say that one-off gaffes like this, while embarrassing in the short term, don’t do lasting damage to a brand. A swift, contrite apology like Soledad’s is the best response to offensive employee behavior. The incident does illustrate the perils companies face as they try to juggle an increasing number of communication channels, some of which must be managed in real time, while maintaining a consistent brand voice.

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/31/benton-harbor-march-demands-25-of-pga-profits-to-residents-boycott-whirlpool-kitchen-aid-repeal-pa4/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/31/benton-harbor-a-poem/

REMEMBER: VOTE ‘NO’ ON PROPOSAL 1 TO REPEAL PUBLIC ACT 4, November 6, 2012.


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DETROIT AFSCME 207 WATER STRIKE ENDS IN VICTORY

WWTP workers who walked out Sunday, Sept. 30 can now celebrate victory Oct. 4.

  • All fired workers will be reinstated to their jobs
  • The union won a victory on the most important issues that led to the strike

PRESS RELEASE — Local 207

October 4, 2012

Women, children and babies helped hold down WWTP back gate.

Today, after further negotiations with DWSD management, Local 207 President John Riehl is proud to announce that the Local 207 Executive Board voted to end our strike today. Riehl said that the strike was a victory for the union and the City of Detroit.

The decision to end the strike was made after management signed an agreement with the union to:

  1. Reinstate all 36 fired workers.
  2. Stop stonewalling and refusing to discuss union rights and job security and any of the other subjects covered by Judge Cox’s November order in bargaining, and
  3. Reopen the contract if Local 207 prevails at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in its lawsuit to strike down the anti-union parts of Judge Sean Cox’s November order.

Local 207 will return to the bargaining table immediately and union members will still have the opportunity to vote on any final contract settlement.

The Local 207 lawsuit will be heard by the Appeals Court in Cincinnati next week on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at 9 a.m.

Young people walked the picket line with the strikers.

“This is a victory for the City of Detroit because it has set the precedent that unions, the community and the City of Detroit can stand up against the whole array of powers-that-be and win,” said John Riehl, AFSCME Local 207 President.“The courts, the Mayor, the Water Board Management, working in concert, could not defeat this strike and cannot defeat us if we unite and militantly fight together.”

Workers knew EMA plans resulted in disaster in Toronto.

Michael Mulholland, Local 207 Secretary Treasurer, said, “This victory is a measure of the strength of Detroit as a whole. If Judge Cox had not feared what the public response would have been if he had taken action against our union, this victory would never have been possible. Every city union should draw the conclusion from this victory that our unions have strength and with united action we do not have to accept management’s unilateral imposition of terrible wages and working conditions and continuous job insecurity. They should remember that one city-wide strike of all the public sector unions will have the complete backing of the community and can win.”

Attorney Shanta Driver added, “For thirty five years, our union and the workers of Detroit have been excluded from participation in the lawsuit that will determine the future of Detroit’s water supply. In just five days of striking, we achieved more to get our voices heard by the Court than all the legal maneuvers and lobbying ever achieved. Building on this victory, the people of Detroit can stop the privatization or suburban takeover of the Water Board and actually be able to improve and protect the environment and the water supply for the people of the Tri-County area.”

Workers’ cars lined the street for blocks in front of the plant.

“The 34 workers of Crew Five who led the walkout and started the strike are our heroes. They took the bold action that was needed to get the strike started. They will all be returned to work. Union officials John Riehl, Michael Mulholland and Sue Ryan, all of whom received notices of a 30 day suspension pending termination today, will have their cases heard with the other 33 workers who were disciplined for their leadership of the strike.”

Sue Ryan, Local 207 Recording Secretary, said, ”Whatever happens to me, fighting side by side with the rest of my crew in this struggle is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m so proud of my union and its members who showed incredible resolve in the face of every conceivable threat and now have won a great victory.”

Workers said they were battling to stop the dismantling of Detroit.

BAMN attorneys Shanta Driver and George Washington negotiated the settlement for Local 207.

“We are proud to be representing Local 207 in this fight. We are proud that our City stood behind this strike because without the support of the City we never would have won,” Driver said. “If the people of Detroit draw the correct conclusion that we have the power to control the destiny of our City and its resources even when just a few of us stand up and fight to win, this struggle will have achieved a great deal. The workers of Local 207 have proved that militant collective action is needed to win and that we are building a new movement that can change the balance of power in this city forever.”

For more information call Shanta Driver at 313-407-4865 or John Riehl at 919-5011. 

The battle for Detroit has just begun.


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WATER WORKERS’ STRIKE CONTINUES DESPITE DWSD CLAIMS

  •  AFSCME Local 207 asks for solidarity, public show of support as negotiations continue
  • Council 25 supported workers’ strike vote

By Diane Bukowski 

October 3, 2012

DETROIT– The strike by Detroit’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) workers is continuing despite the city’s claims that the walk-out has ended, after its suspension of 34 workers, and U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox’s back-to-work order.

Local 207 Vice-President and WWTP worker Lekita Thomas.

“The Executive Board of AFSCME Local 207 has voted not to end the strike until there is an agreement from DWSD management that there will be amnesty for all of the 34 fired workers, and that there will be no retaliation against any other workers or union officers,” AFSCME Local 207 said in a release.

“The power of our strike is based on the support of Detroit’s Black community and the surrounding communities of Michigan, including unions and churches, and is being expressed more and more each day. The power of our strike cannot be measured by numbers alone, but in what it represents to hundreds of thousands of people who understand that the striking members are heroes. Unless our members are all returned to work, there is no deal, and the strike is still on.”

DWSD Director Sue McCormick (l) and Water Board Chair James Fausone (r) at Board meeting Sept. 7 where EMA contract was approved.

In published reports, Mary Alfonso, spokesperson for DWSD, claimed workers have returned to their posts and the plant is now operating normally, but that negotiations continue.

John Riehl, President of AFSCME Local 207, told workers on the picket lines yesterday that the city had canceled a meeting with the union prior to sending out the suspension notices. Alfonso’s statement that negotiations are continuing lends validity to the union’s contention that it will reach no deal without amnesty for the fired workers.

DWSD workers face the loss of 81 percent of their jobs over the next several years,  under a proposal by the EMA Group. The suburban-dominated Detroit Water Board approved a $46 million contract with EMA Sept. 7.

Catherine Phillips at Water Board meeting Sept. 7, 2012.

At that time, AFSCME Council 25 negotiator Catherine Phillips told reporters, “DWSD has never been broke, it has all the money and resources. We are angry. They want to take away everything that the people of Detroit have built. Now they want us to go sit at the bargaining table and in good faith negotiate an agreement to send our members out into the streets. Well, whatever they get from us, they’re going to have to take it.”

Local 207 workers struck after meeting last week to take strike authorization votes. Both Council 25 President Al Garrett and his executive assistant Ed McNeil were present.

“McNeil said he supported us,” Local 207 Vice-President Lekita Thomas told VOD on the picket line Oct. 2. “He told us Council 25 would have our back and they would provide picket signs for us.”

Despite those stances, McNeil, Phillips and Council 25 representative Mel Brabson went to the WWTP picket Oct. 1 to give workers the judge’s order, attached to a flier from Council 25 which told them “Comply with court order, let common sense prevail in court.”

Melvin Brabson

Brabson was previously president of AFSCME Local 542, which represents the Recreation Department, including workers on Belle Isle. The city’s “jewel,” as many call it, is now threatened with a state takeover.

The Council 25 trio appeared to act as process servers for Judge Cox, who is an ultra-conservative member of the Federalist Society appointed to the bench by George W. Bush. Members on the line said they began to take workers’ names, and that police began to photograph workers after they appeared.

The trio did not give them documents filed by Local 207 attorneys Shanta Driver and George Washington which asked Cox to dissolve his order and recuse himself because he has no authority as a federal judge to issue back-to-work orders in any strike. The attorneys also asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to order him to do so.

Council 25 President Al Garrett told City Council he would shut the city down.

The federal Norris-LaGuardia Act says, “No court of the United States shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in any case involving or growing out of any labor dispute to prohibit any person or persons participating or interested in such dispute . . . from . . . ceasing or refusing to perform any work or remain in any relation of employment . . .” among other actions.

But McNeil said later that the workers had to honor the judge’s order, legal or not. (See post below regarding the historic Flint sit-down strike where workers refused to honor two judges’ back-to-work orders.)

Sean Cox

The Sixth Circuit is set to hear appeals of U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox’s Nov. 4, 2011 order abrogating DWSD union contracts on Tues. Oct. 9 in Cincinnati. AFSCME Council 25, AFSCME Local 207, and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) filed the appeals. Local 207 members on the WWTP picket line said they will attend.

On Oct. 2, dozens of workers gathered at the plant’s front gates to listen to Local 207 President John Riehl explain what was happening, and hear from attorney Driver.

Riehl read off names of a list of workers to whom suspension notices had been mailed. As he did so, some of the workers named responded, “Well, I might as well stay out here on strike for sure now,” and “I’m going over to get a hot dog,” which workers were grilling next to their cars.

AFSCME Local 207 President John Riehl

Riehl began to count the names, but hesitated, concern for his members evident on his face. So he read them off again, as workers in the group called out “1, 2, 3 . . .” to support him in getting an accurate count. He and Driver then told the workers the union local would fight to get their jobs back.

Support for the strike from truck drivers and construction workers who honored the picket lines, and passing motorists who constantly honked their horns, has been strong. Detroit youth and members of the Moratorium NOW! And BAMN coalitions have been at the picket lines, along with union members from other city locals and the UAW.

Council 25 President Al Garrett has said the organization is throwing its support behind campaigns to repeal Public Act 4 and amend the state constitution to include collective bargaining in this year’s November elections. The union has focused on the campaign to elect President Barack Obama as well.

Belle Isle threatened too.

None of those actions, however, will stop the dismantling of Detroit, including its Water Department, Belle Isle and numerous other city departments and assets.

The City of Detroit and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder have insisted that Detroit’s consent agreement is not related to Public Act 4, despite Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon’s legal opinon that it is. Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon have said that if Public Act 4 is rescinded, Public Act 72, the “emergency financial manager” act, will take its place.

Public Act 4 repealed PA 72. MCL 8.4 of the State Constitution says,

“Whenever a statute, or any part thereof shall be repealed by a subsequent statute, such statute, or any part thereof, so repealed, shall not be revived by the repeal of such subsequent repealing statute.”

During oral arguments before the State Supreme Court on putting PA 4 on the ballot,  Chief Justice Robert Young specifically noted at the close of the hearing that PA 72 could not replace PA 4.

It is clear that even if PA 4 is rescinded, the state and the banks, to which it guarantees payment of huge municipal debts, will continue to act as they please, dismantling cities and destroying the standard of living for working and poor people, unless the people take action such as that just taken by the heroic WWTP workers and the Flint workers in 1937.

(To download formatted PDF of this story, with photos, click on Water workers strike continues despite DWSD claims VOD)


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FLINT SIT-DOWN STRIKE: WORKERS DEFIED JUDGES THEN

http://www.sloanlongway.org/Sloanum.aspxMuse

On December 30, 1936, General Motors workers at Fisher Body No. 1 became part of what has been called the most significant strike in American labor history. These workers were fighting for recognition of their union, the United Auto Workers, and to keep their jobs from going to non-union workers. Other demands included a switch from piece work to hourly pay, a 30 hour week, ending “speed-up” production, and seniority rights.

Flint workers sit down.

Strikers decided that instead of picketing outside the building, they would sit inside the factory-preventing other people from working their jobs and stopping GM production. Inside the plant, men depended on wives, family members, and the public for support and food.

For a time, the strike was peaceful. President of GM, Alfred Sloan, did not even want to deal with the strikers. He wanted them to get out of the plant before dealing with them. This made it very difficult to arrange negotiations between the strikers and the company.

National Guard and Flint sit-downers.

On January 11, 1937, police attempted to stop the delivery of food into the plant. Until this time, women and family members of the strikers had passed items to the strikers through factory windows. Car parts and water from fire hoses were launched at the police from inside the planet. Law enforcement fired buckshot and tear gas at the strikers. Fighting ended with strikers controlling the gates to the plant and with the police retreating.

Governor Frank Murphy sent in the National Guard to maintain peace and order, but refused to direct them to act with force against the workers.

GM Sitdown Kansas City

It was not just Fisher Body No. 1 that was striking. Fisher No. 2, also in Flint, and plants in Atlanta, Kansas City, and Cleveland struck, too. All these UAW members were working towards the goal of GM recognizing the Union as a collective bargaining agent. This meant that the union workers wanted to be able to bargain with GM as a group and not as individuals.

By February 4, 1937, the strikers inside Fisher No. 1 had been living without heat or power for several weeks. Governor Murphy had persuaded GM to negotiate with strikers, but the strikers ignored court injunctions ordering them to leave the plant. More than 4,000 National Guardsmen and 1,000 citizens and policemen surrounded Fisher No. 1 and its strikers. The strikers reduced their demands to just one: GM recognition of the UAW as the sole bargaining agent for workers. On February 11, GM gave in and the strike ended.

Cigar workers sit-down.

Results

Sit-down strikes spread from the auto industry to other industries, such as laundries and cigar factories. Governor Murphy repeatedly urged negotiation and refused to use force to settle disputes. The Sit-Down Strike was ultimately successful and peacefully resolved because both sides compromised.

Flint Sit-Down Strike timeline

December 1936

December 29 – G.M. transfers union members out of the Chevrolet Fisher Body No. 2 plant.

December 30- 7:00am Chevrolet Fisher Body No. 2 plant workers start a sit-down strike.  8:00pm Buick Fisher Body workers start a sit-down strike. 8:00pm Buick      Fisher Body No. 1 workers begin a sit-down strike.

January 1937

January 1 –   Women’s Auxiliary established to aid sit-down strikers and their families.

January 2 – G.M. seeks injunction against workers. Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Black grants  injunction.

January 3 – Judge Black found to own GM Stock, injunction overturned.

  • Women’s Auxiliary at Flint sitdown.

January 4 –  U.A.W. presents contract demands to G.M.

January 7 – A  pro-business organization known as the “Flint Alliance” begins anti-union  activity.

January 11-  Flint police and county sheriff deputies attempt to retake Chevrolet   Fisher Body No. 2 and are repelled by workers, 27 are injured. The event  becomes known as “Battle of the Running Bulls.”

January 12 –  Governor Frank Murphy orders National Guard to Flint to prevent further violence. By strike’s end, 4,000 guardsmen are stationed in Flint.

January 20 – Women’s Emergency Brigade established “to protect our husbands and sons  from violence”

January 27 – Flint Alliance holds “Back to Work” rally at I.M.A. Auditorium

Genesee County Sheriff Thomas W. Wolcott, accompanied by Chief Deputy Gerald Ruddy, reads an injunction to sit-down strikers at General Motors’ Fisher Body plants. Genesee Circuit Judge Paul V. Gadola granted the injunction, ordering the strikers out of the plants, but the ignored it and the strike spread.

February 1937

February 1 – Genesee County  Circuit Court Judge Gadola orders workers to leave plants and stop  picketing. Sit-down strike spreads to Chevrolet Plant No. 4.

February 3 – Governor Murphy refuses to use National Guard to evict strikers from plants.

February 11 – 2:30am G.M. agrees to recognize the U.A.W.

 


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AN EYE-WITNESS REPORT FROM DETROIT’S AFSCME LOCAL 207 WATER STRIKE

Workers say they are fighting not just for their contract, but to stop the dismantling of Detroit by the rich and powerful.

Commentary by Donna Stern

October 1, 2012

(For PDF of this article click on An eyewitness report from Detroit’s AFSCME Local 207 strike VOD)

The first and most important thing: the strike has NOT been called off and WILL CONTINUE in full force tomorrow, Tuesday, October 2nd.

Everyone who can, every union member and every strike supporter, should be at the picket lines starting at 6am tomorrow morning. The early morning picketing is the most important time to picket because it is the time when we can get other union members to support our strike.

Where We Are Now

A strike is a clash of two forces and a struggle for power. The moment that crew 5 of Local 207 walked out of the plant on Sunday morning, the balance of power shifted in favor of the union. Until we acted, nearly all of the power to determine the future of the city of Detroit, the fate of our union, what our jobs, wages and working conditions would be–was in the hands of Judge Cox, Mayor Bing, the Water Board, and all the rich suburban interests that have stood together to try to break our union and destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Detroit and its neighbors.

But once we acted, the pendulum shifted in our favor, beginning with those first thirty workers. Our union gave the people of Detroit a voice and a leadership and a cause that could win–and a chance to build a new civil rights and labor movement and era of mass struggle throughout the area.

Detroiters want the DWSD, which serves 6 counties and 40 percent of Michigan’s population, to remain in the hands of the public, not private water profiteers.

Virtually every national media correspondent and environmental group has said that people all over the country regard this struggle in Detroit as the key to determining whether the water supplies of this country remain in the hands of the public or become privatized. If we win this fight, it will be one of the first and most important victories for Detroit, for the labor movement, for the new civil rights movement, and for the environmental movement–which has had a great deal of publicity but next to no successes.

If you measure the power of a strike just by the number of people who are out on a picket line, you’ll be deceived into believing that something that is very strong–is weak.

Sunday, September 30

Sunday was a dress rehearsal for Monday. On Sunday, we began to see the outlines of the power that our strike could best, which would be confirmed on Monday. Our picket lines started small on Monday morning but grew throughout the day. Small numbers of picketers at the different plant gates were able to turn away cars and trucks by using courage, determination, and persuasion.

Detroit police set up at the corner of W. Jefferson and Dearborn, blocks away from any picket line, and have not so far harassed strikers. Local 207 attorneys say U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox is barred by federal law from issuing injunctions against strikes or similar orders, under the Norris-LaGuardia Act.

 Workers who were traveling on W. Jefferson Ave.–in small numbers, because it was Sunday–honked their horns and shouted out through their windows their support for our actions and expressed their hope that we would win. We got some media coverage, but much less than we deserved. And, for the most part, the police stayed a good distance away from the picket line.

Youth from BAMN take part in Dr. Martin Luther King Day protest against Public Act 4 outside Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s home, Jan. 16, 2012.

As the day progressed, more Local 207 members, and youth from BAMN–the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary–joined the picket lines. For the Local 207 members who had never been on strike before, and for the Detroit youth on the picket lines, stopping cars and trucks from crossing the picket lines [through presence and persuasion]  gave people a sense of power and joy that they have never experienced before.

Monday, October 1st

By the close of Sunday, spirits were high, but everybody knew that Monday would be the first real test of the strength and resilience of our strike. Monday’s strike activity got underway between 1 and 2 a.m., when trucks that haul out the sludge started arriving earlier than usual at the plant.

Youth on Belle Isle Sept. 14, 2012; child poverty rate in Detroit is 57 percent; young people desperately need public sector jobs at union wages and benefits.

Most of the trucks were turned around. Every truck driver that the picketers talked to understood that the Local 207 strike was on behalf of every person in Detroit who is struggling to maintain a job, a family, a neighborhood, and, for the young people–the hope of a decent and meaningful future. And so, even though lots of the truck drivers were scared of what their management would do to them if they refused to cross our picket lines, they still turned their trucks around, refusing to scab on our strike.

As the early morning progressed, the number of trucks that arrived was growing. But on the side of the picketers, both the number of the picketers and their resolve increased more and faster than the flow of the traffic. By 6:30 in the morning, picket lines were up at every important gate to the plant.

Historically, Teamster truck drivers have refused to cross picket lines.

The Water Board, desperate to get their management personnel inside, set up a staging area on Lafayette where managers could arrive, park their cars, and get into vans. Each van was given a police escort, but more importantly, every window of each van was covered so that the managers would not have to show their faces to the workers, who they knew they should be supporting. The police escorts made it possible for those few vans that tried to enter the plant to get in, but the window covers could not hide the shame and guilt that was felt by those who crossed.

On Sunday morning and afternoon, no Local 207 members crossed the picket lines, and on Monday morning, our members continued to stand firm in their decision to strike to win.

The construction crews–the electricians, the people doing the new cement work, and other skilled-trades contractors–had arrived and were poised to go into the plant by 7 a.m. Monday morning. The number of construction workers far outweighed the number of picketers at the back gate where they were told to enter.

DWSD construction crews fix Macomb Interceptor break, which was caused by faulty contractor work.

But, one by one, the construction workers got out of their trucks, huddled together, and after talking to a handful of striking 207 workers and BAMN youth, made a collective decision that they were not going to cross our picket lines. Those who came early and were at the front of the truck caravan of construction workers lined up at the back gate, offered to stay at the plant to make sure that late-arriving construction workers would honor the decision of those to came before them: to honor the picket lines and refuse to go into the plant. Many Teamster truck drivers who were arriving as the morning progressed followed the lead of the construction workers and, after a brief discussion with the striking workers, simply turned their trucks around and rumbled away.

Judge Cox, with no authority, issues order to end strike

The success of our early morning action, not surprisingly, was met with an attempt by Judge Cox and his cronies to use all the mechanisms of the state that they have at their disposal–the laws, the courts, the police–to try to shut down our strike. By 8:30 in the morning, Judge Cox had issued a temporary restraining order to the leaders of Local 207 and our union as a whole–ordering us to stop picketing and go back to work.

The union leaders of Local 207 fired back with our own legal initiatives. By 12 noon, our lawyers were holding a press conference making clear to the court and to the people of Detroit that we believe that Judge Cox’s order to stop the strike was not legal or valid. Continue reading


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UNION LAWYERS FIGHT “DICTATOR” COX’S ORDER VS. WATER STRIKE; WORKERS STAND FIRM

  • Lawyers say federal law prohibits Cox’s action, question Cox’s impartiality
  •  Picket lines remain strong, workers determined

By Diane Bukowski

October 1, 2012

DETROIT – Lawyers for striking Detroit water and sewerage workers have gone into overdrive to overturn a “temporary restraining order” against the work stoppage, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox at 8:45 a.m. today.

Meanwhile, picket lines at the Wastewater Treatment Plant this afternoon remained strong, with members of Local 207 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) determined to stay out.

Local 207’s attorneys Shanta Driver and George Washington during press conference Oct. 1, 2012.

Attorneys Shanta Driver and George Washington said during a press conference at noon that Cox has no authority as a federal judge to issue such an order. They are asking him to dissolve the order and recuse himself. They are also filing for a “writ of mandamus” with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which would order him to do so.

The Sixth Circuit is already scheduled to hear a multi-union appeal of Cox’s Nov. 4, 2011 order, which unilaterally laid out employment terms for DWSD workers, on Oct. 9, 2012 at 9 a.m. in Cincinnati.

Judge Sean Cox

“Judge Cox is acting like a dictator,” Driver said. “We got a call yesterday from his ‘Special Master’ [David Ottenwess] telling us that Judge Cox planned to have a meeting this afternoon to discuss the issues involved. He said he’d call us back and give us the time. Today, we heard from some other lawyers that Judge Cox issued the TRO.”

Driver added, “This is about all of Detroit, whether Detroiters are entitled to have democratic rights over anything at all. Judge Cox hasn’t even allowed any workers or union leaders to testify before him, he’s too busy re-writing their contract himself.”

The Local’s motion for recusal says in part that Cox has “essentially become a part of the management negotiating team by repeatedly issuing, at management’s private request, orders that have changed major contractual and bargaining rights of Local 207’s members while denying any efforts by Local 207 or any other labor organization to intervene or oppose those changes.”

WWTP workers stand strong.

Cox earlier denied motions by AFSCME, the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) to intervene in United States of America v. the City of Detroit, Case #77-71100.

Cox’s TRO enjoins not only members of AFSCME Water Department Locals 207 and 2920, but also “all persons acting in concert with them,” from “engaging or participating in the strike,” and “obstructing, preventing or unlawfully interfering with DWSD or any of its employees or any other person or persons from entering DWSD property.”

It bans a host of other actions including violence and vandalism, as well as “failing to report to work or conduct work in accordance with DWSD personnel and attendance policies.”

It does not say how Cox plans to force the workers back on the job.

Cox also cites threats to public health and safety, although Local 207 President John Riehl said his members struck the Wastewater Treatment Plant instead of drinking water facilities to prevent such problems.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing issued a statement endorsing Cox’s order, saying “It is imperative that there be no interruption in the service or an impact on the quality of water provided to our citizens or any negative impact on the environment.”

The City claimed in its motion that the work stoppage at the WWTP threatens to increase pollution in the Detroit River, but Driver said reduction of the DWSD workforce by 81 percent presents a greater threat to the environment.

The City of Detroit’s motion for a restraining order includes as attachments the flier Local 207 published calling for community support, another informational local flier listing management’s demands, and an unrelated flier from the grass-roots “Retirees Action Movement.” The last was passed out at a Detroit General Retirement System (DGRS). It calls on city retirees to fight attempts to restructure their pension boards.

Worker during contract protest at DWSD Huber facility Aug.15,2012.

Riehl, who is also an elected DGRS trustee, said at that meeting that he had not seen the flier and did not know who put it out.

Washington said he is outraged.

“The water department is staffed by mainly Black residents of Detroit,” he said. “The judge is telling them that 81 percent of them are going to lose their jobs and they can’t do anything about it. He is treating them like the dirt under his feet. They are working in unbelievably bad conditions, the dirtiest, hottest jobs possible.”

Local 207’s motion to dissolve the order says Cox as a federal judge has no authority to ban any strike or work stoppage, under terms of the federal Norris-LaGuardia Act as well as other federal legislation.

According to the motion, the U.S. Congress passed the Norris-LaGuardia Act during the Great Depression in response to “exposes of the federal courts’ practice of allowing employers to impose the most outrageous employment conditions and then to procure ex parte and preliminary injunctions to stop the strikes that opposed those conditions.”

Cox has set a hearing on the TRO for Oct. 11, 2012, under federal court rules which mandate that such a hearing must be held within 10 days.

Washington said the unions involved in the Sixth Circuit Court appeal are planning to bring supporters with them for that hearing Oct. 9. Those who are interested in attending can call 313-468-3398.

For PDF of this story, click on UNION LAWYERS FIGHT “DICTATOR” COX’S ORDER VS. WATER STRIKE; WORKERS STAND FIRM VOD)

Related documents and posts:

COX TRO 10 1 12; C of D motion for TRO v water strike;

Local 207 motion to dissolve 10 1 12; Local 207 recusal motion; DWSD proposed contract terms (Local 207 flier attached to city motion for TRO as evidence of disobedience)


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