As Wayne County Prosecutor election primary nears Aug. 4, family and supporters of wrongfully convicted Darrell Ewing rally July 2, 2020
Ewing and co-defendant Derrico Searcy won new trial Oct. 24, 2017 due to jury contamination, lack of “overwhelming evidence of guilt” (judge ruling)
U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood earlier threw out convictions, ordered new trial
Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed, Sixth Circuit ordered evidentiary hearing which resulted in order for new trial
Worthy STILL appealing through state courts, keeping Ewing, Searcy locked up as COVID-19 endangers lives of the incarcerated across U.S.
By Diane Bukowski
July 9, 2020
DETROIT — Supporters of Darrell Ewing, including a large contingent of family members who came from as far away as Atlanta, rallied outside the Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit for six hours July 2. They said that he was wrongfully convicted in 2010, but has been kept in prison, his life endangered by the COVID-19 pandemic, ever since. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway ordered a new trial for Ewing and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy Oct. 24, 2019, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed that ruling as she has stonewalled all Ewing’s appeals since the beginning.
Cieddah Ewing, Darrell Ewing’s sister, and her daughter Anilya Dodson drove all the way from Atlanta for the July 2, 2020 protest.
Ewing’s mother LaSonya Dodson told VOD that her son’s supporters want to see Worthy removed due to her refusal to grant justice in Ewing’s case, as well as the cases of many others.
“We have been going through this process in the court system for 10 years now,” Dodson said. “U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood ordered a new trial earlier, but that ended up at the Appeals Court in Cincinnati, where we won again. Judge Hathaway ordered a new trial, but prosecutors chose to appeal knowing that he is innocent. The young man who did this has confessed; we have got written affidavits.
“We also had a juror that came forward and said there wouldn’t have been a guilty verdict if she hadn’t been forced to change her vote. We do appreciate her for coming forth. The coronavirus pandemic has delayed more court hearings. You can’t social distance in prison—if somebody wins a new trial, it seems like they should be released.”
Worthy is opposed by progressive defense attorney Victoria Burton-Harris, part of a national coalition of newly elected prosecutors and candidates confronting the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration head-on.
Burton-Harris says those living in Wayne County and especially Detroit have been targeted disproportionately since Prosecutor Worthy took office in 2004, victimized by wrongful convictions and Worthy’s insistence that all court appeals be opposed, many times on technical grounds.
Defense Atty. Victoria Burton Harris, candidate for Wayne County Prosecutor in Aug. 4 primary.
Ewing and and his co-defendant Derrico Searcy were convicted of murdering J.B. Watson Dec. 29, 2009, in an allegedly gang-related shooting at Harper and Van Dyke. They have been in prison serving life sentences since 2010 despite the subsequent confession of Tyree Washington to the murder. Washington came forward repeatedly to declare under oath that he, not Ewing and Searcy, carried out the killing.
Many Michigan Department of Corrections prisoners are in similar circumstances. The Michigan Supreme Court sent the conviction of Thelonious Searcy, whose case VOD has covered extensively, back to the state Court of Appeals March 18, 2o20, ordering that they grant his leave to appeal and issue a substantive ruling. The Appeals Court has yet to do so, and meanwhile Searcy has tested positive for COVID-19.
Searcy was convicted of the 2004 murder of Jamal Segars, who was shot to death while stuck in traffic during a Labor Day weekend “Black Party” on Gratiot at Conner outside City Airport. Filing pro se, he won an evidentiary hearing that was held from January through June of 2018.
Thelonious Searcy, still in prison due to frame-up by police, prosecutors.
Davontae Sanford embraced by mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon on his release from prison.
During that hearing, he and attorney Michael Dezsi exposed the truth, that Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, in league with Asst. Prosecutor Patrick Muscat, lied to the trial jury about the type of bullets found in Segars’ body.
The .40 caliber bullets that were actually found comported with the gun hit man Vincent Smothers said he used, in a detailed confession given during two days of testimony in open court.
Smothers was more broadly known as the hit man who confessed to killing four people on Runyon Street in 2007, a crime for which Davontae Sanford, then 14, was falsely convicted and spent nine years in prison. A Michigan State Police investigation, using the Detroit Police Department’s own reports, uncovered the clear collusion of Prosecutor Worthy and her subordinates with the DPD in Sanford’s frame-up. Patrick Muscat was the AP in that case as well as Searcy’s. Worthy contends to this day that Sanford was not innocent, earning her the title of “Innocence Denier” in a national article.
Bekeiba Holland: 150 Mich. Juvenile Lifers still not re-sentenced 8 yrs. after SCOTUS ruling, time to remove Kym Worthy
Bekieba Holland attended the protest, representing Prisoners Doing the Right Thing, whose office is at 15535 Mack on Detroit’s east side. The group, founded by the late Timothy Kincaid, a juvenile lifer released in 2016 who was well-known throughout the MDOC, has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PDTRT100.
Holland was convicted and sentenced as a juvenile lifer in 1991, and served more than two decades in prison before he was re-sentenced.
The late Timothy Kincaid, who founded Prisoners Doing the Right Thing after his release as a juvenile lifer Nov. 2016, after spending 36 years in prison.
“We’re down here to show the community what Kym Worthy is doing and what she has been doing throughout the years,” Holland told VOD. “We need to remove her. She’s not doing a service, she’s doing a disservice. Our taxpayer dollars are going to pay her salary. We have over 150 juvenile lifers in Michigan who haven’t gone back for re-sentencing yet. What is the hold-up? I had to wait three years before I could get resentenced. She tried to re-instate life on me, but since it wouldn’t stand, she came with a cop, 30 to 60, so I took the deal and I’m out. The high court said it’s unconstitutional to give a juvenile a mandatory life sentence, but she doesn’t want to abide by their ruling.”
Worthy virulently opposed Michigan state legislation that would have banned juvenile life without parole prior to the SCOTUS rulings. She testified before the Michigan legislature against statutory changes supported by the Second Chance Coalition of families and even victims of juvenile lifers that would have outlawed JLWOP in Michigan.
Wayne County has the highest number of children sent to die in prison in Michigan; Michigan has the second highest number in the nation.
Worthy allied herself with former Atty. General Bill Schuette in insisting that Miller was not retroactive, but SCOTUS ruled in Montgomery that it was. After that ruling, she filed motions to keep 41 percent of the County’s 144 juvenile lifers in prison until they die; 60 individuals plus three on “conditional” terms, and seek terms of years for 81 others. She added that many of those with recommendations for terms of years would have recommendations higher than the minimum 25 years allowed under state statutes.
Charles Lewis in 1977 at age 17 with mother Rosie Lewis.
Since 2016, Wayne County juvenile lifers recommended for LWOP have fought a bitter uphill battle for their freedom.
VOD thoroughly covered the case of juvenile lifer Charles Lewis, publishing over 40 stories on nearly four years of re-sentencing hearings conducted by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Lillard. During those years, as Lewis’ health and that of his mother continued to deteriorate, he fought unsuccessfully to have his conviction overturned due to the complete loss of his court file, under state precedential rulings.
Lewis was convicted in 1976 by racist Recorders Court Judge Joseph Maher of the murder of a white off-duty Detroit police officer, based on the coerced testimony of three younger juveniles.
His frame-up and conviction occurred during a period in Detroit of virulent attacks on Black youth and their families by whites angered because Blacks were moving into their neighborhoods, and white cops angered because Black cops were entering the police force. He always maintained his innocence, but was eventually re-sentenced to 40-60 years after spending 42 years in prison, and released in 2018.
His immediate release after his re-sentencing, and the release of others in similar situations, were due only to a federal court ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith that restored “good time” credits to re-sentenced juvenile lifers. That ruling was won by Atty. Deborah LaBelle and the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the face of inaction by the State Appellate Defenders Office (SADO), which Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, then presiding judge of the criminal division, had appointed to represent indigent juvenile lifers.
William Garrison, shown in 2009 photo taken during prison visit.
Worthy continues to demonstrate complete callousness regarding juvenile lifers and others in the MDOC as the COVID-19 virus runs rampant through prison systems in Michigan and nationally.
On April 18, 2020, juvenile lifer William Garrison, who earlier was resentenced to a term of years and should have been released forthwith, died of COVID-19 in the Macomb Correctional Facility as he waited for Worthy’s office to register its formal approval of his release. A judge had ordered his release in January.
Garrison went to prison at the age of 16 in 1976, convicted of a murder during a robbery that went awry. He subsequently taught himself to read and write, studied the law, and became an advocate for other incarcerated persons.
Dozens of Ewing’s family members attended the protest July 2, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in blazing heat. They included many of his young nieces and nephews, who chanted “Free Darrell,” “No Justice, No Peace, and “Corrupted Cops Affect Us All.”
Ewing’s fiancee Brentia Hudson (shown in video above), told VOD, “Darrell’s whole family is here, his mother, his father, sisters and brothers and their kids,” said Hutson. “Darrell is innocent. The real person who committed the murder has come forward.”
Above, Prince Jones, also a member of Prisoners Doing the Right Thing, said, “I came down here in support of the protest, getting rid of Kym Worthy. Prisoners deserve better treatment and Kym Worthy is not the one who’s going to give it to us.”
Worthy’s office was due to submit their appellate brief with reasons why they still oppose a new trial for Ewing and Searcy July 2, after obtaining an extended deadline, but it has still not been filed, adding months to the delay in holding a new trial.
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Bill would condition federal funding on whether states release eligible prisoners endangered by COVID-19 in U.S. prisons, jails
Introduced by Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Barbara Lee
The top five clusters of the virus across the U.S. are all in prisons and jails
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) represents 13th District including Detroit.
COVID-19 continues to ravish jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers due to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and a lack of adequate healthcare. In fact, the top five clusters of the virus across the U.S. are all in prisons and jails, and cases keep rising.
Recently, Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Barbara Lee have introduced the Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act, which would condition federal funding on whether states release eligible incarcerated people, including those who are:
Awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime (likely just can’t afford bail)
In ICE detention
Pregnant or primary caregivers
Terminally ill, medically vulnerable to COVID-19 (including ages 55+), or have a disability
Nearing the end of their sentences
Serving misdemeanor sentences or possession/sale of a controlled substance
Incarcerated due to technical violation of parole/probation or a bench warrant for arrest (often due to a missed court appearance)
Status offenders (young people charged with an offense that would not be a crime if committed by an adult.
This new legislation is in line with Michigan Liberation’s work to end mass incarceration and the unjust practice of cash bail, as well as the work we’ve done throughout the pandemic to bail people out of jail and then provide them ongoing support (in collaboration with other groups).
Let’s demonstrate mass support for this bill.
Become a grassroots co-signer of the
Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act today.
Tlaib, Pressley, and Lee Introduce Bill Advancing the Dismantling of Mass Incarceration During COVID-19 Pandemic
June 18, 2020
U.S. Reo, Ayanna Pressley
WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Barbara Lee (CA-09) introduced the landmark Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act, which would require the release of eligible individuals who are currently in custody in a jail or prison during the COVID-19 crisis and for one year after. It is the boldest piece of legislation introduced to date addressing the long-standing problem of mass incarceration that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The introduction of the Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act comes amid dire warnings from public health experts and law enforcement officials working in state and local corrections facilities that overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, aging facilities and lack of ample medical care in prisons and jails are endangering the lives of incarcerated individuals, prison staff and their families and communities. Indeed, the number of infected incarcerated individuals doubled from May to June for a total of 68,000 known cases and a 73 percent increase in coronavirus-related deaths even as such rates plateau nationwide. The pandemic has also caused delays in trials and hearings, resulting in incarcerated individuals remaining in custody for longer periods of time—and unnecessarily vulnerable to the life-threatening virus.
“This pandemic should not be a death sentence for anyone,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “We already know that Black and Brown folks are disproportionately affected by this virus outside prison walls. We also know that they’ve been disproportionately incarcerated for decades. These factors make for a unique urgency to get this bill passed, so we ensure incarcerated individuals and their loved ones have a fighting chance to see each other again.”
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee
“Every human being, regardless of their involvement with the legal system, has the right to dignity and safety,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “But as we’ve feared since the onset of this public health crisis, our prisons and jails are proving to be major incubators of COVID-19, endangering the lives of millions of incarcerated individuals and corrections staff. We continue to be in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic that is claiming the lives of our most vulnerable. Public health is public safety, and in this moment, we must prioritize decarceration to save lives and protect communities before it is too late. Our bill will call on states across the country to do exactly that by tying eligibility for federal funding to the urgent release of medically vulnerable individuals. Involvement in the legal system should not be a death sentence due to COVID-19, and this bill can save lives.”
“Overcrowding, inadequate health care and unsanitary conditions make jail and prison populations especially vulnerable to this virus – and those conditions make it virtually impossible for jails and prisons to follow CDC guidelines,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Our system of mass incarceration disproportionately targets African Americans and other people of color, further compounding the disparity we are seeing in how the pandemic is affecting Americans. This virus should not be, and doesn’t have to be, a death sentence for incarcerated individuals, for corrections staff or for their families.”
The Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act is co-sponsored by ten of Congresswomen Tlaib, Pressley, and Lee’s colleagues: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-5), Nydia M. Velazquez (NY-7), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Bobby L. Rush (IL-1), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3). It’s also received the endorsement of such advocacy groups as The Movement for Black Lives, Civil Rights Corps, Lawyers for Civil Rights, Detroit Justice Center, Drug Policy Alliance, Public Citizen, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Michigan Liberation, organizations who have long been at the frontlines of fighting for an end to mass incarceration at the federal and local level.
“Black people sit at the intersection of a pandemic and the public health crisis of incarceration,” said Movement for Black Lives Policy Table Leadership member Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson. “Both are taking our lives at alarming rates. Our communities know that jails and prisons make people sick, make mental health emergencies worse, and produce medical vulnerabilities. An honest public health response to this crisis requires us to challenge this society’s attachment to incarceration.
“Even before COVID-19 upended American life, mass incarceration was devastating communities nationwide,” said Thea Sebastian, Policy Counsel for Civil Rights Corps. “But with this pandemic, jails and prisons have become even more life-threatening for the 2.3 million people incarcerated – and a key source of virus transmission that leaves all people less safe. The Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act is a crucial first step toward achieving the immediate decarceration that our communities so desperately need.”
The Dismantle Mass Incarceration for Public Health Act would apply to all states receiving federal funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant Program. Adults and juveniles in jail or prison for the following reasons would be deemed eligible for immediate release under the legislation:
Have not been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial
Bench warrant for arrest or technical violation of parole or probation
Those with misdemeanors or are status offenders
Possession or sale of a controlled substance
Those being detained on ICE detainers
Those who are pregnant or are primary caregivers
Those who are terminally ill, are medically vulnerable to COVID-19, or have a disability
Video above courtesy of #DetroitWillBreathe showing events (1) June 2 Gratiot/Conner (2) downtown Detroit (3) photos from various marches
Public Tribunal, held June 20 by #DetroitWillBreathe, tried DPD Chief James Craig, Mayor Mike Duggan
Protesters say battalions of Detroit police in riot gear with armored vehicles confronted peaceful demos with brute force May 28 — June 19, 2020
Allege DPD used rubber bullets leading to grave injuries, tear gas, pepper spray, brutal beatings, noise torture, sexual abuse
Detroit City Council to discuss, vote on resolution to drop all charges against protesters Mon. June 28 and Tues. June 29
During tribunal, DPD announcedsuspension of one officer, 11 formal incident investigations for excessive force
Duggan, Craig previously denied all allegations, blamed outside agitators
By Diane Bukowski
June 26, 2020
Detroit Police Chief James Craig (l) with Mayor Mike Duggan (r) at earlier press conference,
Hundreds massed in downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza June 20 to try Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig for orchestrating the brutal abuse of #BlackLivesMatter protesters over the previous 23 days. The protests, held in downtown Detroit and throughout its neighborhoods, were part of a global uprising after Minneapolis police murdered #GeorgeFloyd May 25 this year.
The tribunal was called by #DetroitWillBreathe, a coalition led by long-time activists and new arrivals, many of them youthful. #DWB has emerged as the driving force in the local movement against the police state.
“What they did to us was on a perfect example of what we were protesting against,” Dwayne, a daily marcher, said. “They showed up in military gear to stop our voices, but our voices are powerful—power is in the movement. We are family, brothers and sisters.”
Part of the hundreds who attended the #DWB Tribunal June 20, 2020.
Speakers said the DPD attacked their peaceful protests beginning with the first day, on May 28 in downtown Detroit.
Duggan and Craig massed battalions of hundreds of police in riot gear aided by armored vehicles, which deployed tear gas as they approached marchers, then waded into them and carried out arrests without provocation.
Many said they were brutally beaten, pepper sprayed, tortured with loud siren noise and verbal and sexual abuse, and painfully handcuffed with zip ties that cut off their circulation. They were held en masse with no outside contact in the basement of Little Caesar’s Arena on the hot night of June 2, after challenging a curfew imposed by Duggan in Detroit’s east-side Gratiot/Conner neighborhood.
Charges were brought against hundreds of them, with #DWB organizer Tristan Taylor sustaining felony charges of “inciting to riot.” The Detroit City Council is to discuss and vote on a resolution to drop all charges against the protesters Mon. June 29, and Tues. June 30.
Protesters included Ellie, a young mother and well-known hip-hop artist, who said, “It was a war going on in my own city.”
Ellie referred to the reaction of Detroit City Council members, who condemned the protesters for marching at their residences June 15 against the body’s proposed renewal of a contract with Data Works Plus, which provides facial recognition technology used in DPD’s “Green Light'” program. Farmington Hills resident Robert Williams, represented by the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the DPD June 24 for false arrest illegally using a “Green Light” video capture.
Many protesters testified that the DPD brutally beat them repeatedly, not to arrest them for violating a temporary curfew imposed by Mayor Duggan, but to punish them and scare them off. But they added that the attacks only further strengthened their will to fight.
#DWB co-chair Nakia Wallace countered Duggan and Craig’s depiction of protesters as “outside agitators” not residing in Detroit, and mainly white. (In fact, 60 percent of Detroit’s police force lives outside the city.)
Duggan and Craig claimed the protesters were not welcome in Detroit’s neighborhoods, but Metro Times reporter Steve Neavling said earlier in a story that residents in the 12th and Clairmount neighborhood on Detroit’s west side, where the 1967 rebellion against police brutality began, enthusiastically welcomed them on the third day of marches (below).Photos: Steve Neavling
Below, Jae Bass vividly described his awakening during the protests.
“They sent an army of hundreds of officers dressed in riot gear, shields and tanks against non-violent protesters,” Bass said.
Dwayne, a resident of southwest Detroit. backed up Bass’ description of the events June 2 when protesters marched on Detroit’s eastside in the Gratiot/Conner neighborhood. He said that he was just beginning to come to terms with what had happened to him and others, after marching every day for the last weeks without a break.
Dwayne speaks at DWB tribunal June 20, 2020.
He said the DPD brutally beat him and other protesters without provocation. (See #DWB video at top of article.)
(Quote below is liberally taken from Detroit Free Press live stream video at bottom of story; VOD’s camera had run out of power.)
“They basically cut us off and trapped us in,” Dwayne recalled. “But we weren’t going anywhere, the curfew was simply to target us. They lined up in front of us, looking for a fight. They had batons, riot gear, armored trucks, they didn’t give us a choice. Hundreds of police officers ran in with batons swinging—not trying to grab nobody—just hitting. I was slammed on the ground, lost a shoe. One took my mask off and sprayed me again and again, then sprayed water on me for a photo op. We got on the police bus and they turned on the heat with all the windows up, like being in a fire. People in there had tear gas and pepper spray in their eyes. They literally could not breathe at all.
“We were on the bus for about 45 minutes. I demanded that they cut my zip ties off, because I couldn’t feel my fingers, they were discolored, there was blood all over my seat from my hands. They really tried everything in their power to break us, but people on the buses kept up high spirits, kept chanting, we could not stop. When we got to Little Caesars, we saw our brothers laid out there and chanted loudly, ‘No justice, no peace!’ How is that any kind of a justice system at all? They didn’t think we were going to come back harder the next days, but they showed us what we were down there for, and we did. We went from 127 arrested to thousands of us. For all those that said it couldn’t happen in Detroit, it did.”
Kate, another marcher arrested during the Gratiot/Conner protest June 2, recounted Detroit police officers repeatedly calling her a B—h while beating her to the ground, slamming her head on a curb, before zip-tying her hands behind her and loading her onto the DPD bus.
Stephen, a resident of Detroit’s Woodbridge neigborhood, also observed abuse of women during those arrests. He said he saw a woman protester come off the police bus at Little Caesar’s Arena “with one shoe, and no pants.” recounted the DPD’s use of a siren-like device which they aimed directly at the protesters, reminiscent of tortures used by the CIA during interrogations.
“They started blasting us with this long-range device,” Stephen said. “You worry you’re going to lose your hearing and you’re just experiencing nothing but pain. It’s a fear tactic and it works. I was terrified. They were standing around ten feet away, banging on their shields looking at us intimidating us. We were gradually surrounded. I kept my arms at my side—hopefully to get out of there without being beaten, but an officer grabbed me on my shoulders, and kneed me in the balls. Several more officers began beating me including in my lower back. lower back. We were loaded into a van and taken to Little Caesars. I was among the first at Little Caesar’s, and one of the things that I saw was a young woman being taken off the bus with one shoe and no pants.”
Stephen said he regrets not saying something at the time, but that he and others are hoping to bring her plight forward now.
The DPD used rubber bullets that severely injured at least one protester, fracturing her skull from behind, #DWB leader Tristan Taylor said. He also countered Duggan and Craig’s claims that protesters were not from Detroit, noting that they said one protester had Tennessee license plates. Taylor said she was Black and living in Detroit at the time, but that many newly-arrived young people have found the need to continue using records that save them from paying Detroit’s exorbitant car insurance rates.
Below is the Free Press’ livestream video of part one of the June 20 tribunal.
DETROIT CITY COUNCIL TO VOTE ON RESOLUTION TO DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST PROTESTERS: SESSIONS JUNE 28 AND JUNE 29; watch online, send online letters of support to Council members (info below)
Over 400 nonviolent protesters were arrested by DPD for exercising their constitutional rights to protest. Many more were subjected to police brutality, torture and excessive use of force.
Most protesters were given tickets for “loitering” in violation of Mayor Duggan’s unjust 8PM curfew between May 29th and June 2nd. Mayor Duggan is not our daddy and does not have the right to give us a curfew.
Without the curfew DPD would have had no grounds to arrest protesters. There have been almost no incidents of property damage by protesters, in contrast to protests in other cities.
The City of Detroit has the power to drop all the charges NOW. City Council must pass this resolution as the first step to making that happen.
VOICE OF DETROIT has published countless stories recounting the actions of Detroit’s police state under Chief Craig, which counter the mainstream media’s current love affair with him. Its recent story on DPD’s suffocation death of Anthony Clark-Reed in 2015 lists many cases of apparent DPD murders and other brutality that have occurred since Craig took office in 2013. Below are VOD’s other recent related stories.
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A Black man who says he was unjustly arrested because facial recognition technology mistakenly identified him as a suspected shoplifter is calling for a public apology from Detroit police. And for the department to abandon its use of the controversial technology.
The complaint by Robert Williams is a rare challenge from someone who not only experienced an erroneous face recognition hit, but was able to discover that it was responsible for his subsequent legal troubles.
The Wednesday complaint filed on Williams’ behalf alleges that his Michigan driver license photo — kept in a statewide image repository — was incorrectly flagged as a likely match to a shoplifting suspect. Investigators had scanned grainy surveillance camera footage of an alleged 2018 theft inside a Shinola watch store in midtown Detroit, police records show.
Robert Williams Greenlight photo (l) and MI Drivers License photo (r)
That led to what Williams describes as a humiliating January arrest in front of his wife and young daughters on their front lawn in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.
“I can’t really even put it into words,” Williams said in a video announcement (above( describing the daytime arrest that left his daughters weeping. “It was one of the most shocking things that I ever had happen to me.”
The 42-year-old automotive worker, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, is demanding a public apology, final dismissal of his case and for Detroit police to scrap its use of facial recognition technology. Several studies have shown current face-recognition systems more likely to err when identifying people with darker skin.
The ACLU complaint said Detroit police “unthinkingly relied on flawed and racist facial recognition technology without taking reasonable measures to verify the information being provided.” It called the resulting investigation “shoddy and incomplete,” the officers involved “rude and threatening,” and said the department has dragged its feet responding to public-information requests for relevant records.
Detroit police and Wayne County prosecutors didn’t immediately return emailed requests for comment Wednesday.
DataWorks Plus, a South Carolina company that provides facial recognition technology to Detroit and the Michigan State Police, also couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Police records show the case began in October 2018 when five expensive watches went missing from the flagship store of Detroit-based luxury watchmaker Shinola. A loss-prevention worker later reviewed the video footage showing the suspect to be a Black man wearing a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap.
Shinola Watch Store Woodward and Canfield, Detroit; the company is white-owned but was welcomed into Detroit by the City Council in the midst of ongoing gentrication; now they target a Black man.
“Video and stills were sent to Crime Intel for facial recognition,” says a brief police report. “Facial Recognition came back with a hit” — for Williams.
At the top of the facial recognition report, produced by Michigan State Police, was a warning in bold, capitalized letters that the computer’s finding should be treated as an investigative lead, not as probable cause for arrest.
But Detroit detectives then showed a 6-photo lineup that included Williams to the loss-prevention worker, who positively identified Williams, according to the report. It took months for police to issue an arrest warrant and several more before they called Williams at work and asked him to come to the police department. It’s not clear why.
Williams said he thought it was a prank call. But they showed up soon after at his house, took him away in handcuffs and detained him overnight. It was during his interrogation the next day that it became clear to him that he was improperly identified by facial recognition software.
“The investigating officer looked confused, told Mr. Williams that the computer said it was him but then acknowledged that ‘the computer must have gotten it wrong,’” the ACLU complaint says.
Prosecutors later dismissed the case, but without prejudice — meaning they could potentially pursue it again.
The case is likely to fuel a movement in Detroit and around the U.S. protesting police brutality, racial injustice and the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Detroit activists have presented reforms to the city’s mayor and police chief that include defunding the police department and ending its use of facial recognition.
Providers of police facial recognition systems often point to research showing they can be accurate when used properly under ideal conditions. A review of the industry’s leading facial recognition algorithms by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found they were more than 99% accurate when matching high-quality head shots to a database of other frontal poses.
But trying to identify a face from a video feed — especially using the ceiling-mounted cameras commonly found in stores — can cause accuracy rates to plunge. Studies have also shown that face recognition systems don’t perform equally across race, gender and age — working best on white men and with potentially harmful consequences for others.
Concerns about bias and growing scrutiny of policing practices following Floyd’s death led tech giants IBM, Amazonand Microsoft to announce earlier this month they would stop selling face recognition software to police, at least until Congress can establish guidelines for its use. Several cities, led by San Francisco last year, have banned use of facial recognition by municipal agencies.
“DETROIT WILL BREATHE” plans Public Tribunal June 20 5-8 PM, Hart Plaza to try Police Chief Craig, Mayor Mike Duggan for police brutality
Up to 4,000 protesters out daily in Detroit, thousands more across state, metro areas including suburbs since horrendous murder of George Floyd
Millions across the globe begin new era demanding profound changes to system, power to people in housing, health care, jobs, water, human rights
Tristan Taylor: Movement must recognize achievements to date, recognize that power is in the streets and remain there: We can win so much!
Seattle: Labor Council expels police union
BY DIANE BUKOWSKI
JUNE 15, 2020
Youth at June 13 protest, Detroit. VOD photo
DETROIT — As a global uprising galvanized by the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd May 31 continues, hundreds of protesters of all races, genders and ages turned out again Sat. June 13 in front of the Detroit Police Department’s “Public Safety Headquarters” for the 16th day of marches in Detroit.
They were joined by dozens of youth who marched from downtown’s Campus Martius chanting loudly, “Black Lives Matter.” (See video at top).
“We must unite and come together—too many of our people have died, brothers and sisters, old people, there is a horrible disease that killed mostly Black people,” one marcher cried out. “This is about more than just George Floyd, this is about millions that have been killed by the police, and it’s about the system that has disenfranchised Blacks across the country.”
Strikingly, the action included numerous young whites with signs recognizing their responsibility and that of other whites to fight to end racism and police brutality, and acknowledging that they have benefited from “white privilege” for centuries.
Young women were among many white youth vowing to stop racism.
Thousands more turned out again across the metro area including the suburbs and in cities small and large across Michigan, Black and white alike, families with babies in strollers along with youth and elders, an astounding phenomenon not seen since the civil rights and anti-war movements.
“Detroit Will Breathe” leader Tristan Taylor announced the organization will hold a Public Tribunal Sat. Jan. 20 to try the city’s Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig for brutality against the protesters and to further present their demands.
It will be held at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, Woodward and Jefferson, from 5 PM to 8 PM.
TRIBUNAL WILL BE HELD SAT. JUNE 20, 2020 FROM 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM AT HART PLAZA IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT, WOODWARD/JEFFERSON.
“We have so much power, we have achieved so much and we can achieve so much more, we are not marching in vain,” Taylor told hundreds outside the DPD headquarters. “The public tribunal on the racist [Detroit] police brutality experienced by protesters is to make sure the truth is told and that we have justice.” He said protesters who have been arrested and charged, who are among those invited to attend and speak, cannot count on the courts to accomplish that.
Duggan temporarily put Detroit under a curfew while the DPD arrested hundreds, including members of the media, using tear gas and rubber bullets, claiming protests were run by outside instigators. Protests in Detroit began peacefully, but were immediately met by walls of police in riot gear and in military tanks funded by the U.S. Pentagon.
Taylor noted Detroit City Council’s intent to vote June 16 on a contract with DataWorks, which runs the city’s “Green Light” program, or “hypersurveillance of Black and Brown bodies” as Taylor termed it. The Council appeared to have removed the item as of June 15 according to emails from the City Clerk’s office.
Detroit author/activist Tawana Petty.
The Detroit News reported that caravans of up to 33 “Detroit Will Breathe” cars descended on the homes of Council members Andre Spivey, James Tate and Janee Ayers June 15, honking their horns in opposition. The Council members generally reacted in anger, with Spivey saying, “I pray that protesters try not to make Detroit like other cities; that’s not our narrative.”
Despite public notice of removal of the item from the agenda, it went ahead and held discussion through “Zoom” on June 16, with public comments from residents including Tawana Petty and Eric Blount.
Petty said major corporations and over a dozen cities in other states are considering bans on facial recognition software. The News quoted her saying, “For some reason, the blackest city in America is doubling down.” It likewise quoted Blount, who called the software “a tool of institutional racism to the highest degree.”
“Detroit will Breathe” has joined forces with veteran revolutionary organizers in Detroit, from the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Evictions, Foreclosures and Utility Shut-offs, to the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, to pursue demands encompassing a broad scope of people’s needs.
Young women who spoke at the rally called on protesters to avoid divisions and keep the broader picture in mind of the whole historic movement that has arisen in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and “keep our eyes on the prize,” as Taylor said, quoting a slogan harking back to the massive civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
At the rally, Dave Sole of Moratorium NOW! detailed many of those demands, including the fight against 3,000 evictions planned in Detroit after the current moratorium expires June 30, and the ongoing battle to provide ALL those serviced by the Detroit Water Department and the regional Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) with water, which they have declared a human rights. The GLWA was birthed during Detroit’s phony bankruptcy proceedings, after Detroit refused for decades to give up its control of water.
So far, the movement has achieved significant victories across the country, victories that were not dreamed of “even two weeks ago,” as Taylor said. The victories show unprecedented fear of the escalating protests on the part of public leaders who have rushed to consider and implement some of BLM’s demands.
Meanwhile, battles in the streets are escalating nationally and globally, while police retaliate with new killings. At least two lynchings in California and officially unsolved murders of other BLM activists have occurred, as they did after the historic Ferguson uprising for #Mike Brown in 2014.
In New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio has dismantled the NYPD’s plainclothes “anti-crime” units comprising over 600 officers in the wake of long-standing complaints from the Black and Brown communities. The New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo earllier struck down a state statute barring disclosure of police disciplinary records and say they will open them to the public.
DeBlasio just announced that NYPD officers now face a mandatory demand to turn in all their body-cam videos no longer than 30 days afterwards.
City Councils around the nation are initiating ordinances that would ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants and outlaw the use of tear gas and pepper spray on protesters, and other instruments of the police state.
In Detroit and Michigan, officials are slow to move on demands for a registry of police officers with prior complaints and convictions and oppose demands to de-fund the police, and other proposals aimed at reigning in the police. This is despite New York’s actions and even U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent executive order which would establish a database “that tracks police officers with excessive use of force complaints in their records” but is otherwise unsatisfactory to many activists.
Michigan State Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit, Ecorse, River Rouge)
State Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Inkster), a retired Wayne County Sheriff, says he is putting together a bill to open police disciplinary records statewide, but so far it has not been finalized amid opposition by various forces.
Carter told the Detroit News, “The first thing police say when something bad happens is, ‘We need more training. But I’ve gone through a police academy. I’ve taught at a police academy. I’ve been to FBI training — and nowhere is training part of what we witnessed in Minneapolis. You don’t need more training in situations like that — you need more accountability.”
But Carter as well as Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and AG Dana Nessel are opposed to demands to de-fund the police, with Nessel saying she has “friends” in police departments.
NO RACIST POLICE period. Mayors including Detroit’s Coleman Young have summarily fired racist cops such as Larry Nevers and Walter Budzyn who beat Malice Green to death in 1992.
The proposal would authorize MCOLES to revoke an officer’s state license for conduct that “adversely affects the officer’s fitness or that is detrimental to the reputation, integrity and discipline of the department;” proposes departments must maintain misconduct records indefinitely and calls for “a centralized registry of misconduct that is accessible by the public and to law enforcement agencies across the state to make it more difficult for a bad officer to move to another jurisdiction.”
Nessel proposes to amend state law governing the forfeiture of employee benefits so that officers lose pensions and other retirement benefits on conviction of felonies including severe injury and death.
Neesel wants to mandate that law enforcement agencies report use of force data, by race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, and age. Among other regulations, Nessel would “create an independent investigative and prosecutorial process for deaths that involve the actions of law enforcement officers.”
But the National #Black Lives Matter movement has endorsed the more fundamental demand to defund the police, which strikes at the heart of the racist infrastructure, in https://blacklivesmatter.com/defundthepolice/. It also has a national petition at that site.
De-funding and de-militarizing the police is the top demand of “#Detroit Will Breathe.” It borders closely on another demand to ABOLISH THE POLICE, and replace them with community-run structures. Advocates say that demand recognizes the very nature of the police, which has U.S. origins in the 18th century as slave-catchers, and under the capitalist system are structured to protect the property interests of the rich.
Both de-funding and abolition advocates want to channel the billions in funding currently going to police and military across the U.S. into providing for the needs of the people, including housing, health care, free access to water and other utilities if needed, and education through the college level, accompanied by cancellation of trillions in student debt owed to the U.S. government.
In Seattle, protesters have taken over a four block-plus area outside a police precinct that was boarded up during the #GeorgeFloyd protests and made it into a police-free zone called variously the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or CHAZ, and the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, CHOP. Politico says, “From there, the fluid protests, spearheaded by BLM but involving a wide spectrum of activists and ordinary citizens, coalesced with surprising rapidity into something like a provisional government.”
The Seattle Mayor and its Police Department have recognized the zone, and are now negotiating with the leaders of CHOP over the need for public passage through various streets, but controversy continues.
Meanwhile, says the Seattle Times, “The Martin Luther King County Labor Council, a powerful umbrella group that’s backed the Seattle Police Officers Guild in past contract talks, voted Wednesday night [June 17] to expel the union.
“We need to defund the police so we’re not being shot and killed,” said Evana Enabulele, an organizer with Decriminalize Seattle, which is pushing the city to address public safety by investing in basic needs and social services rather than a police system with racist roots. “When you defund the police, you’re able to actually invest in programs for Black folks and give folks the things they need.”
SEATTLE, WA – JUNE 10: A barricade is seen at an entrance to the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” on June 10, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The zone includes the blocks surrounding the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct, which was the site of violent clashes with Black Lives Matter protesters, who have continued to demonstrate in the wake of George Floyds death. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
#RayshardBrooks: In the wake of these victories, and even after police officers nationally including Derek Chauvin and his three fellow killer cops have been fired and face serious criminal charges including second-degree murder, rank-and-file police are rising up to re-assert their murderous authority in the face of the massive protests.
The people of Atlanta, Georgia flooded back into the streets in the wake of the killing of young father #RayshardBrooks, 27, by Atlanta cops Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan on June 12. Outraged, they eventually burned down the Wendy’s restaurant in whose parking lot the killing happened.
An autopsy found that Brooks suffered two gunshot wounds to his back and he died of organ injuries and blood loss, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner who ruled Brooks’ death a homicide.
On June 17, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, Jr. announced charges of felony murder against Rolfe, and multiple counts of aggravated assault for wildly shooting in the direction of witnesses in a nearby car.
Howard said Brooks did not pose an immediate threat when Rolfe shot him, that hew was “cooperative” and “jovial” with officers after he was found “peacefully” sleeping in his car and subjected to a sobriety test.
Wendy’s Restaurant, site of the June 12, 2020 murder of #RayshardBrooks, burns afterwards.
“For 41 minutes and 17 seconds, he followed their instructions, he answered the questions,” Howard said. “Mr. Brooks was never informed that he was under arrest for driving under the influence. . . .[then] grabbed by the rear.”
Rolfe was fired immediately after the killing and Brosnan put on administrative leave by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms after police chief Erica Shields resigned. Protests have continued to escalate, crowned by a massive march in downtown Atlanta Sunday, June 14 sponsored by the NAACP.
The unedited bodycam video, below, shows that Brooks engaged in a lengthy, low-key discussion with the officers lasting nearly 45 minutes, beginning first when Brosnan stopped him in the Wendy’s. At the conclusion of the discussion, Rolfe had him perform a walking test over a long period of time, and then demanded that he take a breathalyzer test. It was later revealed Brooks had a low level of alcohol in his blood. Brooks had told officers he had only one and a half drinks.
The last two minutes of the video show Rolfe abruptly handcuffing Brooks, without even telling him the results of the test. Off guard, Brooks resisted the arrest, which appeared to be without cause since he had offered to walk back to his sister’s nearby apartment and leave the car in the parking lot. (Michigan’s Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal to resist an unlawful arrest–see)
Rolfe then stunned him with a Taser, a potentially fatal instrument that deals extreme pain to the recipient. Likely perceiving himself under severe and unwarranted attack, Brooks grabbed the taser away from Rolfe and ran with it. As he ran, he saw Rolfe take out his gun, and then fired the taser he had at Rolfe in self-defense. Rolfe shot him in the back twice, and he fell to the ground. The bodycam video does not show officers attempting to render any medical aid to him, or even calling EMS, as he laying bleeding out on the ground according to the ME. He continued to speak, telling the officers to call the EMS, indicating that he likely might have survived with immediate medical aid.
Below are videos published by the New York Times showing the final portions of the police bodycam videos along with videos from witnesses and the Wendy’s surveillance video.
Woman at Wendy’s.
Since the charges have been brought against Rolfe, Atlanta police officers are beginning to call in sick. They also featured an unrecognizable photo on their Facebook page of a woman in black (photo at left) they claimed initiated the burning of the Wendy’s, so they could pursue charges. Cops on the Facebook page posted numerous derogatory comments about her, then posted a photo showing a woman in yellow and green claiming it was it was the same woman. The Atlanta Police Department official website carries a photo of Atlanta police in riot gear in a large military tank (below).
US DOJ acts against those accused of arson in Minneapolis Police Precinct, but will it take action against murders by police?
The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that they had “captured” Dylan “Shakespeare” Robinson of Brainerd, Minnesota in Colorado after bringing arson charges against him. They alleged he was shown in various media coverage among the individuals who firebombed the Minneapolis Police Station.
(l to r) Braden Wolfe, Dylan Robinson, and Bryce Williams, charged by Feds with Minneapolis PD station burning.
They earlier arrested Braden Wolfe and Bryce Williams (see photo at left). The USDOJ is devoting substantial time and effort on such charges against protesters.
At the same time they contend they are investigating the police murders which caused the deaths of #GeorgeFloyd of Minneapolis, #RayshardBrooks of Atlanta, and (seen below) #ManuelEllis of Tacoma, Washington.
Even under President Barack Obama, the USDOJ actually participated in the 2009 assassination of #ImamLuqmanAbdullah, leader of a mosque in a poor Black neighborhood in Detroit, shooting him 21 times in an ambush as he defended himself from an attack by a police dog which was attacking and biting him. The USDOJ eventually investigated itself and unsurprisingly, cleared all involved in the Imam’s death, including their own agents, and Detroit and Dearborn, MI police.
Michael Brown, killed by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson Aug. 9, 2014.
Imam Luqman Abdullah, killed by Joint Detroit-FBI task force Oct. 28, 2009
Even under Democratic President Barack Obama, the USDOJ did not bring civil rights charges against dozens of cops implicated in the police murders of #MichaelBrown in Ferguson, MO in 2014, which gave rise to the #BLM movement, and hundreds of other police murders which ensued across the nation.
Manuel Ellis, choked, tased and beaten to death by Tacoma, WA police.
#BLM protests are invigorating support for those recently killed by police as well. They include Manuel Ellis March 3 after being tased, punched and choked by Tacoma, Washington police officers.
Releases of two new passersby videos of his death, including one with audio where witnesses are pleading with police, “Ohmigod, just arrest him, stop hitting him, ohmigod that was so scary,” in the video below, which is dated June 5. The Ellis case is now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice as well, after dissatisfaction with city and state investigations was expressed by his family.
Meanwhile, Austin, Texas police were captured on video kneeling on a teen’s neck during a #GeorgeFloyd protest there. Numerous other instances of police brutality against #GeorgeFloyd protesters have been reported across the country in the months since his death on May 31.
Over the past weeks two young Black men, Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch from California, and two so far unidentified Houston men have been found hanged to death in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.
Fuller had just participated in a #BLM protest in front of Palmdale City Hall, where he was found lynched June 10. Malcolm Harsch of Victorville, CA was found hanged outside the Victorville City library June 16. Two men, one Latino and the second Black, were found hanged in Houston, Texas, home of #GEORGEFLOYD, and site of his funeral this week.
Investigators in the Fuller and Marsch deaths at first termed them suicides, but were met with cries of outrage by their families, who said they had no reason to kill themselves, and protesters have massed to march against the lynchings in both cities.
Protesters mass outside tree where Robert Fuller was found hanged in Palmdale, CA.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a Black teen was found hanged outside an elementary school in Houston, while two days earlier, Houston police found a Hispanic man hanged outside a store in the community of Shady Acres. Authorities have not identified the men and were still awaiting autopsy results from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
“We’re talking about multiple people hanging from trees across America in the middle of a race war that’s going on,” said resident Anthony Scott,” the AJC reported. Another man who would not give his name said, “With everything that’s been transpiring, with all of the hangings that have been taking place within the last two weeks, why wouldn’t you automatically assume foul play? No one is hanging themselves from a tree.
Oluwatoyin Salau, #BLM activist slain with another
The AJC also reported that “The family of 19-year-old Oluwatoyin Salau, a woman who recently protested after the death of George Floyd, confirmed that the activist was found dead after being missing for more than a week.
“Salau was one of two victims discovered Saturday night off Monday Road in southeast Tallahassee, [Florida] the Tallahassee Police Department revealed June 15. . . .The other victim, Victoria “Vicki” Sims, had also been reported missing. Sims was a retired state worker and was well-known in her community for volunteering for local Democratic races.”
In 2018, Danye Jones, the 16-year-old son of prominent Ferguson #BLM protester Melissa McKinnies was found hanged in their backyard. McKinnies has said he had every reason to live, and decried a ruling by the Medical Examiner that he was a suicide,
She posted on her Facebook page, “My baby was lynched,” with photos of him as she found him hanging. Her actions were reminiscent of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s mother displaying his mangled body during his funeral decades ago, after he was lynched for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
After the Ferguson rebellion of 2014, numerous activists were targeted and killed, including DeAndre Joshua in November 2014 and Darren Seals in September 2016, who both were found shot to death inside torched vehicles. Seals was with Michael Brown the day he was murdered by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, and spoke out constantly about his friend’s death. Another protester, Shawn Gray, who testified during grand jury proceedings, was also found dead later.
Authorities claimed three other Ferguson protesters committed suicide, MarShawn McCarrel of Columbus, Ohio, in February 2016, Edward Crawford Jr., 27, in May 2017, and Bassem Masri, a 31-year-old Palestinian American.
Edward Crawford, Jr. (r) is seen in this Pulitzer Prize-winning photo from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during battles with police that took place during the Ferguson rebellions.
On June 17, police claimed Terron Boone, the brother of Robert Fuller, was shot and killed during an interaction with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Rosamund, California, according to a statement from a lawyer for the Fuller family.
Terron J. Boone, killed by LA County sheriffs June 17.
According to officials, it began as a search for “a kidnap domestic assault suspect” by the department’s Major Crimes Bureau. Boone was in the front passenger seat with a woman driver and a 7-year-old girl in the back seat. “Detectives followed the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop,” the sheriff’s office said “The suspect opened the front passenger door of the vehicle and engaged the Deputies by firing multiple rounds at them with a handgun.”
They said Boone was struck several times in the “upper torso,” and pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver was also shot once in the chest. She was reportedly treated at a hospital and released. A 7-year-old girl was in the car but was not injured.
There is no law enforcement video available of the shooting, because neither the detectives involved in the chase nor their vehicles were equipped with cameras. They claimed investigators are trying to recover video from other systems in the area.
However, one witness, who watched from the balcony of a nearby apartment building said that she believes she heard “four or five gunshots” and then saw Boone’s body slumped over, dead, in the passenger seat of the vehicle, contradicting the sheriffs’ version.
Video of the scene (below) show all of the vehicle’s windows, driver and passenger side in the front, and both in the rear of the SUV, completely blasted out.
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Tristan Taylor leads one of daily protests held over the last two weeks in downtown Detroit and elsewhere against George Floyd’s murder. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya). He and other group leaders met with Mayor Mike Duggan June 11 to raise demands including “De-Fund the Police” but said afterwards no agreement was reached. He said any future meetings would have to be held in public.
Having not yet won real power over the police, this is no time for a lull or a truce — it’s time to sharpen our political instruments and deepen the mass movement’s social penetration.
“The objective is to seize and exercise people’s power in our communities, and to defend the people’s rights and interests.”
Former NBA star Stephen Jackson grew up with George Floyd in Houston, TX. and maintained a close friendship with him throughout their lives. See BAR column “Stephen Jackson is Right–Justice 4 George Floyd Requires Power to the People” linked below.
The awesome power of massed, militant people in motion has been manifest since the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Much of the world now knows Floyd’s name; majorities of Americans say they support “Black Lives Matter”; New York City’s mayor pledged to slash his cops’ budget in deference to the Black Lives Matter demand to defund the police; the Minneapolis city council has promised to move towards disbanding their police force, in the spirit of outright abolition; and the grassroots demand for community control of police – previously rejected out of hand by most city councils – is now part of the “mainstream” political conversation.
So massive and swift has been the swing in popular sentiment against the police – the coercive organs of the State – that “A&E has decided not to run new episodes of ‘Live PD’ this Friday and Saturday, while Paramount Network has delayed the Season 33 launch of ‘Cops,’” according to Variety magazine.
“Movement” politics is how the people flex their power, while electoral politics under a corporate duopoly system is the domain of the moneyed classes. This is a lesson learned in the Sixties — a period when some years saw as many as 5,000 separate demonstrations. The makeup of the U.S. House and Senate did not change dramatically during that tumultuous decade. Political contributions kept most incumbents in office, year after year, as is the case today. But, for a time, the lawmakers behaved differently — voting for civil rights and social justice measures they had not previously supported — when confronted with masses of determined people in motion, who sometimes burned cities,
“Electoral politics under a corporate duopoly system is the domain of the moneyed classes.”
Graphic: Black Agenda Report
Movement politics was finally quashed in the latter part of the Sixties by a combination of lethal force and political seduction. A national policy of mass Black incarceration, supported by both corporate parties, criminalized Black people as a group, while federal and local police waged a murderous, dirty war to crush Black radicals. On the seduction front, the Democratic Party opened its doors to a hungry cohort of Black politicians and aspiring businessmen who preached that the movement must shift gears “from the streets to the suites” – the beginnings of today’s Black Misleadership Class.
By 1979, after a decade of Black electoral victories in cities abandoned by whites, everyone was singing McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” – but the mass movement had long been snuffed out. The Black-white economic gap – which had briefly shrunken as a result of social justice victories in the Sixties — was beginning to widen, and mass Black incarceration ravaged the Black social fabric. But the Black political class and a small elite of entrepreneurs, professionals and entertainers were doing better than ever – and they were all-in with the Democratic Party, which soon succeeded in subverting virtually every civic organization in Black America. The spoils of a long-dead mass movement of the streets had ultimately accrued to a tiny sliver of Black folks in suites.
“A hungry cohort of Black politicians and aspiring businessmen preached that the movement must shift gears ‘from the streets to the suites.’”
Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) Military gear came straight from the Pentagon under 1033 program.
For four decades, Black America was stalled in a political dead zone in which the only sustained politics was that which took place in the Democratic Party half of the corporate duopoly. As servants of forces hostile to Black people, Black politicians consistently acted against the interests of their constituents, collaborating in the destruction of public housing and the gentrification of Black neighborhoods. In the ultimate act of betrayal, the Black Misleadership Class lovingly embraced the Mass Black Incarceration Regime. In 2014, just two months before Michael Brown was gunned down by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, 80 percent of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against a bill that would have halted the Pentagon’s infamous 1033 program that funnels billions of dollars in military weapons and gear to local police departments. The emergence of what came to be called the “Black Lives Matter movement” had no substantive effect on Black members of Congress. In 2018, 75 percent of them supported a bill that makes police a “protected class” and assault on police a “hate crime.”
“The emergence of what came to be called the ‘Black Lives Matter movement’ had no substantive effect on Black members of Congress.”
These are the same scoundrels that this week “took a knee” in the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall along with their boss, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – the same Democratic leader that refused to hold hearings on the Katrina catastrophe in 2005 for fear that the Democrats would lose white votes in 2006 for being too closely associated with Black people. But, just as the U.S. Congress in the Sixties responded to mass movements in the street, so Pelosi’s Democrats offered legislation that “forces federal police to use body and dashboard cameras, ban chokeholds, eliminates unannounced police raids known as ‘no-knock warrants,’ makes it easier to hold police liable for civil rights violations and calls for federal funds to be withheld from local police forces who do not make similar reforms.”
Demonstrators march in New York, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally and march. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
These are palliatives that have only been offered because of the presence of masses of people in the streets. Don’t thank the Democrats – the credit goes to the activists that have been disrupting the racist social order that both parties, including the vast majority of Black lawmakers, have maintained for the four generations since we last had a mass political movement. Given the recent phenomenal rise in popularity of “Black LivesMatter,” which is now supported by a majority of Americans and overwhelming numbers of Blacks, the police reforms are likely to pass the House — and possibly even the Republican-controlled Senate, in some form. But these measures do not empower the oppressed – they are only a response to the power that Blacks and our numerous non-Black allies have shown in the streets: the power to disrupt and shame the ruling order in the United States, and the threat of much more to come.
“’Black Lives Matter’ is now supported by a majority of Americans”
Having not yet won real power over the police – the coercive organs of government that claim a monopoly on the use of force — this is no time for a lull or a truce. Rather, it is time to sharpen our political instruments and deepen the mass movement’s social penetration. The objective is to seize and exercise people’s power in our communities, and to defend the people’s rights and interests – the opposite of the role played by the police, who defend property rights and white supremacy, whatever the cops’ color or ethnicity.
Protesters demanded community replacement of police forces in Black and poor neighborhoods during protest vs. Detroit police task force murder of Terrance Kellom, 19 in 2015.
Community control of police and outright abolition of police are wholly compatible demands, Both are predicated on the right of the people to shape, control or abolish the coercive organs of the state, at least in their own communities. Defunding of the police is about allocation of resources, not power, which is why New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been repeatedly punked by his own cops, can claim to favor some level of defunding. However, a significant section of “Black Lives Matter” – those under the influence of Alicia Garza and her corporate philanthropic backers — is clearly resistant to community control of the police and only gives lip service to abolition as a goal for the far-off future. We can expect that the contradictions between that faction of “Black Lives Matter” and other activists will deepen – maybe rather quickly – since the conflict is rooted in who’s paying the bills.
“Defunding the police is about allocation of resources, not power.”
The lifeblood of social movements against white supremacism, capitalism and imperialism is solidarity among all the victims of these isms. Alicia Garza actively discourages Black solidarity with anybody outside the borders of the United States – doubtless as a condition of her funding. That’s why her Black Census project, which last year conducted the biggest survey of U.S. Blacks in history, chose not to ask a single question on foreign policy. Black Americans have historically been the most pro-peace, anti-militarism constituency in the nation and, besides Arab Americans, the most empathetic to the plight of Palestinians. The Black Census is most useful as a domestic issues guide for Democratic politicians – which is how it is cleverly packaged. Garza has chosen to be an asset to the Party – a disturbing situation, given her status in the “movement.”
Charles and Inez Barron, NYC City Council
The Democratic Party is the movement’s greatest institutional political foe, since it infests and dominates virtually all Black civic organizations. (The Republican Party is not a factor in Black America’s internal workings.) The Democrats are the Party of capital, of the bankers, the people displacers, the warmongers – and a Black Caucus that is allied overwhelming with the police. However, Black America is a one-party polity, due to a system that reserves half of the duopoly for the White Man’s Party, the GOP. Therefore, some genuine Black progressives, and even revolutionaries, have run for office, and won, as Democrats, for lack of any other viable platform. Essentially, this very small cohort of righteous officeholders are anti-Democrats who fight the corporate Party machine at every juncture. Among them are Charles and Inez Barron, the nominally Democratic husband-wife team representing a Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood in the city council and state legislature; and St. Louis alderman Jesse Todd, also a nominal Democrat.
“This very small cohort of righteous officeholders are anti-Democrats who fight the corporate Party machine at every juncture.”
Todd and the Barrons are members of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations (as am I), which holds its annual Electoral School, via Zoom, June 13 and 14 . The Coalition, made up of 15 organizations plus many individual activists, has promulgated a 19-point National Black Agenda for Self-Determination that puts forward principled, self-determinationist positions on the broadest range of issue-areas, including community control of police. Black Is Back’s approach to electoral politics is simple: the Coalition will endorse no candidate for office who is not in accord with the National Black Agenda for Self-Determination.
The term “Black Power,” as we learned in the Sixties, can be misused in myriad ways. Black Democratic Party loyalists claim that Blacks were empowered by voting for Joe Biden in huge numbers in the primaries, thus saving his presidential candidacy. “Hands that once picked cotton, now pick presidents,” the Black Democrats exult, as if power flows from abject servitude to the corporate dictatorship. In reality, Black voters gave the presidential nomination to a politician who claims he “wrote” the crime bill that resulted in the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Black people; whose opposition to single payer health care guarantees that Black people will continue to die disproportionately from damn near all causes; and who opposes defunding the police, a minimal demand of the current mass movement.
The oligarchs that rule the country and control both of its corporate parties and all of its major media want the people to believe that politics is limited to the electoral process, and that street activism, labor militancy and community organizing are outside the realm of “real” politics. The events of the past ten days have proven the opposite: that massive street actions and unrelenting people-pressure can yield far better results than decades of pulling levers for corporate duopoly candidates.
ANTHONY CLARK-REED, 24–Suffocated by Detroit police March 30, 2015; video: cops forced him out of car during asthma attack, sat on his back to handcuff him, delayed getting his inhaler, then illegally administered it themselves
Dr. Werner Spitz: Clark-Reed “died as a result of asphyxiation due to his inability to breathe brought on by asthma, triggered by stress, agitation and fear during his arrest.”
Cops first told Med. Examiner that Clark-Reed choked following swallowing drugs, ran those comments on WXYZ page; ME found no drugs in stomach
Detroit Police Chief Craig, Mayor Duggan told media police not responsible for Clark-Reed’s death, despite U.S. District Court ruling in favor of family
Craig, Duggan launch police attacks on peaceful marchers protesting murder of #GeorgeFloyd, claim Detroit cops different from all others
Terrance Kellom, 19, killed by Detroit police task force three weeks after Clark-Reed’s death; no charges brought in either death, many more
By Diane Bukowski
June 4, 2020
DETROIT– Millions ofmarchers flooded streets across the U.S. and globally, part of historic, unprecedented uprisings after Darnella Frazier’s chilling video of the murder of #GeorgeFloyd by Minneapolis police May 25 went viral. On May 28, family and friends of Anthony Clark-Reed, 24, similarly suffocated by Detroit police March 30, 2015, joined the rising tide to call for justice for George Floyd and for their loved one, and charges against all the police officers involved.
Neighborhood youth and friends of Anthony Clark-Reed at prayer vigil outside Springwells Ave. Baptist Church April 1, 2015.
“I’m tired, everybody’s tired because of these rogue cops out here doing whatever they want,” Clark-Reed’s mother Veda Reed said, weeping. “Why do we have to be scared every time we see a cop? They’re supposed to protect us, but they’re killing us –they’re killing us one by one.“
The press conference/rally was held at Springwells Avenue Baptist Church, a small venue ministering to an impoverished, multi-racial neighborhood on Detroit’s southwest side.
Pastor Kevin Clark, father of Anthony Clark-Reed, leads the church. He was joined by other leaders including Pastor Keyon Payton, EBONY Foundation’s National Director of Community and Outreach and Engagement and head of the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac, and Pastor K.C. Pierce II of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.
Detroit cops attack peaceful marchers May 29, the first day of protests in Detroit against the murder of George Floyd. Photo: Nic Antaya/DN
Despite the family’s recent victory in federal court detailed by Attorney Herb Sanders, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in coverage of the event that the officers were not and will not be charged, and denied any liability for the young man’s death. Craig told Channel 7 that Clark Reed died from “asthma and morbid obesity,” and that police actions in his death were deemed appropriate by Internal Affairs and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
However, U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker did not agree in her ruling on the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the case rendered Sept. 20, 2019. (See summary of key points in ruling in box below at left.)
Craig later condemned peaceful marchers in Detroit protesting the death of George Floyd, and launched police attacks on them beginning the first day of protests May 29. He, Mayor Mike Duggan, and “community leaders” they recruited claimed protesters were from outside the city, and that Detroit police are different from those across the country, not responsible for repeated cases of brutality like the murder of George Floyd. Craig said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were working with the DPD to investigate and stem the protests.
The Channel 7 report above reported in error that police got Clark-Reed out of his car to “save his life” from asthma attack; the stop precipitated it.
Clark-Reed died on Detroit’s impoverished southwest side at Vernor and Lawndale, around the corner from the small Springwells Avenue Baptist Church pastored by his father the Rev. Kevin Clark. U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker allowed the family’s civil lawsuit in Clark-Reed’s death to move forward in a ruling Sept. 19, 2019, partially denying the city’s motion to dismiss it. See full ruling at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/AClarkReed-Lawsuit-Ruling.pdf.
Pastor Kevin Clark and Veda Reed, parents of Anthony Clark-Reed, at rally May 28, 2020. “They are killing us one by one,” Reed said.
According to the lawsuit, Judge Parker’s summation of facts, and a store videotape, Detroit police officers Tracy Moreno, Robin Carver, and Eric Carthan pulled Clark-Reed’s burgundy Dodge Charger over because it had partially tinted windows.
The officers were part of a special unit looking for drugs, guns and gang activity in a targeted neighborhood. At the time, Chief Craig was conducting police sweeps across Detroit neighborhoods and massive roundups, looking for those with outstanding warrants. During the rally, Clark-Reed’s mother Leda Reed detailed ongoing police beatings and harassment of youth in Detroit.
On the day of Clark Reed’s death, Moreno was driving the scout car. Clark-Reed complied with his orders to turn off his car, open all its windows, and place his hands behind his head. Moreno then opened the driver’s door, ordered Clark-Reed to exit and lay on the ground, then handcuffed him while sitting on his back. The young man man asked the officers to get his inhaler because he thought he was having an asthma attack.
“I can’t breathe,” he told them.
But the officers stood him up and took him to the side of the squad car, as his breathing became “labored,” while they thoroughly searched his car, unsuccessfully, for contraband, opening all the doors and the trunk. They finally brought him his inhaler and ineffectively administered it themselves as he called for an ambulance. Family attorney Herb Sanders said nationally-known forensic examiner Dr. Werner Spitz’ said Clark-Reed died of “suffocation.” The Wayne County Medical Examiner reported police falsely told him Clark-Reed had swallowed drugs, but found none in his stomach.d
Pastor Clark recounted the agonizing days after he was belatedly informed of his son’s death by police.
“I live in Pontiac and made it down here as fast as I could drive,” Pastor Clark said. “There was no police presence at the hospital—only a chaplain who told us Anthony died from a heart attack. I called Detroit Police Homicide only to get an answer, ‘Oh the one that swallowed the dope.’ I said beg your pardon. When they finally pulled up the report hours later, it was on a minor vehicle violation form. It took Chief Craig two days to call me. I told him he had been doing a wonderful job, but that I knew he was going to try to assassinate my son’s character. Just like they have done with Michael Brown and George Floyd. For five years they thought we would be silent—but we decided to come together today to let the city of Detroit and Chief Craig know this is not right.”
Below: video of Atty. Herb Sanders remarks on Anthony Clark Reed’s death
Above: Pastor Clark says uprisings across the country in George Floyd’s death are appropriate because Blacks waiting for justice for decades.
“I’m tired, everybody’s tired because of these rogue cops out here doing whatever they want,” Leda Reed told the congregation as some wept. “Why do we have to be scared every time we see a cop? They’re supposed to protect us, but they’re killing us –they’re killing us one by one.”
Clark-Reed was her only son and oldest child.
Anthony Clark-Reed with mother Leda Reed.
“He wasn’t just my son, he was my best friend,” Reed told VOD for an earlier story. “He had a smile on every day, and was always doing something silly. He was my first-born. He never cried even when he was a baby. He worked in Wixom for four years, went to Henry Ford College, and had just been hired at Chrysler.”
Reed said her son, who was 6 feet, two inches, and over 300 lbs., often drove his girlfriend’s new red Charger, and was frequently stopped by police.
“He would always call me or his girlfriend on his cellphone right away and leave it on so we could hear what was happening, and he would always call me by 9 p.m. to let me know he was home.” But on the night of March 30, 2015, neither heard from Anthony.
Veda Reed: Police known by name in community for constant illegal stops, frame-ups and harassment of poor youth and those of color.
Below is the original video of George Floyd’s murder, taken by Darnella Frazier, who has faced threats along with accolades for recording this horrendous act. Her video has been excerpted in coverage around the world, but visceral reaction to the original appalling Facebook video, shown below by British media, is the real source of the world-wide rebellions against police killings and brutality.
Detroit Police Chief Craig’s characterization of Detroit as a city with a police force different from those in other cities has often been repeated like a mantra by local mainstream media. But a review of the DPD’s history shows otherwise.
DETROIT POLICE KILLINGS, ETC. DURING CRAIG’S TERM 2013-PRESENT
Chief Craig during Operation Mistletoe in Dec. 2013, one of many controversial massive police sweeps he ordered to find Detroiters with outstanding warrants. Hundreds were arrested as police from DPD, the ATF, Customs and more stormed homes and apartments occupied largely by poor Black families, without search warrants, as the corporate theft of Detroit’s assets proceeded with the largest urban bankruptcy in history. An article from Periphery Magazine on a Colony Arms Apts. resident’s reaction to the first raid is at http://www.theperipherymag.com/essay-a-residents-analysis
Chief Craig served with the Los Angeles Police Department for 27 years before Detroit’ Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr appointed him to his current post. During his tenure with the LAPD, he sat on its internal LAPD task force, which whitewashed the notorious Ramparts precinct cases involving killings, beatings, and frame-ups of dozens of city residents, most of them Black or Latinx. Later, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened and put the LAPD under a consent decree involving federal oversight.
Darren Reese-Brown (R), co-author of article on Colony Arms Apts. police raid, with his fiancee Cassandra and their four children (l to r)Cameron, Camari. Carissa, and Junior in 2014.
After he took office in Detroit, Craig launched massive police sweeps in neighborhoods throughout the city, allegedly targeting individuals with outstanding criminal warrants, but in fact attacking the poorest areas occupied by people of color, without search warrants, and armed to the teeth.
The raids were conducted by the Detroit Police Dept., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Michigan State Police; Border Patrol; Michigan’s Department of Corrections; and a unit of Detroit SWAT officers.
Those raids were directly followed by police killings, including:
Matthew Joseph, 23.
April 2, 2013: MATTHEW JOSEPH, 23, killed by a multi-agency task force at the corner of Linwood and Hooker after a short chase. Detroit police officer Patrick Hill later died of wounds police admitted were “friendly fire,” first blaming Joseph.
Police alleged they were pursuing Joseph as a suspect in the killing of a crack dealer who was the son of a retired Detroit police officer. Another man in the car told VOD a lawyer for Joseph’s family said Joseph had been shot at least 50 times. Neighborhood witnesses contradicted police reports that he fired on them. They said Joseph died in the driver’s seat of his car without using his gun. (Craig launched Operation Mistletoe, shown in photo above, directly across the street from this location in Dec. 2013.)
AUGUST 26, 2013 Name withheld by police
An off-duty Detroit police officer fatally shot a suspected carjacker early Monday outside a Southfield apartment complex. The shooting happened around 2 a.m. at the Sutton Place Apartments in the 23000 block Riverside Dr., near 9 Mile Road and Lahser. Police say the officer was getting out of his Dodge Charger when he was approached by two armed suspects. “Fearing for his safety, he fired several rounds and struck one suspect,” said Southfield Lt. Nick Louissa. No known subsequent investigation.
NOVEMBER 28, 2014 SAMUEL TORRES
Police shot and killed Torres, saying they suspected him for murdering a woman earlier. Detroit police officers trailed the man to Macy’s Cleaners in Dearborn. Police say he pulled a gun on officers, who then shot and killed him inside the business.
APRIL 27, 2015 TERRANCE KELLOM, 19
Less than one month after Clark-Reed died, a Detroit “Fugitive Apprehension Task Force” invaded the home of Kevin Kellom without a warrant and assassinated his son, Terrance Kellom, 19 years old, giving rise to a massive march in their neighborhood near Joy Rd. and Evergreen.
Terrance Kellom and infant son
Terrance had a six-month old son and was awaiting the birth of a daughter several weeks later.
Rallies for justice for #TerranceKellom continued across Detroit for months afterwards, as his family and supporters waited for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s decision on whether to bring charges.
Worthy sealed the autopsy report, a public record, and afterwards declared that federal I.C.E. officer Mitchell Quinn, who fired at least some of the bullets in a fusillade that killed Kellom, was not liable in Kellom’s death due to “insufficient evidence.” She upheld the DPD’s allegation that Kellom had threatened officers with a hammer, although no fingerprints were found on the hammer, shown in an evidence photo a substantial distance away from where Kellom fell.
But Detroit Police Officer Darell Fitzgerald, head of the DPD section of the task force, said in a sworn deposition Nov. 26, 2018 that the young father was in custody, unarmed, with no hammer in his hand, when he was killed, and that he buckled to his knees after the first shot before the rest of eight bullets struck him. He also said that he saw no hammer in the house.
Terrance Kellom’s family and their supporters outside federal court May 2, 2019 after DPD officer Fitzgerald said Kellom had no hammer. Kellom’s children are standing in front with his father Kevin Kellom.
At trial however, Fitzgerald denied his sworn deposition statements, stating that he did not see Kellom at all after the shooting, The jury found against Kellom’s family. In January, 2020, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court denied the family’s appeal, on grounds that “The Civil Appeal Statement of Parties and Issues and transcript Purchase Order entry were not filed as requested.” U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, known as an ultraconservative, earlier denied the impoverished family’s request for free copies of the trial transcripts.
The case is on record as Nelda Kellom v. Mitchell Quinn, Case No. : 2:17-cv-11084.
June 25, 2015: MAKIAH & MICHAELANGELO JACKSON, 3 & 6 YRS. OLD
Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson, 6 and 3
Killed during reckless chase of driver Lorenzo Harris by Detroit Special Ops officers Steven Feltz, Richard Billingslea, and Hakeem Patterson. The cops claimed they saw him with a gun in his car, which was never found. They started chasing Harris near E. Warren and Haverhill, wound south almost to Mack Avenue, then back up Nottingham. The Jackson children were killed on Nottingham near Frankfort, north of E. Warren.
“The police tried to ram the car at the corner of Nottingham and Brunswick [one block north of Mack] and nearly hit my kids, 14 and 11,” a resident living near that location said. “He [Harris] almost jumped that curb over there where there were other little kids. You’d think the police would have backed off thechase at that point, but they were going 80 to 90 mph right on his bumper. If he would have tapped his brake, they would have hit him.”
Police in the reckless chase were never charged. Instead Harris was tried and convicted of second-degree murder.
DECEMBER 23, 2015: KEVIN MATTHEWS, 35
Matthews, who suffered from mental illness but was nonviolent, was shot multiple times and killed by a white Dearborn cop, still unidentified by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, never brought charges. The cop chased Matthews, who was on foot, in his police car on Tireman, the border between Detroit and Dearborn.
He then exited the car to chase him on foot out of range of his car’s dashcam video, to a backyard in Detroit, where he shot him multiple times as a neighbor heard him begging, “Don’t shoot.” His family said Matthews was on disability income, and had also been hit by a car Thanksgiving Day, breaking his arm and sustaining injuries to his head. They said his cast had just come off, but he still could not use his arm to pose a threat. The National Action Network of Detroit held a large march to protest his death in Dearborn Jan. 2, 2016, but has not followed up since.
JANUARY 27, 2016: JANET WILSON, 31
Janet Wilsons car, punctured by bullet holes, after it was rammed by cops.
Shot to death by Dearborn cops after they and Detroit cops followed her when she left Fairlane Mall in Dearborn after a verbal dispute with store employees.
Relatives said she was mentally ill and might have been off her medications. Police jammed her car into a roadblock. They claimed she had tried to run them down, then fired multiple rounds into her car, killing her. Charges were sought, by refused by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. Her family later won $1.25 million in a lawsuit filed against the Dearborn officer and the City of Dearborn.
FEB. 2017 RAYNARD BURTON, 19
Cop Jerold Blanding
Detroit Police Officer Jerold Blanding, known in an Instagram Post as “Fatal Force,” chased 19-year-old Raynard Burton behind a house and shot him after an alleged struggle.
Officers said they pursued Burton because he’d been speeding. When Burton crashed and ran from his vehicle, Blanding left his partner behind to go after him on foot. Once out of view, Detroit police said the teen “lunged” at Blanding in an attempt to grab his gun, causing him to fire a single, deadly shot. This was the third time Blanding, a 22-year DPD veteran, had been involved in a shooting.
Judge Timothy Kenny
Thelonious ‘Shawn” Searcy
Blanding was never charged in Burton’s killing, but later that year was charged with 17 offenses involving driving and possessing three guns while intoxicated, and resisting and obstructing police officers. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, now Chief Judge, dismissed all charges but a single one of resisting and obstructing, for which he sentenced him to two years of probation.
Last year, Kenny denied Thelonious “Shawn” Searcy’s motion for relief from judgment in a 2004 first degree-murder case. This was AFTER an evidentiary hearing in which Vincent Smothers confessed in detail to the murder, and during which it was proven that the decedent was killed by .40 caliber bullets, not .45 caliber bullets which Kenny falsely blamed in his opinion. Smothers, testifying without his attorney present, said he used a 40-caliber gun to kill the decedent in an account that matched forensic evidence.
During the trial in 2004, Kenny LIED to jurors, telling them that the bullets found in the decedent were “not identifiable.” Searcy has now served over 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and recently tested positive for COVID-19.
JUNE 5, 2017 — Name withheld by police
An off-duty Detroit police officer was buying liquor when a man allegedly tried to rob him. Each shot, the man was killed, and the deputy wounded. Allegedly, someone came along shortly afterward and stole both their guns. No known charges.
SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 — ABDULLAH BEARD (DETRIC DRIVER)
Abdullah Beard (Detric Driver) with wife
Detric Driver, whose Muslim name was Abdullah Beard, was shot to death after Detroit police invaded his home in a no-knock raid, allegedly in connection with the earlier killing of a 5-year-old girl. He was not involved in that killing, however. He was sleeping on his living room couch when police broke in.
Police claimed there was a gun on the floor near Beard and that he pointed it at them. It was a gun the family legally used for protection in their poor neighborhood.
Later, the Michigan State Police initiated an investigation, after Beard’s political affiliations were exposed.
Imam Luqman Abdullah
#DullahBeard was a follower of Imam Luqman Abdullah, leader of a mosque in Detroit’s Black community in a poor west side neighborhood. Imam Abdullah was assassinated in 2009 during a sting operation by the FBI, and police from Detroit and Dearborn. He was shot 21 times after he defended himself from a police dog which had been let loose to bite him.
#DullahBeard was among the Masjif El-Haqq mosque members the FBI indicted on trumped-up charges, based largely on hearsay accounts by confidential informants who had infiltrated the group. The indictment cited alleged conversations with mosque members, not actual criminal activities.
Imam Jamil Al-Amin
The FBI investigation was linked to the group’s ties with Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H.Rap Brown of the Black Panthers), both of them peaceful organizers of Black youth and families in their poverty-stricken communities. Imam Jamil El-Amin was framed for the murder of a Fulton County Deputy Sheriff who raided his home with others. Al-Amin is serving a life sentence in federal prison.
Similar FBI stings were conducted against groups of Black men in Florida and New York during the same time period.
The targeting of these Black Liberation activists brings to mind the announced involvement of the FBI in identifying so-called “violent” protesters participating in the massive marchers across the U.S. decrying the murder of George Floyd.
Kevin Pudlik, 41 and paralyzed, was the passenger in a car driven by another man who led Detroit and Michigan State police on a high-speed chase on Detroit’s southwest side. Police brought the car to a stop by ramming it at least three times in a so-called “pit maneuver,” then opened up with a barrage of gunfire from the driver’s side of the car.
The driver was hit twice and survived, but Pudlik, who could not play any role due to his paralysis, was shot multiple times by gunfire entering the driver’s side and proceeding to the passenger side.
DECEMBER 16, 2019 LOUIS PATRICK VEAL
Detroit police shot Louis Veal to death. It happened around 4:40 p.m. on Woodlawn near Erwin. The officers were conducting an investigation of an earlier double murder when an unknown person (identity later revealed) fired shots at them. The officers returned fire, striking and killing the suspect.
JANUARY 18, 2020MAURICE JOHNSON, 40
Maurice Johnson, a 40-year-0ld father, was walking home from work at an oil-change shop along Telegraph Rd. when he was struck by a car driven by a man fleeing police. One officer had shot him in the the stomach earlier at a gas station on 7 Mile Rd. The man had allegedly stolen a car. He was shot in the stomach while sitting INSIDE his car. His car is seen in video with the driver’s side window smashed out. Normal DPD policy is to charge the driver being chased, not the police who conducted the reckless chase.
FEBRUARY 24, 2020 KENYEL WILLIAM BROWN, 40
Kenyel William Brown was a suspect in six fatal shootings in the metro area, and allegedly on the run.
He was never tried or convicted for any of the shootings, and was later exposed as a police informant.
Police from Detroit and suburban police chased him to the backyard of a home in Oak Park, a predominantly Black suburb north of Detroit. As seen in the video above, whatever happened in that backyard was screened from view by a solid white wooden fence with a height exceeding that of most people. Although police helicopters were at the scene, no video was published from their vantage point. Detroit police claimed Brown shot himself in the head while inside that backyard, and later died from his injuries at a hospital.
BELOW: PROTESTS AGAINST THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD, POLICE BRUTALITY AND RACISM CONTINUE DAILY IN METRO DETROIT AND CITIES ACROSS THE U.S. AND THE WORLD. VIDEO BELOW IS JUNE 6. One protester’s sign shown at the end of this video demands “De-fund Police.” That demand is spreading nationally.
THE BATTLE CONTINUES IN METRO DETROIT SUNDAY, JUNE 7, 2020 CALLING FOR END TO POLICE KILLINGS, BRUTALITY:
Rochester Hills, 10 am, Rochester Hills public library
Grosse Ile, 10 am, Corner of Macomb and Meridian
Novi, 11 am, Novi Police Headquarters
Madison Heights, 12 pm, Madison Heights City Hall
Bloomfield Hills, 12 pm, City of Bloomfield Hills, MI – City Hall
Romulus, 12 p.m. Corey Elementary parking lot
Southfield, 12 p.m., Hope United Methodist Church
Oak Park, 1 pm, corner of Coolidge and 9 Mile Road
Detroit, 1:15 pm, Dequindre Cut
Royal Oak, 2 pm, 211 S Williams St
Ypsilanti, 2 pm, Ypsilanti District Library
Waterford, 4 pm, Waterford Police Department
Ferndale, 4 pm, Ferndale Police Department
Detroit, 4 pm, Detroit Police Headquarters
Sterling Heights, 4:30 pm Hall Rd near the Golden Corridor
Donations for the Voice of Detroit are urgently needed to keep this paper going. It is published pro bono, by individuals on limited incomes or none at all (MDOC prisoners). Among ongoing expenses are quarterly HostLab web charges of $360, costs for court documents, internet fees, office supplies, gas, etc. Please, if you can:
David Shelton (center) with son David Stinson (l) and daughter (r) Mariah Shelton
1994 MSP forensic lab report shows “[no] Negroid hairs . . . that could have originated from David Shelton;” complete report withheld from defense
Rape victim said attacker “could have been a white man,” did not identify him in live line-up that included only Black men
Prosecutor told jury they had no “scientific evidence” related to case
Shelton in letter to State AG: “My skin seems to be my only sin.”
By Diane Bukowski, VOD Editor, and Ricardo Ferrell, Field Editor
DETROIT –Where is the justice in Oakland County? David Shelton, serving 40-60 years for rape since 1994, is hoping that Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel, with the Western Michigan University/Cooley Law Innocence Clinic, will be able to win justice for him using over $1 million in federal grants meant to re-examine forensic evidence.
In 1994, David Shelton, who is Black, was sent to Jackson State Prison to serve lengthy jail terms after being convicted in separate cases of raping two white women who lived in the apartment complex where he stayed with his girlfriend. Oddly, the cases were heard in one trial with two juries in front of the late Oakland County Judge Francis X. O’Brien.
Shelton was convicted by an all-white jury in the first case of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and sentenced to 40-60 years in prison, and of rape and assault in the second case, for which he was sentenced to 1 to 4 years and 2 years. The second offense allegedly took place two weeks after the first, both in February, 1993.
But in 2017, Shelton obtained Michigan State Police forensic reports, withheld from the defense in 1994. One said that a microscopic examination of hairs found in the bed of the first victim, and on a mask allegedly worn by the assailant, “did not detect any Negroid hairs that could have originated from David Shelton.”
Police had reported the victim originally said that her rapist “could have been a white man” she met earlier in the day at the apartment complex pool. She was not able to identify her rapist in a live line-up, which included only Black men, but did so in court.
“I have been trying for almost three decades to get people to see that I was framed for this crime,” Shelton told VOD reporter Ricardo Ferrell. “The police involved knew I didn’t do it. The prosecutor definitely knew I was innocent, but that didn’t matter. In their eyes, I was an expendable Black man, who they could use to close a case. I hope and pray that the wheels of justice finally begin to roll and that the truth comes out and I’m exonerated and set free.”
Shelton is now 54. His only son David Stinson was just four years old when his father was convicted, but for the past seven years has been fighting to free him.
“Racism, politics and corruption, those are the reasons he got sent to prison and why he’s still in prison,” Stinson told VOD. “Oakland County is a powerful county and that’s likely the reason no one will give the relief to him that he deserves. This justice system is supposed to be fair to all defendants regardless of their skin color. My father was singled out, arrested, investigated, and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, and has spent the last 27 years in prison. Waking up each day knowing that he is innocent is really hard for him.”
According to trial transcripts, the Assistant Prosecutor told the jury in his opening statement on the first day of Shelton’s trial July 11, 1994, “So we don’t have any scientific evidence and you’re not going to hear anything about scientific evidence — or DNA testing, or anything like that.”
The reports, initiated by the Michigan State Police Forensic Lab on Feb. 2, 1993, were not completed until final results were obtained Sept. 16, 1993. The prosecution did not turn over the full report with the final results, according to a letter from Shelton’s first attorney Jerome Fenton dated Sept. 30, 1993, sent to his trial attorney Ben Gonek.
Judge O’Brien and the all-white jury never saw or heard testimony about the following report, dated 9-16-93, which should have raised serious doubts about Shelton’s guilt.
The forensic reports also state that no fingerprints were found on a mask prosecutors alleged at trial was worn by the rapist despite the prosecution’s allegations that Shelton’s fingerprint was found.
Royal Oak Twp. Sgt. Cecil Dawson
If true, that would show the Oakland County Prosecutors violated the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brady v. Maryland (373 US 83 – 1963), which says ALL exculpatory evidence (favorable to the defendant) from prosecutors or police must be turned over to the defense.
In a pro se application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, Shelton says his trial attorney was guilty of ineffective assistance of counsel on several grounds. Gonek agreed to stipulate to the partial report at trial, knowing it was not complete, without having the MSP forensic lab technician testify to its contents, among other alleged misdeeds.
RELATED EXCERPT: “Rodriguez [informant] certainly changed the lives of four metro Detroit officers. Former Royal Oak Township Deputy Chief Cecil Dawson, 49, of Southfield was sentenced Dec. 8 to 10 years in prison; former Highland Park officer Albert Bursey, 47, was sentenced to the same term Dec. 17. Erwin Heard, a former Highland Park officer, was sentenced in May to 15 months in federal prison. Albert Bursey’s wife, Christine Bursey, a former Royal Oak Township police officer, stood trial, was convicted and was sentenced Dec. 17 to 15 years and eight months in prison.”
But evidence of Dawson’s corruption was known well before Shelton’s conviction.
Dawson was cited by U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Solomon v. Royal Oak Township (656 F. Supp. 1254-1986) for running his own security agency on the side while he was the township’s Chief of Police, and getting CCW charges against a security employee dropped.
Judge Diggs Taylor noted that Dawson was one of several Royal Oak Township police employees who likely conspired to frame the plaintiff, Odis Solomon on rape charges, which led to his discharge.
Solomon served as Chief of Police under a 1978 order for superintending control over the Royal Oak Township Police Department imposed by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Hilda Gage because of rampant corruption in the department.
The Judge upheld Solomon’s allegation that he was fired as a whistleblower, and restored his job as Chief of Police with back pay. (See ruling below story.)
The record of the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office in charging sex crimes with likely insufficient evidence, continuing past Shelton’s conviction, was examined in a Detroit Free Press article, “Oakland Fumbles Sex Charges,” on April 27, 2008.
The Free Press found that Oakland County had won only 50 percent of cases involving sex charges between 2005 and 2008, compared to a conviction rate of 80 percent in Wayne County. Oakland County’s acquittal rate was 35 percent.
“Experts say a 35 percent acquittal rate is a sign prosecutors are bringing cases that don’t hold up under a jury’s scrutiny,” the Free Press said. “‘That’s high and that should give them concern,’ said Abbe Smith, the former deputy director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard University. ‘The charging decision is a critical decision. You should not prosecute every case.” (See text version of complete article below story.)
VOD spoke with Mariah Shelton (shown in photo at top), who was only two years old when her father was imprisoned.
She said, “It took me quite a while to understand that my father wasn’t going to be there for my first day of school, my prom and my graduating high school, and first day of college. I know in my heart of hearts my father is innocent. I just hope the scales of justice will balance out and that the victim steps up and tell the truth, that it wasn’t my father who assaulted her, because the evidence clearly shows it wasn’t him.”
Leslee Moore, who is Shelton’s fiancé, has stood by his side from the beginning, as a dedicated and supportive life partner.
“There’s no way my David raped that woman,” she said. “ I know him better than anyone. Believe me, if he had done this, I would not have been with him for over 13 years,” says Moore.
Shelton’s girl friend at the time of his arrest, Jacqueline White, was not called to testify at his trial, although she had testified in his favor at his preliminary exam. She denied police reports that a Halloween mask fished out of the apartment complex’s trash was involved in the rapes. She said she threw it out because it frightened her child. The police and prosecution produced several masks of different types before settling on the one found in the trash.
The family of David Shelton has told VOD that they are extremely concerned about him because of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, which has hit the Michigan prisons hard. Shelton is being held at the Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula.
The facility is one of the temporary prisons that were constructed in the mid to late eighties intended to temporarily house inmates due to overcrowding issues. Kinross is a pole barn setting where approximately 1,280 inmates are confined in close quarters making the spread of COVID-19 inevitable.
Shelton submitted his case to the U-M Law School Innocence Clinic in 2012 , but was referred to the Cooley Law School Innocence Clinic instead, since it dealt with DNA evidence.
Shelton said his hopes rose in 2004 when he became involved, along with 140 other prisoners and a Lansing-based Innocence Project, in a successful fight to permanently extend a 2001 state statute that required law enforcement agencies to preserve evidence from cases decided prior to 2001, as long as the defendant is behind bars. Prior to the statute, there was no requirement governing evidence preservation among Michigan’s law enforcement departments, meaning material that could be tested for DNA was lost or destroyed in numerous cases.
Exoneree Kenneth Wyniemko and Prof. Marla Mitchell-Cichon, head of WMU-Cooley Innocence Project
One of the Michigan prisoners involved was Kenneth Wyniemko, whose exoneration was featured recently in “The Innocence Files,” a Netflix series authored by the Equal Justice Initiative. But Wyniemko was the only prisoner of those 140 to win exoneration.
At the time, Shelton’s attorneys were trying to get the forensic evidence in his case re-tested for DNA, to strengthen the earlier biological tests on hair evidence excluding him, and to see if the actual perpetrator could be identified. That was not done. Since that time, Shelton says, Innocence Clinics have considered his case three more times, with no resolution.
But Shelton’s son David said he and his family were contacted last year by Atty. Lori Montgomery, of State Attorney General Nessel’s Conviction Integrity Unit. The AG’s CIU and the Western Michigan University/Cooley Law Innocence Clinic received federal grants of over $1 million in 2019 which require the two agencies to assess if unreliable forensic practices led to a conviction in cases of plausible innocence.
VOD contacted the AG’s office through its spokesperson Courtney Covington, who said the AG’s office is not allowing public discussion of individual cases. But Covington did provide VOD with the following update on the project in an email.
“As of today we have received letter requests for assistance from 945 people. We sent applications out and have received 342 applications back thus far. We have sent 75 cases to the Cooley Innocence Project – our partner agency under the federal grant – for further evaluation of forensic evidence.”
Lori Montgomery (l) of AG’s office with Marla Mitchell-Cichon (center) and Daniela Mendez (r) of WMU/Cooley Law Innocence Project, a member of the national Innocence Network.
Covington said 122 claims have been rejected because they did not meet the projects prerequisites. These include exclusion of cases from Wayne County, (which has its own CIU), or cases in federal court or outside the state.
“Most important, we cannot review legal errors or cases where the claimant has not raised an allegation of new evidence (not offered to the trial court) illustrating innocence,” Covington noted. Shelton’s case does in fact involve such an allegation.
Covington said that the AG’s CIU was announced in April 2019, but did not receive actual funding until January 2020. She said the true impact of COVID-19 in Michigan was not felt until March 9, which has delayed DNA work. Robyn Frankel, the head of the AG’s CIU, worked up until Jan. 2020 reviewing previous Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act claims, which resulted in the AG’s authorization of payment to many claimants.
Commentary by Ricardo Ferrell: The statewide Conviction Integrity Unit should be all over the Shelton case. This conviction against David Shelton should be the linchpin in revealing the level of corruption out in Oakland County. They’ve gotten away for a long time with targeting Black folks, putting them in jail and sending them off to prison for crimes they didn’t commit. What kind of system of justice sends innocent people to prison and doesn’t think twice about how that impacts families.
VOD has extensively gone over court documents in the Shelton case and doesn’t see how the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office in their right conscience could argue for a conviction to stand that isn’t supported by any physical evidence. The DNA itself excludes David Shelton, the fingerprints on the mask, a key piece of the prosecution’s so-called evidence, didn’t match Shelton’s prints and the most shocking piece of evidence found was that of DNA (hair) in the victim’s bed that did not have any Negroid traits. So, how can an African American, namely David Shelton, stand convicted of such a crime?
VOD reports, but when you have corrupt cops, an overzealous prosecutor’s office and a victim willing to give perjured, coached and false testimony against a Black man, you simply don’t stand a chance in the racist Oakland County. It has been this way out in Oakland for decades. Black defendants are treated as if they are automatically guilty. Never mind the notion of ‘innocent until proven guilty;’ that premise just don’t count, if your skin is Black.
STORIES BELOW RELATE TO JUVENILE LIFERS IN MICHIGAN, 200 OF WHOM HAVE NOT BEEN RE-SENTENCED DESPITE U.S. SUPREME COURT RULINGS; Oakland County’s Pros. Jessica Cooper recommended renewed LWOP sentences for 100% of that County’s juvenile lifers.
Angry march and run against the murder of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, GA.
ARTICLE FROM THE INNOCENCE PROJECT WEBSITE; PHOTOS, VIDEOS ADDED BY VOD
The Innocence Project stands with Ahmaud Arbery, presumed guilty and robbed of his life in broad daylight.
The publicity around Arbery’s murder finally brought to light the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky in March
By Daniele Selby
Ahmaud Arbery (Family photo)
On Feb. 23, Ahmaud Arbery went for a run near his home in Satilla Shores, on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia, as he had many times before. The 25-year-old loved to run and was an athlete in high school, but his run and his life were unjustly cut short that afternoon when two white men — father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael — shot and killed Arbery, a Black man.
After spotting Arbery on his run, the McMichaels picked up their guns and pursued him in a truck. Gregory told police that he and his son thought Arbery resembled a man suspected of recent break-ins in the area. However, public records showed only one recent burglary in the area in which a gun was stolen from an unlocked truck outside Travis’ house, the Brunswick News reported. Arbery is not reported to have been a suspect in that crime.
The father and son pair claimed self-defense, and for 11 weeks, no arrests were made for the death of Arbery. In fact, after one prosecutor recused herself from the investigation because Gregory had worked in her office as a police officer, a second prosecutor, George Barnhill, took over the case and found no reason to charge the McMichaels for the killing of an innocent man at all. Barnhill eventually recused himself because his son had previously worked with Gregory, and because Barnhill’s son and Gregory had been involved in a previous, unrelated investigation of Arbery.
It was only after a video showing the two armed men approaching and fatally shooting Arbery surfaced, leading to nation-wide outrage, that the McMichaels were finally arrested on May 7 — one day before Arbery, known as Maud by his friends and family, would have celebrated his 26th birthday.
But we cannot say justice is being served because justice delayed is justice denied. Why did it take three months, a leaked video of Arbery’s violent death, and national outcry for the wheels of justice to be set in motion?
Arbery’s death highlights glaring inequality and racism that pervades all aspects of life in the United States, including the legal system. Throughout history, Black people — and Black men, in particular — have been robbed of the presumption of innocence and a fair shot at justice.
Innocent Black people are seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than white people, the National Registry of Exonerations reported. And, while Black people make up just 13% of the U.S. population, they account for 40% of the nearly 2.3 million incarcerated people in the country. This is not because of Black people commit more crimes, but, in large part, because of the way Black communities and other communities of color are policed and presumed guilty. Numerous studies have shown that Black and Latinx people are more likely to be stopped, searched, and suspected of a crime (even when no crime has occured), due to implicit and explicit biases.
“I wish the world would have gotten the chance to know Ahmaud…”
But Arbery wasn’t even stopped and frisked by law enforcement. He was presumed guilty, judged, and executed by two everyday citizens acting as vigilantes. The McMichaels then continued to live freely and were not held accountable for their actions. Instead they were shielded by law enforcement, until a leaked video of Arbery’s unjust killing made it impossible for them to do so any longer.
The video was released by Alan Tucker, a criminal defense lawyer who consulted with the McMichaels, in an effort to bridge racial and communal tension that has followed the 25-year-old’s death. He wanted to show that “It wasn’t two men with a Confederate flag in the back of a truck going down the road and shooting a jogger in the back,” Tucker told the New York Times.
But the lack of a Confederate flag present at Arbery’s killing does not indicate a lack of racism leading to his death nor in the investigation of his death.
Though the McMichaels didn’t carry a Confederate flag and are not reported to have used racial slurs against Arbery, the McMichaels racially profiled him and assumed an innocent man going for a jog was guilty of a minor property crime — for which they sentenced him to death.
Killers, Gregory and Travis McMichael, finally charged with murder.
As a Black man, Arbery didn’t have the freedom to safely go for a run in his own neighborhood. Yet, as white men, the McMichaels were given a pass for their fatal “citizen’s arrest” by a prosecutor. If two Black men had carried out a “citizen’s arrest” of a white man in Georgia that resulted in his killing, it is unlikely they would have walked free as the McMichaels did.
For two months after Arbery’s death, his family and friends feared that he would simply be forgotten, especially because their ability to safely protest and gather in his honor have been hindered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They feared that justice in his case would never be pursued.
Their fear was not unfounded.
An analysis of more than 52,000 murders by the Washington Post found that homicides are more likely to be “solved” when the victim is white than when the victim is Black or Latinx. In Oakland, California, for example, the Washington Post found that arrests were made in 63% of homicide cases with white victims, but just 46% of homicide cases in which the victim was Black.
Photos of Breonna Taylor, a decorated EMT, at a memorial site for her.
The biases seen in Arbery’s case are the same kinds of biases that encourage law enforcement officials to rush to pursue certain suspects with tunnel vision, instead of conducting a robust investigation into several potential suspects. In March, Breonna Taylor was shot dead in Louisville, Kentucky, by police officers who were looking for a man suspected in a drug-related crime. The man did not live in Taylor’s apartment complex and, at the time of her killing, was already in police custody. And not only do law enforcement officials preemptively judge suspects due to their implicit and explicit racial biases, but they also allow their judgement to color investigations. This is often the first step in a case toward wrongful conviction.
People across the U.S. — and the world — honored Arbery’s life this weekend, sharing photos of themselves running with the hashtag #IRunWithMaud. It’s not the 26th birthday celebration he likely would have chosen, but we hope that the increased awareness of racial bias in the criminal justice system raised by his unjust killing will inspire a real effort to dismantle such inequalities and racism and eradicate them from the legal system.
Following the global attention on the case, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the handling of Arbery’s killing. A different prosecutor has now been assigned to his case for the fourth time.
“I wish the world would have gotten the chance to know Ahmaud, to really truly love Ahmaud,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones told “NBC Nightly News” after the McMichaels’ arrests.
To the Arbery family, the Innocence Project mourns Ahmaud’s death and the opportunity to have known this young man. We stand with you in seeking justice for Ahmaud.
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