Family members from NYC, NC, Minnesota and elsewhere embrace them; Campaign against “Stop and Frisk” police policies introduced in NYC
By Diane Bukowski
Jan. 20, 2011
DETROIT – Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ mother, grandmother and aunt met with families from all over the country whose loved ones have been killed by police on Jan. 14, during a national conference held in Redford, Michigan by several coalitions. It was hosted by Arnetta Grable of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.
Dominika Stanley, Mertilla Jones, and LaKrystal Sanders were warmly and sorrowfully greeted by the participants, who came from as far away as New York City, Minneapolis and North Carolina. New York participants brought with them documentation that law enforcement has killed at least 323 residents of New York and New Jersey since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 40 of them since 2010, and that 7,000 people are killed nationally by police every year.
The Stolen Lives project, sponsored by the October 22 Coalition Against Police Brutaliey, has documented the deaths of over 2,000 people nationally at the hands of police, listed by state on a banner displayed at the meeting.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ name is first on the list of those killed in Michigan. Everyone at the conference table was in tears as Aiyana’s family members described Aiyana’s killing by Detroit police at the age of 7 on May 16, 2010, and the events since then. (Video below shows Aiyana’s induction into the Stolen Lives list in New York City in July, 2010, as family member speaks by phone.)
Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones said her daughter LaKrystal convinced her to join with others in organizing against police killings. She recalled how Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley burst into her home after an incendiary grenade was thrown through the window, seconds before he shot Aiyana to death.
“The look in his eyes said ‘kill,’” Jones recalled. “Then they blamed me for my grandbaby’s death.” Jones said Aiyana, the only daughter of seven children of her son Charles Jones and Dominika Stanley, was “mine.”
“Now they have my son locked up,” Jones continued. “They have continued to harass my family until this day. But I know who I raised—eight children, six boys and two girls, and they are not murderers. I can’t bring Aiyana back, but I can bring my son Charles and his brother Norbert home. The majority of my kids are sons. I have 22 grandchildren, and I am so scared for all of them.”
Charles Jones is currently jailed without bond on first-degree murder charges in the death of Je’Rean Blake on May 14, 2011. After three sessions of his preliminary exam, it is clear that the only evidence the prosecution can bring against him is hearsay testimony from alleged jail-house “snitch” Jay Schlenkerman, convicted of vicious beatings of several women, as well as assaults on police and numerous DUI’s. (For more info, click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/01/10/schlenkerman-brutally-abused-women-lied-served-mdoc-time-for-repeat-dui%e2%80%99s-but-is-%e2%80%98jail-house-snitch%e2%80%99-in-jones-case/.)
Jones’ next hearing is Thursday, Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in front of 36th District Court Judge E. Lynise Bryant-Weekes.
Jones said her son Norbert Jones was unjustly convicted on charges of felony murder, and sentenced to life without parole in July, 2010, two months after Aiyana died.
“My children used to have respect for the police, but no more,” Jones said. “Every time we turn around, they are harassing us. The Warren police took my daughter Krystal’s car. Why should we be put off the courthouse grounds after Charles’ hearings before we can even talk to his attorney, and why aren’t they allowing all of his family into the hearings?”
Jones said the family who moved into the flat where they had lived during the raid named their newborn daughter “Aiyana” after her granddaughter.
Grable and others said they too had experienced constant harassment and retaliation by the police and government forces when they protested the murders of their loved ones.
Grable, who is a co-founder of the Detroit Coalition, fought a 10-year battle for justice after her son Lamar Grable, 21, was shot eight times to death by three-time killer Officer Eugene Brown on Sept. 21, 1996.
During that time, she said her two other children faced constant stops by the police. Her son Aaron Grable is currently incarcerated after an illegal stop and search by Detroit police, as is the son of Cornell Squires, another Detroit Coalition member. Squires and his son were victimized by former Detroit Officer Robert Feld and William “Robocop” Melendez, both of them the subjects of repeated lawsuits and brutality charges..
‘They always blame the victim,” Grable said. She finally won her day in court against Brown, where world-famed forensic pathologist Werner Spitz testified Lamar had been executed as he lay on the ground. Brown admitted on the stand that it “was possible” he had shot Lamar in the chest on the ground after shooting him in the back and turning him over. His admission led the Michigan appeals and Supreme Courts to deny the City of Detroit’s appeal of a $4 million jury verdict.
Other family members were present to plan a continuing offensive against what they said is a national epidemic of police murders and brutality.
They included Juanita Young, of New York City, who assured Aiyana’s relatives that they will find comfort and support working with other victimized families.
“”We have turned the police brutality coalition into an underground railroad for victims of the police,” Young told the Jones family. “They’re going after my children to get at me… But they are not going to make me shut up,” she said earlier in an article published at http://rwor.org/a/174/juanita_young-en.html in the newspaper Revolution.
Young’s son Malcolm Ferguson was shot and killed by New York plainclothes police officer Louis Rivera on March 1, 2000. She too fought a long battle in court, with a jury finally awarding her a $10.5 million verdict in 2007. The New York Supreme Court of Appeals reduced the judgment to $2.7 million in 2010.
Young herself was brutalized and arrested by police in 2006. A jury later acquitted her of charges in that case, but on August 8, 2009, NYPD officers raided her home again.
“Over a dozen plainclothes police officers broke down the door, attacking Juanita’s oldest son, James (JJ) Ferguson,” Alice Woodward wrote in the Revolution article.
“They pulled down JJ’s pants, knocked him to the ground and turned him over face down on the pavement. They pushed their knees into JJ’s neck and back, choked him, punched him, handcuffed him and pepper-sprayed him. JJ was vomiting and had several bumps on his head as he was put into the police car. Police also sexually assaulted Juanita Young’s oldest daughter, Saran, while Saran held her baby in her arms. They arrested seven people including two of Juanita Young’s daughters. JJ Ferguson was charged with several serious charges, the six others were given a summons for disorderly conduct.”
Nicholas Heyward, Sr., also of New York, told the heart-rending story of his 13-year-old son Nicholas Hayward, Jr.’s killing by New York housing officer Brian George, also known as “Robocop,” on Sept. 27, 1994.
His child was playing “cops and robbers” with others in the Gowanus Houses park in Brooklyn, using a toy gun with a bright red tip that did not look like a real gun. George shot him in mid-sentence as he said, “We’re only playing, we’re only play. . . .” according to witnesses’ accounts. George was never charged.
Afterwards, Heyward, Sr. was repeatedly picked out by cops, harassed and arrested for things like walking his dogs without a leash.
“My fight in the struggle for justice continues because we continue to see authorities exonerate brutal, murdering cops no matter how clear the evidence of their crime,” Heyward said in an account of the case published in the book Stolen Lives, “Because we bury too many of our children while the cops who murder them walk free. Because the mainstream media continues to cover up and help justify police assaults on the people.”
The park where Nicholas, Jr. was killed has been re-named “Nicholas Nequan Heyward, Jr. Park,” and has become a center for community organizing against police brutality, with annual events on October 22, and a mural depicting the child. A foundation established in his name gives out basketball scholarships every summer, has a mentoring program and sponsors numerous other events. Its website is at http://www.nicholasheywardmemorialfoundation.org/
Jesse Barber of Greensboro, North Carolina, attended the national conference, still fighting against police brutality on behalf of her son Gilbert Barber, killed at the age of 22 by Guilford [“Guilty”] County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Gordy in 2001, and others.
“Our people have always been killed by police,” Barber said.
An account of what happened, “Crying Murder,” was published by “The Campus Echo.”. According to the article, Barber had a one-car accident, then was pepper-sprayed and shot three times by Gordy, who claimed he approached him in a threatening manner and shot at him, a startling similarity to Brown’s claims in the Grable killing. Evidence at the Brown civil trial showed that Brown himself likely shot twice into his bulletproof vest while not wearing it.
The family’s attorney told the Campus Echo that Barber was dragged into a nearby church, where pools of blood and five of Barber’s teeth were found, some still attached to gum tissue. The church furniture was covered with blood. Police claimed Barber knocked his own teeth out with a wooden collection plate, but a dental forensic specialist testified that was “highly unlikely.” For more information, go to http://web.nccu.edu/campus/echo/archive10-0102/c-murder.html
Danette Chavis, mother of Gregory Chavis. killed by the NYPD on October 9, 2004, was one of the most outspoken members of the New York delegation during the meeting of Jan. 14. The entire conference took place over three days, Jan. 13-Jan. 25, 2012.
“My son Gregory was shot in the back by a police officer; and the police prevented his friends from carrying him to the hospital, which was sitting across the street from where he was shot,” Danette Chavis earlier told Revolution newspaper. “I am angry. I am tired of fighting them, but something keeps me going.”
Ms. Chavis warned the assembly that there is a movement to pass legislation to make it illegal for people to videotape police officers in action. Twelve states have so far passed laws against this, although several have been overturned by federal circuit courts of appeals. However, the move to make this illegal on a federal level has not ceased. See http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/08/opinion/la-oe-turley-video-20111108
In a recorded statement, she told members of the New York Coalition that people from every police precinct in the country who have experienced killings and brutality at the hands of police must address U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to demand justice. To date, however, Holder has not done so. In 2010, the USDOJ exonerated the FBI and Detroit police in the assassination of Detroit’s Imam Luqman Abdullah.
A New York Oct. 22 Coalition member addressed the assembly about the group’s latest venture, “STOP STOP AND FRISK,” in a conference call. He said that in the last two years, NYPD has recorded 250,000 cases where police stopped individuals and searched them.
“Less than 10 percent of the stops were valid,” he said. “Only two percent resulted in charges being brought. The policy is aided and abetted by NYPD’s policies placing quotas on the number of arrests made by officers to determine who is more ‘efficient.’ Most times people are stopped for no reason, sometimes just for standing in front of their own buildings, and then they get $250 tickets for loitering.”
The spokesman said the coalition has organized occupations outside New York courthouses to protest this policy.
In 2006, two Detroit officers, Michael Osman and Michael Parish, upgraded this policy to abject depravity, stopping dozens of Black men in broad daylight on public streets, stripping them, and penetrating them anally under the guise of drug searches, as well as otherwise sexually abusing them. Their actions fit the state definition of criminal sexual conduct (rape) in the first degree. Such searches are illegal without a court order and must be done by medical personnel.
Osman and Parish never faced charges despite broad publicity (the story was broken by this reporter, who did a series on the cases in The Michigan Citizen, which was followed up by the daily media).
Shockingly, a member of Communities United Against Police Brutality, (CUAPB www.cuapb.org ), from Minnesota’s Twin Cities, said such police rape of Black men is prevalent in Minneapolis to this day. Several members of CUAPB attended the conference.
October 22nd Coalition organizer Scott Trent, of North Carolina, addressed the meeting on the connection of the epidemic of police brutality with the mass incarceration rate in the United States, which has 2.5 million people in prison, the largest per capita rate of any country in the world. He recalled the 2010 Georgia prisoners’ strike, where thousands of prisoners across the state refused to leave their cells for weeks, facing extreme retaliation including beatings and charges. Last year, prisoners across California conducted weeks-long hunger strikes to protest the brutal conditions of their solitary confinements, many of which have lasted for decades.
(To read proposed action statement brought by Trent to the meeting, click on Oct. 22 proposed statement.)
MR.VAUGH AND MS.GOLDMAN PLEASE AT LEAST SHOW MY MURDERED GRANBABY”AIYANA JONES HER DUE RESPECT BY SPELLING HER NAME RIGHT AND YOU BOTH ARE ENTITLED TO YOUR OPINION AS WELL AS I MERTILLA JONES IF YOU SHOULD EVER WANT TO HEAR THE TRUTH FROM ME JUST ASK I’LL PERSONALLY TELL YOU OF JOSEPH THE BRAIN WEEKLY MURDERING MY GRANGIRL AS HE ENTERED MY HOME I’M JUST SO TIRED OF YOU PEOPLE LISTENING TO/READING MEDIA REPORTS JUST WHERE IN MY HOME WERE THEY WHEN AIYANA STANLEY-JONES WAS MURDERED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT THAT’S SWORN TO PROTECT N SERVE HER SO LET AIYANA REST AND#GTFO WITH Y’ALL LIVES
✌ PEACE MRS.MERTILLA JONES-1-16-16
I understand that his is a private paper and your comments back it up. It’s interesting that you defend the Jones family however the fact of the matter is that we wouldn’t be having this discussion if a member of their family (a memeber because he married the aunt) hadn’t taken the life of Jerean Blake. This is a one sided story and it has always been. Yes, I’m sure you’re going to refer me back to the Charles Leduff story, but YOU didn’t write it. You haven’t even so much offered your condolences to his still grieving family. I see you in court and I saw you walking behind the Blake and the Jones family as they harassed Jerean’s family. If I heard it, then I’m sure that you heard it as well but you won’t report on that, but I am sure that YOU will if and when the Weekly family harass them. Jerean lost his life to habitual criminals who are finally being charged so maybe Lyvonne Cargill can get some justice. All we are asking for is unbiased articles that remove your hatred for the police out of it.
I’m leaving this on my site to note this comment’s total inaccuracies. I walked behind the Jones family members AS THE POLICE WERE CHASING THEM OUT OF THE COURT. THEY DID NOT HARASS JEREAN BLAKE’S FAMILY, I SAW that. In fact, I HAVE met IN PERSON with Yvonne Cargill while still working for The Michigan Citizen, and expressed my condolences at that time. I did a story on her report that white cops broke up a birthday memorial for JeRean as it was ending, and even shot at a young man as he ran away. Ms. Cargill knows that, and she SHOULD know that the police are not the friends of poor folks in this community, yet she continues to collaborate with their efforts to criminalize Charles Jones and thereby get killer cop Joseph Weekley off. Where is your grief for the JONES family, members of which saw their 7-year-old granddaughter SHOT TO DEATH as she was sleeping on their couch by a WHITE COP? Chauncey Owens is already in prison for that, what more do you want? You evidently support the word of a WHITE jail-house snitch whose hearsay testimony should NOT have been allowed in. He has brutalized many women and been convicted of numerous felonies for drunk driving and assaulting cops, but the prosecutor is so hell-bent on getting Jones convicted and getting Weekley off that he has dredged up the scum of the earth to support his case. (Moran is also the prosecutor in Weekley’s case–watch the kid gloves treatment Weekley gets.) As long as people in Detroit continue to allow themselves to be divided by the corporate media and their drumbeats supporting the police, the police will get away with murder, drug-dealing, torture, and everything else they are doing.
Forgot to mention that the Freep and The News are also private papers, owned by rich corporate moguls who publish what is in their interest. Additionally, I misspelled Ms. Cargill’s name, of course it is Lyvonne.
RIGHT NOW HERE IN “AMERICA” POLICE ARE ASSAULTING, PEPPER SPRAYING AND ARRESTING “INNOCENT PEOPLE” WHILE OBSERVING THEIR RIGHT TO PROTEST. IF ANY MAN DOUBTS THE VALIDITY OF A CLAIM OF POLICE “MURDERING INNOCENT VICTIMS” ALL THEY NEED DO, IS GIVE IT “A LITTLE MORE TIME”. AND BEFORE THEIR VERY EYES SHALL THEY HAVE ALL “THE PROOF” THEY WILL EVER NEED. BY THEN, IT WILL BE TO LATE FOR NOTHING AT ALL SHALL “TURN THEM BACK”. WE, WHO HAVE FOUGHT AGAINST THESE THINGS ARE WELL AWARE OF THE ATROCITIES WHICH HAVE BEEN COMMITTED UNDER THE GUISE OF “UPHOLDING THE LAW”. BUT THE LAW HAS DONE NOTHING TO AVAIL “THE PEOPLE” OF IT’S ALLEGED “JUSTICE”. IT’S PURPOSE APPEARS TO BE “CRIMINALIZING” THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN “ABUSED” “DISENFRANCHISED” AND “DEFRAUDED” BY THE EXISTING POWERS WHO HAVE RULED ROUGH-SHOD OVER PEOPLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF GAIN IN RICHES. BLATANT DISREGARD OF “RIGHTS” AND “CIVIL LIBERTIES” HAVE BEEN WITNESSED – YET MANY REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE IT’S SIGNAL OF, “THAT WHICH IS TO COME”. TO THEM I SAY, “YOU MAY BLAME THE VICTIMS OF THESE ATROCITIES TO YOUR HEARTS CONTENTS AND FIND FAULT WITH THOSE PRINTING INFORMATION TO KEEP YOU INFORMED BUT YOU WILL NOT ESCAPE. THIS IS NOT DESIGNATED AGAINST ANY ONE “CLASS” ANY ONE “COLOR” NOR ANY ONE “CREED”. AND UNLESS AND EXCEPT YOU COME TO TERMS WITH THE REALITY AND VALIDITY OF WHAT IS BEING TOLD TO YOU – YOU WILL “WAKE UP” ONE DAY AND DISCOVER YOU’VE ENTERED INTO A “NIGHTMARE”. SO “SLEEP ON” IF YOU MUST. FOR IT CAN NEVER BE SAID ATTEMPTS WERE NOT MADE TO “ROUSE UP” OUT OF THAT “SLEEP”. THANK YOU DIANE – FOR THE COVERING OF THAT CONFERENCE!
By the way, Jay Schlenkerman does not give a DAMN about babies like Aiyana. He does not give a DAMN about his own children, he owes many thousands of dollars in child support, and at least one mother has moved out of this state to get away from him; another pleaded in her PPO that since she lives with her son, she wanted Jay out of her house. The last woman he viciously abused has two children; did he care about them while he was torturing their mother? DO YOU CARE ABOUT THEM?
Mr. Vaughn, you have not bothered to put “Aiyana” “Chauncey Owens,” Je’Rean Blake” or “Schlenkerman” in the search engine on this website to read the coverage Voice of Detroit has done on all these issues since Aiyana’s brutal murder by Detroit police. That murder stands alone from everything else, for one thing. The extensive article on Chauncey Owens’ file explains that he NEVER named Charles Jones as the person who gave him the gun. You have not responded to my request that you address the stories other families from across the country told which are very similar to that of Aiyana’s family. Because people are convicted or in prison in this racist and classist system does NOT mean they are guilty. Yes, Owens pled guilty, but you did NOT see him name Charles Jones on TV2, and his guilty plea has now been vacated and 1st degree murder charges filed. You hail the actions of otal SCUMBAG Schlenkerman (sorry, there is no OTHER term for a man who has done to women what was detailed FROM COURT FILES in my earlier article.) Yes, he finally testified yesterday at length and in detail about what he claimed Chauncey Owens told him in jail. Spilling one’s entire guts to another inmate is totally NOT what happens in prison. Schlenkerman told Owens and his co-prisoners that he (Schlenkerman) was in jail for a bar fight. Prisoners do not as a whole like woman and child abusers. If you want to associate yourself with this SCUMBAG, remember, those who lie down with dogs get up with fleas. Everything in the articles on Schlenkerman ALSO came directly from court files. Look them up yourself, at 33rd District, at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, and on the state police webiste, as well as PPO’s on file in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. THAT IS WHERE I OBTAIN MY FACTS FROM, not from vicious rumors spread by the mainstream media, police, and others who have NO compassion for a family that saw their 7-year-old child shot to death (in the head) by a cop after an invasion that was staged for the benefit of A&E’s 48 hours. WHERE IS YOUR COMPASSION AND THAT OF MS. GOLDMAN FOR THAT FAMILY? YOU HAVE NONE BECAUSE YOU ARE SO INTENT ON EXCUSING THE POLICE FOR THEIR RESPONSIBILITY IN THAT DEATH. WATCH JOSEPH WEEKLEY WALK WHEN HE IS FINALLY TRIED, BECAUSE WAYNE COUNTY JURIES ARE DOMINATED BY SUBURBANITES AND OTHERS WHO BELIEVE EVERYTHING THE POLICE ‘TESTILY’ TO. I have covered DOZENS of such trials as a professional journalist and I know what I see. This post is for your information. But if you continue to keep this conversation going, further adding to the unbearable pain and sorrow of the Jones family, ALL these comments will be deleted. This paper is a PRIVATE paper published by ME and you have no right to spew forth inaccurate information on its.
I can assure you that I dont work for any Detroit News media or any Law enforcement agencies. I read Jane Goldmans first statement left on your blog days ago when she left her opion about Mertilla Jones and the true facts of her children Norbert and Charles Jones. you say in your own artical above Norbert Jones is serving time in prison for 1st degree murder.Charles Jones has a police record and is being charged with an hibtuial felloney of 1st degree murder. I read your blogs about Alyana’s death from you but, NOTHING of Jeream Blake. Charles Jones has to take some kind of responcability of his daughters life. Why was Chauncey owens in his house? Chauncey Owens pled guilty of 2nd degree murder of Jeream Blake. Chauncey owens took that plee deal because he is guilty and gave the information reguarding Charles Jones handing Chauncey Owens the gun to kill Jeream Blake.These are the facts. I responded to your artical saying that you have reported one sided on this story due to No info reported about jeream Blake or Chauncey owens. This artical is all about Alyana jones the sad loss in our city. I have watched fox 2 news website and seen two live videos of Chauncey Owens and one of Chauncey owens pleeding guilty of 2nd degree murder. Why havent you reported on this? I also see you tear apart Jay Schlenkerman for comming forward and speaking up with what he knows of this messed up situation. You proceed to refer to him as a ”Jail House snitch”. I applod Mr.Schlenkerman for having the guts and the respect for the familys of these children who have lost their babys to come forward and do whats right for our city ,county and State. Im a citizen of Detroit and this is my voice.
I go to Fox 2 Detroit website for the true story of Jeream Blake and Alyanas Jones story. I also believe this “Voice of Detroit ” is one sided.
Ms. Goldman, the comments from you which were deleted were nothing but baseless hearsay and negative aspersions cast on Aiyana Stanley-Jones and family. I don’t know who you are or how you claim to know this family, but YOU do not know the facts. I have published NUMEROUS articles on this case, including one written after I thoroughly reviewed the court file of Chauncey Owens. You apparently didn’t bother to read the stories of the other families from across the country who were at this meeting, which are STRIKINGLY similar to that of the Jones’ family, regarding ongoing harassment and retaliation by the police and courts–blaming the victim. No more comments of yours will be allowed on this site until you come up with some FACTS and the sources from which you claim you got them. Mr. Vaughn, if you are still so blind to the fact that the corporate-owned media has its own motives in every story it published, I feel sorry for you. My stories on Chauncey Owens and the review of his file FINALLY got a couple of the print media writers to stop saying that he had named Charles Jones as the person who gave him the gun, which HE NEVER DID. Fox 2 and others were LYING when they said this. That information was fed to them by the POLICE (in one instance, I personally observed the cozy relationship beteween police and news reporters on this case). The first question out of a reporter’s mouth one week after Aiyana was shot to death by Weekley was whether Charles Jones had given a gun to Owens to shoot Je’Rean Blake. If the police or media knew that, why did it take them more than a year and a half to charge Jones, and why are they now left with NO EVIDENCE against Jones except the word of a “jail-house snitch” named Jay Schlenkerman, who according to court records has viciously assaulted several women, been convicted two times in those cases, and been convicted numerous OTHER times for DUI and assaulting police. I have been a professional investigative reporter for 12 years and know how to obtain the facts in black and white, instead of lazily taking the word of the police alone as so many others in the corporate media do. By the way, are the two of YOU associated with the police? That’s just a rhetorical question, actually. I used to get numerous heinous comments from police when I wrote about police brutality cases for the Michigan Citizen, and your comments smack of the same viciousness.
My opion on Mertilla Jones and Facts on Norbert and Charles jones along with Chauncey Owens have Been deleated.Why? I thought this was the VOICE of Detroit , Un BOSSED. I feel Diane Bukowski is the Boss of this one sided story published for all eyes to see. As a citizen of Detroit I would like to know the facts and the whole story of Alyana Jones along with the murder of Jeream Blake.
Comments slandering individuals in stories published in the Voice of Detroit, without any proof, and arising from personal hatred, will not be allowed and WILL be deleted.