By Diane Bukowski
Commentary, March 12, 2012
DETROIT – There is a war being waged by terrorists on the people of Detroit, particularly on our youth. It is NOT a war being waged BY the youth, nor a war being waged by those living in Detroit’s poor, majority-Black neighborhoods, without jobs, and frequently without homes, lights, gas, water and food.
The terrorists in question are those creating a virtual police state in Detroit, t0 increase the growing population of our prison nation, currently 2.5 million, the highest per capita rate in the world.
Pulling the puppet strings on the terrorists are the big-time criminals: the banks, corporations and politicians who have REFUSED to provide hope for the future of Detroit’s people.
In his state of the city address March 7, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing mentioned jobs only once, referring briefly to the Summer Youth Employment program. He had no jobs program for the rest of the year or the rest of Detroiters. In fact, he discussed further downsizing city government and departments which already provide thousands of jobs.
He did not call for an end to foreclosures and utility shut-offs. He did not call on the state to pay back the $220 million it owes Detroit, or use its $1 billion budget surplus to aid the poorest city in the country.
Instead, he focused much of his talk on so-called “public safety.” (Click on Bing State of the City 2012 )
“Public safety is a top priority of my administration,” he said. “. . . . this past week the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DEA, ATF and the Detroit Police Department announced that they have expanded their efforts on our city’s east side to crack down on violent crime. This will mean that those terrorizing our neighborhoods will be prosecuted federally and face stiffer penalties. . . .We can no longer tolerate this terrorism in our city, and, tonight I want to thank our dedicated community partners and the various community radio patrol groups. I encourage all Detroiters to join them in protecting our neighborhoods and demanding a better quality of life.”
Which brings us to the Detroit 300.
Non-laudatory news about these “dedicated community partners” finally hit the airwaves March 9. (See video at top of article.) Two women, Jessica and Stephanie Brown, claimed members of the Detroit 300 terrorized THEM in their vigilante search for the killer(s) of infant Delrik Waymon Miller IV (search announced in video below; video of baby Delrik’s mother at bottom of article).
They said Northwest Precinct Detroit police officers called downtown first to get the authority to allow Detroit 300 members to meet with the mother and daughter in an interrogation room. There, the women said, the Detroit 300 members repeatedly threatened and verbally abused them, insisting that they knew who the killer(s) were (common police interrogation tactics) before finally releasing them.
The women said they knew nothing about the shooting, but claimed the Detroit 300 had circulated their photos in the neighborhoods, endangering their own families.
How did the “Detroit 300” have the authority to interrogate ANYBODY, or to HOLD AND RELEASE anybody, whether in a police station or ANYWHERE? They have repeatedly been lauded in the daily media. They announced their campaign to find the drive-by killers of baby Delric Miller during a press conference. Some Detroit 300 members wore hoods to conceal their faces. WHY? Are they undercover cops, perhaps? After this publicity, prisoners in the Wayne County Jail assaulted an individual police described only as a “person of interest” in the killing.
WHO ARE THE DETROIT 300?
“The Detroit 300 is a conglomerate of citizens, civic groups, organizations and businesses that are banned together fight & deter crime in our residential areas, also known as neighborhoods,” declares their website. “Its sole focus is to help communities organize to eradicate crime by policing targeted areas and collectively pursuing individuals who wreak havoc, mayhem, and terror therein (eg., murder, shootings, rape, burglary, robbery, assault & battery, burning of dwellings and stripping of homes.)
“The Detroit 300 was founded by Raphael B. Johnson (National TV Personality for the Maury Show/Community Activist) and Co-founded by Angelo B. Henderson (Pulitzer Prize winner/Radio Personality and Minister Malik Shabazz (25 year Community Activist). The group was born out of the Detroit community’s frustration with perpetual neighborhood crimes.”
Of course, Minister Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Nation is the same individual who has picketed alleged “drug houses” in poor areas of Detroit for years, always backed up by the police, themselves alleged to be frequent perpetrators of drug-trafficking.
The Detroit 300 incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2010, according the state’s business entity website. They have not yet filed their annual report with the state for 2011. Although they claim to be a non-profit, they are not listed with all other non-profits across the country on Guidestar.org, to which the federal government sends what are known as “990” tax filings for non-profits. Their incorporation documents are signed only by Raphael B. Johnson.
Their by-laws, posted on their website, (click on FINAL BY LAWS OF THE DETROIT 300) indicate they have no actual members, but only a Board of Directors which is vested with all powers. The board may have from three to 11 directors, who maintain office until “death, resignation, or removal.” Removal is authorized only by other members of the board. There is no listing available of board members or officers.
VOD contacted Raphael B. Johnson by email to ask him the following questions:
1) Where is funding for your organization coming from? According to the by-laws, you have provisions indemnifying officers, etc. against lawsuits and even criminal charges, meaning you have some method of paying for legal representation at the very least. Is any funding coming from the Police Department or other law enforcement agencies?
2) Who ARE the people who sit on your board of directors, as well as officers like CEO, Vice-President(s), Secretary. Treasurer, etc.? They are not disclosed in your articles of incorporation, filed in 2010. Additionally, you have not filed an annual report for 2011 according to state records. Normally you would list officers on an annual report.
3) You are incorporated as a non-profit. However, there is no report on Guidestar.org, to which the IRS forwards all 990 filings of non-profit organizations, on the Detroit 300. You should have at least filed a form 990 for the year 2010. Are you reporting to the IRS? Please provide me with a copy of your certification as a non-profit from the IRS at the very least; I am requesting all copies of any 990’s filed as well. According to federal law, if I come to your office to request these materials, they must be provided within 24 hours, which I do plan to do if you don’t supply them otherwise.
4) What is your statement regarding the actions of your members on Friday, March 9, in interrogating two women at the Northwest Detroit Police Precinct? Not only regarding interrogating them at that site, but also about interrogating them at all? What right do your “volunteers” have to carry out interrogations?
5) Why did “volunteers” for your organization wear black hooded masks in the video announcing your campaign to find the killers of the baby? Are they undercover cops? How do you screen your members, psychologically and otherwise, i.e. how do you know they are not psychopaths?
6) What is your comment on the fact that prisoners in the Wayne County Jail beat up a “person of interest,” NOT CHARGED, in the killing of the baby after publicity on your campaign to find the killer?
7) How do you reconcile your activities with The Detroit 300 with your own prison past? Did you take part in snitching while you were in prison, since you advocate it now?
8) Why do you target exclusively Black, poor neighborhoods in Detroit for your patrols rather than the criminals who are running our society, including Gov. Rick Snyder, Wall Street, big corporations who are illegally foreclosing on poor and working people and destroying our cities, and on down that list?
VOD WILL PUBLISH MR. JOHNSON’S RESPONSE WHEN IT COMES.
Meanwhile, our sympathies go out to ALL mothers, fathers and families of youth, children, babies and others who have been killed in the current onslaught of violence in Detroit. These are agonizing consequences of the level of despair and poverty in our city, when poor and oppressed people start turning on each other instead of the real criminals at the top.
In the 1960’s, the Black Panther Party and others ORGANIZED so-called “youth gangs” and educated them politically, totally contrary to the approach of the Detroit 300. The youth assisted the Panthers in their provision of food and education to members of the community, and in their organized political campaign against the powers-that-be.
THIS is the solution to violence in our city, not more poor people, especially youth, targeted, arrested, brutalized, killed and/or imprisoned by the terrorists who are fronting for the wealthy military-industrial-prison complex and Wall Street.