Friday, December 15, 2017

High school athletes who took the knee honored in Lansing

Lansing City Council honors football players who knelt during anthem to protest racism

LANSING — City Council honored four black Lansing Catholic High School football players who were punished by their school after kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism.
On Monday night, council adopted a resolution, which referred to the students as the "Lansing Catholic High School 4."
Lansing Catholic High School told students this year they would be penalized if they refused to stand for the national anthem before football games.
Senior Michael Lynn III, senior Matthew Abdullah, junior Kabbash Richards and senior Roje Williams knelt before several games this season to call attention to racial injustice. As a result, the school prohibited the boys from starting during some games and, in certain cases, appeared to reduce their playing time. 
“There are people that have called our actions disrespectful and I ask that those people find the disrespect in the injustices that we are calling attention to," Lynn said during Monday's city council meeting.
The athletes said they hoped the protest would lead to reforms at Lansing Catholic, including a greater emphasis on diversity, as it pertains to the faculty, students and curriculum. In November, the school's principal sent an email to announce the formation of a "multicultural diversity student group."
Two of the students, Lynn and Abdullah, have since transferred to Sexton and Holt high schools, respectively. 
Lansing Catholic sent a letter to parents this month, which doubled down on the anti-kneeling policy. Students who kneel during the anthem at winter sports games will be barred from participating in that game, according to the letter.
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick inspired a wave of similar demonstrations after he began taking a knee during the anthem to protest police shootings of unarmed black men.
City Council also honored students who said they knelt during the pledge at Immaculate Heart of Mary-St. Casimir School in Lansing. The Catholic K-8 School told parents in November that students would be sent home for the day if they refused to stand during the pledge and national anthem.
Monday's presentation included remarks from the Lansing-area chapters of Black Lives Matter and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Contact Sarah Lehr at (517) 377-1056 or Follow her on Twitter  @SarahGLehr.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Colin Kaepernick Honored by ACLU with Advocacy Award; May Become TIME 'Person of the Year'

Posted on  by Diane Bukowski

Colin Kaepernick at ACLU awards ceremony. Photo Brian van der Brug
 By Arthur Weinstein
“Human rights cannot be compromised”  — Kaepernick
Dec. 4, 2017
Less than a month after being honored by GQ as its “Citizen of the Year,” Colin Kaepernick has earned another award for his work on social justice issues.
The ACLU honored Kaepernick on Sunday at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights Dinner in Beverly Hills, giving him the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award.
Although the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback began his national anthem protests in 2016, he’s earned more recognition for them this season, even though he’s not currently in the league. Those protests have become a political flashpoint between President Donald Trump, athletes and progressive groups, with conservatives heavily opposed to the protests.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kaepernick’s appearance at the ceremony, and the award, were a big surprise to the audience. He received a standing ovation. 
Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, praised Kaepernick for taking a stand.
“He has lost his job, one that he loved and was supremely talented and skilled at,” Villagra said, via the Times. “He took a stand knowing that some would criticize him, and he has been viciously and unfairly criticized. He has been called a traitor because too many people in this country confuse dissent for disloyalty.”
“We all have an obligation no matter the risk, and regardless of reward, to stand up for our fellow men and women who are being oppressed with the understanding that human rights cannot be compromised,” Kaepernick said in accepting the award.

Kaepernick a Finalist for “TIME” Person of the Year 

Struggle continues: 18 players demonstrated Sunday during National Anthem
Sports Illustrated expected to give Kaepernick award as well

Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett (72) sits on bench with teammates during the national anthem Dec. 3 before game against Philadelphia Eagles. The Seahawks trounced the Eagles.
Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick was announced Monday as one of 10 candidates for TIME’s Person of the Year for 2017.
Kaepernick, who last played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, joins President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and the #MeToo movement, among others, on the short list for recognition. Each year, the magazine strives to identify “the person or group of people who most influenced the news during the past year, for better or for worse.”
Trump was recognized by the magazine in 2016, and German chancellor Angela Merkel was its 2015 recipient. TIME will announce its latest “Person of the Year” on Wednesday.
Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem last year, describing it as a means of protesting police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. He became a free agent in March and has yet to sign with an NFL team this season, prompting him to file a collusion grievance against NFL owners.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

White Supremacist Control Berrien County

It pays to be white in Berrien County. White Supremacist Gregory 'shameless' Franks pleads no contest earlier, this year to a charge of only one count of receiving and concealing stolen property over $20,000 dollars. It could have been over one hundred counts, It pays to have friends in high places. This is an offence punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but he should have been charged for over 100 counts at 20 years per count. If he was black he would have been charged. It pays to be white in Berrien County.

Gregory 'shameless' Franks is a known drug dealer and habitual offender. It pays to be white.  He was ordered to pay only $65,000 dollars in restitution to Lowe's. It should have been well over $100,000 dollars. He must perform 500 hours of community service. He will only be on probation said white supremacist judge. Scott Schofield who has a history of being tough on crime, when it comes to black people, but not tough at all when it comes to white people. Let the truth be told, Berrien County is corrupt from the top to the bottom, judges, the sheriff and county commissioners all work together against Benton Harbor residents, taxation with no representation. What do you do? The Boston tea party had nothing to do with tea. There is never change without conflict.

The Berrien County jail worker Jo Ann Roberts stole more than $80,000 dollars in taxpayers money. She was given a slap on the wrist. It pays to be white in Berrien County. The white supremacist, JoAnn Roberts stole from the tether fund and was allowed to keep her job; only in Berrien County. It pays to be white in Berrien County.

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, better known as Bull Connor, confirmed a correction officer has been fired. The corrections officer, Jennifer Venno, was fired for improper communications or of having sex with a black man in Berrien County jail under sheriff Bailey watch. The prosecutor refuses to prosecute because she was white, It pays to be white. Sheriff Bailey said anyone under his command is not allowed to have sex with an inmate inside the jail with a convicted felon unless it is part of his or her police work.

Under Paul Bailey's watch, more than 50 women have been sexually attacked by the Sheriff Department deputies. One of the deputies is blood-related to Sheriff Bailey. Nobody went to jail or prison. These women just so happen to be white women.

Let the truth be told, Berrien County has more white supremacist members and groups than any other county in the country and led by Judge Dennis Wiley, Judge Scott Schofield, Judge Charles LaSata, Judge Sterling Schrock, Judge Art Cotter and we can not forget the Grand Wizard of the KKK, prosecutor Mike Sepic. 

Rev Edward Pinkney

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Berrien County Prosecutor Betrays Rule of Law in Juvenile Lifer Cases (Part 2)

More racist brutality from prosecutor Mike Sepic in one of the absolute worst of the rogue US county courts.  Part 1 of this crucially important report was not found on the website (link at end).  

The United States is a party to several treaties that have been interpreted by their oversight bodies, and recognized by states parties, to prohibit the irreducible sentence of life without parole for juvenile offenders. The U.S. Constitution, Art. VI, Cl. 2, states that the United States must uphold these treaty obligations.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that imprisonment be used only as a "measure of last resort" for juvenile offenders, and "for the shortest appropriate time." The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that criminal procedures for juvenile offenders should take into account "their age and desirability of promoting their rehabilitation."

In Michigan 71% of juveniles serving life without parole sentences are children of color. In response to that shameful number, the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has found that the sentence is applied disproportionately to youth of color, amounting to pervasive discrimination.

The United Nations has also adopted the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice that provides that "confinement shall be imposed only after careful consideration" and for the "shortest period possible." Included, was Commentary stating that the "well-being and future of the juvenile offender should always outweigh retributive sanctions."

To underscore their position they passed additional resolution in support, the U.N. Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprives of Their Liberty, which emphasizes imprisonment "as a last resort" and "for the shortest tie possible."

Earlier this month Berrien County Prosecutor, Michael Sepic, made the ill-conceived decision to pursue life without parole sentences for all 10 juveniles lifers who must be resentenced from his county. "Juvenile lifers" are prisoners who received a life without parole sentence when they were juveniles.

Sepic made the decision after the U.S. Supreme Court deemed mandatory life without parole sentences unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. His move contravened rulings the U.S. Supreme Court and Michigan Court of Appeals prescribed courts to follow, along with treaty requirements that state and local governments are obligated to uphold.

As an officer of the court Sepic has a duty to uphold the rule of law, not run afoul of it. The U.S. Supreme Court made it abundantly clear that life without parole sentences should be uncommon and reserved for rare cases that the vast majority of juveniles will not qualify for. Sepic, however, defied their ruling and pursued the extreme sentence for all the juvenile lifers from his county.

The Michigan Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 16, prohibits cruel or unusual punishment. The words "rare" and "uncommon" are synonymous with the word "unusual," which is unconstitutional according to the state's Constitution.

Sepic's rogue actions are reinforcing research conducted by the Bar Association that found "juveniles convicted of murder in the United States [are] more likely to enter prison with a life without parole sentence than adult murder offenders."

The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that incorrigibility is inconsistent with youth. It is a fact any parent, teacher, or rational adult understands. According to the American Psychological Association juveniles cannot be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, a disorder also referred to as psychopathy or sociopathy, because the diagnosis cannot be made on people before the age of 18. Incorrigibility is synonymous with antisocial personality disorder.

One incontrovertible example of how out of touch Sepic is with the issue of adolescent brain development is his inclusion in at least one of his motions to the Berrien County Trial Court that he intends to pursue a life without parole sentence against one of the juvenile lifers citing a psychological evaluation performed nearly 30 years ago.

Sepic's ignorance of adolescent development prevents him from acknowledging the indisputable fact that science and the medical field have since evolved tremendously and did not remain frozen in time.

Decades ago the lessons that scientists and researchers knew about adolescent brain development were largely gleaned from post-mortem examinations. Years later with the advent of fMRI technology the world has made remarkable discoveries that have rendered previous research incorrect or obsolete. Many psychological evaluations from decades ago are no longer relevant by today's standards.

According to sources close to Sepic, he [Sepic] negotiates reduced charges and sentences with an alarmingly high number of child sexual predators and individuals accused of physically harming children. While Sepic pursues deplorable sentences against juveniles who commit crimes and ignores their enormous redemptive potential, he simultaneously empowers those who violently offend them and provides them second chances.

Court records reveal that in some cases Sepic's office has declined to charge some adult sex offenders altogether, including the case of a former Berrien County Courthouse employee. Sepic's predecessor, Arthur Cotter, now a Berrien County Trial Court judge, also had a similar history of providing favorable treatment to sexual predators.

The fact that nearly all the 10 prisoners who will be resentenced are people of color further compounds the injustice. Berrien County's long history and culture of racial discrimination against citizens of color is widely known. Complaints and lawsuits have been filed against the county for decades over its blatant discriminatory practices and Jim Crow-style of justice.

To date nineteen states in the U.S. have categorically banned life without parole sentences for juveniles. As Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Jane M. Beckering recently wrote, "This recent trend illustrates that the island on which Michigan sits with regard to this particular sentencing practice is becoming increasing lonelier."

The nation's high court is on the cusp of categorically banning life without parole sentences for juveniles across the country. The ban is likely to be ordered within the next year or so based on the trend of states across the country banning the sentence at such a rapid pace.

The evolving standards of decency of a civilized society will eventually trump prosecutors with an insatiable appetite for inordinate and inhumane punishments against children. In the meantime the public will be forced to pay the high cost of protracted court hearings and appeals because of intransigent prosecutors intent on committing malfeasance and continuing years of racist policies targeting children of color.

Under the guise of being tough on crime prosecutors like Sepic will persist betraying the ethics of public service to become election-scoring vendetta seekers. Sadly, it is a platform no citizen entered the ballot box to cast their vote for.

Citizens will remember the optics of this when they return to the ballot box, however, because they understand that their next vote cannot be one of complicity to empowering further acts of shameful prosecutorial corruption.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sing Out for Social Justice at Noel Night!

Please join us for our 3rd year in singing social justice carols, and displaying signs about injustices happening in Michigan and across the nation. From tainted water to foreclosures, mass incarceration, joblessness, low wages, to homelessness. Calling out to all social justice organizations, activists, concerned people who want change, let's demand equality and justice, together in the struggle.

Location: In front of the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward) near the curb area.
Time: 5:30 p.m.

Thank You, Marcina Cole, Observers in the Court

Please download, print, and distribute this flyer!
Social Justice Carol
Lyrics by Martha Garrett

Said the Black Lives Matter Movement loud,
do you hear what I hear (do you hear what I hear)
Bullets fly, people die every day
do you hear what I hear (do you hear what I hear)
We say their names, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

(say the names) Terrance Kellom, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland

Racist cops killing with impunity     
do you hear what I hear (do you hear what I hear) 
We will only win justice in the streets   

do you hear what I hear (do you hear what I hear)
We say their names, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

(say the names) Aiyana Jones, Mario Woods, Rekia Boyd, Kimoni Davis, Aura Rosser...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Supreme Court Hears Pinkney Case

By Philip A. Bassett

In early November, Michigan’s court of last resort finally heard the oral arguments in the
case of Rev. Edward Pinkney. The 69 year old activist, free since June of this year after serving a 30-month sentence, is still pursuing the appeal on moral grounds. It’s been a long road, but he may have a receptive audience this time in the Michigan Supreme Court.

There have been a large number of irregularities in Berrien County’s prosecution of Rev.
Pinkney but the two that attorney Tim Holloway highlighted were the law that was used to
convict the reverend and the prejudicial nature of the prosecution.

The law the prosecution used, it seems, is only a “penalty” provision, which doesn’t spell
out the “elements” of the charges in any clear way. Chief Justice Stephen Markman remarked that it was then a “nothing” and wondered aloud if that discrepancy could, after all this time, be used to charge Pinkney again. Whether the musings of a legal master or a veiled threat, it was a subtle reminder that this is an intricate game of chess, after all, and a good reason for the average person to stay out of court.

Aside from that, most of the justices seemed to regard that section of the legal code as
ponderous and unclear, with Markman commenting that the average person couldn’t be expected to wade “through 700 pages” before circulating a petition. Even the prosecutor admitted that the law was unclear, though he quipped that, “so is the tax code”.

The other thing that had the prosecution in the hot seat was the extensive use of racial
innuendo at the Pinkney trial. It seems the only thing the government could find to put in the
evidence bag was that Rev. Pinkney is an effective, influential black leader who has the audacity to lead marches and hold meetings, and has enough star power to bring Danny Glover to town. In some places that would be okay, but in Berrien County it was enough to scare the hell out of an all-white jury.

Supreme Court Justice David Viviano spoke at length to the prosecutor, saying he had
read the transcript and was surprised to find so many references to seemingly innocent activities submitted as evidence. He even asked if the prosecutor thought these references might be seen as “prejudicial”. Justices Bernstein and Wilder also raised concerns. The prosecutor, for his part, fielded the questions calmly and easily. You might have thought he was talking about his golf game, rather than two and a half years of a man’s life.

Of the other justices, Zahra seemed non-committal and McCormack was silent
throughout the proceeding. The seventh justice, Jane Larsen, was absent. I talked to Rev. Pinkney right after the hearing. It’s amazing how tall he stands after being dragged down by Berrien County’s brand of justice and spending two and a half years in the hell called prison. He told me that Justice Larsen had been promoted, reducing the panel to six people and creating the possibility of a 3-3 tie. Furthermore, he said, that if the votes of the remaining six ended in a deadlock, that would mean a loss for him.

That seemed like an unacceptable ending for such a long fight, so a few days later I called
the court clerk’s office. The woman who answered confirmed that, yes, there could be a tie and that it was all dealt with in the Constitution. She explained that, first of all, a tie was “extremely rare” (there normally being seven judges) and that it could only happen under “extraordinary circumstances”. I couldn’t help thinking that, for most people, a promotion would come under the heading of “ordinary”.

Perhaps sensing the worry in my voice, she went on to assure me that the judges “don’t
want a tie” anyway and stressed again that ties were extremely rare. In other words, a gray area. I got off the phone with a little better idea of how Berrien County has been getting away with their shenanigans for so long. It seems our laws are deliberately kept vague so they can be bent, as needed. Referring to the law that convicted Rev. Pinkney, “vague” doesn’t even begin to describe it, and the judges know it.

So the court now has three options.

They could take the high road and grant the appeal. Unfortunately, this road is seldom
used by the judiciary nowadays, large swaths of it having been removed from the state. (Some say it is totally inaccessible in Berrien County.) Still, they might throw Rev. Pinkney a bone, since he has already served his sentence and they wouldn’t, in effect, be giving him anything.

They could take the low road, requiring no course change from the route taken since the
inception of this case. It’s a sad day in the United States when a man can be locked up for two and a half years over five dates that were supposedly changed in a petition drive he was involved with. That his appeal was denied at the appellate level is staggering; a denial at this level would be monstrous—enough to send shivers up the spine of anyone who has ever circulated a petition.

The third choice is the no-road, or a tie, and since this option is currently available, it will
likely be used. There are several advantages to this course: the court doesn’t have to align itself with the Berrien County court house, which, to my knowledge, has the worst reputation in the state; they don’t have to give in to Pinkney, who, it is said, thinks well of himself; they avoid any controversy because they just couldn’t help it; and, finally, it fulfills their role as chief obfuscators of last resort, assuring no real progress toward a level playing field in Michigan.

However, even the third choice has its problems. American faith in the judiciary, and law
enforcement in general, is waning. The average person is becoming aware of government tactics and the amount of lies made by officials in court rooms. This epiphany might be compared to the exposure of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church—it will only get worse, and when people begin to feel the brunt of it, our judicial system will be shaken to the core. We may even be coming to a time when wearing a black robe will be seen as a sign of shame. But that is probably a ways off yet.

In the meantime, to be fair, the current crew in the Supreme Court did show some
promise; maybe they’ll do the right thing. We’ll see.

Philip A. Bassett is the author of Soldier of Truth: The Trials of Rev. Edward Pinkney

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Three Blind Mice Court of Appeal Judges, O'Brien, Kelly, Fort Hood must go...

 The American Criminal Justice System, a system where justice is totally absent. There is no such thing as justice in America for people of color. The Lady with the scales of justice is imbalanced especially against people of color. We must continue to fight against this grave imbalanced to ensure a humane and just future for all people. We must demand that justice is served.

The Three Blind Mice on Michigan Court of Appeals, should have reversed this conviction for four reasons. I will give you a couple of reasons. The most important reason, I argued that this conviction must be reversed is because MCL 168. 937 does not create the substantive offence of election forgery. Second, I argue that this conviction must be reversed because the prosecutor presented no evidence to support his conviction, absolutely no evidence that Rev Pinkney committed any crime. Rev Pinkney was right on point. There was absolutely no evidence to convict him.

The Three Blind Mice stated Rev Pinkney was the leader so he must have done it, if he did not do it he told somebody to forge the recall petition. This is ridiculous. The prosecutor presented absolutely no evidence to support convicting Rev Pinkney. The jury was motivated by something other than the truth; if the jury was honest it would have found Rev Pinkney not guilty.

Rev Pinkney additionally argued on Appeal to the Three Blind Mice judges, that his conviction must be reversed, because the trial court erroneously instructed the jury that it could convict Rev Pinkney under an aiding and abetting theory. The Three Blind Mice, O Brien, Kelly and Fort-Hood all disagree with Rev Pinkney you could see the corruption on their face.

Finally, Rev Pinkney argues that his conviction must be reversed, because other evidence introduced was Rev Pinkney bringing Danny Glover, Jeremiah Wright, Cynthia McKinney, Jessie Jackson and several others. The prosecutor even mention BANCO; what does that have to do with forgery on a recall petition? This violation of MRE 404(B) his constitutional right to free speech and his constitutional right to due process was violated.

The Three Blind Mice, Obrien, Kelly, Fort-Hood were legislating from the bench. You can not legislate from the bench. The communities all around the state of Michigan are sick and tired of the Michigan Court of Appeal Court. We must remove all these bad apples and there are a lot of them. We must demand justice be served for all the people and not just a select few. We must remove the Three Blind Mice from office. Let's vote them out.  

Rev. Edward Pinkney

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Whirlpool Corp. would NEVER allow a fair-minded atty. like this anywhere near Berrien County, Michigan

Screen shot 2017 11 08 at 2.04.43 pm
Larry Krasner
Open thread for night owls: In Philly D.A. race, 'completely unelectable' leftist Krasner elected
Nyle Fort at In These Times interviewed Larry Krasner, who won election as Philadelphia’s new district attorney Tuesday. Here’s an excerpt:
Larry Krasner ran as arguably the most progressive District Attorney candidate in the country. In May, he sent shockwaves throughout the Pennsylvania political establishment after winning the Philadelphia Democratic primary. And last night he defeated his Republic opponent Beth Grossman by more than 40 points in the general election to become Philly’s next DA—part of a broader wave of progressives elected to office.

In These Times spoke to Krasner about the significance of his campaign for local and national politics.
Your campaign website states, “The culture of the Philadelphia DA’s office must change” What exactly must change?
This is a culture that has been focused on trying to bring as many cases against as many defendants as possible, which basically means poor people, as possible. We have one public school after another closing in Philadelphia but we’ve got oh so many prison cells. The reality is that good public education prevents crime. Good drug treatment prevents crime. Good job training prevents crime. Good economic development and availability of jobs, prevents crime. But building more and more jail cells causes the cycle of poverty, it causes crime
How do you understand the relationship between street violence and the institutionalized violence of poverty?
Violence is defined narrowly in terms of people getting hurt on the street by being robbed, by being shot. It is also defined broadly in terms of the trauma that people suffer when they are poor, when they have no hope, etc. How is it related? We know that people who have been traumatized, people who have been neglected, people who have moved 50 times during their childhood because no one could ever afford the rent, tend to end up in jail. We have accepted a prevention model in public health a long time ago and we need to be willing to make that small shift and accept that in the realm of criminal justice.
You sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times. As District Attorney how will you hold police accountable?
Number one, you could stop treating them as if they are entitled to different treatment. It’s really not that complicated to treat rich people and poor people and famous people and unfamous people and people who wear uniforms and people who don’t the same. [...]