Monday, April 12, 2010

Non-violent Protest Monday April 19, 1pm Benton Harbor City Hall

--Granholm and Harris work for Whirlpool--
--City Manager Ron Carter works for the people--

Since the newly-elected city commission in BH for the first time will not comply with Whirlpool's demands for more lakefront land and other items for their Harbor Shores development, the governor has stepped in.

She ordered a state financial manager, Joseph L. Harris, to takevover on Tuesday April 6, despite the new city manager, Ron Carter, doing a more than competent job. Harris can hire and fire, sell land, renegotiate labor contracts, and recommend to the gov. removal of elected officials. That's a lot of power, especially for a newcomer, who may or may not have cooperation with officials on his mind.

The length of his stay, with an $11,000.00 per month salary, is determined by the state. Harris brings a Southfield accounting firm with him who will receive up to $25,000.00. Mayor Cooke and all commissioners are required to take a 50% pay cut.

On his fourth day in Benton Harbor, Harris told an invitation-only audience that lay-offs of city workers are needed. He was quoted on the subject of selling land in two different recent Herald Palladium articles. In the first (4/2) he stated, "...there would be no fire sale of properties." In the second (4/9) he "didn't rule out more sales of city owned properties."

Harris has been talking about transparency, but spends a lot of time in private meetings. He recently met with an invitation-only group of ministers. Who sent the invitations? Whirlpool's own Marcus Robinson. WP likely organized the audience mentioned above as well.

Mayor Wilce Cooke received a strange phone call recently. It was state treasurer Kleine whose purpose was to accuse him of threatening Harris in the Herald Palladium. Something about Benton Harbor not treating newcomers with bad intentions well. Very interesting that Kleine is reading the Palladium (or being told what it prints...) and doing what some might call "interfering" in Benton Harbor official affairs.

Along with Harris came at least five jurisdictions of police, sheriff deputies, etc. As I write, the city is under siege in the same way it was after what is being called the 2003 uprising. Cruisers sighted so far include those from St. Joseph, Berrien County Sheriff dept., Michigan State Police, Benton Township, and Benton Harbor. Does Harris need this kind of protection in a city where many have moved out due to various forms of harassment, many have been imprisoned, and many are already afraid to leave home?

Let's all watch very carefully as Harris goes to work for the most mistreated population in Michigan.

A friend visited Berrien County last summer and wondered if anyone lived in the Benton Harbor. It's like a ghost town, except there really are people behind the doors.

More than 80% of the BHPD is now white. Of approximately 36 officers, 4 are black.

The provocative influx of cruisers increases fear and anger. Are the powers-that-be hoping for another "uprising?"

Other financial managers from the state have wreaked havoc on cities they were assigned to. It wouldn't surprise Benton Harbor residents if Harris sold more BH land to Whirlpool - it is within his power. That happening and the constant parade of law enforcement could stoke the fires of discontent, and the corporation could have their wish: (many) more African-Americans arrested and jailed, or worse.

Law enforcement theatrics all over the city prevent people from living normally. Residents who venture out are being pulled over for little or nothing with greater frequency than before. Military-style equipment was purchased by the BHPD in 2003, but never used...

Several residents believe the biggest fear in Benton Harbor is drug-planting by law
enforcement. Two BHPD officers have been imprisoned for said activity which destroyed an untold number of lives.

One of the biggest losses is that of cohesive neighborhoods. It's difficult to talk with neighbors when residents are reluctant to go into their own yards.

To add to the repression of Benton Harbor, two companies in Benton Township, Dawson Manufacturing and Auto Zone, just fired their black employees. They did this in the same week. 8 or 9 employees were fired in both companies, and both firings occurred in the same week. This is unbelievably outrageous.

As for the children and teenagers of Benton Harbor, very little is done for them. The new police chief, Roger Lange, talks about zero tolerance, but this means little to teenagers with no hope for their lives or futures.

Both Mayor Cooke and city manager Carter have suggested people not read the Herald Palladium, because of the biased reporting. Media has become the main disease of a rotting democracy.