FLINT, Mich. — Thousands of people in Flint are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure if they don’t pay up on their water bills. After recently putting out shut-off notices the city is now back to threatening tax liens on people’s homes.
“I got scared, for probably the first time since this all started this actually scared me,” said Melissa Mays, who is a mother and water activist who lives in Flint.
Mays received the notice in the mail Friday stating that she must pay nearly $900 by May 19 to avoid a lien being placed on her property.
The Mays Family is not alone. More than 8,000 people are also on the same notice. What gets them on this list is not paying a water bill for six months or more.
After May 19, for those who do not pay, a lengthy process begins which could end in foreclosure.
Mays now plans to go against what she believes and pay up so she can keep her family’s home.
“While I understand this is the way the law reads we are in a totally different situation,” said Mays.
City leaders say they are in a bind and they need the cash.
“We have to have revenue coming in, so we can’t give people revenue, I mean excuse me, give people water at the tap and not get revenue coming in to pay those bills,” said Al Mooney, City of Flint Treasury Department.
Mooney says the shut offs are already working in the city’s favor. Last month Flint brought in nearly $3 million for water. That is nearly $1 million more from the month prior when they only collected $2.1 million.
Mooney hopes the 8,000 tax lien notices that went out with prompt even more people to pay their water bills. If all of those were paid up that would bring in nearly $6 million for the city.
If ever one feels the need to dole out criticisms, Congress is reliably low-hanging fruit. But just as a broken clock is right twice a day, once in a blue moon Congress does something that is not a complete affront to liberty.
Having Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General in the era of Trump has had civil liberty advocates on edge from the get-go. As one of the last remaining champions of marijuana prohibition, Sessions would erase all progress made toward decriminalization over the last several years—if given the chance.
Luckily, Congress has taken precautionary measures to ensure that the Trump appointee cannot get his regulatory claws on medical marijuana legislation passed by 29 states.
Congress is drawing a line in the sand on the issue of marijuana legalization. Saved by the Amendment
The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was included in the newly revealed Congressional budget, would block any federal impediment on state laws that legalize the use of medical marijuana by barring any federal dollars from being spent on enforcing national drug laws.
Slipped into the budget bill that would keep the government sufficiently funded until September, the text of the amendment clarifies that states that have legalized medical marijuana are safe from federal intrusion, specifying:
“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana
Nothing about this amendment is particularly out of the ordinary since medical marijuana has been subtly protected in budget bills since 2014. However, this year’s inclusion represents more than a symbolic gesture, given Attorney General Sessions’ outdated views on marijuana legalization.
Sessions had the audacity to call pot “slightly” less terrible than heroine. In a rare turn of events Congress, the governing body known for having little to no respect for American civil liberties is drawing a line in the sand on the issue of marijuana legalization, at least for medical purposes.
Sessions’ track record on the issue has done little to assure opponents of the drug war that states will continue to make strides towards allowing patients to seek and use marijuana for medical purposes.
As recently as February, Sessions made comments expressing his dissatisfaction with states exerting their sovereign right to make laws in the best interests of their constituents. Clarifying his stance he stated:
“States, they can pass the laws they choose, I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
As more states have legalized pot, opiate use is down nationwide. While this statement would be outlandishly false regardless, to make say such things while an opiate epidemic is plaguing the country is not only ignorant, it’s especially dangerous considering Sessions’ powerful position when it comes to enforcing federal drug laws.
Fortunately, this move represents Congress’ reluctance to roll back any victories seen on the marijuana legalization front, at least medically-speaking, which, albeit small, is a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, this amendment only protects medical marijuana laws, meaning Sessions could potentially make a power grab and go after the eight states that have legalized pot on a recreational level, nine including the nation’s capital, although doing so would be wildly unpopular and out of line with an American public that now largely skews in favor of marijuana legalization.
While Sessions is surely the personification of the uneducated reefer madness era, he has yet to act on the issue aside from veiled threats that rhetorically resurrect an archaic sentiment.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday complained about a “disturbing trend” in which the U.S. Supreme Court appears more likely to intervene on behalf of police officers than the people they shoot.
Sotomayor lobbed her complaint in a dissent from a cert denial (PDF) in an excessive force case. The dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, included a footnote that read, “Some commentators have observed the increasing frequency of incidents in which unarmed men allegedly reach for empty waistbands when facing armed officers.”
Sotomayor argued that the court should have accepted a case that involved Ricardo Salazar-Limon, who was shot in the back by a Houston police officer as he walked back to his car. The officer said he shot Salazar-Limon in October 2010 because the suspect ignored his order to stop, turned toward the officer, and raised his hands toward his waistband. Salazar-Limon had said he was trying to walk away from a confrontation.
The shooting happened after Salazar-Limon was pulled over for suspected drunken driving and then resisted being handcuffed. Salazar-Limon sustained “crippling injuries” as a result of the shooting, according to Sotomayor.
Because there were competing accounts of the incident, the case should not have been decided by summary judgment, Sotomayor said.
The cert denial, Sotomayor wrote, “continues a disturbing trend regarding the use of this court’s resources. We have not hesitated to summarily reverse courts for wrongly denying officers the protection of qualified immunity in cases involving the use of force. … But we rarely intervene where courts wrongly afford officers the benefit of qualified immunity in these same cases.”
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. concurred in the cert denial in an opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Alito said Salazar-Limon never refuted the officer’s claim that he had reached with his waist.
“It is clear,” Alito wrote, “that the lower courts acted responsibly and attempted faithfully to apply the correct legal rule to what is at best a marginal set of facts.”
Alito also said that Sotomayor had not cited any cases in which the Supreme Court failed to grant cert on behalf of an alleged victim of unconstitutional police conduct that was similar to the cases in which it granted relief for police officers.
“This is undeniably a tragic case,” Alito wrote, but the court rarely grants review when a petitioner alleges a lower court erred in applying a settled rule of law to particular facts.
The case is Salazar-Limon v. Houston. SCOTUSblog has coverage.
One possible gift to come from the mass bloodshed of 20th century totalitarianism: perhaps the history will serve as a lesson for the future. If that is to happen, however, we need to know the history, and not avoid it, much less deny it.
To make sure we understand – that we care about what is in fact a historical abstraction for the current generation – increasingly falls to the filmmakers. This is the medium by which people today discover a past they did not experience.
It is just too easy to look away. Few people travel to the nation’s capital with the ambition to tour the Holocaust Museum, for example. I totally get it. But out of all the exhibits in this city, this is the one that offers the most powerful lesson about human rights and dignity, and the existential threat of centralized power, as well as a warning against the politics of violence and where it leads.
The Holocaust Museum stands there as a rebuke to a sin you did not commit, a horror you see no need to face, evidence of a blight on humanity from which you would rather avert your eyes.Yes, everyone needs the message. At the same time, hardly anyone really wants to come face to face with the full expression of horror and evil that the Holocaust represents, and what it meant for Europe and the so many millions of victims. It is more comforting to spend time at the monuments to greatness, virtuous leaders, and war victories, however much these traffic in mythology.
Why learn about death camps that killed millions when you can use your time to admire monuments to bravery in war? The Holocaust Museum stands there as a rebuke to a sin you did not commit, a horror you see no need to face, evidence of a blight on humanity from which you would rather avert your eyes.
Denial Is a State of Mind
This is why “Holocaust Denial” is not just the designation for a gaggle of self-publishing cranks and Nazi apologists. It is a general tendency that everyone possesses to look away from a history that is almost too recent and too morally egregious to grapple with. We just don’t want to face it.
So making films about this topic is a financially thankless task. It will likely not realize commercial success. And yet it must be done, simply because right now there are still people alive who remember and can tell what happened. There are soldiers on all sides who were there, and even now there are people alive and living in the United States who were small children who survived the experience thanks to those who resisted. The time will come in the not-too-distant future in which this will no longer be the case.
The Zookeeper’s Wife
These were my thoughts when I decided to head to the independent theater to watch an extraordinary film about one part of what we call the Holocaust. It is called The Zookeeper’s Wife. It tells the terrifying but inspiring story of how the Warsaw Zoo in Poland – very near to the Nazi-run Jewish ghetto that held 300,000 people in near-starvation conditions during the war – became a center of resistance. The inspiration part here is key: it is not enough to become aware of the fullness of evil of the German occupation; we also need to know how goodness and heroism can find expression even in the midst of mass death.
The entire ghetto was then burned to the ground.The German army used the zoo for barracks, but the zookeeper and his wife secretly used their quarters to hide and smuggle out as many as 500 Jews during the war – hiding people in plain sight, so that their lives could be spared the machinery of death.
Agreeing to let the zoo be used by the occupying troops, the zookeepers proposed also that they raise pigs to feed soldiers. The pigs would be fed with the trash from the nearby Jewish ghetto. This plan allowed the zookeepers access to the ghetto itself. They then took to smuggling people out, and hiding them until they could falsify papers and smuggle them out of the country.
The film takes the viewer all the way to the end of the war, even showing the moment when Jews were rounded up out of the ghetto and put on cattle cars straight to Treblinka for their demise. The entire ghetto was then burned to the ground.
How Could this Happen?
The story is absolutely terrifying to the point of being surreal. One keeps asking the question: how could civilized, decent people do these things to other human beings, simply on grounds that they worship in the wrong religious tradition? It is the measure of what a murderous ideology does to the human mind and to the moral conscience.
Once you make the decision that human dignity is tied to and measured by a particular trait like religion or race, any amount of immorality becomes possible. And when you back that ideology by state power, and the legitimacy that comes with legality, you get unconscionable results.
Sometimes films like this turn Nazi officials into cartoon characters of evil. The Zookeeper’s Wife was different. It portrayed the Nazis as real people with normal emotions and behaviors wildly distorted by an ideology of power. Their crushing of the resistance was merely an extension of their initial buy-in to an evil regime and theory of society.
The film is particularly adept at portraying the amazing arrogance of Nazi leaders who invaded Poland and immediately began treating the entire country as their personal possession. The conceit was pervasive to the point of affecting even Hitler’s own favored zoologist who took control of the Warsaw zoo. He conducted experiments on animals in hopes of bringing back ancient species – engineering the animal kingdom in the same way Nazi ideology hoped to manage people.
For the current generation watching this historically accurate film, I can easily imagine a slight doubt creeping in. Is this really authentic? Was this really the way it was, or are we getting an exaggerated picture based on the filmmaker’s agenda? Is this just guilt manipulation masquerading as history?
You don’t have to take historians’ word for it.Well, I’m grateful to have seen a Nazi propaganda film about the invasion of Poland before having watched this film. You don’t have to take historians’ word for it. The Nazis themselves bragged about their invasion and made a film that attempted thoroughly to dehumanize and demonize Jews in every respect, to make an entire people seem not just expendable but also to impart a sense that these people need to be exterminated.
If you have ever doubted that this was the ambition of the Nazi ideology, you need to watch “The Eternal Jew,” if you can, remembering that this film is not a critique but a defense of what happened. (By the way, translating and watching this film is illegal in Israel today, which is tremendously mistaken. Nothing makes the case against Nazism better than Nazi propaganda itself.)
Who Watches? Who Cares?
As I first walked into the theater, I was immediately struck by the complete absence of young people among the crowd. Everyone was of a certain age, shall we say.
This was the ideology that destroyed civilization in Europe, the very center of what we call modernity.It was only after the movie ended that I realized what was going on. Standing outside the theater, I began to listen to conversations. There had been a pilgrimage of sorts, from a group of 80-something Jewish lady friends in Atlanta. They had come to see the movie. And they were talking amongst themselves outside, when I interrupted and asked what was going on.
One lady said: “This was very interesting because of course this is the story of our lives. I was hidden in France as a little girl, from 1940 to 1944. I’m only here today, I am only alive, because some people cared enough to risk their lives to save me.”
Another woman interjected, “and the people who saved me weren’t even Jews!”
Which is a strange thing to say, as if only Jews should or could care about Jews. And yet, this was their experience. This was the ideology that destroyed civilization in Europe, the very center of what we call modernity. This was the ideology that almost destroyed the whole world just a few generations ago. It remains part of the living memory of people who are still around today.
I would have stayed and talked longer but after this film and in the midst of these wonderful people, I had no words. Only tears.
Do we have something to learn from this? We do. The only reason people resisted was because they didn’t believe the politicians who said that Jews are dirty rats that needed to be exterminated, because regular people were willing to defy the law, and because these people had the moral courage to take it upon themselves to stand up for human rights.
God help us should we ever face a situation in our own lives when we need to act in the interest of human rights and in the same way – or need others to act on our behalf. This is why films like The Zookeeper’s Wife exist.
Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.
Twenty-three years after the fact, incontrovertible evidence that officers at both the street and command levels allowed their professionalism to be compromised by the cavalier treatment of evidence at the scene of a murder is on the brink of being put on the public record as the result of a lawsuit brought by two current members of the Fontana Police Department.
The mishandling of evidence – the body of the deceased – was the product of, at best, a racially insensitive moment of jest on the part of one or more officers and, at worst, a manifestation of racism that may have allowed the perpetrator of murder to escape being brought to justice.
The larger implication of the incident, now nearly a quarter of a century in the past, is that not only the members of the department who were involved, many of whom are now retired but the department’s administration and now by extension the city’s municipal management, political leaders and its attorneys have been brought in on what amounts to 23-year running cover-up, which they are seeking to perpetuate into the future.
What all this comes down to at this point is whether Superior Court Judge Wilfred J. Schneider, Jr. will permit the evidence that will establish the tampering with evidence took place, delineating the Fontana Police Department as a bastion of racism that is devoted more to perpetuating a culture of prejudice than to ensuring equal protection under the law.
On June 30, 2016, David J. Moore Sr. & Andrew Anderson, represented by attorneys Bradley C. Gage and Milad Sadr, filed a lawsuit in San Bernardino Superior Court against the City of Fontana, alleging discrimination, retaliation and failure to take corrective action.
According to the suit, the 189-member Fontana Police Department is comprised of sworn officers who are predominantly white, such that it has never had more than four African American officers on the force at any given time, despite African Americans comprising more than 10 percent of the city’s population, while employing fewer than thirty Latino officers – roughly 15 percent – even though Hispanics comprise nearly 70 percent of the city’s population. According to the suit, the police department’s administration is even more lopsidedly out of step with the city’s demographics, which has perpetuated an atmosphere in which the department has condoned the mistreatment of minorities.
Manifestations of the culture include, according to the suit, officers referring to African Americans as “niggers, “silverbacks” and “wild monkeys” and to Hispanics using derogatory terms such as “wetbacks and beaners and pink panties.”
The suit maintains that because of the general dearth of minority officers on the force and because of the growing reluctance of the department’s white officers to engage in certain enforcement activities involving blacks and Latinos, Moore, who is African-American, has been detailed to an overwhelming number of calls involving Fontana’s minority community. Among those are what the lawsuit designates as difficult and politically sensitive cases such as those referred to by department members as Acute Political Emergency (“APE”) cases. It is alleged that several of these APE cases are racially charged. If these cases are not handled properly and with the utmost care and correctness, it could cost the investigator his or her career. Other corporals in the department are not assigned to these cases. This has led to the perception that the department’s upper chain of command is engaging in some “strategic planning” to better the chances of Corporal Moore making a mistake and being terminated, according to the suit.
Anderson, who is of mixed background but self-identifies as a Latino, has sought to become a field training officer with the department. Those efforts have met with rejection, based upon the department’s assertion he lacks the requisite experience. Several Caucasian officers with less experience than Anderson have been given field training officer assignments.
Moreover, according to the lawsuit, the Fontana’s Police Department’s administration has reserved plum assignments and its most prestigious positions for white officers, with just a few token promotions of Hispanics. One such example cited in the suit is that of the Special Enforcement Detail (SED), the most hallowed of the department’s divisions and from the ranks of which all, or nearly all, of the department’s commanders, are promoted. Currently, in the SED, there are 19 white members and one Hispanic. There are no African American Members.
The suit alleges that in 2006, upon receiving an electronic Martin Luther King doll which played the “I have a dream” speech as a retirement gift, Lieutenant Tim Newsome mutilated the doll’s speaking mechanism and Lieutenant Bob Morris tied a noose around the doll’s neck and then lynched it in effigy from a ceiling rafter inside the department’s crime prevention unit.
Moving beyond atmospherics, one element of the case Gage and Sadr are attempting to present is how the ingrained racist policies in the department endangered public safety by interfering with a murder investigation. According to the suit, in 1994 an African American male murder victim, Jimmy Earl Burleson, was discovered behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken eatery on Sierra Ave in Fontana. A cop while at the scene of the murder thought it would be funny to place a piece of chicken in the Burleson’s hand, to make it look like he was stealing a chicken from the restaurant before he was killed. A photograph was taken, and then circulated around the department for years.
This behavior by a Fontana Police Department officer or officers would potentially have been prosecutable as a felony under PC 141, which pertains to the planting or tampering of evidence, which is an obstruction of justice crime. In the specific instance of the deceased man at KFC, the manipulating of his body could be viewed as tampering with evidence.
In this case, the tampering with evidence was done as some order of a joke or prank, intended to be taken in a comical spirit among police officers. This action on the part of a police department member or members was also potentially prosecutable as a violation of the California Health and Safety Code Section 7070.5, which states that every person who knowingly mutilates, disinters, wantonly disturbs, or willfully removes any human remains in or from any location is in violation of the law.
Best Best & Krieger attorneys Howard B. Golds and Joseph Ortiz, who are seeking to defend the City of Fontana and the police department in the face of the Anderson/Moore lawsuit, will be filing court papers, referred to as motions in Limine, seeking to exclude certain evidence from being considered at the trial. One of those items of evidence for which exclusion will almost certainly be sought is the photo of the deceased Burleson, Kentucky Fried Chicken leg in hand.
Coming as it does at this time, the Anderson/Moore suit has even greater implication than it might at another point. In April, a date for the trail will be determined. The case will go before a jury in April, even as advocates of removing Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren from office will be turning what is anticipated to be the final corner in attempting to obtain a sufficient number of signatures of Fontana voters to put a recall question against her on the ballot.
In most city governments, municipal departments work hand in hand with one another to ensure the safety of the city and its citizens. The fire department and the police department usually function as a well oiled machine under the ultimate control of municipal administration and in unison with the other city divisions to make sure this happens. The fire and police departments, along with the city government, work collaboratively and with the best interest of the other departments in mind. In Fontana this is no different. Fontana’s mayor, Acquanetta Warren, as commander and chief of the city, works with the city council, the city manager, Ken Hunt, the police department, fire department, as well as other entities to make sure that the city is protected, prospering and, as the mayor is often quoted as saying, on the, “up and up.”
Ethics in any type of government is a pillar of its success. When the people in the important positions like mayor, city manager, city council, and police chief have a sense of duty and ethics in the way they conduct themselves, it shows in their productivity. At all stages of government, there is an occasional occurrence of unethical behavior. The philosopher David Hume stated that the mental faculties, secret propensities and animal passions of man are so interwoven, it is sometimes difficult from his actions to detect the impulses, or nominate the emotions, by which he is incited or induced to act; and he often acts under a combination of influences. Because there are so many different forces and factors that encompass a person and weigh on him, such as societal, social, and behavioral elements, making the rightful and honest choice in any decision is difficult.
Hume also stated that man is naturally selfish and this quality of human nature is dangerous to society and seems on a cursory view incapable of remedy; and there is no element in human nature which causes more fatal conduct than that which leads us to prefer what is present to the distant, which makes humans desire objects more according to their immediate situation than their intrinsic value. Because of this, men will falsify reports, steal, be negligent, or engage in a host of other wrong actions to do anything that assures their continuity in the present. The problem with this is that they are not worried about the important intrinsic fundamental values that are overall more important than one individual, especially in the community sense. Those values are honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.
Some see in the Anderson/Moore lawsuit an attempt to hold government officials accountable, to register in the public record that the leaders of a city government – in this case Fontana – have been presented with information about a systemic problem – racism – within the city. Whether Judge Schneider will permit Gage and Sadr to paint as stark of a picture of that systemic problem as they intend is a yet outstanding question. Whether Mayor Warren and other city officials such as city manager Ken Hunt will choose to close their eyes and look the other way is another question that is pending. Given the current accusations of negligence lodged against her as a consequence of the recall, Warren is in the position of being perceived as an accessory after the fact to the activity in the police department that is now about to go under a microscope.
Penal Code 32 states the definition of accessory: When a person not actually or constructively present but contributing as an assistant or instigator to the commission of an offense —called also accessory before the fact. Second, a person who knowing that a crime has been committed aids or shelters the offender with intent to defeat justice —called also accessory after the fact.
Gage and Sadr are looking to make a case that police department supervisors knew a crime occurred but failed to act, or failed to report the illegal actions of the racist officer who altered a crime scene. Later they aided in the crime by demanding or otherwise arranging that the evidence of the altered evidence – the photos of Burelson – be removed from booking, Gage and Sadr allege. They maintain this cover-up formed into a major conspiracy to obstruct justice. California Penal Code Section 182 PC makes it illegal to be part of a criminal conspiracy. Conspiracy is a felony-level offense that can carry severe consequences for those convicted.
The Sentinel has confirmed that the photo of Burleson, with a chicken bone in his hand, does in fact exist. The half-eaten chicken leg was visible in the decedent’s hand as the autopsy was being performed. One photo taken during the autopsy clearly depicts an African American man cut open on the coroner’s table, while the chicken bone remained in his hand. According to witnesses at the time, the bone was placed in Burleson’s hand as a cruel, racist joke.
The photos in question were brought to the attention of, and submitted to, Fontana Police officials. Once this information reached the command level, there was no investigation of the incident. Instead, the offending photos were removed from the compendium of photos which were to be booked into evidence. This was the first attempt to cover-up the crime of tampering with a corpse and police evidence. Nevertheless, the photos were allowed to circulate within the department and many cops passed the photos around and made fun of the horrible crime. This showed, according to Gage and Sadr, the openly racist environment of the Fontana Police Department during that time. The supervisors who covered up the crime rose in ranks and were promoted at the Fontana Police Department, composing what is today the police department’s top administration.
Moreover, the incident has implication beyond the confines of the Fontana Police Department. In one picture, the deceased, an African American with the partially eaten chicken bone clenched in his hand, is shown lying filleted on an autopsy table at the San Bernardino County Morgue. The photo shows the corpse on the examiner’s table and that an autopsy was conducted or is in the process of being conducted. The photo was taken from behind his head while he was lying on the autopsy table.
This crime occurred while those who perpetuated it were on duty, during the time, while, as agents of the law, they were sworn to professionally investigate the Burleson’s violent death. Unknown, precisely, was when the chicken bone was placed into the deceased’s hand, whether it was prior to or after arrival at the morgue, where a licensed doctor was present.
One Fontana police officer would go on record, or at least attempt to do so, protesting the desecration of a human corpse and the tampering with evidence. Former police Corporal Ray Schneiders did bring the incident to the attention of his supervisors, but he was ignored. Later he found himself targeted for retaliation for speaking up.
Schneiders was ostracized and harassed for years. Ultimately, he filed a civil lawsuit against the department and was subsequently granted a medical retirement. Using taxpayer money, the city used its hired legal guns – the law firms of Best Best and Krieger and the Jones and Mayer – to keep the word of the alteration/destruction of evidence relating to a homicide under wraps. Burleson’s murder was never solved.
According to sources inside and outside of the Fontana P.D, information pertaining to the police department’s alteration of evidence impacting a homicide investigation and the racist motivation behind it was provided to Mayor Acquanetta Warren, city manager Ken Hunt, the city council, former chiefs of police Larry Clark and Rodney Jones and other police officials.
Warren finds herself in a dilemma. She stands at a political crossroads, with a growing number of her constituents seeking to remove her from office. At the same time, she has wedded herself to the city’s establishment, which includes the police department. It is unclear what political, personal and ethical calculations she will make. She can maintain her alliance with the establishment, which might offer her support against the grass roots organizations looking to dislodge her. At the same time, she lives in a city where 81 percent of the population is either Hispanic or African American. If, on behalf of Anderson and Moore, Gage And Sadr succeed in pushing into the public consciousness the details about how the police department has operated, political expedience and her own desire for political survival may persuade Warren to join the chorus seeking reform in the Fontana Police Department and show, in her own words, that she really is on the “up and up.”
Written by Carlos Avalos
Carlos is an Investigative Journalist focusing on Police Corruption. A graduate of Cal State San Bernardino-B.A Political Science/ International Relations. California Democratic Delegate 47th District 2012-2016 Arizona State University- Masters in Public Policy.
The history of marijuana (or cannabis/THC) stems back over 10,000 years and is widely recognized as one of the most useful plants on the planet. Yet it was made illegal in the United States in the early 20th century due to political and economic factors.
History of The Drug
Let’s get one thing clear: marijuana was not made illegal because it caused “insanity, criminality, and death” as was claimed by Harry J. Anslinger. It was made illegal in an attempt to control Mexican immigration into the United States and to help boost the profits of large pharmaceutical companies.
Humans have been using the plant for almost 10,000 years to make necessary items such as clothing and pottery. But the first direct reference to a cannabis product as a “psychoactive agent” dates back to 2737 BC in the writings of the Chinese emperor Shen Nung.
Southern states feared the plant so much, it was called the “marijuana menace.”
The focus was on its healing powers, primarily how it healed diseases such as malaria and even “absent-mindlessness.” The plant was used recreationally by Indians and Muslims as well.
Marijuana in America
The drug was introduced into America by the Spanish in 1545, where it became a major commercial force and was grown alongside tobacco. Farmers mostly grew hemp instead of cannabis (a form of the plant that is very low in THC), and by 1890 it had replaced cotton as the major cash crop in southern states.
Hemp continued to flourish in the States until the 1910s when Mexicans began popularizing the recreational use of cannabis.
At the time, cannabis was not primarily used for its psychoactive effects. However, and quite frankly, many “white” Americans did not like the fact that Mexicans were smoking the plant, and they soon demonized the drug.
Around 1910, the Mexican Revolution was starting to boil over, and many Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. to escape the conflict. This Mexican population had its own uses for cannabis, and they referred to it as “marihuana.” Not only did they use it for medicinal purposes, but they smoked it recreationally – a new concept for white Americans. U.S. politicians quickly jumped on the opportunity to label cannabis “marihuana” in order to give it a bad rep by making it sound more authentically Mexican at a time of extreme prejudice.
It worked. Southern states became worried about the dangers this drug would bring, and newspapers began calling Mexican cannabis use a “marijuana menace.”
During the 1920s, many anti-marijuana campaigns were conducted to raise awareness about the many harmful effects the drug caused. These campaigns included radical claims stating that marijuana turned users into killers and drug addicts. They were all obviously fake, made up in an attempt to get rid of Mexican immigrants.
“A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say that there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life,” read a New York Times story from 1927. It was clear the newspapers and tabloids were building a campaign against the plant, and much of it has been said to be based on racist ideologies against Mexican immigrants.
The “war against marijuana” arguably began in 1930, where a new division in the Treasury Department was established — the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — and Harry J. Anslinger was named director. This, if anything, marked the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana.
Anslinger realized that opiates and cocaine would not be enough to build his new agency, so he turned towards marijuana and worked relentlessly to make it illegal on a federal level. Some anti-marijuana quotes from Anslinger’s agency read:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.” “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.” “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing” “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.” “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
Yes, every single one of these claims is outrageous, but the strategy worked.
(Harry Anslinger got some additional help from William Randolph Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had lots of reasons to help. First, he hated Mexicans. Second, he had invested heavily in the timber industry to support his newspaper chain and didn’t want to see the development of hemp paper in competition. Third, he had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa and blamed Mexicans. Fourth, telling lurid lies about Mexicans [and the devil marijuana weed causing violence] sold newspapers, making him rich.)
The war on marijuana intensified in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed.
The two were then supported by the Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Pharmaceutical companies were on board with the idea because they could not standardize cannabis dosages, and people could grow it themselves. They knew how versatile the plant was in treating a wide range of medical conditions and that meant a potentially massive loss of profits.
So, these U.S. economic and political powerhouses teamed up to form a great little act called The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
This act testified to the many harmful effects of marijuana and was obviously opposed by many. But it was ultimately the committee chairman who got this act passed in congress.
The chairman decided that
“high school boys and girls buy the destructive weed without knowledge of its capacity of harm, and conscienceless dealers sell it with impunity. This is a national problem, and it must have national attention. The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug, and American children must be protected against it.”
And there you have it: 1937 marks the year where marijuana became illegal in the United States of America.
A man by the name of Harry Anslinger became the director of the newly established department — the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
Anslinger teamed up with William Randolph Hearst (a newspaper company owner) and some big-time pharmaceutical companies, and together they launched an anti-marijuana campaign to profit off of manufactured medicine and deport thousands of Mexicans.
Marijuana was not made illegal because of its negative health impacts. It was these men who manipulated the public into believing the herb was deadly, and their impacts are still felt even today.
The war against marijuana intensified in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed. The future for marijuana is looking very bright.
During this time, marijuana, heroin, and LSD were listed as “schedule 1” drugs (having the highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use). Obviously, this goes against thousands of years of human knowledge where it was widely known that cannabis was one of the most beneficial herbs on the face of the planet.
Congress has repeatedly decided to ignore history to the benefit of big pharmaceutical companies, which bring in billions of dollars annually from selling cheaply manufactured medicine.
The “zero tolerance” climate of the Reagan and Bush years resulted in the passage of stricter laws, mandatory minimum sentencing for possession of marijuana, and heightened vigilance against smuggling at the southern borders. The “war on drugs” brought with it a shift from reliance on imported supplies to domestic cultivation.
It wasn’t until 1996 when California legalized marijuana for medical use. Alaska, Oregon, and Washington eventually followed suit. However, it has taken well over a decade for marijuana to reach recreational legalization in these states.
With all this being said, the future for marijuana is looking very bright. Marijuana advocates believe there is a chance for at least 11 more states to legalize recreational marijuana in the near future, which would be a huge leap forward in the grand scheme of things.
It has taken far too long to break the stigma attached to marijuana. Yes, like any drug, it can be abused. But to ignore its obvious health benefits in order to maintain large scale pharmaceutical operations and a monopoly on the health industry is ludicrous.
What started out as an undergraduate paper at my alma mater Cal State San Bernardino has turned into an obsession and quest for the truth. I still remember my professor, Dr. Al Mariam, one of the brightest individuals I have ever had the opportunity to meet, tell me, “You should get this published or start your own blog.” What Dr. Mariam was referring to was a paper I prepared for the Fontana Police Department. The class was Judicial Process and little did I know at the time this paper would transcend the classroom and lead me into me talking about issues that have and continue to impact the people who live in the city where I was raised, and put a spotlight on the corruption, racism, nepotism, and unethical behavior of a police department that has been in place and intact for more than five decades. At the end of 2014, I dug up my ten-page paper and decided to adhere to the opinion of my old professor Dr. Mariam.
It is well known in academia that it is relatively hard to get one’s work published in a scholarly forum or write a book. I set about fluffing my resumé and taking a crack at trying to add more to my undergraduate paper to see if I could get it published. I had no idea where to start. So I decided that I would write about the Fontana P.D and the Fontana city government, beginning with the Fontana P.D. So I started by requesting the names of all of the police chiefs in Fontana’s history.
I started with Henry Youngue. I decided to go online, type in the names of the chiefs and see what popped up. Not real scientific, but I had to start somewhere.
The information I have gathered was astounding. I have come across everything from billboards in Fontana being used to recruit Ku Klux Klan members, killing after killing at the hands of the Fontana P.D being labeled as within policy, blatant racism, and a host of other things. On October 22, 2015, my first letter to the editor at the Fontana Herald News was published. It was entitled Fontana Is Still Affected By Racism. I put this out because I felt compelled N. I knew it was the right thing to do, and although I knew I was not reinventing the wheel, I felt like I was heading down uncharted territory. In this article, I touched on Fontana’s KKK history and issues that I had received from my social media acquaintances about people’s opinions and or problems with the department. The people responded with accounts of sobriety and insurance check points that are suspected of targeting minorities through racial profiling, corruption, abuse of power, and a history of racism in the police department and local city government.
On March 18, 2016, I wrote my second letter to the editor. It was entitled Police Force Should Resemble Community. In this article, I wrote about the ethnic, racial disparity in law enforcement. I looked at the city of Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Pomona, and Fontana. I took into account the total number of these cities’ minority populations and compared them to the number of minorities working on each specific city’s police force. The cities mentioned do not have police forces that resemble the communities they serve. Even cities with a smaller minority population and sworn police force have more African American officers than Fontana and, with the exception of Colton, more Hispanic officers. The result of my findings was that Fontana had fewer minorities by percentage working on its police force than any other city mentioned, despite the fact it boasts a larger minority population overall.
Before I put out this second article, I came in contact with current and retired people in law enforcement, specifically the San Bernardino County Sheriff and the Fontana P.D.
I told them that I was researching and planning on publishing something hopefully about Fontana and its police department, and they responded that they could help me. I told them cops do not tell on cops and inquired as to what was going on. They said we are on the same mission that you’re on. “What is that?” I asked. As one put it, “To reveal the true nature of the Fontana Police Department.” At this very moment, I was reminded of that scene in the Matrix where Morpheus asked the Keanu Reeves character Neyo, “Do you want to know the truth?” Morpheus gave Neyo the option to take the blue pill, and the story ends and he believes whatever he wanted to believe, or if he takes the red pill he stays in never land, and he gets shown how deep the rabbit hole goes. Without hesitation, I took the red pill.
My third letter to the editor came out on April 28, 2016; it was entitled Back at The Lion’s Den, 13 years Later. This article was a little more personal because it had to do with my personal encounter with the Fontana P.D. In 2003 I was a senior at Henry J. Kaiser High School. That same year a South Fontana native named Jose Galvez was murdered at an ATM on Cherry Avenue and Live Oak. For weeks after the murder of this man, there were no suspects or leads in finding the person or persons responsible for this murder. About one month after the killing of Jose Galvez, I had a knock on my door. The Fontana P.D wanted to question me about something at the station. They did not give me a reason or say I was under arrest, but they did want to speak to me. Being young and naïve, I accompanied and accommodated them when I shouldn’t have. During the interface, it became apparent to me that the investigators were trying to frame me for the murder of Jose Galvez. They told me they had my fingerprints at the scene of the crime. I was interrogated and bullied for hours and eventually let go because one of my friends corroborated my story and timeline.
There was a four-month gap between my previous article and my next one which was published by the San Bernardino County Sentinel on August 22, 2016. The reason for this was because the two outlets I was using to publish my work stopped accommodating me. Inland Empire Politics, I.E Politics is an online type newspaper/blog that was run and created by a woman named Sharon Gilbert. I had contacted her and told her that I had valuable information I was receiving about the Fontana P.D. and I wanted to publish the information on her website. She told me sure thing, and for a series of two months, I published one article on her website. Gilbert had built a reputation with her website that she was not a person afraid to tell it how it is and put people on blast for their unethical behavior.
I released an article on I.E politics that was entitled “The Fox Is Now Guarding The Hen House.” This article was about Robert Ramsey getting a promotion to become Fontana’s chief of police after the former chief of police Rodney Jones was forced to resign. This article specifically talked about the off-duty behavior of Robert Ramsey. Pictures surfaced of him providing alcohol to women who could have been minors, but Chief Ramsey did not care to find out or even ask the young woman their age, according to sources.
After this article, I emailed a submission for another article, and she did not respond to me. I went online to the I.E politics website, and my article had been taking down, and I no longer had access to it or was able to publish as I had previously. I continued emailing her and got no response. Since Gilbert was still allowing other work to be published, in my mind, the only logical explanation is that the Fontana P.D compromised her by threatening her. To this day I no longer speak to her nor have I written anything for her website.
On August 22, 2016, the San Bernardino County Sentinel published an article by me entitled 14 Years Later; Questions Remain Over Spate of FPD In-Custody Deaths.
This article was about three deaths in the matter of six months in 2002. Ismael Banda, David Michael Tyler, and Fermin Rincon were the names of the three men who died. My sources strongly conveyed to me that the deaths of these three men were due to an unjustifiable use of force; all police reports were withheld from the public’s view, and this incident was not investigated by an outside agency. What is odd about the three deaths of these men was that the same three officers were involved in all three deaths; which were Obie Rodriguez, who retired prematurely; William Green, and Robert Ramsey, who was not directly involved in the deaths but did play an advisory or supervisorial role.
On September 4, 2016, the Sentinel released an article of mine that was entitled Two Fontana Cops Allege FPD Is Riddled With Racism. This article was about a current lawsuit that is making its way through the San Bernardino Courts. Case number CIVDS1610471 is David J. Moore v Fontana. This particular suit brought forth by two Fontana P.D officers alleges racism, corruption, unfair hiring practices, retaliatory practices by an employer, along with many other disturbing events.
Supposedly there is evidence that shows a Martin Luther King Doll was tied with a noose around its neck and hung from a rafter in the Fontana P.D. This lawsuit makes mention of an African American man who was murdered at a Kentucky Fried Chicken on Sierra Avenue in Fontana. There is supposedly a picture of this man with a partially eaten chicken leg was strategically placed in his hand after he was dead, put there as a joke to make it look like the man was killed but still managed to hold onto a piece of chicken. This picture was supposedly taken by law enforcement and was circulated around the department for years.
The Sentinel reached out to David Moore and Andre Anderson, to obtain proof regarding the allegations of their lawsuit, but they refused to produce tangible evidence to support the serious allegations of the lawsuit. Is there any proof that this crime was more than an isolated incident or set of incidents? What would happen if the murder victim family learns that a relative’s corpse was desecrated and the crime scene was contaminated by a racist crime? Has the crime of tampering with a corpse ever been properly investigated?
My next article came out on September 17, 2016, and it was titled “Culture Clash Sent Former FPD Officer of the Year Packing.” This article told the story of a Mexican American Iraq War Veteran who was a Fontana P.D officer; who experienced racism at the department and gave an account of the nepotism that characterizes the department.
On November 19th, 2016 I wrote an article called “FPD Nepotism: One-Third Of Officers Related By Marriage, Blood, or Sex.” This article touched on the fact that the Fontana P.D is filled with nepotism, back scratching, and sexual relationships that police departments are not expected to engage in.
All of these articles that I have written are facts that can be confirmed by police officers. These police officers want the truth to be revealed about a corrupt police department and are prepared to engage in the uphill battle to fight against an entity that has never been held accountable for its members’ violation of the law.
This behavior that has taken place in the Fontana P.D takes place every day all over the United States in police agencies. What I have uncovered and am still in the process of uncovering is only the tip of the iceberg.
I encourage anybody listening who wants to know more information about what is going on at the Fontana P.D to please contact the San Bernardino County Sentinel. I also encourage news and media outlets to contact the Sentinel.
I especially hope and encourage people in Fontana, San Bernardino County, and anyone interested in following the civil lawsuit against the city of Fontana, David J. Moore v. Fontana, which starts on January 9 in San Bernardino Superior Court. Will Fontana settle the case quickly and make it go away as it has in many other cases? Will the two plaintiffs if they are paid money to keep quiet, take it and run, and forget about the slogan that runs across the Fontana P.D police vehicles – Service With Integrity? Only time will tell. One way or the other the truth will eventually set you free, and the darkness will always come to light.
According to the Sentinel’s sources the Fontana P.D has engaged in activity that includes but is not limited to murder, falsifying documents, engaging in and promoting racism, unfair hiring practices, retaliatory practices against employees, physical abuse of citizens, racial profiling, falsely accusing citizens of murder, providing alcohol to minors, excessive force, tampering with dead bodies, tampering with evidence, promoting a racist work environment and falsifying evidence.
Work on replacing lead service lines for Flint homes has been halted until city officials complete the process to secure bids for infrastructure replacement.
According to Moore, since the firm was selected to work in the initial phase of FAST Start, “officials believe it is considered a co-operative type of purchasing agreement, and the state would have initiated the agreement and completed the vetting process.”
City councilman Scott Kincaid noted that while the contract had never been presented to city council for a vote, because the bill’s total was under $75,000, the mayor was justified in approving the contract herself.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver launched the FAST Start program last year to help replace lead-tainted services lines in the city. Since then, it is estimated that 800 homes have had lines replaced.
Weaver announced at a press conference on Wednesday, March 30, that she aims to replace service lines at 6,000 homes by the end of 2017.
Officials say it will take at least three more years to finish replacing service lines in Flint, estimating that anywhere from 18,000 to 28,000 homes need lines replaced.
The state has capped line replacement costs at $5,000 per home.
During the last year, as the FAST Start program progressed, program coordinator Michael McDaniel was required by the EPA to construct a communications plan to inform the public on the pipe replacement effort and turned to Martin-Waymire, Moore said.
“[McDaniel] and the mayor thought it made sense to continue working with a [Martin-Waymire Senior Account Executive Kathy Hoffman] who was familiar with the program and those involved to help promote and get information out regarding the initiative,” said Moore.
Hoffman said her team is responsible for creating FAST Start promotional literature such as door hangers and press releases, as well as promoting the initiative on social media so that Flint residents can stay informed on the pipe replacement schedule.
“We’ve found that nobody knows what the next neighborhood [scheduled for pipe replacement], so we want to get that information out there so people know what’s going on,” said Hoffman.
Although Hoffman and the Martin-Waymire group are handling public relations for the FAST Start initiative, Moore made it clear that she is still heading the city’s day-to-day public relations and communications operations.
“For example, press releases I send involving statements from the mayor and other city officials, on issues like water credits, shut offs, responses to media inquiries etc., are written entirely by me after I’ve consulted with city officials,” said Moore. “I also provide information and edit information about the FAST Start program before it is released.”
A former WNEM television reporter and weekend anchorwoman, Moore took over as the public information officer for the city of Flint in January 2016.
Last week, the pharmaceutical giant Insys Therapeutics scored a major victory when it was announced that their new synthetic THC drug – Syndros – was approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration for placement on Schedule II of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
According to Dr. Santosh Vetticaden, Ph.D., M.D., Interim CEO, and Chief Medical Officer at the company, “Insys is looking forward to bringing this new drug product to chemotherapy patients to help alleviate their nausea and vomiting and AIDS patients with anorexia associated weight loss, respectively.”
The irony of a synthetic version of cannabis – a Schedule I, “no known medical value” substance – being placed on Schedule II so it can help the very patients that cannabis itself has been helping for years is made even richer when you realize that just last fall Insys gave $500,000 to opponents of Proposition 205, a measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana in Arizona.
But it gets better. Insys is the maker of Fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that has been linked to a rising number of overdose deaths around the country. Cannabis, of course, has never been linked to a single overdose death in 5,000 years of use.
Insys admitted in a 2007 SEC disclosure filing that legal natural cannabis would be a problem for them. “If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected,” they said.
Pardon my French, but no s***.
And if fighting against people being able to legally use a product that is far safer than yours as medicine didn’t tell you enough about the ethics of those who run Insys, how about this?
The company is currently under investigation for illegally marketing Fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin, which has been linked to the death of Prince last year.
In December, several executives at the company were arrested and the CEO was forced to step down after they were charged with using speakers fees to entice doctors to prescribe Subsys, a medication for cancer patients that contains Fentanyl.
Just a few years ago, the notion that big pharmaceutical companies were conspiring with powerful people in our government for the purposes of keeping cannabis illegal was considered to be a wild conspiracy theory. Now, it is out in the open and blatant.
Chicago Police announced on Twitter Sunday that they had arrested a 14-year-old boy in connection with the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl that had been streamed live on Facebook in March.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said more arrests are expected as the investigation continues. Police have said the attack involved five or six males, and Guglielmi said the boy “was one of the offenders in the video.”
The spokesman has said police were not aware of the mid-March attack until the girl’s mother approached Johnson as he was leaving a police station on the city’s West Side and showed him the video. Johnson was “visibly upset” after he watched, both by the video’s content and the fact that there were “40 or so live viewers and no one thought to call authorities,” Guglielmi said.
The girl was reported missing from Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood after she went to the store and did not return. Then the girl’s mother was alerted to the Facebook Live video of the attack, which she showed to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. The girl was found the next day, taken to the hospital and reunited with her family.
“Due to the graphic content that I observed, I don’t want to go into the detail of what was on the video, but I want to tell you that the young men responsible, they should be ashamed of themselves,” Johnson said during Sunday’s news conference. “They’ve humiliated themselves, they’ve humiliated their families, and now they’re going to be held accountable for what they did.”
Police have said that the attack involved five or six people, and that 40 people watched the assault live on Facebook and did not call the authorities.
Guglielmi said the juvenile suspect faces felony charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, manufacturing of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.
The girl’s mother told The Associated Press last month that her daughter received online threats following the attack and that neighborhood kids were ringing her doorbell looking for the girl. The Chicago Sun-Times later reported that the girl’s family had been relocated.
The video marks the second time in recent months that Chicago police have investigated an apparent attack that was broadcast live on Facebook. In January, four people were arrested after video showed them allegedly taunting and beating a mentally disabled man.
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