Author Archives: Xena
Tadrint and Micah Washington, the owners of the car struck in the protests held in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend, have filed a lawsuit in the Charlottesville, VA circuit court.
James Alex Fields has been arrested and charged with one count of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death. Fields was a participant in the “United the Right” demonstration organized by White Nationalists in Charlottesville, VA.
Fields allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters. At his appearance on Monday in court, Fields told Chief Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. that he cannot afford a lawyer. The 20-year old Fields has been assigned court appointed attorney Charles Weber. Fields’ next court appearance is on August 25, 2017. He is currently held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and was denied bond.
The Washington’s allege in court documents that they were driving home when Fields drove through a group of people, ramming their vehicle from the back injuring them.
The lawsuit names Fields, “Unite the Right” rally organizer Jason Kessler and about two dozen alt-right leaders and organizations as defendants. Read the rest of this entry
Heather Heyer, was killed when a Dodge Charger, allegedly driven by James Alex Fields, a self-identified white supremacist, plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters. Heyer was attending an Alt-White Rally, protesting the removal of a confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was a counter-protester when she was murdered. 20 others were severely injured. Heyer, was a paralegal at the The Miller Law Group, also in Charlottesville. According to their website,
Heather Heyer is one of our Paralegals here at Miller Law Group and continues to be an irreplaceable asset to our firm. Heather was born and raised in the beautiful state of Virginia. Originally from Ruckersville, VA, Heather now resides here in Charlottesville.
After being struck, Heyer was transported to UVA Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.
Virginia Governor Terry McAulife tweeted that Heyer:
“died standing up against hate & bigotry.”
The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old…
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I hear David Duke say that the protests were to take “our” country back. Back from what? That question has not been answered.
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Hours before a noon rally was set to begin Saturday, violent skirmishes broke out between bands of white supremacists and counterprotesters who have converged on this college town around the issue of a Confederate statue.
Men in combat gear, some wearing bicycle and motorcycle helmets and carrying clubs and sticks and makeshift shields fought each other in the downtown streets, with little apparent police interference. Both sides sprayed each other with chemical irritants and plastic bottles were hurled through the air.
A large contingent of Charlottesville and Virginia state police in riot gear were stationed on side streets and at nearby barricades but did nothing to break up the melee.
Further reading: Who Are the Alt-Right Leaders Behind Virginia Rally?
These are heroes. Thanks so much for sharing these stories.
This week I am shining the light, once again, on ordinary people who are giving of themselves and their time to help others. Sometimes the smallest act of kindness, just something as simple as picking up a dropped object for an elderly person, or helping someone across the street, can make someone’s day a little brighter.
Never Too Old For A Bike Ride …
Elderly people sometimes don’t get out and about as much as they might like. Visual and mobility limitations may keep them from enjoying a walk in the park, or even just a trip to the grocery store. Imagine the feelings of loneliness, or isolation that these people experience. And young people are often busy with their own lives, wrapped up in the drama of school, relationships, sports, etc. But in Scotland, there is one young man who is helping bridge the gap between young and old…
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Hat tip to Black Freedom @Freedom4Blks on Twitter for reminding me about this case. It inspired me to write this follow-up.
On September 26, 2015, I blogged on the shooting of Jeremy McDole in Wilmington, Delaware. Jeremy was partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
A call to 911 reported that Jeremy had wounded himself with a gun. Further investigation found that there was gunshot residue on Jeremy’s hands. While wounded and confined to his wheelchair, Jeremy was shot by officers 16 times.
The arrival and subsequent actions by four police officers were caught on cell phone video. The video was considered in the investigation into the officers’ use of deadly force.
The video showed Jeremy McDole rubbing his knees as Senior Cpl. Joseph Dellose and three other officers – identified in the report as Senior Cpl. Danny Silva, Cpl. Thomas Lynch and Cpl. James MacColl, moved into the open, without cover.
The investigative report found that Dellose fired at Jeremy approximately two seconds after initially ordering him to show his hands, creating uncertainty among other officers who, not knowing where the gunfire came from, also turned their weapons on McDole. Read the rest of this entry
Thanks to all followers new and old, and to visitors.
We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident is approaching its fifth anniversary. I’m working on changing the top menu to make it more convenient to find posts based on topic. Since we’ve reported on so many trials, I might change themes so the top menu will have a pull-down section to see the names of defendants and/or victims. The same is true for the border, particularly for documents. I do hesitate changing the theme because we’ve had the same theme since this blog opened in 2012. Let me know what you think.
We are following the bench trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley who killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Stockley was charged last year. The judge has ordered no electronic communication devices, nor cameras in the courtroom. Read the rest of this entry
On December 20, 2011, 24-year old Anthony Lamar Smith was pulled over by St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley on suspicion of making a drug deal. Anthony took off in a rented Buick. Against policy, Stockley shot at the fleeing car. Dash cam video shows that Anthony slowed down. Stockley called for another officer to “hit” the car driven by Anthony, and that officer, Brian Bianchi, did just that.
Footage from three recordings obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows Stockley walking to Anthony’s rented Buick. One recording was from a cell phone, and at least one other was from a store’s surveillance camera.
The impact of being hit by the police SUV resulted in the Buick’s side curtain air bags engaging, blocking part of the view from the dashboard’s camera. Bianchi is seen reaching into the Buick with his gun still in its holster. Stockley is seen with an AK=47, and his head is bobbing up and down as if he was lifting the curtain as well.
Stockley shot 5 times. Officer Bianchi suddenly backed away as if he was not expecting the gunshots.
Stockley is seen taking his personal AK-47 back to his SUV and putting it into the backseat. Stockley then returned to the Buick that was driven by Anthony. St. Louis Today reports that according to officials, Stockley was not authorized to carry the rifle, which he personally owned.
Inside dashcam recorded Stockley going into a duffle bag in the back seat, and subsequently leave the SUV with nothing in his hands. Read the rest of this entry
A Gigantic Step Backwards: Trump Bans Transsexuals from the Military on the Anniversary of Truman’s Desegregation of the Armed Forces
Russian dissident Gary Kasparov said this on Twitter yesterday shortly after President Trump announced on the same platform that Transsexuals, even those currently serving honorably would not be allowed to serve in the military. Kasparov noted:
“The autocrat always requires enemies to protect his base from. If real enemies don’t exist, they will be created. Minorities preferred.”
Yesterday I was debating whether to write about President Harry Truman’s courageous decision sixty-nine years ago yesterday to desegregate the U.S. Military. I didn’t because first I have written about it before and I couldn’t come to a decision on how I wanted to approach it. So I wrote an article combining baseball that the principle of interiorizing public rules, norms, traditions, and behaviors that are necessary for our Republic to survive.
But this morning when I saw the series of three Trump tweets about excluding transsexuals from…
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The song, Keep on Pushing, was written by Curtis Mayfield and originally recorded by the R&B group The Impressions. It was released in 1964. It is a song about perseverance and finding strength to get through tough times.
This song took on a new meaning for Mayfield after he was paralyzed in 1990 when a light tower fell on him during an outdoor performance in Brooklyn. In a 1997 interview, Mayfield said, “I think my spirits are maybe even higher,” It’s like I died and woke up to see this wave of love from so many people I knew and people I didn’t know.”
Kirk Whalum brings a jazz version of the song. I hope it encourages those who need a lift-up.
The New York Times Reports:
After two mistrials, Prosecutor, Joseph T. Deters, said his decision to drop the charges against Ray Tensing is because he spoke to the jurors. Those jurors told him that a unanimous conviction was not possible. Federal prosecutors will now review the evidence to consider whether a civil rights investigation is warranted.
For other posts on this case, please see;
Have you heard of 24-year-old John Hernandez? What about Harris County Deputy Sheriff Chauna Thompson?
John Hernandez was at a Denny’s restaurant on May 28, 2017 in a town not far from Houston. Wait staff said he was celebrating his soccer team winning and was drunk, but he was not behaving belligerently. Chauna Thompson was off-duty and had just left Denny’s with her husband, Terry Thompson, when John Hernandez came outside the restaurant and urinated while standing close to the Thompson’s vehicle.
Terry beat John who landed on the ground and then Terry proceeded to place John in a choke hold and got on John’s back. Chauna, pinned down one of John’s arms. His other armed was underneath him. On her knees, Chauna yelled at Hernandez to “stay the f— down.” Her husband said to Hernandez: “Do you want me to hit you again?”
John’s wife and daughter were inside of the restaurant as the confrontation was happening. Hearing the commotion, they rushed outside.
Melissa Trammell, a Denny’s employee, said she was standing next to John’s daughter and begged Terry Thompson to let go of John Hernandez. Hernandez “was kicking for his life, struggling. At first I thought it was legitimate,” Trammell told reporters after testifying before the grand jury. “He was just going to hold him down, whatever. When I seen the man turning purple, there was no letup. And [Thompson] looked me in my face and told me he’s not getting off him.”
After paramedics arrived, John Hernandez was rushed to the hospital. Some witnesses say that it took paramedics 40 minutes to arrive. John was brain dead, went into a coma and died three days later.
A by-stander filmed the incident. He retained an attorney before turning the video over to the Sheriff’s office. Read the rest of this entry
BALTIMORE — A Baltimore officer has been suspended after defense attorneys released a body camera video they said shows the officer planting drugs.
The 90 seconds of footage has police investigating their own officers, but officials say there is more to this story than a short video clip showing officers planting drugs, CBS Baltimore reports.
Officials have since released more video to back up their claims as they continue to investigate these serious allegations.
The footage in a Baltimore alley is clear, as it was recorded on police body cameras, but the reason why the Baltimore police officer appears to be planting drugs is not.
What we think we see, and if you slow down the video especially in the first five seconds, the officer appearing to place a red can underneath some trash, push the fence up, and hide it,” said public defender Debbie Katz Levi.
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So sorry to hear this. I’m sending him positive thoughts and prayers.
This is sad news. On a personal note, the type of brain cancer that Senator John MCain (R-AZ) has been diagnosed with, is very aggressive. The treatment usually includes both chemotherapy and radiation which can extend his life for about up to 2 more years. I know this because I had a very dear friend who passed away with this very same diagnosis.
He is a tough gentleman with a fighting spirit but there is no way to sugar coat his situation. This is going to be a rough road for him.
I personally have appreciated his strong stance against Russia.
Here’s the rest of the story…
On July 19, 2017, the staff of the Washington Post posted the following sad report, “Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer.”
“The office for the 80-year-old McCain, the Republican nominee for president in 2008 and a U.S. senator representing Arizona since 1987…
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“We Fight for Men and Women Whose Poetry has Not Yet Been Written…” Remembering Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts
I learned of the 54th Regiment by watching the movie “Glory.” It was so interesting that I then purchased a book about it. Thanks for this post.
When it learned that the Federal Government was recruiting African Americans, both free men and former slaves as soldiers the Confederate Congress issued this proclamation:
“Any negro taken in arms against the Confederacy will immediately be returned to a state of slavery. Any negro taken in Federal uniform will be summarily put to death. Any white officer taken in command of negro troops shall be deemed as inciting servile insurrection and shall likewise be put to death.”
Those who doubt that the leaders of the Confederacy fought the war for any “state right” other than the maintenance and expansion of slavery needs to look at the actions and words of that racist republic.
One hundred and fifty-four years ago today one of those African American regiments went into action against the Confederate works at Battery Wagner, outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The 54th was raised…
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It was Saturday, May 20, 2017. Richard Wilbur Collins III was 23 years old. He completed his ROTC training and had been recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, where he expected to join the intelligence division.
Richard was attending Bowie State University, in Maryland. He was with two friends standing at a bus stop at the University of Maryland’s campus in College Park. In three days, he was to graduate.
Sean Christopher Urbanski took away Richard’s opportunity to graduate. Urbankski took away Richard’s military career. Urbanksi took away Richard’s future. Urbankski took all of that away by carrying out an unprovoked stabbing to Richard’s chest with a knife.
On the day of what would have been Richard’s commencement ceremony, his cap and gown were draped over an empty seat during the ceremony. His family received a standing ovation as they accepted a degree on Richard’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Sean Christopher Urbanski was sitting in a jail cell, denied bail. Read the rest of this entry
Bullets do not discriminate.
Grief does not discriminate.
On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was killed in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Both were killed by police officers. Protests organized across America.
On July 7, 2016, people organized a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas, Texas. At the end of the protest in Dallas, gunshots ranged out. Five Dallas police officers lost their lives. Nine other officers and two civilians were injured.
The Dallas Police Officers who lost their lives were;
Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, age 48. He joined the department in 2002.
Sgt. Michael Smith, 55, had been with the department since 1989.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Officer Brent Thompson, 43, had been with the department since 2009. Thompson was the first DART officer to be killed in the line of duty since the department’s inception in 1989.
Officer Michael Krol, 40, had been on the force for 8 years.
Officer Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa, 32, who had been with the department since 2011.
Micah Xavier Johnson was found to be the person who fired upon the group of protesters and police officers. Johnson was an Army veteran who reportedly was angry over the police shootings of black men. Micah Xavier Johnson was killed after police deployed a bomb-carrying robot. Read the rest of this entry
Science fiction movies, especially those that involve space travel, generally allow human logic in their characters. At least, it is logic that goes with the plot. Most of them that involve hyper-sleep while traveling to other planets, are with a purpose of conducting something scientific or capitalistic.
In the second movie in the Alien franchise, the movie tells us that they sent a group of settlers to a planet that is inhabited by alien creatures whose sole purpose is to use human bodies as hosts to give birth to reproduce more aliens.
In the movie Avatar, we see scientists and mercenaries travel to a moon for a company that is stripping it of natural resources. In Avatar, the people on the ship were in hyper-sleep for 5 years.
What about a movie where Earthlings pay money to be put on a space ship to travel so far away, that they will be in hyper sleep for 120 years? The only reason that the movie gives to us is that the people want to start over.
The movie I’m talking about is Passengers. Since first seeing Chris Pratt in the movie Jurassic World, I became a fan. In fact, I became so much of a fan that I looked up other movies he appeared in before Jurassic World and watched them, such as Guardians of the Galaxy. I also like science fiction movies, so you might say that with Chris Pratt being in Passengers, I had to see the movie. Read the rest of this entry
This is one of those cases where after I read it, I was filled with numerous emotions. I was saddened by knowing there are heartless people who take advantage of the vulnerable. I was saddened that those financially and emotionally damaged will not recover their losses. I felt despair because the perpetrators ran their scam for 7 years before they were brought to justice. I felt anger that the perpetrators would use the federal judicial system to illegally enrich themselves.
I was frightened because based on the charges, had they not used mail and wire in conducting their activity, they might have gotten away with it unless the states where they operated found an appropriate charge.
As Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, describes this case;
“Sentencing reduction fraud schemes that prey on the desperation, vulnerability and trust of federal inmates and their families exploit both the victims and the justice system. Federal partners across the nation will continue to target such schemes and prosecute the offenders.”
That is one reason why I feel this case is important to write about; i.e., there might still be con artists conducting this crime. The public needs to know about this.
Imagine that you have a relative serving time in federal prison. Along comes a company that promises they will get the sentence reduced by filing a Rule 35 Motion. They require payment for their services.
As an average person who knows little to nothing about Federal Rules, would you know how to look it up? Would you know about “standing” to understand the correct procedures?
In the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 35 allows the court to reduce a defendant’s sentence if the defendant is found to have provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person. ONLY GOVERNMENT PROSECUTORS CAN FILE SUCH A MOTION, AND THEY DO IT WITHOUT CHARGE.
On June 29, 2017, 40-year old Alvin James Warrick of Beaumont, Texas was sentenced in Miami, Florida to 235 months in prison. On the same day, 36-year old Colitha Patrice Bush of Port Arthur, Texas was sentenced in Miami, Florida to 96 months in prison. They have been ordered to forfeit $4.4 million. U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard of the Southern District of Florida entered the sentence.
Previously, Warrick and Bush pled guilty to wire and mail fraud conspiracy charges in connection with the scam they operated that targeted federal inmates and their families in Miami-Dade County and elsewhere.
In addition to their sentences for the Southern District of Florida matter, Warrick and Bush were also sentenced in a related case originally brought in the Eastern District of Texas, and subsequently transferred to Florida.
A third person was involved named Roland Bennett Shepherd, 32, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to 28 months. He pled guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in the scam.
The scam was run from 2009 through September 7, 2016. The perpetrators held themselves out as owners and operators of Private Services, a company that reportedly worked with a network of informants and law enforcement personnel to identify and provide information and third party cooperation that could be credited to federal inmates in Rule 35 proceedings.
They used aliases such as “Peter Candlewood,” “Diane Lane,” and “Diane Rice,” targeting federal inmates and their families by phone, text, email, mail and in-person services. Read the rest of this entry