August 31, 2009

Taser Lawsuit: Michael Jacobs (Ft. Worth, TX)

The City of Fort Worth and police officer Stephanie Phillips have been slapped with a lawsuit of at least $75,000 for the wrongful taser-related death of 24-year old Michael Jacobs, Jr. [VIDEO REPORT]

The lawsuit cites the coroner's report which states; "....Phillips advised the decedent that if he did not calm down and comply with her directions, she would have to use her Taser device on him; he replied reportedly, 'Go ahead, I've always wanted to see what that feels like anyway.' "
According to the autopsy report, Phillips shocked Jacobs for 49-seconds, paused one second, and then shocked him five more seconds.

The autopsy report states Phillips; "...unknowingly kept the Taser trigger engaged for an unknown amount of time when she first applied the Taser, thus increasing the pre-programmed shock duration cycle of five seconds."
Villager's Voice: It does appear that Officer Phillips' was poorly trained in the use of her taser gun. Synch that finding with the one made by the medical examiner that Jacobs' taser death was 'homicide' and you have a pretty clear case against the city of Ft. Worth. Methinks that they should work to settle this out of court.

Hasanni Campbell's Aunt/Foster Mom to be Released

Jennifer Campbell is the aunt and foster mother of 5-year old Hasanni Campbell ... the missing 5-year old boy who police now believe is dead. The district attorney doesn't have enough evidence to charge Jennifer Campbell as an accessory in Hasanni's murder ... so she is scheduled to be released today [SOURCE].

Ted Kennedy on Health Care Reform

"This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver — to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American ... will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause — from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has
more meaning for me — and more urgency — than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.

Ted Kennedy

August 30, 2009

Sunday Inspirations: God and the Scientist

God is sitting in Heaven when a scientist says to Him,"Lord, we don't need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life out of nothing. In other words, we can now do what you did in the 'beginning'."

"Oh, is that so? Tell me..." replies God.

"Well", says the scientist, "we can take dirt and form it into the likeness of you and breathe life into it, thus creating man."

"Well, that's interesting. Show Me," said God.

So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil.

"Oh no, no, no...." interrupts God, "Get your own dirt."

Sunday Inspirations is the meme created by Sojourner in honor of her Mother. This is just one way to help get us through the week ahead, the trials we may face, and yes, to say Thank Ya and testify! I hope that you participate and share with us your Sunday Inspirations. Your weekly contribution may very well be the inspiration that someone else may need and has been looking for.

The Rules:

  1. Anyone can participate.

  2. You may post a video, poem, religious verse, song, story, picture, ANYTHING that has given you inspiration and the motivation to go on. Just make sure not to offend anyone.

  3. Add your name to the meme list so others can be inspired.
  4. Be and get inspired and be sure to comment.

August 29, 2009

Katrina: Four Years Later

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Florida and the Gulf Coast, breached New Orleans’ levees in multiple locations and flooded 80 percent of the city. For days thousands of mostly Black residents languished on rooftops, in leaky boat flotillas, and in flooded government buildings and civic centers. The storm killed more than 1,800 people and left the city of New Orleans a shell of its former self. Damage estimates hover around $80 billion. Four years later rebuilding continues.

One of the positive outgrowths of the devastation is that the New Orleans public school system is substantially improved from its horrible situation in advance of Katrina.

There is evidence of the growing success of the schools in many areas. First, the city attracted a nationally known reformer, superintendent Paul Vallas, and so many teachers that it has 10 applicants for every opening. Second, New Orleans now spends twice as much as it did before Katrina -- $15,500 per pupil –- far above the national average.

The proof is in the pudding: Scores have risen on both state and national exams.

The Obama administration recently provided New Orleans’ HBCU, Southern University, with $32 million to replace four hurricane-damaged buildings.

The Brookings Institution and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center summarize their report as follows:

"The nation’s deepening economic recession has produced dissolution and despair across the country as many communities grapple with the social and economic ramifications of massive layoffs, prolonged unemployment, shuttered businesses, and home foreclosures. By contrast, rebuilding from the woes caused by Hurricane Katrina has helped cushion greater New Orleans from the ravages of the downturn. As New Orleans ends its fourth year since the hurricane and levee failures, the region has been buoyed by post-disaster recovery efforts and its fortunate industry mix."
The release entitled ‘The New Orleans Anniversary Edition: Four Years after Katrina’, says Congress and the Obama leadership must commit and sustain its partnership with Louisiana state and local leaders by “delivering on key milestones in innovation, infrastructure, human capital and sustainable communities to help greater New Orleans move past 'disaster recovery' and boldly build a more prosperous future”.

The 24-page 'New Orleans Index' documents some key findings that include:

  • The New Orleans economy is weathering the recession relatively well due in part to its industry composition. The New Orleans metro area lost 0.9 percent of its jobs since last June, compared to the 4.1 percent lost nationally. The industries hardest hit — manufacturing and construction — comprise relatively small shares of the New Orleans economy and since last June have shed few jobs. The four largest sectors of the region’s economy — trade and transportation, government, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services — either stagnated or added jobs. The New Orleans metro area’s unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent while it climbed to 9.5 percent for the nation.
  • Ongoing rebuilding activities are attracting people, jobs, and investments, further shoring up the greater New Orleans economy. New Orleans added more than 8,500 households (actively receiving mail) in the past year, the biggest one-year expansion since 2007, reflecting a mix of new and returning residents. While home rebuilding has slowed dramatically since 2007, post-disaster infrastructure investments in the levee system, schools, police stations and other public facilities have continued apace. Since July 2008, FEMA has paid over $800 million for infrastructure repair projects across the five-parish area. In the city of New Orleans, 94 facilities and public works projects were completed as of April 2009, and 113 more were under construction.
  • Yet New Orleans is not immune from the economic crisis. Like many metropolitan areas, the housing market has stalled, with home sales down 39 percent and new construction down 48 percent. The slowdown in consumer spending has contributed to a plunge in city sales tax revenues with 21 percent fewer receipts from general sales, motel/hotel stays, and motor vehicle purchases in April and 6 percent fewer receipts in May compared to the previous year.
  • Further, massive blight, affordable housing for low-income workers, and significant flood risk remain the area’s major challenges. While there are fewer unoccupied residences in Orleans, St. Bernard and Jefferson parishes this year, the scale of blight remains high— 65,888, 14,372, and 11,516 residences, respectively — posing significant challenges for local governments. Steep rent increases have abated, but at 40 percent higher than pre-Katrina, rents remain out of reach for many critical workers. Typical rent for an efficiency apartment is $733 per month, unaffordable for food preparation, health care support, and retail sales workers.

According to a 'Katrina Pain Index, the Louisiana landscape is dotted by nearly 2,000 temporary FEMA trailers (many of them contaminated and uninhabitable) 65,888 unoccupied residences and countless weed-filled lots and molding houses. The murder rate in New Orleans topped all cities nationwide last year, although the overall rate of violent crime dropped in the city in 2007 and 2008.

Engineering and construction work rebuilding Louisiana after Katrina has cushioned unemployment at 6.8%. The nation’s rate is 9.4%. Still the state ranks No. 2 in the nation for the highest jobless rate (13.2%) among African Americans and people living in poverty trailing Mississippi, despite billions in post-Katrina recovery dollars.

Nearly a third of the city’s children live in poverty. The vast majority of these children live in single-parent homes; many are being raised by siblings, foster parents or are on their own.

Recently Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) told her congressional colleagues that it is high time to get serious and get beyond just talking about doing something to help the people of New Orleans.

Four years after Hurricane Katrina we still have individuals living in trailers, seeking additional benefits, dispersed throughout the country in unfamiliar cities, and disconnected from their families, friends and their hometown.”
Some online activists feel that we need to take actions that will prevent a future where disasters like Katrina become the norm. They want to see President Obama push for a strong clean energy bill that seeks to correct long-term structural energy issues.

The images from Hurricane Katrina are painful. They remind us that America is willing to abandon an entire city when it was inconvenient to save them. We saw images of desperation, racism and hopelessness.

Nothing happens as quickly as we want. Four years later we see rays of light -- new levees, new buildings, returning residents, grassroots organizers and achieving school children. Methinks that we have a chance to see New Orleans regaining its worldwide gleam if we stay the course.

I would be interested to see what villagers have to say about New Orleans: Four Years After Hurricane Katrina...

How Long Does a Taser-Related Autopsy Take to Complete?

I guess I'm spoiled. I've seen the medical examiners from major cities like Las Vegas, Miami and New York complete the autopsy process with quickness. I've learned that if a victim is Jewish then the coroner works to complete the autopsy within the first 24 hours.

It boggles my mind that it takes coroner's in other cities so long to complete the autopsy process when a taser-related victim is laid out in front of them. For example, 17-year old Derek Jones died in January 8, 2009 after being tased by a local police officer in Martinsville, VA ... a town of only 14,543 people. It's a small town. However, authorities continue to wait on autopsy reports. [SOURCE]

This is a pattern that we've seen in other taser-related deaths. This is another reason that we need a federal probe. Have you signed our online petition asking for congressional hearings on taser torture?

August 28, 2009

Police Arrest Hasanni Campbell's Foster Parents for Murder

Louis Ross and Jennifer Campbell, foster parents of missing 5-year-old Hasanni Campbell were arrested today in connection with his disappearance.

Police had been mystified as to how Hasanni Campbell could have vanished from a "crowded business district with no witnesses," according to a police search warrant affidavit.

Louis Ross claims that his foster son vanished from the parking lot of the Shuz of Rockridge shoe store in Oakland on August 10. However, police bloodhounds were unable to detect the scent of the boy outside the upscale shoe store where Hasanni's aunt and foster mother work. Besides scouring the area around the shoe store, police have searched Ross' home, the surrounding neighborhoods and parks as well as a scrap yard in nearby Hayward, Calif., that Ross had visited hours before Hasanni's disappearance.

Hasanni has cerebral palsy and wears braces on his legs.

10 days before the boy vanished, Ross sent an expletive-filled text message to Hasanni's foster mother, threatening to leave the boy alone on a train station platform. Ross said he would look after Hasanni's 1-year-old sister, but not the boy.

"I will watch her but he will be out on the (station) and its your responsibility," said the July 31 text message.
Police say Hasanni's disappearance is still a missing person investigation, but says a homicide investigator is in charge of the case.

VILLAGER's VOICE: It appears that the police feel that they have enough evidence to arrest the foster parents for murder. I haven't felt good about this missing 5-year old since the case first broke on August 10. I suspect it is only a matter of time before one of the two suspects breaks down and tells police where they buried the body. Hasanni was only five years old. Villagers, hug your children tonight...

Coroner Rules 'Homicide' in the Taser Death of Michael Jacobs

24-year old Michael Jacobs did not have to die on April 18, 2009. However, Fort Worth police officer Stephanie A. Phillips shocked him twice with a taser gun -- the first time for 49 seconds and the second time for 5 seconds, with a 1-second interval between the shocks, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office report.

Phillips told a detective after the incident that she "unknowingly kept the Taser trigger engaged for an unknown amount of time when she first applied the Taser, thus increasing the pre-programmed shock duration cycle of five seconds."

The report states that when Jacobs "continued to struggle," Phillips warned him again that if he did not "cease fighting and comply with officers’ requests, she would shock him again. When [Jacobs] failed to cooperate, Phillips shocked him a second time," according to the report.

He was pronounced dead about noon that day — an hour after Phillips used the taser gun. The medical examiner ruled that Michael Jacobs' death was a homicide. [SOURCE]

An autopsy showed no traces of alcohol or drugs, electrolyte imbalances, or signs of heart or lung disease, all of which can be contributing factors in a death.

"We are relieved that the ME's findings line up with our facts, but we still believe that Mr. Jacobs did not have to die, and did not have to die the way he did, in front of his parents in his front yard crying out for help," said Rev. Kyev Tatum, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Fort Worth chapter.
The Jacobs family held a press conference to talk about the ME's findings. Michael Jacobs Jr. had a 4-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter, who live with their mothers, Charlotte Jacobs said.

"I would like to see justice done for my son. I would like this to never happen to another family. If the police had just come to me after this happened and said, 'I’m sorry,’ none of this would be needed. The police are supposed to be here to protect and serve. Not to kill."
Now we wait to see if the police officer that fired the taser will be charged with a crime by the powers-that-be in Ft. Worth. Does anyone know the name of the police officer?

Old School Friday: Gino Vanelli

The theme for this week's Old School Friday meme is Songs That People Would Be Surprised You Know.

Sadly, I don't remember who introduced me to Gino Vanelli. He never truly hit the mainstream for jazz, R&B or any other genre. He was a unique talent that didn't fit neatly into any box we had labels for at the time. However, I used to enjoy listening to his stuff ... back then I was listening on an 8-track cartridge ... young 'uns have no idea what that was ... but, his music got to me. Here are two of my favorites from Gino Vanelli .... and I think villagers would be surprised to see this artist on my iPod!

'Ugly Man'

'Pauper in Paradise'

Taser Death: Terrace Clayton Smith (Los Angeles, CA)

It happened again. Again we see that the police feel disrespected ... and respond with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. As a result, we have the 34th taser-related death in America this year.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says Terrace Clayton Smith has died after a deputy shocked him three times with an electric stun gun at a San Fernando Valley subway station. [SOURCE]

Police authorities say Smith was at the North Hollywood Red Line station on August 26th, when a deputy repeatedly asked if he had a ticket.

Smith didn't answer, so the deputy took hold of his hands to stop and question him.

The police say the man broke free, raised clenched fists and charged the deputy several times. He was Tasered, then shocked twice more when he got up and charged again. We don't know the other side of the story ... because Smith is dead.

The police were consistent in their response to this taser-related death ... they informed the press of a possible drug abuse angle. In this case, the police say a pipe used to smoke drugs fell to the ground during the scuffle. That is how the police set the stage for blaming his death on 'excited delirium'.

These taser-related deaths are happening at too rapid a clip. Please sign our online petition seeking congressional hearings on taser-torture taking place in our nation.

August 27, 2009

Obama Effect: Artur Davis (Campaign Video)

I told y'all a few months ago that Artur Davis (D-AL) was a beneficary of the Obama Effect. Check out his most recent campaign video:

Are there other candidates that you think benefit from the Obama Effect?

August 26, 2009

Taser Death: T.J. Nance (Arizona City, AZ)

We are saddened to report the 33rd taser-related death in America this year. For the second time in less than a week a resident of the state of Arizona lost his life to the taser-happy nature of our police force.

T.J. Nance, 37, of Arizona City, was pronounced dead at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center at 10:06 p.m. on Friday, August 21, about an hour after a Pinal County Sheriff's Office deputy used a Taser on him. Nance fell to the ground and apparently went into cardiac arrest. [SOURCE]

Nance fled an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer after the officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop on him shortly after 9 p.m. Friday near Eloy, according to DPS. The DPS officer was assisted by the sheriff's deputy when Nance tried to run into a nearby residence. The name of the taser-happy police officer was not released.

Authorities said that Nance had an unknown substance stuck in his throat, which was removed and turned over to investigators.

His cause of death also is pending autopsy results from the Forensic Science Center in Tucson.

Villagers, it is never a good idea to try to run away from the police. However, to my knowledge the penalty for being disrespectful to the police is not supposed to be death. These tasers are supposed to be 'non-lethal'. Don't tell that to the 33 people on this list!

I also note that the 'authorities' didn't take any time to throw in the drug angle with their information about an unknown substance in Mr. Vance's throat. I also see that we are now waiting on autopsy results. Anyone want to guess at how long we will be waiting for this autopsy report?

Villagers, is the frequency of these taser-related deaths bothering anyone else? Perhaps it is time for congressional oversight hearings?

Wordless Wednesday: Ted Kennedy (1932-2009)

August 25, 2009

Does Dick Cheney Seem Like a Rabid Dog to You?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a good run. He was a longterm congressman from his home state. He ran a large and successful Fortune 500 company. He served for eight years as our nation's vice president. He raised children who appear to be very loving and loyal to him.

With all that positive karma in his life ... why does it seem that former vice president Dick Cheney is going stark-raving mad?

This week Cheney criticized President Barack Obama's ability to handle national security after the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogation abuses.

Cheney said the intelligence obtained from harsh interrogation techniques had saved lives.

"The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President Obama's decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security," Cheney said.
Earlier this year, Cheney had asked the CIA to declassify two memos that he said showed the effectiveness of using harsh interrogation methods on terrorism suspects.

The CIA in May rejected that request, but on Monday released the documents, with classified portions blacked out.

"The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States," Cheney said.
Cheney simply refuses to be silent. Why can't he be more like Dan Quayle or Walter Mondale?

Tune In Tuesday: Norman Connors, 'You Are My Starship'

Many of you know that I'm a science fiction fan. Some of you know that I'm wondering if I've been marooned from love for the rest of my life ... or if I still have a chance for my starship to come in. I'm going to tune in Norman Connors for inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Womanist Musings created a weekly meme today called Tune In Tuesday. She noted that our blogs often deal with serious issues and it might be nice to lighten the atmosphere every once in awhile. Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song. To that end each Tuesday this blog intends to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

August 23, 2009

Village Resolutions: Develop a Budget

I wonder why we only talk about resolutions at the beginning of each new year. Shouldn't resolutions be at the forefront of our thinking on a regular basis? Last week, we suggested that it is important for all villagers to set specific financial goals.

This week we remind all villagers about the importance of developing a budget. After all, the first step in developing a smart savings plan is to put together a budget. Make it simple. Begin by totaling all your income -- wages, salaries, dividends, interest and other regular income.

Next, list two types of expenses: Those which are fixed each month and those which vary.

Once you know how you're spending your money, take a look at those variable expenses that can be reduced or eliminated.

I hope that these reminders are helping you as much as they are helping me! Do you have a budget up & running right now?

August 22, 2009

President's Weekly Address: Myths and Morality in Health Insurance Reform

President Obama debunks the myths around health insurance reform, and discusses the public option proposal in which many of them are rooted -- but he focuses his address on the stark moral and historical turning point at which we find ourselves: "This is our chance to march forward. I cannot promise you that the reforms we seek will be perfect or make a difference overnight. But I can promise you this: if we pass health insurance reform, we will look back many years from now and say, this was the moment we summoned what’s best in each of us to make life better for all of us. This was the moment we built a health care system worthy of the nation and the people we love. This was the moment we earned our place alongside the greatest generations. And that is what our generation of Americans is called to do right now."

President Obama continues to fight for health care reform. What say u?

August 21, 2009

Taser Death: Francisco Sesate (Mesa, AZ)

UPDATE (8/25/09): The taser victim identified as 36-year old Francisco P. Sesate.

It happened again! An unidentified man died after being tasered by Mesa police yesterday. This man is the 32nd person killed by police taser guns in America this year. These taser-related deaths seem to follow a pattern:

  1. Police arrive
  2. Someone disrespects the police
  3. Police taser the disrespectful person
  4. Taser victim dies while in police custody
  5. Police tell press about 'excited delirium'
  6. Police suggest that taser victim is on drugs
  7. Autopsy results take weeks to be shared with public

Anyhow, here is the story as told by The Arizona Republic:

A man who was Tasered by Mesa police Thursday after stripping naked and jumping on cars in a convenience store parking lot died eight hours after he was subdued.

The man, whose identity has not yet been released, lost consciousness as three officers tried to handcuff him after he fell to the ground from the shock of the Taser, said Steve Berry, a police spokesman.

The officers immediately uncuffed the man and started medical attention. He was revived sometime before arriving at a local hospital, but his condition continued to deteriorate throughout the day and he died at about 9 p.m.

The police department is investigating the incident and waiting on autopsy reports from the medical examiner, but officers do not think the Taser caused the death, Berry said.

Berry said it was possible that "excited delirium," a condition that occurs when the heart shuts down because it can't handle a stressful event, was the cause of death.

He also suggested that the man was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

"Taking the fact that it's in broad daylight and you've got basically a grown man stripping down naked and jumping on cars, it leads us to believe he may have been under influence of some drugs or narcotics at the time, but that's up to the medical examiner's office to look into," he said.
The incident started when an officer arrived at the convenience store, at Country Club Drive and Southern Avenue, and tried talking to the suspect, who was standing naked near the front of the store.

When a second officer arrived, the two tried to handcuff the man. He pushed one of the officers, prompting them to Taser him at least once.

The pair, joined by a third officer, struggled still to detain him and by the time they got the handcuffs on the man, he had stopped breathing, Berry said.

I must admit that I'm truly worried that the pace of these taser-related deaths is getting quicker. We are averaging a death each week. Some village voices indicate that a taser gun is a 'less lethal' weapon. However, the training provided by law enforcement officers through the Use of Force Continumm indicates that the taser is 'non-lethal'. In either case ... do we need to report the story of a taser death every week of the year?

Isn't it time for congressional hearings on this continued taser torture taking place in America?

Old School Friday: Barack Obama and The Dells

President Obama is a remarkable leader. However, at the end of the day he is 'only a man'. We need to keep him and his family in our prayers. I thought that this video salute to President Obama was on point. I hope you enjoy it as well...

August 20, 2009

Troubling Text Messages from Hasanni Campbell's Foster Dad

Soulclap to San Francisco Chronicle for updating us on angry text messages from Louis Ross -- the foster father of missing 5-year old Hasanni Campbell.

The foster father of a missing 5-year-old boy with cerebral palsy sent an angry text message threatening to leave the child alone at a BART platform just 10 days before Hasanni Campbell vanished, according to court documents released today.

In addition, Louis Ross "voiced some misgivings" about caring for a disabled child when he talked to officers investigating the child's Aug. 10 disappearance, according to a statement that Oakland police submitted to justify obtaining a search warrant of Ross' Fremont home.

According to the police account, Ross sent an expletive-laden text message July 31 to Jennifer Campbell, his fiancee and the aunt and foster mother of Hasanni.

"This is f- over, I will watch her but he will be out on the BART and its your responsibility to hey (sic) him so f - you," Ross texted at 9:50 a.m., police said. The references appear to be to Hasanni and his 1-year-old sister.

Ross reported Aug. 10 that the boy had vanished from outside a shoe store on College Avenue in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood where Campbell was working. Ross said he had briefly left the boy outside when he went around to the front of the store.

Police have searched the neighborhood, Ross' home, a Hayward scrap yard that he visited earlier in the day and local parks, but have not found the boy.

A neighbor in Fremont told police that Hasanni had not been seen for about two weeks before Ross reported him missing.

Oakland police Officer Ross Tisdell wrote in the court papers that the relationship between Ross, 38, and Campbell, 33, "appeared to have some instances of domestic violence."

Police said they had heard reports of a "sword being brandished by Ross at Campbell," but did not elaborate.

A "sword or cutting instrument" were among the items that police sought in a search of his 2002 BMW and the home on Roxie Terrace in Fremont where Ross lives with Campbell and the two children.

Nothing was seized from the home, but Ross voluntarily gave his cell phone to police, court records show.

In addition to the text message, police described an instance in which Ross apparently left the two children alone in the home "while he went to the bank to conduct a transaction."

"He had also voiced some misgivings about caring for a developmentally disabled child during the interview," Tisdell wrote.

Ross, reached by phone today, downplayed any domestic disputes with Campbell.

He said he had sent the text message in frustration at a time when he planned to break up with Campbell.

"It was me venting about a situation in our past that had come back up," he said. "I was ending the relationship at that point."

He said he had not left Hasanni alone at BART. He said he had wanted Campbell to pick up the children, but that she had been unable to do so. The dispute quickly cooled, Ross said.

As for the sword, Ross said he had told police about it and that officers had later returned and picked it up. He said he kept it under a mattress.

"It wasn't a big deal," he said.

Ross has said he is cooperating with officials "100 percent" and that he told the truth when he took a polygraph examination last week.

John Burris, an attorney who has consulted with the couple, emphasized today that Ross has always cooperated with the investigation.

"He's very responsive," Burris said.

The case has been puzzling to authorities in part because bloodhounds could not detect Hasanni's scent outside the Rockridge shoe store where Ross says he left the boy.

In the search warrant affidavit, police said it was a mystery that Hasanni could disappear from "a crowded business district with no witnesses."

There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the boy's whereabouts. Officer Jeff Thomason, an Oakland police spokesman, said the department still considers the case a missing person investigation. However, a homicide investigator has been put in charge of the case.

Is anyone else beginning to get a bad feeling in their gut about the eventual outcome of this case?

Plaxico Burress Enters Hall of Shame

Michael Vick entered our Sports Hall of Shame two years ago. It appears that we can add Plaxico Burress to the list as well.

Check out this Hall of Shame:

  1. Mark Bell - hockey player
  2. Rae Carruth - football player
  3. Maurice Clarett - football player
  4. Mike Danton - hockey player
  5. Doc Gooden - baseball player
  6. Hollywood Henderson - football player
  7. Jamal Lewis - football player
  8. Denny McLain - baseball player
  9. Bob Probert - hockey players
  10. Pete Rose - baseball player
  11. Art Schlicter - football players
  12. Darryl Strawberry - baseball player
  13. Mike Tyson - boxer

I feel bad for Plaxico. He didn't hurt anyone but himself ... and he appears to have picked the worst set of attorneys to battle for him in court. Anyhow, this is an open thread. Share your 'village voice' on Plaxico Burress and the guilty plea that will place him in jail for the next two years.

What say u?

Farmers Insurance Pulls Ads from Glenn Beck Show on Fox News

Soulclap to the folks at POLITICO for reporting that Farmers Insurance is the 21st company to pull their ads from the Glenn Beck show on Fox News.

Farmers spokesperson says, "We advertise on Fox News Channel, which places our ads in the Network programming, and we ceased placing on Glenn Beck a week ago."
We have been reminded by village voices that just because advertisers pull ads from Beck's show doesn't mean the network will lose any money. A Fox News spokesperson told the Daily News yesterday that "advertisers referenced have all moved their spots from Beck to other programs on the network so there has been no revenue lost."

Folks can spin this in any direction that they want. Bottomline is that Beck called our nation's president a 'racist' and he is paying a price for it. My hope is that all villagers will sign the online petition in support of our efforts to boycott any corporation that advertises on the Glenn Beck show.

Hasanni Campbell's Foster Dad Fails Lie Detector; Was Hasanni Killed with a Sword?

There is still no sign of 5-year old Hasanni Campbell. His foster dad reported him missing on August 10th.

A search warrant issued on August 11th shows that police were looking for a "sword or cutting instrument" and biological evidence from the 5-year-old boy in his foster parents' home. Authorities confirm that Louis Ross, the boy's foster father, failed a polygraph test given by the FBI. [SOURCE]

The search warrant, issued at 5:45 a.m. Aug. 11 in Alameda County, was for the home on Roxie Terrace in Fremont, where the boy lives with his foster parents, Ross, 38, and Jennifer Campbell, 30.

The warrant was also for Ross' 2002 BMW.

Police recovered a pair of latex gloves, eight DNA swabs and four fingerprint lifts from the car but took nothing from the home. It was unclear why investigators were looking for a sword or cutting instrument.

Where is Hasanni Campbell?

Taser Death: Ronald Eugene Cobbs (Greensboro, NC)

It happened again! This time we learn that an inmate in the Guilford County Jail died after a detention officer used a Taser on him during a scuffle inside the jail on August 18. [SOURCE]

Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38, of Greensboro, was being held in the jail on charges of kidnapping, armed robbery and a probation violation. Cobbs was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The police say that Cobbs resisted and assaulted a detention officer when the officer was trying to recover contraband in Cobbs' cell. An unnamed officer physically attempted to make Cobbs comply and thought it would be a good idea to pump Cobbs with 50,000 volts from a Taser gun.

Cobbs was then restrained, handcuffed and shackled. When Cobbs became unconscious the officers realized that they messed up big time. They rushed Cobbs to the hospital ... but, it was too late.

Sheriff BJ Barnes of Guilford County said that Cobbs' death is a sad event.

"I hate it for the family and for the officers," Barnes said. "I want the public to know and have confidence that everything was done that should have been done and the investigation will show exactly what happened."
The sheriff appears to have no compassion for the family of the dead man. He appears to have been a bad guy ... however, the penalty for being disrespectful to a prison guard ain't death.

This is the 31st taser-related death in America this year. I still think that something is seriously wrong with the current taser policy in our country. Something is wrong when our law enforcement officials are killing an average of one person per week with these so-called 'non-lethal' weapons.

It is popular to blame the deaths on the victims. However, the excuse that I keep hearing is basically, 'Shyt Happens'.

Villagers ... This continual killing is unacceptable ... especially when we see that over 40% of these taser deaths are African American men. I renew my call for congressional hearings on these taser-torture deaths. Please sign our online petition to support this call to action!

Lakeesha Alert: Hasanni Campbell, Missing 5-Year Old Child

Louis Ross, the foster father of a missing California boy with cerebral palsy says he left the child alone near his car before the child vanished August 10th from a shoe store parking lot. Nobody has seen or heard from 5-year old Hassani Campbell since that moment.

Where is Hasanni Campbell?

I do not have a good feeling about the eventual outcome. It is time to put out a Lakeesha Alert ... the Amber Alert system ain't working!

I would like all Black bloggers that read this blog post to share information about this missing child with their blog readers. It is time that we pump up the volume with the mainstream media and with other national organizations. They need to become aware of a young boy who has not been seen or heard from in over a week.

The foster dad says he left Hassani Campbell so he could ask his fiancee to look after boy. Hassani, who has cerebral palsy, has not been since that point. Ross took polygraph and the police have searched his home and nearby area. The fiancee refused to take a polygraph because of fear it would impact on her pregnancy. There has been a $10,000 reward offered to anyone that can help find the young 'un. Anyone with information can call the Oakland Police: (510) 238-3641.

Let me know if your blog is participating in this effort. Here is a list of participating bloggers:

  1. African American News

  2. BV Black Spin

  3. Field Negro

  4. YoungBlackNews

My prayers are for Hasanni's safe return... What say u?

August 19, 2009

BDPA Foundation Blog is a 2009 Black Weblog Award Finalists

I am proud to announce that my other blog, BDPA Foundation, is a 2009 Black Weblog Award finalists in two categories: Best Business Blog and Best Science/Technology Blog.

Voting is open for all villagers thru September 1st.

The Black Weblog Awards founded in 2005 to give recognition to Black bloggers (and those of the African diaspora) which were largely overlooked by other Internet award events online. What started out as a barely-known event has now grown into an international showcase. With participants from over 90 countries, the Black Weblog Awards stands out as one of the most widespread Internet award events for Black bloggers.

Call to Action: Please click here and vote for our blog! Winners are announced during the first week of September.

Wordless Wednesday: 3,000 Year Old Image of Michael Jackson

August 18, 2009

Taser Death: Hakim Jackson (Philadelphia, PA)

I guess police officers are big fans of Batman. They continue to 'zap' folks to death with 50,000 watts of electricity from their taser guns. Apparently, the Philadelphia state troopers feel that running from the scene of a traffic ticket is punishable by death.

The Philadelphia Daily News informed us that Hakim Jackson died after being hit by taser fire during a traffic stop on Friday, August 14. Jackson, 31, was the passenger in a car driven by Ashley McDaniel, 21, of Elkton, Md., that was pulled over about 5:20 p.m. on Interstate 95 South, in Tinicum Township, for tinted window and other violations, police said.

When the car was stopped, both occupants appeared nervous and gave false identification, police said.

McDaniel was asked to step out of the car. While Trooper Yingling was speaking with Jackson through the passenger window, Jackson climbed in the driver's seat and put the vehicle in gear, court documents said.

In response, Yingling reached through the passenger window and pulled the keys out of the ignition. But while he was doing that, Jackson punched him repeatedly in the head, leading Yingling to Taser him, court documents said.

The second officer on the scene, Trooper Michael McKeon, then tried to remove Jackson through the driver side door of the car, but Jackson, who had just been Tasered, jumped into the back seat, fled out a rear door and ran into the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge, the affidavit said.

During Jackson's escape, McDaniel allegedly jumped on McKeon's back and began to assault him.

When back-up officers arrived, three troopers, including McKeon and Yingling, chased Jackson into the Wildlife Refuge and after about a mile, arrested him in a "thick swamp," police said. Jackson died while in police custody. The local medical examiner has not determined a cause of death, however, it seems obvious that the use of the taser had something to do with his death.

McDaniel was charged with aggravated assault on police, hindering apprehension, resisting arrest, driving under a suspended license and related offenses. She remains in the Delaware County Prison on $50,000 bail.

We will try to keep villagers informed of the outcome of this taser-related death.

Tune In Tuesday: The Whispers

I have been blessed to have some wonderful women in my life. At the same time I have been cursed with an inability to maintain uplifting and mutually respectful relationships with them. In other words, I have screwed up most of my closest relationships ... never letting them grow into what God intended.

I'm now a grown-azzed man ... with three wonderful children ... two ex-wives. I now have a good relationship with the mother of my three children. The relationships are now child-centered versus being centered on the two of us.

All that being said ... tonight I felt a need to reflect on what has been and what may be again in the future. The words of The Whispers came to mind. I've had that special lady in my life before ... and listening to the mellow sounds of The Whispers ... I have hope that I may once again find that special Lady in my future.

Womanist Musings created a weekly meme today called Tune In Tuesday. She noted that our blogs often deal with serious issues and it might be nice to lighten the atmosphere every once in awhile. Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song. To that end each Tuesday this blog intends to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

August 17, 2009

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Troy Davis

Villagers will be happy to know that the U.S. Supreme Court today announced that Troy Davis will finally get his day in court ... and a chance to prove his innocence. The court ordered a federal judge in Georgia to review the overwhelming evidence of Troy's innocence.

Troy was sentenced to death for the 1991 killing of Mark McPhail, a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. We have posted before that the State of Georgia should not kill Troy Davis because there was no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony.

The high court ordered a federal judge in Georgia to determine whether there is evidence "that could not have been obtained at the time of trial (that) clearly establishes petitioner's innocence."

"The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing," said Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the court. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer concurred with Stevens.
Davis' attorneys have delayed his execution three times by raising doubts about those witnesses. But state and federal courts have denied Davis' request for a new trial, and Georgia officials have repeatedly rejected calls for clemency.

The case has attracted worldwide attention, with calls to stop Davis' execution from former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision to order an evidentiary hearing.

Scalia said, "every judicial and executive body that has examined petitioner's claim has been unpersuaded ... Davis' claim is a sure loser ... transferring his petition to the District Court is a confusing exercise that can serve no purpose except to delay the state's execution of its lawful criminal judgment."
Davis' family said the ruling gives them hope that he could be exonerated.

"I'm always optimistic," said his sister Martina Correia, who has traveled around the world advocating for his case. "This means he gets another chance. And we're going to keep fighting for that chance."
State officials welcomed the ruling.

"Hopefully, this hearing will resolve the doubts about the verdict handed down by the Chatham County jury 18 years ago," Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said in a statement.
Villager's Voice: Today is a good day! The Supreme Court is finally going to give Troy a chance to present this evidence and prove his innocence! That's a victory for Troy and his family — and for all villagers.

August 16, 2009

No Wonder I Got Such a Good Deal on

The winning entry in the 'Add Your Own Caption' is from PPR_Scribe!

Sunday Inspirations: Don't Worry About Anything

My month has not started out very well. I have been working through issues in my personal and professional life. However, perhaps I worry too much. I read in the Good Book, "Don't worry about anything." (Philippians 4:6)

Forty percent of what we worry about never happens. Thirty percent has already happened. Twelve percent focuses on opinions or situations we can't change. Ten percent is about our health, which only worsens it. Eight percent concerns real problems we can influence. Think: ninety-two percent of our worries are needless!

Worry comes from a Greek word meaning, "to divide the mind." Anxiety splits us right down the middle. Rather than take away tomorrow's trouble, it robs us of today's strength. And who can afford to lose strength? "But how can I stop worrying?" Paul offers a two-pronged answer: God's part and our part.

Our part includes prayer and gratitude: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done" (Philippians 4:6 NLT). Do you want to worry less? Pray more! And express your gratitude. God wants to be thanked before He gets invoiced!

And what's God's part? Listen: "If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7 NLT).

Believing prayer ushers in God's peace. Imagine having God's peaceful state of mind! Do you think He battles anxiety? Wrings His hands or asks the angels for antacids? Your problem is less to Him than a twig to an elephant. God enjoys perfect peace because He enjoys perfect power - and He offers His peace to you.

Just do your part through prayer and thanksgiving and He'll do His!

A friend suggested that I simply "Be prayerful. Be silent. Be still." I'm working at it. Methinks that today is a good day for me to go to church!

August 15, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Real Conversations about Health Insurance Reform'

The President talks about how the chatter and ruckus around health insurance reform on television obscures the reality of what's happening in America. He discusses how in most towns people and Members of Congress are having constructive conversations, and how people are learning how reform will help them and their families with the real problems they have faced with the insurance system.

President Obama is very calm about this process. It may be time to bring each of the Blue Dog democrats into his office and set them straight on the importance of health care reform in a more up-close-and-personal manner. I'm just saying...

Taser Death: Johnathan Michael Nelson (Riverside County, CA)

27-year-old inmate Jonathan Michael Nelson died last month after deputies had used a Taser on him for the second time within 24 hours. [SOURCE]

Nelson had been arrested on suspicion of resisting an officer. According to the police, when deputies arrived and contacted Nelson, he tried to run, and deputies quickly chased him down, tackled him and shocked him with a Taser.

Nelson was taken to Hemet Valley Medical Center and later released for booking at the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley. Nelson was placed in a holding cell but when he tried to harm himself early Thursday by hitting the cell door and banging his head, deputies moved him to a padded "safety" cell, according to police.

As deputies left the cell, Nelson became aggressive toward them and grabbed the leg of one, Lujan said. Deputies restrained him and shocked him with a Taser, according to police.

Nelson "became nonresponsive" and first aid was administered, a sheriff's news release said. He was taken by ambulance to Rancho Springs Community Hospital in Murrieta where he was pronounced dead at 3:15 am on July 30, 2009.

Deputies said Nelson's behavior had been "bizarre," as if he were on drugs or had a mental problem, Lujan said. But investigators will not know if drugs were involved until they receive the results of toxicology tests.

Reached by phone at Nelson's Rancho Cucamonga home Friday, his godmother, Helen Baca, said the family had little information about what happened and did not know what Nelson was doing in Sage.

"It's an awful lot to process," Baca said. "This is a devastating loss."
Baca said family members learned Nelson had been arrested and his 19-year-old brother went to an animal shelter to pick up his dog, which was with Nelson when he was taken into custody. Coroner's officials notified him at the animal shelter that his brother had died, Baca said.

Baca said Nelson was employed as a truck driver but was off work that day. Baca said she was unaware of any medical problems that he might have had and said that while he had used drugs in the past, she had no reason to think he still did.

Nelson was a big man -- 6-foot-2, 340 pounds, according to booking information.

"He is a gentle giant," said his mother, Charlene Nelson. "He's a big guy, but he's kind. He's got a big heart."

Nelson said she doubts deputies' claims that he was being violent.

"I just don't believe it," she said. "I think they're trying to cover something."

Taser Death: Rory McKenzie (Bakersfield, CA)

I missed this taser-related death when it occurred on July 2, 2009. It turns out that a woman, Latoya McKenzie, 20, flagged down patrol deputies just after midnight claiming her husband assaulted her. She said her husband, 25-year-old Rory McKenzie, had broken out a car window with a baseball bat while she was sitting in the car.

Deputies went to an apartment in east Bakersfield and used a Taser and sheriff's dog when Rory McKenzie resisted arrest, according to a sheriff's office news release. Deputies noticed he had stopped breathing and took him to Kern Medical Center, where he died.

Another Black man dead from taser-wielding police officers. When will an investigation take place on a national scale?

Witnesses indicate that the young man did not resist arrest and that it was unneccessary for the six officers on the scene to use the taser on the unarmed man. After all, nowhere in America is the death penalty appropriate for a simple assault case.

Latoya McKenzie said she wasn't home when her husband was arrested, but she said her three children were there. She criticized deputies for their handling of the situation.

"There's about six, seven police officers and just him," Latoya McKenzie said, "and a canine dog, but they felt so threatened that they had to Taser him with two rows, or whatever."

The incident is under investigation, but Sr. Deputy Michael Whorf said deputies are allowed to use one higher level of force that a suspect is using in order to subdue to suspect.

Taser Death: Terrace Clifton Smith (Moreno Valley, CA)

52-year old Terrace Clifton Smith died on August 9, following a confrontation with deputies in Moreno Valley, CA.

Deputies encountered Smith shortly before noon after residents called to complain that he was randomly banging on their front doors and walking in the middle of the street, according to the sheriff's department.

When deputies tried to detain him, Smith became “physically combative with them,” said sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.

As deputies tried to put Smith in restraints, a Taser was used on him, at which point he quit resisting and was handcuffed, according to Gutierrez.

Within moments of being restrained, Smith had a seizure, Gutierrez said.

Deputies rendered first aid, followed by paramedics, who rushed Smith to Riverside County Regional Medical Center. Smith was pronounced dead at the hospital at 12:34 p.m. Sunday, the coroner's office stated.

Sheriff's Detective Javier Rodriguez said the sheriff's homicide unit and the District Attorney's Office are investigating the case.

Right now, we're waiting on the cause of death,” Rodriguez said. “We have to wait for toxicology results just to see what, if anything, was in the person's system.”
Autopsy results may not be released for another four to six weeks, Rodriguez said.

Taser Update: Brian Cardall's Family Still Waiting on Investigation Results

More than two months after Brian Cardall died from a double taser shooting by the Hurricane Police Department, his family continues to wait for an answer about what killed him and what the investigation into law enforcement's response will find.

Read more.

August 14, 2009

Missing: 5-Year Old Hasanni Campbell (Oakland, CA)

I'm trying to get a handle on this story. Apparently, 5-year old Hasanni Campbell went missing earlier this week when his foster father, Louis Ross, left him sitting in a car parked around the corner from an Oakland shoe store where Jennifer Campbell, who is the boy's foster mother, works. [SOURCE]

Ross said he was unlocking the store door to give the boy, who wears arch-support braces to walk because of his cerebral palsy, easier access. He said the boy was gone when he returned.

Police said the boy is black, 3 feet tall, weighs 30 pounds and was last seen wearing a gray sweat shirt and gray pants.

Evidently Louis Ross and Jennifer Campbell are planning to get married. Also, Ms. Campbell is six-months pregnant. She refused to take a lie detector test because she feared its effects on her pregnancy.

Villager's Voice: All in all, I'm not feeling good about the safe return of young Hasanni Campbell. This story may end up badly ... with misguided foster parents that wanted to clear the way for their unborn child. I hope that I'm wrong.

Please keep young Hasanni in your prayers. Anyone with information can call the Oakland Police: (510) 238-3641

August 13, 2009

Gary Frago Resigns as Atwater's Deputy Mayor

City Councilman Gary Frago, who sent a series of racist e-mails to city staff and others in late 2008 and early 2009, resigned his position as mayor pro tem and said he has begun sensitivity training in the Bay Area.

"I will be stepping down immediately from my position as mayor pro tem," said Frago in a prepared statement that also called for "the healing to begin."

Villager's Voice: I want Frago to resign from the city council. The local newspaper received 200 new e-mails from Frago and he still doesn't display the temperment or commonsense to stay in a position of public trust. These new emails talk about assassination of President Barack Obama and the mass killing of Latinos. Ain't it time for this jerk to do the right thing and resign?

Taser Death: Ernest Ridlehuber (Greenville, SC)

It happened again. A 53-year old father and grandfather, Ernest Ridlehuber, was killed after being shot with 50,000 watts of electricity from the taser gun of a police officer in Greenville, SC.

Ernest Ridlehuber was reported missing by his family on Tuesday evening. The family searched for him most of Wednesday before he was found at a friend’s house on Wednesday afternoon.

When family members went inside the home to get Ridlehuber he became violent with them and they called deputies. The police officers arrived. Ridlehuber was still 'combative'. Deputies said they had no choice but to use their taser gun on the man after threats against them were made.

Ridlehuber collapsed after the shock and later died.

"He was a very big man, and if he didn't want to do something he wasn't going to do it," said Linda Ridlehuber, Ernest Ridlehuber's sister. "It's just hard for me, at this point, to even believe it's happened. It's like a bad dream"
Deputies said the man became violent and wouldn't stop fighting even after being shocked the first time. Police also said they thought he had a gun.

"He came at the officers the officers deployed the Taser -- Tasered the gentlemen -- the man still continued to fight (and) the Taser was deployed several more times," said Greenwood County Sheriff's Office Major John Murray.
When Ridlehuber was handcuffed, deputies said they noticed he wasn't breathing well.

An autopsy will be performed Thursday morning to determine the specific cause of Ridlehuber's death. Toxicology tests will also be performed.

Villager's Thoughts: Since when does a grown-azzed 53-year old man need to get permission to spend some time at a friend's house? Since when do the police feel a need to use a taser multiple times on a guy for being angry? Methinks that his family and the police both overreacted ... and the result is that Mr. Ridlehuber is dead.