Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dunbar Village Rape Case puts civil rights blocs at odds

Web-based activists, old-guard leadership not seeing eye to eye on Florida assaults

By Howard Witt

Tribune correspondent

March 30, 2008

HOUSTON - The crime was unspeakably horrific.

A 35-year-old Haitian immigrant and her 12-year-old son were forced into their home at gunpoint in the bleak Dunbar Village housing project in West Palm Beach, Fla. The woman was beaten, raped and sodomized for hours, allegedly by a gang of African-American teenagers, then forced to abuse her son. Finally the attackers doused the victims with household chemicals-pouring them directly into the boy's eyes-and attempted to set the two on fire before fleeing.

Yet outside South Florida, the attack last June largely escaped notice, and it scarcely registered on the radar of national civil rights leaders because it involved the awkward topic of black-on-black crime.

Three weeks ago, however, Al Sharpton and local representatives of the NAACP held a news conference in West Palm Beach where they declared that four black teenagers arrested for the Dunbar Village attack are being treated unfairly because they remain incarcerated without bond, while five white teenagers recently accused of sexually assaulting two white girls in nearby Boca Raton were freed on bail.

Triggering dual outrage

"You cannot have one set of rules for acts that are wrong and horrific in Boca and another set in Dunbar Village," Sharpton said, as parents of some of the Dunbar defendants nodded behind him. "You must have equal protection under the law."

It was, for Sharpton and the NAACP, a familiar situation and a routine news conference: Contrasting the treatment of blacks and whites in the criminal justice system and calling for fairness.

But Sharpton's remarks-and his apparent call for the Dunbar Village suspects to be released on bail-triggered outrage on dozens of blogs devoted to civil rights, feminism and the interests of African-American crime victims. Now the Dunbar Village case is deepening a growing schism between traditional civil rights organizations and a new, Internet-driven generation of younger activists who take a more nuanced view of many issues.

"For Sharpton and the NAACP to come out and recklessly say we need to free these guys because some white guys over in Boca Raton are out on bail is just unconscionable," said Gina McCauley, an Austin, Texas, attorney and author of an influential African-American civil rights blog called What About Our Daughters?

"We've lost our way in the civil rights movement," McCauley added, "when in every case, no matter what an African-American is in custody for, we automatically start screaming about unfairness-even when they are in custody to protect the black community from them."

Color of Change, a Web-based civil rights group that counts nearly 400,000 members, criticized Sharpton for choosing the accused Dunbar Village assailants to champion.

"I question whether this is the case we want to be standing up for," said Mervyn Marcano, the group's spokesman. "At the end of the day, when we choose to fight for equal justice, we have to be aware of who's being affected. A lot of people think no one was speaking for the victims of this terrible crime."

For his part, Sharpton strongly denied in an interview with the Tribune last week that he was ignoring the plight of the Dunbar Village victims or insisting that their accused attackers should be freed on bond. He said his comments at the March 11 news conference had been misunderstood, and that he had visited Dunbar Village several times this year to show support for the residents and denounce the "hideous, deplorable" crime.

"My position is there ought to be one standard," Sharpton said. "The white kids in Boca Raton ought to be held just like the black kids in Dunbar Village. Why are they not doing the same with the white kids?"

Yet freedom for the four Dunbar Village defendants was the clear demand of the other participants at the news conference, where fliers were distributed proclaiming the teenagers to be "voiceless, vulnerable victims."

"We don't like what's going on. It's not right," said Ruby Walker, the mother of defendant Nathan Walker. "I don't think we should have to suffer."

Maude Ford Lee, president of the local West Palm Beach NAACP chapter who joined Sharpton at the news conference, said she hoped Sharpton's presence would help expose the "injustice" of the case.

"Our kids are incarcerated, they can't even get a bond, and it's unconscionable what is happening," Lee told reporters.

Lee declined to return several phone calls seeking further explanation of her comments. But NAACP officials at both the state and national level said their organizations had taken no position on whether the Dunbar suspects should be released on bond.

Comparison issues

Sharpton's critics say it was wrong to equate the Dunbar Village and Boca Raton rape cases in the first place because the Dunbar assault was far more vicious. Among the awful details: The attackers forced the mother to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son.

In the Boca Raton case, the five white teenagers are accused of sexually assaulting two middle-school students after the group of seven engaged in a night of drinking on Jan. 1. The Dunbar defendants, by contrast, face multiple felony counts for the torture and gang-rape that could send them to prison for life if convicted.

Prosecutors say they have DNA evidence implicating three of the suspects: Walker, 17; Avion Lawson, 14; and Tommy Poindexter, 18. A fourth suspect, Jakaris Taylor, 16, pleaded guilty in November to charges of burglary and armed sexual battery in exchange for a 20-year sentence and a requirement that he testify against the others.

The rift between the new generation of civil rights activists, organized via blogs, Web sites and e-mail lists, and their old-guard forebears such as Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the NAACP, opened last September over the civil rights march through Jena, La., that drew more than 20,000 demonstrators.

Even though many of the marchers traveled to Jena in response to e-mail appeals and postings on scores of African-American blogs, Sharpton, Jackson and mainstream civil rights groups claimed credit for orchestrating the huge turnout.

Two months later, black civil rights bloggers were perplexed when Sharpton organized a march for justice in Washington without tapping their organizing abilities.

"I've concluded that we can expect no leadership on the issues that are of concern to African-Americans today from these traditional civil rights groups," McCauley said. "It's at least equally important to address black-on-black violence, and it's not being addressed at all."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Manager of Walgreens in Miami Shores Held Hostage in Early Morning Robbery

The lowers 80s stretch of Biscayne Boulevard that's home to many businesses erupted in gunfire this morning as a robber interrupted an early morning meeting of Walgreens' employees and took the manager hostage. Check the raw video footage and coverage on the Channel 10 website.

The manager sustained minor injuries in a scuffle with the robber who attempted to force him to drive away from the store. It's much more dangerous to be removed from the scene if one is taken hostage. The manager was brave and a little crazy but he's still alive. The robber was shot and is in Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ex-Water and Sewer supervisor gets 10 years

[email protected]

Charles Anthony Vance, a former mailroom supervisor with Miami-Dade's Water and Sewer Department, pleaded guilty Tuesday to his role in a $1 million theft scheme.

Vance, 37, was accused in 2006 of pocketing county money intended for use to pay for bulk mailings. He is currently jailed at the MetroWest Detention Center. [More...]

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Arrests of Miami Edison students may be ruled invalid

The melee at Miami Edison was unfortunate but a tremendous lesson for the entire community. We cannot escape the need for bilateral communication to avoid such situations. From each perspective, all involved thought they were right and perhaps they were to some extent but our community cannot survive with such demonstrations of violence.


Vague arrests muddle Edison High case

Posted on Sat, Mar. 08, 2008


[email protected]


A Miami Edison Senior High school student looks down as she is accused of resisting a police officer with violence. The 15-year-old girl suffered injuries during an arrest in school Feb. 29.

» More Photos

Most of the Miami Edison High students arrested in a recent school fight will be hard to convict of any crime, legal experts say, because police failed to say in their arrest affidavits exactly what the students did.

Officers responding to the Feb. 29 brawl changed the names and contact information on each student's form, but the charges and descriptions of what happened are almost identical on 23 of the 26 forms.

''Form affidavits are a huge red flag that the arrests were done hastily,'' said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a Miami lawyer and past president of the local American Civil Liberties Union. [More]

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Miami Herald: Bound man dumped outside Dade school

[email protected]

Benjamin Franklin Elementary school was locked down Thursday afternoon after a man -- pistol-whipped, bound by the hands and feet -- was dumped in front of the campus, 13100 NW 12th Ave, police said.

The man claimed he was dumped from a gold Chevrolet Equinox, which zoomed off.

Somebody inside the SUV with tinted windows fired at least three shots in the air, leaving casings on the pavement, North Miami police said.

Paramedics treated the man on the scene. The man was known to police -- he was wanted for beating his dad with a baseball bat on Wednesday night, said North Miami Lt. Neal Cuevas.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Film on Teele draws controversy


Teele documentary sparks praise, debate

A documentary about the late Arthur Teele premiered at the Miami International Film Festival, generating a sometimes heated debate.

Posted on Sun, Mar. 02, 2008


[email protected]

Related Content

Heated debaters among movie buffs are a common sight during the Miami International Film Festival. But it wasn't just cinema that was being discussed -- and occasionally shouted about -- following a world premiere of Miami Noir: The Arthur E. Teele Story at the Colony Theatre Saturday afternoon.

The movie, written and directed by 22-year-old University of Miami seniors Josh Miller and Sam Rega, is an hourlong documentary about the life and death of Arthur Teele, the Miami commissioner who committed suicide in the lobby of The Miami Herald building on July 27, 2005.

Judging by some of the audience comments during a panel discussion following the film, it was obvious that Teele remains as controversial in death as he was in life. [More…]

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Miami Herald: Haitian tells of life as 'slave' in Kendall

A Haitian woman testified about modern-day slavery in the federal trial of a Miami-Dade County family accused of forcing her to work without pay for six years.

[email protected]

A young Haitian woman, speaking slowly with tears running down her cheeks, described her life as a ''slave'' -- thinking that suicide was the only way to escape the Haitian family in South Florida that had held her against her will for six years.

The audience listening to her horror story: 12 federal jurors in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom, where Simone Celestin, 23, testified Wednesday at length about her experience in a Kendall home.

''I thought about drinking motor oil or bleach. I decided not to drink the bleach. I chose motor oil,'' she told the jurors in describing her feelings of despair in November 2004 after being beaten for not making a bed for the family. [More...]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Teen Dressed in Women’s Clothing Murdered

This is Simmie Williams; he is 17 years-old. Unfortunately he will not celebrate his 18th birthday because he was shot on Sistrunk Boulevard late Thursday or early Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale, FL and died. His shooting may not have warranted mentioning on the pages of the Miami Herald except he was dressed in women's clothing when he was shot and in an area frequented by transvestite prostitutes.

Of course the sensationalism of the alternative lifestyle of this young man brought out the heathens and mean-spirited folks who chose to make inappropriate and offensive comments on the Miami Herald site. The Herald executives really should discontinue the comment feature or at least make sure the comments are moderated.

Two men were seen fleeing the scene where the shooting occurred.

Simmie was a son, grandson and uncle. Not knowing much of his story except of the incarcerated and absent father that too frequently describes the lives of many black boys. Regardless of his home environment and his lifestyle, he did not deserve to die that way.

My heart goes out to his mother and the rest of his family. May his soul find the freedom he was unable to attain here on earth. Ashé.


Police ask those with information to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Embattled minister easily finds support

Friendship Baptist Church minister Gaston Smith found supporters amongst his parishioners and fellow ministers. Smith was arrested for misspending a County grant. A portion of the funds were given to Karym Ventures, a group with ties to City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.

Bishop Victor T. Curry, president of the local NAACP, says the organization will launch an investigation. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Beloved pastor arrested for grand theft

What a difference a day makes. It seems that the black community is still in shock because of last night's arrest if Friendship Baptist Church pastor/teacher Gaston E. Smith. He is accused of stealing $10,000 in community money through the non-profit group, Friends of MLK.

The story broke first on WFOR4 and was picked up by the Miami Herald. Smith, generally regarded as a nice guy, was called a thief by police. Surely there is a tie to his arrest and the investigation of Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. The plot thickens and it stinks.

Smith's attorney said a lawsuit may be filed in his client's defense. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Former City of Miami Chief of Operations Mary Conway says Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones Pressured Related Group

The drama of accusations of corruption has heated up again based on today's front page of the Miami Herald. While voters prepare to cast ballots on important issues such as Amendment 1 and allowing slot machines in Miami-Dade County, the fight for the political life of Michelle Spence-Jones and credibility of other prominent citizens is in full effect.

As mentioned in an earlier post, someone is lying regarding this issue. I guess we'll be forced to endure legal proceedings for resolution to this matter. It's time for this madness to stop but why should we really expect it to when political corruption and allegations of corruption preceded all of us and still exist.

No matter what becomes of this latest situation, the people lose. That's just my two cents. A portion of the Miami Herald article is below with a link to the full version.


Whistle-blower says politician pressured firm

A city official fired after blowing the whistle on fellow employees has accused a city commissioner of trying to get political allies on a developer's payroll.

Posted on Tue, Jan. 29, 2008


[email protected]


Former Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones opens up her speech at a community meeting, June, 2006.

(The caption above is verbatim from the Miami Herald. Freudian slip or what? P.S. It has since been corrected.)

Weeks before Miami commissioners approved a controversial Coconut Grove condominium project, Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones' office was pushing for a politically connected friend to be hired by the condo developer, a former top city official testified.

Former Chief of Operations Mary Conway, in a civil court deposition obtained by The Miami Herald on Monday, said Spence-Jones' actions left her -- and two others -- feeling ``exasperation and disgust that a request like that was being made.''

Conway's deposition, taken this month as part of a lawsuit filed by opponents to the three-tower project, is significant in that it largely echoes Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's memo to himself describing Spence-Jones' alleged role in pushing for payments for her friends from city developers. [More…]


Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Black on Black crime


Cops: Motorist shot vagrant

A homeless man was shot dead, police believe, by a motorist who had argued with him on an expressway off-ramp.

[email protected] 

Michael K. Harrington, 35, lived under an expressway overpass and earned money by panhandling motorists, washing their windshields and making them laugh with funny cardboard signs.

Then he approached the wrong motorist.

Police believe that a motorist who had quarreled with Harrington on Tuesday returned seven hours later, unleashing a hail of gunfire on the homeless man at Northwest 27th Avenue and the Airport Expressway off-ramp.

Harrington staggered into the intersection, collapsed and died. [More...]

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Growth of gangs spreads throughout Florida; Members recruited through MySpace and YouTube?

Gangs growing in Florida, report warns

Posted on Tue, Jan. 15, 2008


[email protected]

The number of criminal gangs in Florida is growing, along with gang-related crime, according to a statewide report released Tuesday.

The report, authored by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and statewide prosecutor Bill Shepherd, found that gangs are not confined to urban areas alone but are in all 67 counties.

The state, says the report, is home to more than 1,000 gangs, with an estimated 65,000 members. The Internet, with websites such as MySpace and YouTube, is being used to reach and recruit prospective gang members. [More]

How safe are our loved ones at care facilities? Elderly woman raped at facility in Miami

The rape of a 71 year-old woman at an assisted-living facility in has sparked an investigation and should trigger concern for those of us with family that type of facility or who may find ourselves living in that environment when we are elderly.

This is a serious matter; don't think it can't happen to you or your loved one. If the center is found deficient, and all factors lean toward that, the owners and operators should be punished.

Rape triggers probe of care facility

Posted on Tue, Jan. 15, 2008


[email protected]

Darryl McGee, mentally retarded with a criminal past, was found naked last month inside the bedroom of a 71-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

''All I wanted was some [sex],'' he blurted out to Miami-Dade detectives, according to a police report.

The woman had been savagely raped, Miami-Dade police say, and McGee was charged with sexual battery on a mentally handicapped person.

McGee and his alleged victim shared this connection: They lived in the same wing at the Munné Center, a West Kendall assisted-living facility that touts itself as embracing feng shui and nurturing ``harmonious relationships among people, their environment and the Earth.''

The rape case has sparked a state investigation into the Munné Center -- McGee was in the process of getting kicked out -- and has highlighted a history of problems at the facility, 17250 SW 137th Ave. [More]

Man arrested for murder of Stepha Henry

It has been far too long since we've heard anything about Stepha Henry and her missing person case. Today's Miami Herald reports that Kendrick Lincoln Williams, 32 has been arrested in New York for her murder and will be extradited to Miami. Thank you to law enforcement for continuing to pursue the case.

It seems that a large amount of Stepha's blood was found in Williams' car. Police investigators doubt that Stepha survived the blood loss and her body has not been found. The blood evidence overwhelmingly precludes that Williams is guilty or at least knows something about this missing persons case.

Law enforcement must now prepare to present its case. Please check the link below and make sure you watch the press conference video.


Web Extra: Details on Arrest in Stepha Henry Case

Police: Henry's blood found in suspect's car




Friday, January 11, 2008

Another taser victim dies in Miami

Xavier Jones, 29, died after a Coral Gables police officer Tasered him on Friday morning at University Inn Condominium, 1280 S. Alahambra Cir., near the University of Miami.


Miami-Dade Detective Carlos Maura said the man had been disruptive at a party and resisted arrest. Police officers responded to a call about a scuffle about 2 a.m.


After Jones became disruptive inside one of the apartments, a security guard attempted to remove him from the property and the confrontation spilled outside. Maura said the man was belligerent, so a police officer used a Taser stun gun to restrain him prior to arrest.


There needs to be an immediate investigation into the use of Tasers. It seems that law enforcement has lost their minds. Aren't Tasers supposed to stun, not kill? But if pregnant women are being Tasered, the rest of us should surely be on guard.


Pregnant women tasered:

Malaika Brooks, Seattle, WA

Leslie Donaldson, Alachua County (FL)

Valreca Redden, Trotwood, OH



Stunning Revelations: The untold story of Taser-related deaths

Sunday, January 06, 2008

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about --- truckers with illegal licenses!

Untrained truckers busted

A series of early morning raids resulted in the arrests of bleary-eyed truckers who allegedly got their licenses as a result of a bribery scheme.

Posted on Sat, Jan. 05, 2008

Digg AIM reprint print email


[email protected]



» Photos

  • Video | Florida Highway Patrol raid

If you wanted to be a trucker but didn't have time for the training, Steven Baez was your guy.

The sergeant with the Army National Guard had a stack of vouchers (form DA-348E) that excused wannabe drivers from taking the state of Florida's commercial vehicle competency exam. He sold them to South Floridians for up to $4,300 a pop. [More]

Friday, January 04, 2008

Friends remember 14-year-old shot in car


As mourners gathered to remember 14-year-old Natasha Calixte, homicide detectives passed out fliers hoping to generate leads.

Posted on Fri, Jan. 04, 2008


[email protected]

Related Content

Draped in a sleeved, lacy peach dress, pearl necklace and earrings and wearing minimal makeup, Natasha Calixte looked her age. Fourteen.

She lay in a white metal casket Thursday topped with 20 white carnations. Her father's ashes rested in an urn at her feet.

''It doesn't feel like she's dead right now,'' said friend Pauline Salomon, 15, furrowing her brow at Natasha's waxy hands folded over a carnation.

But Natasha's life ended in a very grown-up way.

An unknown gunman shot her dead as she drove a stolen car on Christmas Eve in North Miami-Dade. On Thursday, mourners -- mostly disbelieving teenagers -- visited her body during a service at Hadley's Funeral Home in Opa-locka. [More]

Two men face second-degree murder charges in the death of a 19-year-old killed in crossfire with police.


Gunfight death now murder case

Posted on Fri, Jan. 04, 2008


[email protected]

Helping an assault-rifle wielding drug dealer search for his prey cost 19-year-old Carla Romero her life, Miami-Dade police said Thursday.

Romero, 19, was killed in the crossfire between two armed men and Miami-Dade detectives on Dec. 27.

The homicide bureau announced Thursday they had charged Teddie Thomas, 43, and Terrence Davis, 22, with second-degree felony murder. [More]

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Miami Herald: Security guard shot dead at Miami Gardens nightclub

Posted on Wed, Jan. 02, 2008

A security guard was shot and killed outside a Miami Gardens nightclub in the early hours of New Year's Day, Miami-Dade police said.

The shooting happened at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday outside the Kolanut Cafe, 250 NE 183rd St. The shots were fired during an argument between the guard and one or more people, according to police.

The security guard, Jermine Eugene, 29, of Davie, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

Funeral home helps with teen’s burial


'Angel' appears to slain girl's family

An Opa-locka funeral home, founded by a woman in honor of her slain father, will host a viewing for a teenage girl who was shot to death in a car on Christmas Eve.

Posted on Wed, Jan. 02, 2008

Digg AIM reprint print email


[email protected]

  • Audio | Interview with Lori Davis

When Lori Davis opened her own funeral home in Opa-locka, she named it Hadley's after her father Emory Hadley Jr., who was stabbed to death by a nephew in July.

''I wanted to honor my dad's memory and I wanted to do work where I would be in a position to help people in difficult times,'' said Davis.

After reading about 14-year-old Natasha Calixte, a Westview Middle School seventh-grader who died of a gunshot to the back on Christmas Eve, Davis knew the girl's family had no money for a funeral or burial. [More]

Friday, December 28, 2007

Two Tales of a Rally for Michelle Spence-Jones

"Ain't no shaking down going down in my district." --- Michelle Spence-Jones

A rally was held last night at New Providence Missionary Baptist Church in support of embattled City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. Interestingly, media reports of the rally differ in tone and flavor.

Miami Herald: Spence-Jones supporters hold rally

Miami New Times: Spence-Jones Looks for Support in Familiar Places

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Miami New Times continues report of public corruption at MMAP

One secretary attended school and had skin treatments on the taxpayers' dime. Another employee was let out of work for jury duty ... on most Fridays between January 2005 and June 2006. And a third person — also paid by you and me — possibly used publicly funded help to feed clients to her realtor husband.

All of these allegations and more help explain why one of county hall's most long-lived and wily veterans, Metro-Miami Action Plan Trust President Milton Vickers, resigned last week. They give a pretty good idea as to why three prominent MMAP board members have quit in the past two months. And they almost surely had something to do with state prosecutors' December 4 raid of MMAP's offices.

The shenanigans might even shed light on why Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is facing indictment.

"It's really, really bad over there," says one county employee familiar with the agency, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job. "MMAP used to be a good agency. Now it's foolishness — they just recycle money to each other and their friends." [Continue reading...]

Several staffers suspended, quit or are fired at SAO; Judge implicated in verdict deals for donation to charity

4 quit or are fired at Dade state attorney

Posted on Wed, Dec. 26, 2007


[email protected]


Herbert E. Walker III, shown in this 2006 picture, resigned from the Miami-Dade state attorney's office Friday.

A prosecutor with the Miami-Dade state attorney's office, an intern and a secretary were fired, while another prosecutor resigned -- all within the past week in what officials said Wednesday were unrelated personnel matters. [Continue reading]


Silent March to Stop the Violence, Saturday, Dec. 29

jeba header
We must stop the Violence
(Miami ) On December 29, 2007, the Miami-Dade Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP) under the leadership of Bishop Victor T. Curry, President, People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, (P.U.L.S.E) along with community leaders, organizations and citizens will lead 1000 Men and Boys in a silent march against the increasing violence and crime that continues to plague South Florida.

On that date, at 9:00am men and boys will gather at Miami Carol City Park , 3201 NW 185th street and march silently through Miami Gardens in reverence and solidarity. They will return to the Park and will be joined by concerned women for a rally and demonstration.

This Event seeks to put public spotlight on the violence that is still taking place in Miami-Dade County . "We must stop the shootings that continue to occur, says Bishop Curry, the visionary for the Event. "We must stop the crimes, particularly those against each other. As men we must take the lead and teach our brothers that there are alternatives to solving differences."

"We are asking fraternities, men's groups and boy's organizations to march," says Bishop Victor T. Curry. "Men, lets take the action that is needed for our families."

Voter Registration, as well as Health, Employment and Restoration of Rights information will be available. This event is free and open to the community. For group participation, call Kevin "Dr. K" Moyd at 305.769.1100. For more information call 305.685.3700.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an interracial membership organization, founded in 1909, that is devoted to civil rights and racial justice. The NAACP has been instrumental in improving the legal, educational, and economic lives of people of color. Throughout its existence, it has worked to fulfill its goals to secure full suffrage and other civil rights, with the ultimate goal to end segregation and racial violence.

email: [email protected] phone: (305) 835-0321 web:

Friday, December 21, 2007

You can’t buy this much publicity coverage: Rapper Pitbull arrested for DUI

Prior to today, I'd never heard of a rapper with the moniker, Pitbull. It seems that Pitbull went and got himself major publicity a la Lindsay Lohan Britney Spears Paris Hilton-style--- he was arrested. Needless to say, while homes were being burglarized, cars stolen and countless other crimes committed in the Miami area, television news viewers were informed of the DUI arrest of Pitbull. Great, just great.

Rapper Pitbull charged with DUI

Posted on Fri, Dec. 21, 2007


[email protected]

Miami rapper Pitbull was charged with driving under the influence early Friday morning.

Rapper Pitbull laughed at a Miami-Dade police officer who pulled him over for speeding, according to an arrest report released Friday.

''This is a big waste of your time papo,'' he told Officer Mark Slimak.

Slimak didn't think it was funny. He booked him early Friday on a charge of driving under the influence.

Armando C. Pérez, 26, spent the next several hours at Miami-Dade County Jail. He has since posted bond, set at $1,000. [Continue reading…]

Spence-Jones Controversy Heats Up but Who’s Telling the Truth?

"First of all I'd like to say that this is an absolute lie," said Spence-Jones.

Michelle Spence-Jones Marc Sarnoff

The Miami New Times and some folks in the media think that Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is soon headed the way of many corrupt officials in the area. Not so fast. Don't rush to judgment says State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.

Spence-Jones' colleague, Marc Sarnoff is being called a liar by not only her but by former Miami city manager Joe Arriola. Sarnoff released the memo detailing the meeting where Spence-Jones' alleged demands for pay-offs were discussed. This is going to get interesting folks. There was a community meeting today regarding this issue. Stay tuned.


Related Links:

Miami Commissioner Outraged At Payoff Allegations

Commissioner Denies Being Paid Off For Vote

More Dirt on Commissioner Spence-Jones

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Police chase ends in controversy and suspension of police officers

Yesterday's police chase through the streets of Miami was more than interesting. It looked like a scene from a movie but it was quite real. Thank God no one was seriously hurt during the chase.

Few details have been disclosed regarding the reason for the chase. The culprit is a convicted felon who is reported to have led police on chases before.

Overshadowing the actions of the criminal is police conduct after he was taken down. Two police officers can be clearly seen kicking the subject while he was face down and another officer was on his back trying to cuff him. One of the two officers punched and kicked the subject while he was clearly captured.

Folks can talk about adrenaline and provide other reasons for the officers' behavior but they were clearly out of line. It was easy to see that the subject would have received a serious beat down if the media had not been present.

If you're black and have been in Miami for more than 40 years, you immediately think about Arthur McDuffie. Then there's the recent controversy about Bernie Dyer and the number of black men in Miami-Dade County shot by police officers. You have to wonder how many young black men were roughed up behind the false police report filed by Adriana Velasquez in her vivid description of her assault by a black man.

Yesterday, the media tried to clean up the take-down of Angel Soto by talking about the officers giving him water. Apparently that was a big deal as that is not typically done. Too late. The damage had already been done.

What those two officers did was also damaging to their fellow officers who are already perceived with an air of distrust in some areas of the community.

This morning the media talked about Soto's criminal past and said he is a dangerous guy. That could be true, but thanks to those two officers, he looks like the victim. Soto's wife is considering legal action against the police. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mychal Bell Accepts Plea Deal

Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell accepted a plea deal that may see him released next year. Read Howard Witt's coverage at The Chicago Tribune. I guess this is the win-win situation in that neither side got everything they wanted.

While I'd like to be happy about this decision, I'm not. The racial problems in Jena, regardless of the disavowal of some residents, still exist. The 'White Tree' was cut down at Jena High School but the cancer of racism still festers.

Justin Barker's role in the unrest and the attacks on other black teens still haven't been addressed. And let's not even get into using some of the Jena 6 for their athletic prowess and not arresting them until after the football season was over.

Until the issue of racism is actually addressed, whatever happens in Jena will be just like putting perfume on a pig. It still stinks.


Monday, December 03, 2007

In Perspective: The Murder of Sean Taylor

Four young black males have been charged with the murder of Sean Taylor. There are speculations as to the involvement of others. When all is said and done, Sean Taylor is another young, black male homicide victim. Since some of those arrested have confessed, it is likely that they will join the many young black males who are incarcerated.

Check out the editorial from The Miami Herald on the murders of too many black men.

Mourning Sean Taylor

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Allow Sean Taylor to Rest in Peace

Much has happened in the community lately and I apologize for not posting to the blog more frequently. The death of Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor has taken an emotional toll on me so I had to just chill.

I am not a UM fan or a Redskins fan. I don't know Sean Taylor or anyone in his family. Unfortunately, I know the pain his mother feels. It is not a pain to be wished upon anyone.

I have not kept up with the details of the death of Sean Taylor but I have heard rumors and speculation as to why he died. His somewhat troubled past was brought up in the initial reports of the shooting. Derogatory comments have been posted on the internet. It is all such an ugly but accurate picture of the society in which we live.

Let Sean Taylor's soul rest in peace. Leave the investigation of the homicide to the police. Pray for his family and loved ones, especially his daughter and his mother. Most important, judge not lest ye be judged.

Prayerfully the truth surrounding the shooting will be disclosed soon and the shooter's conscious will move him to turn himself in to police.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sean Taylor Loses Fight for Life

Professional football Sean Taylor has passed away. It appears that Taylor may have lost too much blood when an intruder broke into his Palmetto Bay home and shot Taylor in the groin.

There had been hope that he might have pulled through as he showed signs of reacting to responses to medical staff at Jackson Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center.

Taylor is the father of an 18-month old daughter. The police investigation will now escalate to homicide. Please pray for the Taylor family.


Sean Taylor Page on

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What do you know about Darfur?

There's a lot of madness in the world and sometimes it can be overwhelming. With so many people in need, how and when do you just say I give up…throw in the towel…retreat to your own world and close out the rest?

As human beings, we can't do that and continue to be blessed by our Creator. As such, today several bloggers have taken on the subject of Darfur. Surely you've seen photos and commercials about the thousands of lives that have been lost either through war or starvation or disease or murder.

How thousands of lives can be lost without action by the United Nations or the United States is sad and shameful. The government and janjaweed faction's fight with native rebels has wreaked havoc upon the people of Darfur.

Yes, there are people in the U.S. that need help as much as those in Darfur. How can we sit idly by while millions continue to be made refugees and thousands are raped and murdered? Too many more just die from starvation; this must stop. We've wasted gazillions of dollars and thousands of lives in Iraq supposedly in the name of democracy, there's no excuse for us not to save the people of Darfur.

The blog on Darfur Awareness phrases the situation best: "On a micro-level, the Darfur conflict can be described as a tribal conflict. On the macro-level however, it's about the oppressed and neglected Darfurian people fighting collectively for their fair share of Sudan's wealth and fair share of power in the Khartoum government.

200,000 to 400,000 are estimated dead and more than 2.5 million have fled their homes. The conflict has spread to neighboring Chad and Central African Republic (CAR). It still continues and threatens to destabilize the whole region of central Africa."




Sunday, October 21, 2007

Local Crime and Where We Go From Here

Over the last few weeks, South Florida has been under a terror watch from random robberies of drug stores, fast food restaurants and convenience stores. The Miami Rapist struck terror in the hearts and minds of people living in and visiting Miami. The Miami Herald's investigative series netted a guilty plea from the sister of a county commissioner and still more reports of squandered dollars designated to help the poor.

Thankfully there was an arrest in the rape incident. The young man arrested was identified through DNA tests and he has an extensive criminal record. The poverty peddler issue seems to be never-ending. It's disappointing that so many people have been implicated in the misuse of funds.

As much as blacks may want to throw up their hands in frustration, now is not the time for that. It's time to strategize and tap new leadership whose main concern is the people. I pray that request is not considered naïve but possible.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FAMU and FSU students protest Not Guilty Verdict in Martin Lee Anderson trial

Hundreds of students from Florida A&M University and Florida State University in Tallahassee took to the streets yesterday after the 'not guilty' verdict in the Martin Lee Anderson trial. Students blocked traffic in front of the Capital among other actions.

FAMU President James Ammons, Senator Al Lawson and others encouraged students to stop and consider a more way of dealing with the situation. Student-led protests back in March 2006 were instrumental in expediting the case.

Rapist that Attacked Tourists Still At Large


New Information Released On Miami Rapist

Reward For Information Now Up To $11,000


Peter D'Oench

(CBS4) MIAMI New information has been released in an effort to catch a sadistic rapist who attacked a couple near the Bayside Marketplace earlier this week.

Miami police say the man they are looking for, described as slim, clean shaven and in his 20's, has a spider web tattoo on one of his shoulders.

Friday the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the City of Miami increased to $11,000 for information that will lead to the man's arrest.

The attack occurred early Monday morning. The couple told police the man, who was wearing jeans, a white tank top and sneakers, forced them into their car at gunpoint. He then reportedly spent the next 45 minutes raping the woman as he kept the gun trained on her companion. At one point, he reportedly struck the man with the weapon to prove that he was willing to follow through on his threats.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Jena 6 Mychal Bell Jailed Again

The Jena 6 situation is getting uglier and uglier.

Louisiana State District Judge J.P. Mauffrey Jr. sentenced Bell to 18 months in the juvenile facility for four previous offenses, including two counts of simple battery and two pertaining to criminal destruction of property that occurred before the beating of classmate Justin Barker, according to The Associated Press.

This is yet another shameful move that continues to show the terror under which Blacks live in, not just in Jena, but the entire United States of America. Nooses being hung on college campuses on on job sites, it's way past time for this madness to stop.

Just so there's an accurate picture of the judge's decision, Bell has been placed in a juvenile detention facility. It's not an adult prison but he's still incarcerated.

In response to the latest decision, here's John Mellencamp's video, Jena.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Miami Herald’s Poverty Peddlers and the Public’s Right to Know

I finally finished reading The Miami Herald's latest investigative series Poverty Peddlers over the weekend. It then took a couple of days to disconnect emotionally before writing these few words on the issue.

Who's minding the store in Miami-Dade County? The Miami Herald has managed to serve up a picture of a local government so corrupt that the average citizen should have no confidence in their best interest being of any concern.

Not one to believe everything I read, the investigative series makes compelling points on the criminally incestuous relationships of folks in Miami-Dade. More important is the deafeningly silent response from all of those involved except Congresswoman Carrie Meek and Dennis Stackhouse. Hello? Why are we not hearing from any of the other folks? The public has the right to know.

Let's find the bright side in this issue, at least folks in Miami have made corruption a multicultural affair. We can all get along when it comes to ripping off public dollars. To my fellow black people who try to make this a racial issue, let's not go there. I am pissed at folks stealing and you don't get a pass because you look like me. All skin ain't kin. Again, if The Herald's report is not true, then step up and defend your name.

Between the Miami Herald's House of Lies and Poverty Peddlers series, one has to wonder when some federal law enforcement agency is going to swoop down and take over the City of Miami and the entire county.

You know what's even more sad bout this situation, the by-product of this mess will likely be approval of all the county charter amendments. That would not be good but the public has far more confidence in Mayor Carlos Alvarez than other local officials.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Setting the Record Straight on Hate Crime Attack

Miguel Aranda and Jose Osorio, two of the five teens arrested in the hate crime attack on FIU student Stephen Barrett and two of his friends, are not guilty according to one of the victims. The other three teens arrested were involved and others were not apprehended in the attack.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Nailah Franklin Update

The remains of Nailah Oliani Franklin were identified yesterday. There was obviously trauma in her transition from the physical world. I am so deeply saddened by this loss of life that there are no words to convey the myriad of feelings I am experiencing.

Nailah's death is yet another reminder of how sacred life is and how we must cherish each moment and each other. As her family prepares to celebrate her life, let's keep them in prayer.

More information will likely be released as the homicide investigation progresses. I pray that her killer is caught. Ashe'

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More on FIU Student Hate Crime

Local news reports show that the three FIU students attacked on Miami Beach were confronted by as few as 20 males to as many as 35 males. One of the students attacked said he thought they were going to die.

The father of one of the attackers was shown on television in tears and trying defend his son's true character.

Stephen Barrett, the black victim, has not granted any interviews. While he is a victim, the other students attacked are victims also.

State Attorney's Office Releases Names of Judge and Gubernatorial Candidate in Stackhouse Case

In a press conference yesterday, State Attorney Kathy Fernandez-Rundle indicated that the campaigns of former Judge Shirylon McWhorter and gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith each received $250 from Stackhouse through his employees.

Those employees were reimbursed later from monies Stackhouse received for the failed Ponciana Park biotech project.

While the crimes for whaich Stackhouse is accused are significant, either the SAO's office or The Herald demonstrated overkill regarding his involvement with the last two campaigns.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Latino Teens Charged with Hate Crime in Attack on Black FIU Student

I didn't want to believe the news anchors report of the beating of a Black student from Florida International University in a hate crime but it was true. The attackers were not whites they were Latino teenagers.

The Black student, Stephen Barrett of New York was at a keg party with his dorm mates, Christopher Eden, white and Daniel Cabevas, white Latino. All of the FIU students are 18 years old.

The driver of the boat indicated that the boat was overloaded. The teens said "Get off the boat, nigger" to Barrett. The FIU students decided to wait and upon getting back to the mainland, were attacked by the Latinos who were now armed with baseball bats.

All three of the FIU students were attacked with Barrett the most seriously injured. In addition head injuries, the attackers attempted to drown him also.

Something about the story doesn't sound right. It seems that there should be several witnesses to this crime. The boat the young men was on was crowded remember? Shouldn't several witnesses have seen the attackers with bats? See previous sentence.

Miami is a strange place when it comes to race --- Far too many obviously Black people who claim to be something other than Black. There are too many damn categories that folks try to fit into or get compartmentalized into anyway. For the Latino guys, a couple of them darker than me, to call someone a nigger is ludicrous. Your African heritage is so apparent. Quit tripping and just be.

News of this incident is all over the internet. Freedom of speech issues one week and hate crimes another, this is not the publicity Florida's tourism officials and education officials like to see.

These young men should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If not, there will likely be hell to pay in this town.

Hopefully Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and other officials will step up and quickly squash this kind of activity. On the other hand, the mayor doesn't exactly enjoy a positive relationship with the Black community so this could get very interesting. Stay tuned.

Four teens charged with beating of black FIU student

Posted on Tue, Sep. 25, 2007


[email protected]

Four teenagers have been charged with a hate crime, accused of the beating and attempted drowning of a black college student at Haulover Beach Park Marina over the weekend.

After calling him the N-word, the teens beat Florida International University freshman Stephen Barrett with a baseball bat and tried to drown him in the Intracoastal Waterway, Miami-Dade police said. [Continued…]

Stackhouse Contributions Questioned; Rolle Under Investigation

Things are not looking well for Miami-Dade County commissioner Dorrin Rolle. Defamed developer Dennis Stackhouse was jailed for campaign contributions violations in a scenario that leans toward malfeasance committed by the commissioner.

Also caught up in the investigation are an unnamed judge and an unnamed gubernatorial candidate.

Here’s the link to the Miami Herald article. Don’t miss the 2:30 press conference on the issue.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two students shot at Delaware State University

Delaware State University administration quickly shut down access in and out of campus after two students were shot early Friday morning. Both shooting victims are 17-years old.

The shooting occurred on the Campus Mall between the Memorial Hall gymnasium and Richard S. Grossley Hall, an administrative building. It is likely that the male victim may know the shooter. The female victim is in serious condition.

Click here for info from Yahoo News.

Click here for photos.

on the black hand side Vanessa: Unplugged! Blogging Black Miami

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How the Black Blogosphere Has Driven the Jena 6 Protest

Today, protesters will descend upon Jena, Louisiana by the thousands. Those unable to attend in person will wear black to symbolize support for the Jena 6 and unity with the marchers. The awesome significance of this latest demonstration may be lost on many but is captured by Howard Witt's latest article in the Chicago Tribune. Do click here to check it out. You see, the methodology of civil rights protest has forever changed and the internet is the reason for the paradigm shift.

I joined a group of bloggers, the Afrosphere Jena 6 Coalition, in the Day of Blogging for Justice back on August 29. I've never met these folks in person or even talked to any of them on the telephone but the positive change effected, without a "meeting", was awesome. Witt is so correct in framing the position of traditional civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and organizations like the NAACP. For them, the Jena 6 issue was a game of catch up.

Well before the traditional civil rights leaders got involved, folks like Yobachi over at Black Perspective and Villager at the Electronic Village had sent up the drum call to black bloggers and black bloggers answered. Similar actions were the reason Paris, Texas teen, Shaquanda Cotton was released.

I will not be in Jena, Louisiana today and I will try to keep abreast of the day's happenings. Most definitely I am wearing black. I send up prayers of love and peace for those who make the journey to Jena.

Here's an excerpt of Howard Witt's article...


Bloggers inspire new civil rights wave

Jena 6 protest nurtured on Web

By Howard Witt

Tribune senior correspondent

September 19, 2007


There is no single leader. There is no agreed schedule. Organizers aren't even certain where everyone is supposed to gather, let alone use the restroom. The only thing that is known for sure is that thousands of protesters are boarding buses at churches, colleges and community centers across the country this week, headed for this tiny dot on the map of central Louisiana.

What could turn out to be one of the largest civil rights demonstrations in years is set to take place here Thursday, when Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, popular black radio talk show hosts and other celebrities converge in Jena to protest what they regard as unequal treatment of African-Americans in this racially fractured Deep South town.

Yet this will be a civil rights protest literally conjured out of the ether of cyberspace, of a type that has never happened before in America -- a collective national mass action grown from a grass-roots word-of-mouth movement spread via blogs, e-mails, message boards and talk radio.

Jackson, Sharpton and other big-name civil rights figures, far from leading this movement, have had to scramble to catch up. So have the national media.

As formidable as it is amorphous, this new African-American blogosphere, which scarcely even existed a year ago, now includes hundreds of interlinked blogs and tens of thousands of followers who within a matter of a few weeks collected 220,000 petition signatures -- and more than $130,000 in donations for legal fees -- in support of six black Jena teenagers who are being prosecuted on felony battery charges for beating a white student. [Click here to read more…]

Related links:

Chicago Tribune articles on the Jena 6 case: Trouble in Jena

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Community in terror as police are shot in South Dade; Details unfold

The chaos that consumed most of Thursday's shooting in southwest Miami-Dade County is over. Four police officers were shot --- Jody Wright, Christopher Carlin, Tomas Tundidor and Jose Somohano. Of the four, Somohano was fatally wounded. The suspect, Shawn Sherwin LaBeet, eluded police for almost twelve hours before he was confronted in a Pembroke Pines condo pool area. Gunfire was exchanged and Shawn LaBeet was killed.

Shawn Sherwin LaBeet

The horrendous pain experienced by all of the families involved in this tragedy cannot be described. Undoubtedly, Somohano's family is still paralyzed from the murder of their loved one. LaBeet's mother, must cope not only with the loss of her son, but the fact that he was a murderer.

Detectives on Friday arrested Labeet's brother, Shane R. Labeet, 32. They arrested Shawn Labeet's girlfriend, Renee D'Angelo, 26. And they arrested Alba Caridad Bello Denis, 47, Alain Gonzalez, 24, and Lazaro Guardiola, 35. Police later arrested LaBeet relative, Jaleel Torres, whose face shows signs of a struggle. All were charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.


Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez took command of the television and told viewers that the suspect, not person of interest, was Kevin Wehner. Such confident talk turned out to be embarrassing for police as they relied on the word of the D'Angelo, the shooter's girlfriend. Not until the real Kevin Wehner turned himself in to police in Jacksonville, where he lives, did Miami-Dade Police realize they were looking for the wrong man --- that was four hours later. Had the real Wehner been in South Florida, his life may have taken a horrible turn also. Unfortunately, he may be forced to always keep documentation proving he was wrongly accused of murder, attempted murder and a number of other charges.

This is the real Kevin Wehner; he is not the shooter.

In a situation that reeked of "all Black people look alike," before admitting the misidentification, the media posted a photo of Shawn LaBeet but said that it was a more current photo of Kevin Wehner. What? The complexion and facial structure of the person in the second photo was clearly not the same person as in the first photo.

Media reports would later indicate that Shawn LaBeet had help, via back streets, in his escape from deep in Southwest Miami to Pembroke Pines some 30 miles away. It was no surprise that Shawn LaBeet was killed. He had killed a police officer and shot three other officers. LaBeet was wearing body armor and used a high-powered assault weapon. There is much more to this story.

Over the next weeks and months we are likely to learn more about Shawn Sherwin LaBeet and the individuals involved in this case. Prayerfully, Officer Jody Wright will regain use of her leg as expeditiously as possible and the Somohano family will be able to cope with their grief as they continue their daily lives.

This incident is yet another reminder of how dangerous our streets are. Thank you to all law enforcement who protect and serve the community.

Rest in Peace

Officer Jose Somohano

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Former City Manager Joe Arriola Helps State Attorney’s Office with Corruption Investigation

On Friday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced that her office had written to Florida Governor Charlie Crist requesting outside prosecutor be called in to handle the case of Former City of Miami Manager Joe Arriola who was accused of assaulting the valet manager at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Brickell Key in March.

Arriola offered to help the State Attorney's Office with an investigation of public corruption. He says he's helped with the investigation of "The Firm", a group of City of Miami employees operating their own company using city equipment and staff. Twelve workers were arrested but it's likely they were small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

Just what Joe knows and tells must have some folks shaking in their boots. Rundle offered anyone with knowledge of corruption to come forth now that Arriola is working with her office. Mayor Manny Diaz gave no comment on the news.

Will Arriola really expose the big fish in City of Miami corruption or will he only offer up folks that are no more than collateral damage? And just how much of the wrongdoing will be blamed on the late Former City of Miami Commissioner Art Teele? You know the public was not made aware of what happened with that backpack of information Teele gave to then Miami Herald reporter Jim DeFede before committing suicide about two years ago.

Click here for older posts.