Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black NC legislators bemoan GOP treatment

In a January 8, 2012 article in The News & Observer by John Frank titled “Black legislators blast GOP leadership,” African American legislators, led by North Carolina Democratic state Senator Floyd McKissick, Jr. roundly criticized the treatment of African Americans by the Republican controlled General Assembly. The head of the Legislative Black Caucus, McKissick made his discontent known shortly after the state Senate overrode Governor Bev Perdue’s veto of Republican backed changes in the state’s Racial Justice Act.

McKissick accused Republicans of disempowering black leaders, such as the head of the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division, and he chided the party for its disrespectful treatment of African American state employees. Senator McKissick concluded that the Republicans had shown “an overall disinterest and lack of respect for black people in North Carolina.” He then posed the rhetorical question, “When are they going to stop attacking black North Carolinians and focus on job creation and getting this economy moving?”

The answer to that question is simple… they are never going to stop attacking black North Carolinians – at least not as long as they see no reason not to do so. The Legislative Black Caucus has the potential to rein in the GOP’s acts of discrimination and disrespect but it lacks the courage to do anything about it. Republicans are aware of the silence of the black legislators as the criminal justice system tosses minorities into jail at an alarming rate and without probable cause, in many instances. Civil rights organizations such as the state’s NAACP and, to a lesser extent, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, have failed to raise any objection to the mistreatment of the state’s justice system when dealing with Crystal Mangum (the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser), Erick Daniels and Shawn Massey (wrongfully incarcerated for more than seven and twelve years respectively, but denied a pardon), James Arthur Johnson (heroically solved the heinous murder of Wilson teen Brittany Willis, and was rewarded with 39 months in jail and not the advertised $20,000 reward which he earned), Carletta Patrice Alston (held in jail without cause for twelve months before being released), and other innocent African Americans caught up in the swath of the Prison Industrial Complex with its insatiable appetite for minority inmates.

I have personally tried to solicit involvement in these causes of injustice by Senator McKissick, and state Representatives Mickey Michaux and Larry Hall, all of Durham County, but my endeavors have met with no success… and it seems as though the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong is fighting these wars against injustice alone. McKissick, Michaux, and Hall should all at least be actively advocating for their Durham constituents Crystal Mangum and Erick Daniels. But, like the NAACP, these politicians have all remained as silent as dormice.

Injustice against Ms. Mangum is especially egregious and is a prime example of vendetta justice at its worst… payback, if you will, for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case wherein she accused three Duke lacrosse athletes (from families of wealth, power, and privilege) of sexual assault which stemmed from a 2006 beer-guzzling, stripper-ogling party. The 2010 arrest of Mangum on a slew of trumped up charges, including felony first degree arson, was an obvious miscarriage of justice as Crystal Mangum was the victim of physical domestic abuse that February night in 2010. The prosecution by Prosecutor Angela Garcia-Lamarca perversely determined that Crystal’s ex-boyfriend abuser was an innocent victim who needed protection from the person whose face he had repeatedly battered with his fists, Ms. Mangum. McKissick and the Black Caucus remained silent.

Mangum now faces first degree murder charges in the April 13, 2011 death of Reginald Daye despite the fact that the stab wound she inflicted on April 3, 2011, had absolutely nothing to do with the deep coma into which he lapsed on the third postoperative day… and had nothing to do with the Duke University Hospital medical staff electively removing Daye from life support, which was the proximate cause of death. Major discrepancies exist in two autopsy reports on Reginald Daye which has neither sparked the interest of the media nor Black Caucus members. As with the bogus charges of 2010, the Black Caucus remains silent while Crystal Mangum now languishes in jail due to a vindictive and unforgiving criminal justice system.

Erick Daniels, who was released on appeal by Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson while seeking a new trial, was arrested at the age of fourteen and spent more than seven years behind bars before he tasted freedom. Despite his seven years of wrongful incarceration on an armed robbery conviction that hinged solely on the victim’s photo identification based on the shape of his eyebrows in a middle school yearbook, the Governor’s Office of Executive Clemency denied his request for a pardon so that he can be compensated for his many years of unjust imprisonment. I have appealed numerous times to Governor Bev Perdue asking her to reverse the clemency panel’s denial and grant Mr. Daniels a pardon. My attempts to enlist politicians, especially members of the Black Caucus with ties to Durham County, have been fruitless.

It is unreasonable to expect GOP leaders to show respect towards the African American community or African Americans in general if its African American political leaders show no interest in the plight of their constituents themselves… as is evident in these criminal justice cases. As long as Senator McKissick and his fellow Black Caucus members remain silent enablers of a biased criminal justice system, they can expect the Republicans in power to continue to treat African Americans dismissively with disdain.

Black Caucus members shouldn’t just sit in their comfortable plush seats and complain about the GOP’s show of disrespect… they need to do something about it. A good start to positively turn things around in the North Carolina General Assembly with regards to treatment by the Republican leadership would be for Senator McKissick and other Black Caucus members to summon the courage to take a stand against the state’s vendetta prosecution of Crystal Mangum by demanding to know why she is being charged with first degree murder in the death of Reginald Daye.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2010 Mangum prosecutor scolded… a warning to Kelly Gauger

In a January 14, 2012, News & Observer article by J. Andrew Curliss titled “Chiding prosecutor, judge resets sex-offender case,” the former Durham prosecutor in the 2010 case against Crystal Mangum, Angela Garcia-Lamarca, was rebuked for vindictive and improper actions against a fifty year-old man accused of child molestation decades ago. Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson stated that he would enter a written order that Ms. Garca-Lamarca, who resigned from the Durham District Attorney’s Office last month, violated ethics rules for lawyers while dealing with a heavy-handed plea deal. Durham defense attorney Kerry Sutton claimed that the assistant district attorney acted vindictively in seeking harsh charges against her client because he (the defendant in a sex abuse case) refused to accept a plea deal for time served. Although he denied the defense’s motion to have the case dismissed entirely, Judge Hudson refused to allow the defendant to face the more serious vindictive charges that Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca had subsequently filed.

It was this same prosecutor who, in February 2010, prosecuted Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser on a series of trumped up charges. The prosecution against Mangum was “payback” for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case. Among the initial charges leveled against Ms. Mangum was attempted first degree murder (with the weapons used being listed as her hands and feet), assault (although it was her ex-boyfriend who initiated physical interaction by repeatedly punching her in the face), communication of threats, identity theft (a charge abused by the prosecution as Ms. Mangum made no attempt to fraudulently misrepresent her identity in order to gain property unlawfully), child abuse, and a slew of other charges.

During that February 2010 incident, in which it was crystal clear that Ms. Mangum was innocent of committing any crime, the Durham Police vindictively wanted to saddle her with a serious charge that carried a lengthy prison sentence, so under the pretense of smelling smoke, the apartment was emptied by the officers which presented them with the opportunity, to go along with the means and motive, to set fire to clothes in the bathtub. The police then closed the door without making any attempt to extinguish the blaze they had ignited, and allowed smoke to damage the apartment while waiting for several fire trucks and two dozen firemen to come to the scene in the middle of the night to douse some flames that had scorched some articles of clothing. Keep in mind that the police did not set the building on fire, so the charge at best should have been nothing more than vandalism… not arson. And since everyone but the arsonist officers had vacated the building, it was not even a first degree felony as charged against Mangum.

In addition to first degree felony arson, Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca also charged Mangum with three counts of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” asserting that the potential of destroying the apartment would make it more likely that her three children would run afoul of the law. As tenuous as the charge was, it was indisputably linked to the arson charge. This was borne out by a statement by the presiding judge, Superior Court Judge Abe Jones who ruled that the three charges of contributing to the abuse or neglect of her children would rise and fall on how the jury handled the arson charge. He promised to dismiss the abuse charge if the jury doesn't find Mangum guilty of arson. Judge Jones’ statement makes perfect sense. It’s crystal clear.

Yet, the jury, after a mistrial on the arson charge of nine to three in favor of acquittal, went on to unanimously convict Mangum on the charge related to the child abuse/endangerment/neglect. What was this jury thinking? Did the jurors not understand what Judge Abe Jones said prior to their reaching a verdict? As a result, the only true bogus charges for which Crystal Mangum was convicted was (1) injury to personal property for allegedly slashing the tires of her ex-boyfriend’s car and breaking its windshield; and (2) resisting a public officer (for allegedly struggling during her arrest and giving officers her sister's name and birth date). As most people are aware, the resisting a public officer charge is one that is used most commonly to tack onto other charges to make an offender’s offenses seem worse, or to make an arrest of an innocent person who has not committed a crime.

At the time of the prosecution, Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca was far along in her pregnancy, and could take solace in knowing that she would be on maternity leave well before the case went to trial… leaving the unscrupulous dirty prosecutorial work to fellow Durham prosecutor Mark McCullough. Because of Garcia-Lamarca’s vindictive misconduct, Ms. Mangum served three months in jail, during which time she suffered the following: (1) lost her job; (2) lost her apartment; (3) lost custody of her children; (4) was kicked out of the Masters program at NCCU; (5) lost much of her personal property; (6) her father passed away; and (7) she lost her independence as a productive citizen moving positively towards turning her life around following the Duke Lacrosse incident. Quite a legacy, that Angela Garcia-Lamarca built for herself, and one in which Mangum’s current prosecutor is currently following.

Prosecutor Kelly Gauger has charged Ms. Mangum with first degree murder in the death of Reginald Daye, a man who was electively removed from life support by the medical staff at Duke University Hospital. Mr. Daye was taken off support after being declared to be “brain-dead”… the cause of which is either unknown, undisclosed, or both. What is clear is that Daye’s comatose state had no nexus to the stab wound inflicted by Ms. Mangum… and therefore, she is not responsible for Daye’s death. The comatose state could be explained by medical malpractice or possibly even a hospital homicide, but the Durham Police Department is loathed to even take such a possibility into consideration.

According to my reliable sources, Daye admitted to police that prior to the stabbing that he had “dragged Crystal by her hair and slapped her around.” So, after an involvement in a lengthy argument, it is very likely that the stabbing by Mangum was the result of self defense. The murder charge by Gauger is ludicrous and is not even supported by a motive.

Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca has already been called out by Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson for her vindictive prosecutorial approach, similar to the one she used against Ms. Mangum in 2010. Prosecutor Kelly Gauger is following the same disgraceful path as her recently resigned colleague. And even though Ms. Mangum is getting what I believe to be, once again, less than adequate legal representation, prosecutor Gauger should heed the actions taken by Judge Hudson against Garcia-Lamarca. Gauger needs to consider that the biased mainstream media and the misguided anti-Nifong public sentiment cannot indefinitely hold back the march of Lady Justice in meting out “equal justice for all.” The day of reckoning for anti-Nifong legal eagles is close at hand. That much is crystal clear.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Restatement of purpose

Every now and again it seems as though the readers and commenters of this blog site get derailed about the purpose of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong and its members. Once again, let me put the train back on track to avoid the discourse of distractions and the obstacles of obfuscation… so we can locomotion along the rails to enlightenment.

As we near our four anniversary this coming June, our mission statement and resolve has been steady, uncompromising, and one which follows the light of truth. The fundamental beliefs upon which this organization was founded have been and remain based upon the following principles: (1) former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was selectively and unjustly persecuted and disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar because of his handing of the Duke Lacrosse case; (2) Mr. Nifong handled the Duke Lacrosse case well within the acceptable standards of a state prosecutor; (3) that Mr. Nifong is the only prosecutor to be disbarred due to professional misconduct is an outrage, especially when considering prosecutors Tom Ford (Gregory Taylor and Carletta Alston cases), Bill Wolfe (James Arthur Johnson case), Michael D. Parker (Floyd Brown case), and David Hoke (Alan Gell case), just to name a few. Our group’s focus remains committed to encouraging the NC State Bar to unilaterally and unconditionally reinstate Mr. Nifong’s license to practice law in the state without restrictions. Although Mr. Nifong has expressed that he never intends to practice law again, it is the contention that his license to practice law was unjustly taken by the Bar, and that it needs to man up and do the right thing by reinstating it.

Members of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong, I believe, are some of the most courageous people in the state, because they lend their names and their faces to a righteous cause that is widely unpopular with the public because of contamination of the news that is broadcast and published by biased media-types… the big wigs in the upper echelons who determine what stories to follow, which stories to ignore, and what spin to give. Instead of remaining silent in the face of blatant anti-Nifong injustice, like most politicians, media outlets, and many civil rights organizations, members of the Committee speak loudly by their demonstration of courage. There are many ways to put it, but I like the saying attributed to President Abraham Lincoln who stated: “To sin by silence makes cowards of men.” One thing is certain… the members of our group, currently one shy of two dozen, are not cowards.

The Committee is, and always has been an inclusive organization, welcoming brave individuals who coalesce around the principles recited above with respect to former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. No one has been turned down for membership, and dues and/or investment of time or money is not required. All that is required is the heart to seek justice for Mike Nifong, which at its most primal form would be the reinstatement of his law license. Potential members are not vetted or required to provide personal information about themselves, their political leanings, or their ideologies on other topics. Likewise, our group is extremely tolerant of others and we do not discriminate with respect to granting membership.

It is not expected, or even desired that everyone who joins the group hold the same beliefs or opinions on issues other than Mike Nifong’s mistreatment by the state and the media. Gay and lesbians, people of all races and colors, worshippers of all religions as well as atheists, Democrats and even Republicans are all invited to join.

Some commenters are quick to cast some Committee members as homophobes or racists, but I find that these labels are often made without substance. There are people who might not agree with same-sex relationships or who might have a problem with gay and lesbians getting married, but that, at least to my way of thinking, does not categorize them as being homophobes. Personally, I have no problem whatever with gay and lesbian relationships. I have no problem with civil union between couples of the same sex and I do not object to the term “marriage” being used to define such relationships. To my mind marriage is an institution in which two individuals are fully and lovingly committed to one another regardless of their sexes. Not only that, but I believe that the liberal tolerance towards gays and lesbians is growing and gaining greater acceptance.

Hopefully this blog will put issues about homophobia and racism to rest, and the future blogs can be devoted to issues of criminal justice… such as the vendetta prosecutions of Crystal Mangum, the racist pardon policy that the governor’s office has used to deny pardons to Erick Daniels and Shawn Massey, the anti-Nifong discrimination by Duke University against me, and other important issues facing Tar Heelians who believe in the principle of “equal justice for all” instead of those who follow the tenet of “selective justice based on Class and Color.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Unanswered questions about Reginald Daye’s death

Reginald Daye was a middle-aged Durham man who was in a symbiotic relationship with Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser. The events surrounding his death, beginning with his April 3, 2011 stabbing by Ms. Mangum and extending to his death ten days later, are shrouded in mystery and intrigue. What some may consider equally baffling is the mainstream media’s apathy towards unraveling the bizarre and inexplicable sequence of circumstances which shortened Daye’s life.

Of this much we are certain: (1) At approximately 3:00 a.m. on April 3, 2011, Mangum stabbed Daye in the left torso with a kitchen knife (paring knife according to friends of Mangum and supported by autopsy reports); (2) Although the blood alcohol level coursing through Daye’s veins was at a stupor-level of nearly 300 mg/dl, he was awake and coherent when transported by ambulance to Duke Hospital; (3) Daye underwent emergency surgery to repair the stab wound to the splenic flexure of his colon within hours of the traumatic insult; (4) Postoperatively the following day, the surgery on Daye was proclaimed to be successful and the patient was expected to make a full recovery; and (5) On the 13th of April, ten days following his stabbing and surgery, Daye was taken off life support and pronounced dead.

The autopsy reports of April 13 and 14, 2011, which were released in mid-August 2011, four months later, shed only a modicum of light on what transpired during Daye’s ten day hospitalization. It appears that on the evening of the third postoperative day, Mr. Daye went into a deep and irreversible coma; the etiology of which was never determined and/or released to the public. The mainstream media kept Daye’s comatose state hidden for a week, and mentioned it only after his death. In addition, only one media source mentioned that Reginald Daye passed away after life support was electively removed by the Duke Hospital medical staff. Although it can be assumed that Daye’s next of kin were involved in the decision to remove him from life support, it is unknown whether the prosecution or defense attorneys were consulted or notified beforehand. The disconnection of Reginald Daye from life support was the proximate cause of his death, however, neither report even mentioned this. Instead of solving problems surrounding Daye’s demise, the autopsy reports of April 13th and 14th usher in questions about it on an even grander scale.

Both autopsy reports are vague, inadequate, misleading, and unprofessional, with the report of April 13, 2011 (Report of Investigation by Medical Examiner) being more accurate and reliable regarding injuries sustained by the single stab wound than that of the latter document. The description of the body and the body diagram of this report are deferred to the report of April 14, 2011 (Report of Autopsy Examination). What is most puzzling about this report of the 14th is that it includes a multitude of injuries not mentioned in the report of the 13th, which cited only the lesion to the colon. However, in the report of the 14th, Dr. Clay Nichols, the medical examiner, mentioned additional gross anatomical injuries to the following organs: lower left lung, diaphragm, left kidney, spleen, and fundus of the stomach. As a retired physician, I believe that it is impossible for a single stab wound from a paring knife (which entered at the seventh intercostal space of the left side of the torso and proceeded in a downward trajectory) to inflict wounds to all of the organs as described in Dr. Nichols’ report. However, it is not at all unreasonable to believe that such a stab wound would lacerate the splenic flexure of the colon only.

Although I believe the report of April 14, 2011, to be criminally fraudulent, I do not fault the medical examiner for making false claims because he undoubtedly has learned from the example that the state and the media made of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong… which is that the consequences of not “going along with the program” can be excessive and severe. The purpose for fabricating these injuries in the latter report is to make the damage caused by Mangum’s stab wound appear to be much more extensive and serious than it actually was… to persuade the public that the inflicted wound was capable of causing death. The biased anti-Mangum media did its part by upgrading the status of the diaphragm, which is a large muscle, to that of being an organ, and counting it as such in proclaiming that “Fatal stab wound in Crystal Mangum case punctured six organs.” The media entirely ignores the more reliable report of April 13, 2011, which documented injury to only the large intestine.

Questions continue to swirl around Daye’s death and its aftermath. Why the major discrepancies between the report of the 13th and 14th? What was the cause of Daye’s lapsing into a coma and how was it related to the stab wound? Why is Crystal Mangum being charged with first degree murder when Daye was electively removed from life support by Duke’s medical staff? Was medical malpractice or a hospital homicide responsible the unconscious state which led to Daye being declared “brain dead” and taken off life support? Why has Mangum’s attorney not filed a motion to have the murder charge dismissed? Perhaps, most mind-boggling of all is why does the mainstream media lack curiosity about these unsolved mysteries?

Being a cynic of mainstream media’s dedication to report fairly and without bias, I do not find it surprising that the media would bury its head in the sand when it comes to the state’s illegal and unjust mistreatment of Crystal Mangum. After all, the media, like Durham prosecutor Kelly Gauger and the medical examiners, is part of this very broad based anti-Nifong conspiracy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

North Carolina ACLU will protect the rights of Nazis and Klansmen, but not Nifong supporters

I didn’t have much faith that the North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union would come to my aid and protect my civil rights, and the organization proved me right. Years ago when I first met Katy Parker, the director of the North Carolina ACLU, I handed her a questionnaire about former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong’s disbarment. I asked her if she would fill out the questionnaire and return it in the self-addressed/stamped envelope I provided. She told me that it would depend on the questions. Well, she evidently did not like the questions as I never received the questionnaire back.

In the summer of 2010, several months after the Duke University discrimination incident against me, and in a time during which I was trying to resolve the situation, I wrote the North Carolina ACLU and asked them to provide legal assistance for Crystal Mangum, as I, along with the Friends of Crystal Mangum and others were not at all pleased with her legal representation by the public defender for the February 2010 arson charge. I was informed that because of their high volume of requests it might take some time before I received an answer from the NC ACLU, but that all inquiries for help would eventually be given a response. No reply was ever made to my letter.

Around October 2010, approximately six months after Duke discriminated against me (with the plan of arresting me), lesbian Caitlin Breedlove and her partner were asked by a security guard at the Cameron Village Shopping Mall to leave the property because they briefly showed public affection. When they took it to the media, the media-types ran with the story… publishing in the newspaper, broadcasting it on the television news… the story went viral (unlike the media response to the discrimination I suffered at the hands of Duke University… which the media collectively chose to ignore). Even though the security guard company responded expeditiously and fully acquiesced to the demands of the lesbians and other gay rights individuals and organizations which supported the discriminated same-sex couple, the story got national attention on cable news networks, and the local news coverage followed developments daily for a couple of weeks. Needless to say, the NC ACLU’s director, Ms. Parker, threw the weight of the organization behind the discriminated pair by giving newspaper interviews in which she blasted the security guard’s actions while defending their rights while on private property.

Even though the NC ACLU interceded on behalf of the discriminated lesbian couple, because of my previous interaction with Ms. Parker and the failure of the organization to respond to my plea months earlier for assistance for Crystal Mangum, I held no hope that the NC ACLU would give me any support. So, although I reluctantly filed a discrimination lawsuit against Duke University in April 2011, I never seriously considered contacting the NC ACLU as I figured it would be a waste of time. Then just prior to Christmas 2011, I ran into a young lady in an ACLU tee shirt who was signing up people to join the ACLU. With foot traffic being slow at that time, we had a short conversation during which I mentioned my 2010 discrimination incident at Duke University. She recommended that I contact the ACLU, and although I thought it would be for naught, I rationalized that there was possibly a remote chance that the NC ACLU might give me some support… at least, there was nothing to lose.

After the holidays I phoned the organization and somehow managed to get Ms. Parker on the line. I began to fill her in on the happenings that took place on the Duke campus in April 2010, when she interrupted me halfway through my presentation and told me that she would not be able to do anything about my plight because the discrimination took place on Duke University grounds, which is a private institution on private property. In other words, I suggested, are all private institutes on private property who serve the public permitted to discriminate? I then reminded her that the lesbian couple, upon whose behalf she so vociferously supported, was discriminated against while on private property… the Cameron Village Shopping Mall. Ms. Parker countered by stating that it was possible that the young ladies were standing on a public sidewalk that intersected the private property when they were asked to leave the Mall grounds. But Ms. Parker was not defending the lesbians’ right to be on the sidewalk, rather their civil rights when on the Mall’s private property.

Duke University may be a private institution situated on private property, but it goes out of its way to bring the public to events held at numerous venues on its grounds. For example, the Nasher Museum, which is open to the public, is located on Duke private property. The Duke Cathedral, which hosts religious masses with the public invited, is in the center of its campus. Other Duke property venues to which the public is invited to attend by the university’s aggressive marketing campaign includes Reynolds Theater, the Duke Chapel, the school’s main library, Bryan Center, the Duke Law School, and its athletic centers. Duke is a university that embraces the public sector and thrives on their attendance and participation in campus events. Whether a workshop on fracking, a concert by world renown artists, a conference on political/environmental/economic issues, an exhibit featuring art and/or artifacts, or a speech given by a dignitary or person of celebrity the private institution that is Duke reaches out to draw in the people from the community and whom are representative of the public.

Now, am I to believe that if the same discrimination had occurred to me on the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill or North Carolina State University campus that the NC ACLU would’ve jumped into action on my behalf? Are only state universities and institutions prohibited from discriminating? It would seem after my conversation with Ms. Parker that Duke, being a private university, has the right to discriminate against anyone on its campus with impunity… and that the ACLU will remain muzzled. If my memory serves me correctly, F. W. Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, was not a state entity in the 50’s when it refused to serve African Americans at its lunch counter. Have civil rights regressed to the point where privately owned businesses on private property which serve the public can overtly discriminate anyone or any group of people with the ACLU’s blessing?

Needless to say, I was quite emotional during my conversation with Ms. Parker, as being deprived of my civil rights tends to cause me much aggravation. And with a modicum of shame, I admit that I sorta lost my composure to an extent, and our conversation, which concluded rather abruptly, did not end on the lofty note as I had planned. As a result, Ms. Parker, please consider this a heartfelt apology from me for losing my cool.

Unfortunately, to me it seems that the ACLU of North Carolina, which is charged with the duty of protecting the civil rights of all Tar Heelians, is ironically guilty of discrimination itself… discriminating against Nifong supporters. The organization has defended, with gusto, the rights of Nazis, Klansmen, Gays and Lesbians, and others who are disenfranchised. I have no problem with this, and applaud their efforts to see that the rights are protected of those who are in the minority in thought or characteristics, or who are publicly despised. In all fairness, I believe that umbrella of shielded rights should be extended to people who believe that Mike Nifong was selectively and unjustly disbarred and that he deserves to be unilaterally and unconditionally reinstated by the North Carolina State Bar.

This past week I would have enjoyed attending the daylong workshop on fracking that was held on Duke University campus and advertised as open to the public. According to the newspaper, more than 500 people attended from as far away as Massachusetts, Ohio, and Florida. But because it was held on the private property of Duke University, I could not attend, lest I risk being harassed, humiliated, and/or arrested… especially since there was no guarantee that a Duke professor friend would happen by at the opportune moment to again rescue me from such a fate. For these very reasons which threaten me every time I set foot on Duke University property, I have kept away from the December 2011 concert featuring pianist Andre Watts in an all Liszt program… I did not attend the September 2011 concert of Mozart’s Requiem… and I have avoided all other programs, exhibits and offerings held on Duke University property since April 15, 2010.

That my rights as a law-abiding public citizen are being trampled upon by the powerful and financially endowed institution that is Duke University with its selective discrimination against me because of my beliefs, thought, opinions, and allegiances is a disgrace. However, what is even more disgraceful, disturbing, and deplorable is that the North Carolina ACLU, which has a mandate to protect the civil rights of all North Carolinians, allows this abusive behavior against Nifong supporters by Duke University to take place unchallenged.

Discrimination of any kind is wrong whether it occurs on public property or private property… and, unlike the NC ACLU members who are sitting on their haunches in reaction to this form of prejudicial action, those people of courage and good conscience should actively and unwaveringly oppose it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Comic book roles for Governor Perdue and Speaker Tillis

I have an idea for a fantastic super villain for the Batman franchise… North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis who would be known as “The Trickster.” The antics and shenanigans that he could foment would put the Joker and the Riddler, combined, to shame. Mr. Tillis has been caught with his hand in the hypocritical cookie jar in the past by his shameful bonuses and pay raises to some of the cronies and sycophants on his staff while preaching from the Bible of Conservative Financial ideology. So the reasonable person with at least a scintilla of intelligence has some idea of what to expect from this wily politician. However, last night, he actually outdid himself with his late-night vote… and even though I denounce his vindictively inspired actions against the North Carolina Association of Educators in his early morning overriding veto to weaken the teachers’ labor union, I can’t help but hold a bit of admiration for his “in-your-face villainy.” One thing about Thom Tillis, the man has no shame, as he has proven in the past with his raises to his staff favorites in a time of austerity when state jobs are being eliminated, workloads increased, and salaries slashed.

Mr. Tillis doesn’t pretend to be fair… he doesn’t pretend to believe in the principle of transparent government… he doesn’t pretend to have an ounce of compassion for those in need or tolerance for those of different beliefs and/or opinions. He has shown the ability to boldly act, without any apparent concern for the consequences of his actions which have generated a slew of lawsuits and indignant outrage. That Speaker Tillis makes waves would be an understatement, as he is a veritable one-man tsunami.

A consummate Tea Party conservative, Tillis orchestrated the late-night override of the Perdue veto under a shroud of secrecy. Even his fellow Republicans were unaware of his nefarious plans until the eleventh hour. Then, after stirring up things with his questionable clandestine activities, Tillis has the audacity to proclaim his actions to be legal… and dares the Democrats to challenge them.

I have yet another villain for Batman to confront… Governor Bev Perdue as “Lady Two Face.” She puts on airs to the public that she’s a paragon when it comes to governing under transparency and stakes a claim on being a champion of racial equality and justice. Governor Perdue prides herself, with a big pat on the back, for vetoing the ethically challenged Republicans’ attempt to gut the provisions of the recently enacted Racial Justice Act. However, when it comes to her actions closer scrutiny shows they do not even come close to reflecting her lofty rhetoric about equal justice.

One need look no further than her treatment of petitions for pardons submitted by Erick Daniels and Shawn Massey, two African American men who were unjustly convicted for crimes they did not commit and who served, respectively, more than seven and twelve years of wrongful incarceration. They need a pardon from the governor in order to be eligible for compensation for their years of wrongful imprisonment. But… KAPOW!! No pardon. Both of their petitions were denied by Lady Two Face and her hench-people. And why were they denied, need you ask? For one reason, and one reason only… because of the color of their skin. Make no mistake about it.

If there is a legitimate reason other than racial prejudice for Governor Perdue denying a pardon to Erick Daniels and Shawn Massey, then she and her staff are keeping it top secret… as opaque as a lead-lined vault. When I specifically requested to know from the governor why Daniels’ request for a pardon was denied, her general counsel lied by telling me that the Governor’s office conducted its own investigation which did not clear Daniels of the crime for which he was convicted and served time… but due to “confidentiality concerns” they could not tell me what they were or divulge any information about their investigation. The governor’s office provided me with nothing more than a pathetic excuse which was really intended to keep its racist bias confidential.

Late in 2011, Wake County Democratic Party President Mack Paul authorized a three member panel to find out why the Governor denied a pardon to Erick Daniels. I spoke to two of the three, and they both told me that their efforts to obtain information were rebuffed by the governor’s office… there were no justifications given as to why his pardon request was turned down. In other words, the governor who proclaims to be a proponent of transparent government will even keep results of a criminal investigation hidden from members of the Wake County Democratic Party.

If DC Comics does not take me up on my generous suggestions for these two diabolical additions to their varied stable of villains, then take heart, readers. I can always find a place for them in my strip, “The MisAdventures of Super-Duper Cooper.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In Raleigh being poor is a crime

In a December 28, 2011 article in The News & Observer by Thomasi McDonald titled “Raleigh charges 8 beggars,” it was divulged that eight people were arrested in Raleigh for begging without a permit. According to the article, the arrests show the city’s growing intolerance of panhandling. Well, in today’s economic climate where the unemployment rate is at an all time high, banks are foreclosing on homes like there’s no tomorrow, and most of those people with jobs are overworked at slave wages, it is no surprise that the number of people panhandling is expected to increase.

According to the Raleigh ordinance, those individuals seeking to beg must obtain a permit… which is issued free of charge. It is not a revenue generator and the city is not being cheated out of any income, so why is it a crime for the poor and needy obtain a permit? If it is so important to regulate panhandling, why not have the police register the beggars on site… like they do for voting, rather than handing out citations and arresting the people.

The panhandling permit is one of the most ridiculous and inhumane laws on the books. If during hard times people are forced to beg, surely their financial status will not enable them to pay a bail of $1,000.00, or even $75.00. Instead of jailing them at taxpayer expense, one solution would be for them to be given a permit. And yet, even then it’s all madness. It’s absurd.

What Raleigh is doing, according to Raleigh police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan is merely enforcing an ordinance that is on the books. Its net effect is to turn law-abiding, poor, disenfranchised people who are desperate down on their luck into jail inmates… fodder for the all powerful Prison Industrial Complex. Surely these people are not being locked up for no reason. Head honchos who control the unethical corporations that feast on those who suffer from famine, are bringing in big bucks… hand over fist at the unjust misery of these unfortunates. And what is a boon to the Prison Industrial Complex is a bust to the taxpayers.

Now, if Raleigh’s obtuse panhandling permit wasn’t bad enough, it has evidently inspired other government agencies to follow its heartless lead. In fact, Wake County is in essence double dipping by forcing its Raleigh residents to obtain a panhandler permit that requires renewal every week. As if in an attempt to outdo Wake County, Johnson County is considering a panhandler permit that will require its applicants to undergo a criminal background check.

Those people who are panhandling need employment and not incarceration. Unfortunately, the news article did not state how long these violators who did not have a begging permit would be held in jail. Only one of the eight was able to post bond. The remaining seven are still being held in jail… their crime, panhandling without a permit.

What makes this panhandling permit nonsensical is that police state that panhandling is a “public safety concern” by blocking rights of way… whatever that is. But what I would like to know is how does a permit to panhandle improve public safety over panhandling without a permit?

Like most people, I don’t enjoy being approached by panhandlers, but more likely than not I will usually make an attempt to help them out financially and treat them with dignity. I would prefer that desperate people panhandle rather than mug others in order to survive. Making it a crime to panhandle merely makes it more difficult for those asking for money to distinguish between the legal consequences of begging and mugging.

Seven of the eight arrested on December 27, 2011 were in their 40’s and 50’s age-wise, and one fifty year old woman told the court that she was begging for her dying sister. So the magistrate hearing her case told her that she would only have to pay a bail bondsman $75.00 to get out of jail. As she so eloquently put it as she was being led away to jail sobbing, “I don’t have the money. That’s the problem.” Why can’t the city of Raleigh figure that out?

What’s next on the city of Raleigh’s agenda..? Forcing people who are living on the streets to have a homeless permit?

No doubt, the Man from Nazareth is not happy at what is going on in Raleigh.