Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let's Stop Making Victims Out Of Wrong-doers

Like many, I watched the video of the incident with the two teenagers, Angel Rosenthal, 17, (PS - Pink Shirt), Marilyn Ellen Levias, 19 (BS - Black Shirt), and Officer Ian Walsh a number of times. If you don't recognize their names, you surely recognize the incident. It made headline news the world over. Police officer attempts to arrest two teenagers for jaywalking and punches one of them in the mouth.

In viewing the video, I remained analytical and not political or reactionary. My first impression, which cannot ever be changed, is the image of just how foul-mouthed those two girls were. Sorry, folks, but under no circumstances can I refer to them as ladies. Wenches, hoochies, trollops, ghetto rats, and sluts are just a few of the choice words that came to mind when I saw the tape.

When I first tuned in, it was labeled "raw video" and the reason that the officer was attempting to arrest those two girls was unbeknownst to me. Truthfully, I laughed the first time I saw it, thinking to myself that the girl got what she deserved. It is most often the case that those who hit don't like to get hit back. It wasn't until days later, when the incident began to pick up steam, that I learned the entire event was due to those girls jaywalking. That caused me to replay the video a number of times and investigate further.

I managed to pause the initial part of the tape and it clearly shows both girls lined up against the police car. PS is closer to the driver's door, while BS is overheard shouting, "Get the f*** off my neck." From there the situation goes downhill with the officer attempting to handcuff BS while PS continues to get involved. What was amazing to me was the total disregard for their safety when both girls repeatedly try to fight the officer. In my mind, he could have pulled out his gun and shot them, claiming he was in fear of his life.

When PS breaks free from the young man who was attempting to hold her back and rushes to join in, I questioned whether or not she ever had any home training? My mother always told us not to get in the middle of a fight. But it's obvious PS has been emboldened to feel she was entitled to "jump in" and fight a cop over her friend's imminent arrest.

I stopped the video a second time - at a point where the tape clearly shows PS's arm fully extended and her hand balled in a fist as she attempts to land a blow to the officer's face. That's when the officer raised his own fist and punched PS squarely in the face. And guess what? It worked! She is clearly in shock over getting a dose of a good beat down - something she should have gotten as a child to teach her self-control, or the consequences that come when one doesn't demonstrate it. But not BS. As the cop struggles with PS, BS jumps all over his back.

The cop now has to deal with BS as PS is pulled away by the friend who tried to stop her to begin with. Now the cop's attention is again drawn back to BS, which is where all the trouble started to begin with. The cop finally gets control of BS and cuffs her and after all the drama she gave the cop, the first thing she does is bawl like a baby. Meanwhile PS is standing several feet away, nursing her mouth, now in complete control of her behavior.

Here are some additional facts that have since come out regarding the incident. The street where the girls were jaywalking is kind of like Lake Shore Drive. I saw another video where the kids were attempting to get across it, and they are truly risking their lives as cars travel about 45 mph. The reason Officer Walsh was there was because the school at that location had asked the police to enforce the law about jaywalking. Many of the students are too trifling to use the pedestrian bridge and would rather risk life and limb to jaywalk. Of course, we know what the story would have been had they been hit and killed while a cop car sat nearby.

What is amazing to me are the organizations that have come out trying to defend these two foolish girls. Those organizations are trying to make them victims when in truth they are perpetrators. Yet those same organizations aren't acknowledging that PS has since apologized to the officer for her behavior.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All Verdicts and Sentences Should Be Televised!

Last week, I had the opportunity to do something I'd never done before. I attended a murder trial. When a friend asked me to accompany her to the trial for the man accused of murdering her nephew, I gladly agreed. The trial was held at the Cook County Criminal Court Building at 26th and California. Going there is an additional reality check in how much mayhem is going on in our society, as one only has to look at the pages and pages of printouts on who is on trial and for what reason.

Sitting in the courtroom on the side with the victim's family were people from court advocacy. The defendant had his grandmother who had put her building up as collateral for both his attorney and bond money. The defendant sat in the court wearing a suit that looked so new I could still see the price tag marks on it. He looked like he should have been a young man starting out in the world of business as opposed to, perhaps, a young fool trying to get off for murdering another human being.

I couldn't stay with the family the entire time the jury was in deliberation. But during the time I was with them, their pain of losing the only son/brother in the family was visible. When I asked my friend about the attitude of the defendant during the entire trial, she said he was cocky. He got to speak and see his relatives during the court proceedings while my friend's family got to see the horrific crime scene photos.

The defendant got to pass notes to his family via his attorney. My friend's family got to hold on to each other in support as each day of the trial dragged on. Later in the evening, my friend sent me a text message. The defendant was found guilty. When I spoke with her, I asked what the reaction of the defendant and his family was to the verdict. She said they had moaned and wept. The prosecutors were asking for a sentence of 45 years. The defendant is 23, which mean he would be 68 years old when he got out of jail.

Hearing that news reminded me of a video I had posted on my Facebook page. A young man in Wisconsin, Seandell Jackson, was accused of killing a college student during a robbery. He, too, during his trial had been cocky. But unlike in Illinois, Seandell's trial had been televised. The cameras caught him sneering at the victim's family. The judge in that Wisconsin case didn't believe for one second that Seandell was really sorry for what he had done. So she sentenced him to life in prison without a chance for parole. Seandell's reaction was to fall out in court, astonished that at age 19 he had forever lost his freedom.

Although the state of Illinois doesn't allow our court cases to be televised, I think that the law should be changed to mandate that all verdicts and sentencing be taped and televised. Why? Because our young people put on the attitude and behavior as if they are so tough. Then as soon as they're hit with the reality sentence of life in prison, they break down like the wimps they truly are. It would be very interesting to be able to watch the same urban terrorists who cause and maintain havoc react to their sentences. Their bravado is given a dose of reality as they are led away to be incarcerated forever.

Why should the defendants get to have privacy at that point in the trial? If they wimp out at their verdict hearing and the world knows it, what will be the reaction of their fellow inmates, having "punked out" at sentencing?

We are currently in a desperate time, which calls for creative measures to help stem the tide of killings. Allowing the entire world the ability to see those defendants react to their verdicts and sentencing might cause some of our young people to stop and think twice before engaging in criminal activity. And if nothing else, the family of the victim they can take solace in watching the perpetrator get sentenced over and over again.

P.S.: I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the real men who have stood up and taken care of their children. And to the males who conceived children they have abandoned, ignored, and disregarded, I know your hell awaits you.

Come to the Fundraiser for Garfield Major

"Give them their flowers while they can see them," is a common saying in the black community. Far too often, the flowers and kind words are extended at the funeral, which serves the living but does nothing for the deceased.

Well, on Saturday, June 19 at Grace Memorial Baptist Church, 1457 S. Kenneth Ave. at 5 p.m., the entire Chicago area will have the chance to give Garfield Major some flowers while he can enjoy them. As I've written before, I am a co-host on the Garfield Major show, Talking to the People. It airs live every Sunday evening on WRLL 1450AM from 10 until midnight. Also joining me on the air is Congressman Danny Davis (D-7th), motivational speaker Johnny Westmoreland, Martha Swain of the North Lawndale Juvenile Justice Collaborative, and the immeasurable praying of Pastor Bowers from the True House of Holiness Church.

From the opening gospel song, "Just Put It in Jesus' Hands," to his trademark answering of calls to the station, "You've Got Garfield," Major is an institution. For years, he has reached into his own pocket and paid for the show, which has allowed two hours of information to go directly to the people. It has also permitted him to be among the last radio personalities whose opinions are his own and not controlled by any sponsors.

Major's style takes me back to the early days of black stations when the community was totally dependent on the radio and the hosts for information. Even with all the modern technology we have today, many issues aren't covered by the major radio stations and news media but can be heard on Garfield's show.

Some in the past have been dismissive of him. Yet after last February's primary vote when all was tallied, Major hosted more politicians and wannabe politicians on his show than any other radio program.

When the Dan Hynes' campaign ignored my offer for Hynes to come on Garfield's show the Sunday before the election in return for a fee of a couple of hundred of dollars and lost the election by less than 700 votes, well, that proved Major has that many listeners and more. It is always unwise in the dead of winter in frigid, cold Chicago to be dismissive of radio, which can get a politician's word out to folks when other methods won't work. Thousands of people listen to Garfield and are influenced by him.

One of the initiatives Garfield now wants to undertake is getting people to "drop a dime on crime" by calling into the radio station and publicly outing people who are responsible for some of the killings. To date, the families of Percy Day and Tyrone Williams are still seeking information on their killer. And just last week we had Jeremy Baggett slaughtered while riding his bicycle in front of Piccolo School. What better forum to get those with the knowledge to put it out in public than via the media where we aren't trying to find out who is calling? We just want to know the truth.

To do that will take money - money to keep Major on the air, money so he can have his show heard over the Internet.

The fundraiser at Grace Memorial is already shaping up to be a fantastic event. Otis Clay called in and said he's coming to sing. So did T.C. Raven who was out of town but wanted Garfield to know he's coming to perform. I understand Kathy Lockett offered to be the M.C., and Rev. Johnny Dodd will be there to perform some of his songs, along with many others.

There will be plenty to eat and drink. And every dime collected will go to keep Garfield Major on the air. So bring your wallets and checkbooks. All checks can be made payable to WVON and in the memo portion, write "Garfield Show." See you on Saturday, June 19.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


I love and respect Webb Evans of United American Progress Association. As its founder, he has fought for black people and black businesses his entire life. So when his column appeared in last week's edition of the Austin Weekly News, I read it to fully comprehend just how the parking meters were, as he wrote, robbing the black community.

He argues that with the new parking meter deal, pastors must now pay to park in front of their churches. On Sundays, parishioners must also pay for parking if the new meter box is located in front of the church. In the past, parking meters were never utilized on Sundays. But the horrific deal that Mayor Daley orchestrated now means everyone has to feed meters-including on Sunday.

Now let's be clear, in 99.99 percent of the cases, the parking meters were there before the churches. Go up and down major business streets, especially Halstead on the South Side or Madison on the West Side and you will see brand new edifices to pastors and their ministries. Those new churches were built on business strips where grocery stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, and all sorts of revenue-producing businesses should have been located.

The Daley administration in kowtowing to the black clergy has allowed many of them to build their new churches in business districts. The churches saw the meters in front, but didn't care. It was more important to have their building on a major thoroughfare where it could be seen, as opposed to two blocks over inside a residential community where it truly should have been. And I won't even begin to talk about the churches who established themselves in existing storefronts with no parking to be found.

The attitude of the pastor is "let them park on the street," otherwise money would have been included to create a parking lot, like the Chicago ordinance says they should.

Now that parking meters are enforced every single day, there has been an outcry of "foul" coming from some in the church community. And sorry Webb Evans, but if the businessman has to pay to park to conduct his business on the same street as the church, why should the pastor be given an exemption?

Calling for a boycott of the parking meters is not going to work. Why? Because the law is clear that if the parking meter company doesn't make the money they're supposed to generate every year, they can expand where the meters are installed. That parking meter deals gives them that right.

I also found it very self-serving that the concern is just about having to pay to park near a church, given that most churches don't pay property taxes. They also get free water service and free garbage pick up. They are benefiting tremendously off the backs of the taxpayers and now want special consideration for parking too?!?

The proper lament about parking in this city should be that the deal should be rescinded because it hurts all Chicagoans. The mayor should issue an executive order stating that all parking meter violations will no longer be enforced. The proper fight is that the entire business community is hurting as people who don't have to shop here go outside the city where parking is free.

Lastly, I have a suggestion for those churches: buy some land and build a parking lot. The neighbors who live on the blocks near those churches have the right to park in front of their homes without all the spaces being taken up every Sunday by those parishioners.


A lot of discussion has again been held over the past few days concerning where crime and violence committed by young black people originate? If you're like me, there is only one word to use to begin to start that discussion: parents. For thousands of years, human beings have depended on having both parents available to raise children. The need for daddy is as much ingrained in our DNA as the need for mommy.

And when both were present and functioning, strong children with a sense of self were raised to become honorable men and women. All one has to do is look at the biography regarding fallen Chicago officer Thomas Wortham, IV to see that idea in motion. He was the Chicago police officer who was slain by four thugs who tried to steal his motorcycle.

In the course of that theft, Officer Wortham's father-a retired Chicago cop-retrieved his gun and was able to shoot and kill 20-year-old Brian Floyd.

NBC Channel 5 interviewed Brian's mother, Lucille Floyd. What she said-even in the obviously edited report-I found very, very disturbing. She said it was a mistake on everybody's part, including those who died and those who did the shooting. Seeing that both Officer Wortham died, as well as her own son, just whom was she speaking about? Also, her son and his friends were shooters, as well as Officer Wortham and his father. And what's up with the other notion she offered; that four killers shouldn't have to pay for one person's mistake-that "mistake" involved taking another person's life. For her to say that the father defending his life and that of his son's is a mistake, well, that is the epitome of someone who hasn't grown up herself.

She then said we need to let it rest and go on with our lives? Her son tired to rob someone and ended up participating in the murder of an off-duty police officer, who was not only shot but dragged down the street by the murderous crew's getaway car-and we're suppose to accept it and just "let it rest." It's not that simple and murder is not an "oh well" moment.

Ms. Floyd was also critical of Officer Wortham's dad for not using his knowledge as a retired cop to shoot the boys without killing them.

Mr. Wortham wasn't just walking around with a gun and shooting four people for the heck of it. He was defending his son's life from a group of treacherous thugs who had nothing better to do. And what of Floyd's own son who participated in the even colder blood killing of a police officer? Calling those hoodlums "children" is an insult to the word. They are grown men. They were driving around while drinking. They then deciding to play a game of "dare"- let's rob someone they thought.

Brian Floyd didn't have the same concern for Officer Wortham's life that his mother feels the officer's father should have showed to her son-maybe Brian should have tried to shoot the officer in the leg or butt. That didn't happen.

Parents, I have looked at the Facebook pages of Brian (B4) Floyd; what I find very sick is the amount of sympathy being expressed by young people over his death with nary a mention of the underlying cause of it-the thug life.

Every time we have a horrific murder committed by young people, I have appealed to parents to take the time to speak with their children. But it seems that the parents are now in need of a "talking to" more than the kids. So I'm calling on every minister to have a Sunday sermon based on Proverbs 22:6-Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

It is obvious that we have many that are old and don't know how to train-the training must now first begin with them.

PHI DELTA KAPPA hosts scholarship

The Northeastern Illinois chapter of Phi Delta Kappa hosted its annual Educator/Scholarship Awards Dinner last Sunday, May 23 at the Doubletree Hotel in Alsip.

This year's recipients were: Margaret Burroughs, a founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History; Daphne LeCesne a teacher in Oak Park; Jeanette Dibella, principal of Providence St. Mel; and Demetrice Griffin, chairperson of the Westside NAACP. Scholarships were also presented to students for their education.

Invited guests included U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th), a former school teacher himself, and Austin Weekly News columnist Arlene Jones. The AWN writer was a special invited guest by fraternity President Louverta Hurt, who's also an Austin. Jones and Hurt will be using the columnists' new book Billion Dollar Winner this summer to teach a group of students financial literacy, economic development, business creation and entrepreneurship.


Growing up in 1960s and '70s always meant going to the movies. And at the movies, the messages I always received was that the "bad guys never win" and that America was a land of "law and order." Nothing made my heart beat faster or pride grow stronger than to watch a movie where Americans were being the underdog and a plane/calvary/army etc. came in carrying the American flag and began to "kick butt."

But those types of movies are now passé and John Wayne as the big, fair, American hero-type is no more. Still, I long for those types of movies where the good guy makes a stance and emerges a hero. Isn't that the formula that brought the majority of fame to now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger?

So, it's been very interesting watching this country's reaction to Arizona's Immigration Bill SB1070. That is the law which is taking a firm stance against illegal immigration by supporting federal laws already in place regarding aliens (folks that is a legal term) who are unlawfully present in the United States. The law's main intent is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona. It also has another stated goal which is to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity of persons unlawfully in the U.S.

Now this law has elicited comments from everyone. From Pookie on the corner to even President Obama, people have chimed in their comments regarding the new law. Now, I don't expect Pookie to have read the law. He will get his information from the television news shows. But it was very eye opening to learn that two of Obama's highest ranking cabinet members have jumped on the "Dump on Arizona" bandwagon and then subsequently admitted they haven't read the bill. Huh? You mean that Attorney General Eric Holder, our chief law enforcement officer and Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security, have both acknowledged on film that they haven't read the bill and yet commented against it? That's right! For a second I thought we were back in the George W. Bush years. But nope, its Obama's people answering in an official capacity and then admitting that they didn't even bother to read the bill.

That is very troubling news. Whether or not I like the law, I respect Arizona for taking a stance, a stance in which the majority of the people who live there are in agreement. And one that a lot of other people all over the country agree with as well. I know that people who are in support of the intent of the law are rarely heard from while the news media only focuses on the side of those in opposition. Many in the news media as well as pro-illegal immigration activists have focused solely on the wording that states "...where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien." The screams have been loud about how does one tell that someone is an "alien." Yet few will admit that there are words prior to that part of the law that codify that part of the law. What it does is state that during the course of any lawful contact with the police, they can ask about a person's citizenship status.

The Arizona law also says that no individual or government body can disregard this rule of law and make itself a "sanctuary" anything. The law makes it illegal for anyone to pick up day laborers standing outside of places like Home Depot. If someone is being transported illegally into this country, it puts the "felony" label on both the coyote and those who are the paying customers.

For those of us not living in Arizona, we haven't experienced first hand what life is like living in a state that is the main corridor for many who are involved in illegal immigration. We haven't experienced the frustration of ranchers living with people crossing their land and not knowing if an encounter with them will lead to their death. Very few people will mention rancher Robert Krentz who was murdered on his property. Trackers traced the footprints of the murderer back to the Mexican border.

SB1070 is scheduled to go into effect in July. It is already facing legal challenges. It has again put on the front burner the issue of illegal immigration. And while many elected people talk about "law and order," the illegal immigration issue has made many of them wimps on that subject. The eventual final resolution to the issue will not make everyone happy. I would suggest that the two top officials in the Obama administration remember that they are supposed to live up to the "change you can believe in" slogan, and not continue the "business as usual" behavior.