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Monday, September 28, 2015

Sheriff Morgan Campaign: LETF Out, Donations In

Sheriff Morgan uses the Law Enforcement Trust Funds for many reasons.  He apparently provides funds for deserving organizations, like the $50,000 he provided to Gulf Coast Kids House, which cares for abused children, to expand the facilities because they were operating at twice their operational capacity.

Or, sometimes he gives money to the haves so that they have more, like the AFCEA Blue Angels that received $20,000, on March 3, 2015, according to the Law Enforcement Trust Fund expenditures given to CJ's Street Report's public records request.  Or, the $15,000 Sheriff Morgan gave to the National Flight Academy after he gave he speech there.  The donation was made on March 25, 2014.

Or, he gives money to his ideological allies in the Christian Right in Pensacola.

Like the $10,500 he gave to the Assembly of God's Teen Challenge, also known as the Pensacola Men's Center, for "drug treatment" that is a cover for outright Christian proselytizing.

Like the $5,000 he gave to the Men's Barn Meeting which functions as a networking hub linking Baptist churches in the local area to Southern Baptist Convention leaders in the Christian Right.

Like the $7,000 he gave to the Alabama-based Youth Reach Gulf Coast, despite the organization not having provided any services to any youth or young man from Escambia County, Florida.

When advised by Americans United for Separation of Church & State that these specific donations violated the U.S. and Florida constitutions, the response of the Sheriff's Office was that they were not going to respond to the Americans United's legal inquiry.

Or, he gives money to worthwhile causes and the person receiving the Law Enforcement Trust Funds then later makes a donation to Sheriff Morgan's re-election campaign, as happened when Sheriff Morgan authorized a rapid donation of $1,000 for the non-existent Light the Night Foundation (in reality the Alabama-based Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with no business license in Florida) that was delivered to Pete Moore.  Pete Moore and his wife later made two $500 donations to Sheriff Morgan's campaign.  Pete Moore gives to Republican sheriffs and candidates, so the $1,000 donated from the Sheriff's Office is not a factor.  But, it does not look good.  While there is no quid-pro-quo here, it is amazing the Sheriff can write a donation check to a non-existent foundation.

And, now we have Sheriff Morgan's re-election campaign using the property owned by the Filipino-American Association of Pensacola, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization for his fundraising event on September 26, 2015.

Not only is the Filipino-American Association a 501(c)3 organization that is prohibited from engaging in politics, but in 2014 it received $7,000 in two donations:  $2,000 on May 28, 2014 (reference V10719) and $5,000 on August 26, 2014 (reference V11991).  CJ's Street Report has a public records request for all the documentation, plus any donations made to the Filipino-American Association since October 1, 2014.

Again, while there is no quid pro quid, we find the same pattern of Law Enforcement Trust Funds going to an organization that, in turn, provides a venue for a fundraising event tapping its own members for donations.

Thus, while there is no doubt that the Filipino-American Association does fine work in the community and has been recognized by the county and state officials for their good works--as evidenced by the plaques expressing support on one of the walls of the hall--the fact is the organization is prohibited from engaging in political activity.

Here is the Internal Revenue Service's guidance on political activity:  

"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes."

Thus, a 501(3) organization is "absolutely prohibited" from "directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign."  There really isn't much wiggle room to "absolutely prohibited" and "directly or indirectly."  How Sheriff Morgan convinced them Filipino-American Association to violate this IRS guidance is a mystery.

CJ's Street Report attended the fundraising event for a very short time.  Upon my third entrance, Deputy Chief Haines congratulated me for my "valiant attempt" to attend the fundraising event, but I was informed it was a "private function" and I was not welcome.  However, before being graciously and humorously turned away, I did manage to take photographs of the event and keep my receipt.

The sign outside the front door.

The inner door decorated with "Re-elect Sheriff Morgan."  Once inside the door, you gave your donation via check and received a receipt.

Although my check was returned, I kept the receipt.  The receipt reads, in part:  "You are cordially invited to a candidate Fundraiser to re-elect David Morgan For Escambia County Sheriff....Hosted by Virgil Domingo and Friends AT the FilAm Center, 234 Oakfield Rd, Pensacola, Fl."
Stage and dais where Sheriff Morgan was to speak at the event.
Long view of the stage with more "Re-elect Sheriff Morgan" signs.
Sheriff Morgan's website invitation to the event begins, "Back by popular demand...Karaoke fundraiser on September 26th.  Besides Karaoke, there will be dancing, socializing, and Filipino Food."

Now, Karaoke night just happens to be one of the Filipino-American Association's fundraisers, according to Form 990s filed with the Internal Revenue Service.  In 2011, Karaoke brought in a net of $2,193.05.  In 2012, the Filipino-American Association spent $3,100.95 on Karaoke equipment and tables, and brought in a net of $2,144.06.  In 2013, Karaoke night brought in a net of $1,084.25.

Thus, when Sheriff Morgan's invitation exclaimed, "Back by popular demand...Karaoke fundraiser," he was clearly referencing an annual fundraising event put on by the Filipino-American Association that over the past three years had netted the organization $5,421.36 or an average of $1,807.12 per year.  Except this year, checks were to be made payable to the "Re-elect Morgan Campaign."

Why would Sheriff Morgan not do his due diligence and recognize that giving at least $7,000 to a non-profit corporation and then having them host via their own venue a campaign fundraiser would not raise questions, and, why would he not consider what effect, if any, that campaign fundraiser would have the Filipino-American Association's tax-exempt status?

One possible answer is that Sir David Morgan simply does not believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Florida constitution, and Internal Revenue Service regulations apply in Pensacola.

Another possible answer is that the officers and board members of the Filipino-American Association (as reported on the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Form 990s) have personally donated to Sheriff Morgan $1,740.  Thus, he may have deliberately targeted the Filipino-American Association's board and officers for the fundraiser knowing that they personally support his candidacy and might not consider the possible ramifications.

One last observation, apparently, this hyphenated name, Filipino-American, does not upset Sheriff Morgan as the term "African-American" to him is dysfunctional and "divisive."

NOTE: Ms. Jimmie Staley co-authored this report.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Clinton, Sanders On Black Lives Matter


As Campaign Zero stated at the very introduction on their website, "We can live in a world where the police don't kill people by limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability."

This post is intended to help interested and prospective Democratic Party primary voters decide for themselves how well the two leading Democratic candidates address the Campaign Zero proposals in their own words from their official campaign websites without editorial comment.

This blog post presents information from two official campaign websites regarding what Hillary Clinton calls "Criminal Justice Reform"  and what Bernie Sanders calls "Racial Justice."  Sanders' "Racial Justice" program consists of four areas: physical violence perpetrated by the state and extremists; political violence by the state; legal violence by the state; and, economic violence by the state.

Both political platforms will be compared to what Black Lives Matter called their "Campaign Zero" proposals for how to "End Police Violence in America."  Their campaign has ten policy areas:  1) End Broken Window Policing; 2) Community Oversight; 3) Limit Use of Force; 4) Independently Investigate and Prosecute; 5) Community Representation; 6)  Body Cams/Film the Police; 7) Training; 8) End For-Profit Policing; 9) Demilitarization; and, 10) Fair Police Union Contracts.

Almost all of this agenda has to be enacted at the local level of politics.  However, there are actions that the federal and state governments can take.  We should not expect that a campaign for the presidency, the highest political office in the country, will incorporate most of this local agenda.

Full Disclosure:  I am on the Steering Committee of Pensacola for Bernie Sanders.  That said, this is a comparison of materials on website linked to the official presidential campaigns and only those websites because that is the mass-based platform that the two leading candidates choose to present themselves to supporters and prospective Democratic Party primary voters.

Moreover, I am under no illusion nor am I suggesting that the only or the primary issue that the Black or African American community is interested in is "criminal justice"  or "racial justice." The Black community has a wide range of concerns and issues about income inequality, employment for adults and youth, universal health care, universal daycare, support to small business and startups, national security policy, energy policy, and environmental policy, especially as the latter relates to health-threatening environmental pollution in or near Black communities.

This post focuses solely on "Criminal Justice" or "Racial Justice" because that is the primary focus of the Black Lives Matter movement that is challenging both political parties and all prospective elected officials to address a fundamental, existential issue:  stop killing Black, brown, white, straight, gay, lesbian, and transgender people.

BLM/CZ 1:  End Broken Window Policing

This policy proposal is broken into two sub-parts: "End Policing of Minor 'Broken Windows' Offenses" and "End Profiling and 'Stop-and-Frisk."

The 'Broken Windows' offenses are essentially everyday behaviors that are used as an excuse to "police black bodies."  These "consuming alcohol on the streets," "marijuana possession," disorderly conduct, trespassing, loitering, disturbing the peace (including loud music), and spitting.  BLM/CZ calls for these offenses to be decriminalized or deprioritized.

Clinton:  nothing.


"At the federal level we need to establish a new model police training program that reorients the way we do law enforcement in this country. With input from a broad segment of the community including activists and leaders from organizations like Black Lives Matter we will reinvent how we police America." (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 2:  Community Oversight

BML/CZ proposed two policy solutions intended to "ensure police officers are held accountable for police violence."  These two solutions are "Establish effective civilian oversight structures" and "Remove barriers to reporting police misconduct."

An effective civilian oversight structure would include a Police Commission and a Civilian Complaints Office. The Police Commission would represent community organizations on the board that would oversee internal police matters such as selecting the police chief, firing the police chief, holding public disciplinary hearings, discipline and dismiss police officers, and establish policies based on community and academic inputs.  The Civilian Complaints Office would be headed by community representatives and have its own investigators to investigate complaints about the police and to recommend that the Police Commission take action if a Police Chief failed to follow its recommendations.

Clinton:  nothing.


"We must invest in community policing....Among other things, that means increasing civilian oversight of police departments." (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 3:  Limit Use of Force

The BLM proposed three policy solutions:  "Establish standards and reporting of police use of deadly force" and "Revise and strengthen local police department use of force policies."

The first policy proposal would hold local police forces to something close to the "International Deadly Force Standard."  BLM/CZ called for the use of deadly force "only when there is an imminent threat to an officer's life or the life of another person and such force is strictly unavoidable to protect life." (emphasis in original)

Under the "use of force policies," BLM/CZ called for "police officers to use minimum force to apprehend a suspect," "de-escalate first," "carry a less-lethal weapon," ban certain chokeholds and hogties, and "stop other officers who are using excessive force."

The third policy proposal was "Monitor how police use force and proactively hold officers accountable for excessive force."

This policy proposal had three components:  reporting all instances of force to a database that includes injuries and demographics of the victim; establish an early intervention system for officers accused of using excessive force; and, report officers to the state for officers who violate local policies.


"She also believes that the best practices of successful police departments that are protecting the public without resorting to unnecessary force should be applied by police forces nationwide." (emphasis added)


"We need to require police departments and states to provide public reports on all police shootings and deaths that take place while in police custody." (emphasis added)

"We need new rules on the allowable use of force." (emphasis added)

"Police officers need to be trained to de-escalate confrontations and to humanely interact with people who have mental illnesses. (emphasis added)

"States and localities that make progress in this area should get more federal justice grant money. Those that do not should get their funding slashed." (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 4:  Independent Investigations and Prosecutions

Under this policy heading, Black Lives Matter has four policy proposals that would decrease the reliance of local prosecutors on local police investigating themselves related to excessive or deadly force encounters with civilians.

The first proposal called for the U.S. Congress to amend Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 242, "Deprivation of rights under color of law" by striking the word "'willfully.'"  This would lower the bar to the U.S. Department of Justice stepping in to prosecute police officers for alleged civil rights violations.

The second proposal called for the U.S. Congress to the Police Training and Independent Review Act of 2015 or use "existing federal funds to encourage external, independent investigations and prosecution of police killings" as called for in President Obama's May 2015, Final Report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, action items 2.2.2 and 2.2.3.

The third and fourth policy proposal required the establishment of a state-level special prosecutor with independent investigators to investigate and prosecute "all cases of where police kill or seriously injure a civilian, in-custody deaths and cases where a civilian alleges criminal misconduct against a police officer."

Clinton:  nothing.


"Our Justice Department must aggressively investigate and prosecute police officers who break the law and hold them accountable for their actions."

"We need to require police departments and states to provide public reports on all police shootings and deaths that take place while in police custody." (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 5:  Community Representation

BLM/CZ pointed out that two-thirds of police officers today are white men and recommended that "police should reflect and be responsive to the cultural, racial and gender diversity of the communities they are supposed to serve."


"We must address the role race continues to play in America in order to reform our criminal justice system and move the nation forward."


"We need police forces that reflect the diversity of our communities." (emphasis added)

"We must invest in community policing.  Only when we get officers into the communities, working within neighborhoods before trouble arises, do we develop the relationships necessary to make our communities safer together." (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 6:  Body Cams/Film The Police

Black Lives Matter recommended the American Civil Liberties Union's Model Policy on police wearing body cameras.  Specifically, BLM/CZ recommended that body cameras and dashboard cameras "record all interactions with civilians" and establish policies of transparency and accountability regarding public access to that video footage as well as establishing the right of the public to record the police, for example, the Colorado law.


"Encouraging the use of smart strategies—such as police body cameras—to fight crime and rebuild trust in our communities. Hillary has called for every police department in the nation to have body cameras to improve transparency and accountability on both sides of the lens." (emphasis in original)


"We need to federally fund and require body cameras for law enforcement officers to make it easier to hold them accountable." (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 7:  Training

Black Lives Matter/Campaign Zero pointed out that police forces spend 58 hours training officers how to fire their service weapons, but only 8 hours learning how to de-escalate situations.

BLM/CZ called for "rigorous and sustained training" for police officers including "appropriate engagement" with youth, the LGBTQ, English language learners, different religious affiliations, and the "differently abled."  Also, they called for training on implicit bias (as well as testing for in shoot/don't shoot decision-making), procedural justice, relationship-based policing, crisis intervention and rumor control, and de-escalation and minimizing the use of force.


"She also believes that the best practices of successful police departments that are protecting the public without resorting to unnecessary force should be applied by police forces nationwide."


"We must invest in community policing. Only when we get officers into the communities, working within neighborhoods before trouble arises, do we develop the relationships necessary to make our communities safer together."

"At the federal level we need to establish a new model police training program that reorients the way we do law enforcement in this country. With input from a broad segment of the community including activists and leaders from organizations like Black Lives Matter we will reinvent how we police America."

BLM/CZ 8:  End For-Profit Policing

Black Lives Matter called for ending "police department quotas for tickets and arrests," "limit fines and fees for poor people," and "prevent police from taking the money or property from innocent people," the latter related to asset forfeiture before being convicted of a crime.

Clinton:  nothing.


We need to ban prisons for profit, which result in an over-incentive to arrest, jail and detain, in order to keep prison beds full. (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 9:  Demilitarization

At the federal level, Black Lives Matter called for the "End the federal government's 1033 program providing military weaponry to local police departments" and establishing local restrictions on the purchase of military-grade weaponry and equipment, including limiting the use of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units to "an emergency situation or imminent threat to life and high-ranking officers have given approval."


"She also believes that the best practices of successful police departments that are protecting the public without resorting to unnecessary force should be applied by police forces nationwide."


"We must demilitarize our police forces so they don’t look and act like invading armies." (emphasis added)

BLM/CZ 10:  Fair Police Union Contracts

Essentially, Black Lives Matter/Campaign Zero called for removing from police union contracts items that currently inhibit investigations and prosecutions of police officers for the use of excessive or deadly force.

Clinton:  nothing.

Sanders:  nothing.

Clinton's Other Criminal Justice Proposals:

"Hillary will work to reform our criminal justice system by changing the way we approach punishment and prison.  She will reform mandatory minimum sentences for low-level nonviolent offenses, increase support for mental health and drug treatment, and pursue alternative punishments for low-level offenders, especially young people."

"Urging Americans to come to terms with hard truths about race and justice.  Black men across this country are being killed at a rate that far outpaces any other group.  We must address the role race continues to play in America in order to reform our criminal justice system and move the nation forward." (emphasis in original)

"Strengthening America’s families. We cannot ensure smart policing or reform the criminal justice system unless we also address the underlying issues facing African Americans.  This is why Hillary plans to provide better economic opportunities for the middle class, make college affordable for all, and ensure that families are reaching their potential." (emphasis in original)

Sanders' Other Racial Justice Proposals:

"We need to turn back from the failed “War on Drugs” and eliminate mandatory minimums which result in sentencing disparities between black and white people."

"We need to invest in drug courts and medical and mental health interventions for people with substance abuse problems, so that they do not end up in prison, they end up in treatment."

"We need to boost investments for programs that help people who have gone to jail rebuild their lives with education and job training."

"We need to re-enfranchise the more than two million African Americans who have had their right to vote taken away by a felony conviction."

"We need to give our children, regardless of their race or their income, a fair shot at attending college. That’s why all public universities should be made tuition free."

"We must invest $5.5 billion in a federally-funded youth employment program to employ young people of color who face disproportionately high unemployment rates."

"Knowing that black women earn 64 cents on the dollar compared to white men, we must pass federal legislation to establish pay equity for women."

"We must prevent employers from discriminating against applicants based on criminal history."

"We need to ensure access to quality affordable childcare for working families."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Miss Rosa Dukes: The Pain of a Community


Mr. Michael Vincent Wells--a 29-year old Pensacola man who was wounded in May 2011 on Diego Circle in Pensacola and witnessed at the same time (May 16, 2011) the murder of Mr. Brock Johnson, son of Miss Rosa Dukes--was arrested on August 25, 2015, in Foley, Alabama, on drug trafficking charges.  According to the Foley Police Department's Facebook page announcing his arrest, an investigation of a stolen cellphone lead police to Mr. Wells.  Mr. Wells was found to have 334 grams (about 11.5 ounces) of "spice," a Class I narcotic, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, and some cocaine.  Trafficking, according to the Foley Police, is any amount greater than 56 grams (about 1.93 ounces).  Mr. Wells is being held at the Baldwin County Corrections Center on $1 million bond.  Hopefully, he will remember who shot him and who murdered Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Michael Vincent Wells, Foley Police Department mugshot, August 25, 2015

Mr. Broderick Johnson

L-R:  Miss Cindy Martin, Miss Rosa Dukes, unknown woman, at Mr. Brock Johnson's memorial in Westernmark Park (formerly Diego Circle) in Montclair.

On August 31, 2015, I interviewed Miss Rosa Dukes in her home.  She was in the middle of packing her belongings and trying to locate another home.  She was unaware at the time that Mr. Wells had been arrested.  Unfortunately, her story is so heartbreakingly similar, for example, to the story that Miss Angela Hopkins told me regarding the unsolved murder of her son Mr. Darrington 'Tooley Fresh' Lovely; or the story of Miss Lucy Amos and the unsolved murder of her son Mr. Blair Amos; or, the story of the unsolved murder of Mr. Keshwon Stallworth, son of Miss Sheranda Sheard.

And so, Miss Rosa Dukes' story while having some unique features--every person is different--is another retelling of the never ending pain and agony and anger and sorrow and longing that pulses throughout the Black community's extended family networks.  While the tragedy of losing a son or daughter is intensely personal, and the depth of the heartache beyond human comprehension for someone who has not experienced it, it is nonetheless a tragedy that affects dozens of people within one family network, and courses through dozens and dozens of family networks in the community.  The reservoir of pain held back by sturdy hearts and faith in God is a silent killer in the Black community; a pain made invisible to many members of the Black community through the failure of elected and unelected community leaders--Black and white--to discuss the murders and to remember the tragedies.

Hence, Miss Cindy Martin, Commissioner Lumon May, Reverend H.K. Matthews, Reverend Dr. Julie Kain, and Mr. Ellison Bennett, continue to hold candlelight vigils to not only remember the mothers and the families of those left behind, but to ask the community not only to remember these heartbroken mothers in their prayers, but to come forward with concrete information that could lead to the arrest of killers of dreams and futures.

While we emphasize the mothers and their tragedies, and search for individual perpetrators, we cannot lose our focus and shift our attention away from the larger structural forces that creates criminal behaviors in the Black community.  Adam Hudson, writing at the progressive website AlterNet, observed that the:

"roots of crime in the black community are structural.  Crime is caused by socioeconomic factors rather than cultural pathologies or inherent criminality, despite what peddlers of the black criminality myth would have you believe.  Many studies have shown that poverty and inequality contribute greatly to crime and other social ills.  Continuously high unemployment, entrenched poverty, bleak educational opportunities, racial segregation, economic inequality, generations of trauma, and societal neglect create the cycles of desperation that provide kindling for pervasive crime in black communities."

Brittney Cooper, a professor of Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, recently wrote that religion also blinds us (mainly white folks) to the ideological prism that allows these structural factors to be perpetuated generation after generation.  According to Professor Cooper, herself a former evangelical Christian who considers herself still a Christian:

"Contemporary evangelicalism still refuses to grapple in any serious way with the extent to which it serves as the wingman for white supremacy.  Yes, some evangelical pastors write and talk about the 'sin of racism.'  They discuss it as though racism is a problem of individually sinful attitudes. They act as though racism will be solved if individual white people learn to love individual black people and vice versa.  Such teachings stay away from critiquing failing school systems or culturally incompetent teachers, or the school to prison pipeline, or the effects of white privilege on the ability of Black people to get jobs, or the way that Republican social policy reinforces all these systems of power."

Thus, while the perpetrators of these murders are fully responsible for their own actions, in a very real sense these unsolved murders of young Black men should be considered the byproduct, intentional or not, of the school-to-prison pipeline and larger social forces that have historically held the Black community at the bottom of the social pyramid.

And, the other theme that comes through the interview with Miss Rosa Dukes is the feeling of being abandoned and neglected by the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.  She complained that the second investigator that had been assigned to the case, Deputy Steven Hall, never returned her phone calls and did not keep her informed.  He was later taken off her case.  In fact, I was present when she called the ECSCO's Cold Case Unit when she learned that no investigator was assigned to her son's case.  Only a few days earlier she had discovered that Deputy Hall was not working her case.  She told me that this lack of contact bred mistrust and more hurt feelings.  However, a couple of days later someone from the Cold Case Unit did talk to her.

Miss Rosa Dukes' Story

Miss Rosa told me the first investigator, Deputy Phillip Martin, had returned her phone calls and kept her informed of developments.  Deputy Hall visited her house once sometime in 2015, but had had no contact with him since.  The reason Deputy Hall visited was because Miss Rosa had called him to say that after the candlelight vigil on March 20, 2015, at Reverend Kain's Unitarian Universalist Church someone had come forward to indicate that they knew someone who might have seen something.

In fact, she did not find out that Deputy Hall had left the case until August 28, 2015, when she called the ECSO's Cold Case Unit.  Deputy Hall apparently still works in the Cold Case Unit.  She told me that Deputy Hall had never returned any of her 11 phone calls, seemed uninterested in her son's case, and "has no heart.  Just empty promises of him calling back."

Miss Rosa told me that night her son was murdered was actually a special night in her memory.  Before he had left the house for a final time he had picked up his son, Little Brock and another little boy, Zion, and gave them kisses.  He also kissed Messiah, a little girl, and put all the children to bed.

Before Brock left the house he received a phone call.  She thought the phone call was odd.  Brock responded to the call with "Hello."  Silence on the other end.  Brock asked a little more aggressively, "Hello."  "Who"?  Then Brock said, "Hey man, I ain't heard from you in a long time."

Brock kissed his mom goodbye.  Brock told her, "You're the best mom in the whole wide world."  She told him, "You're the best son in the whole wide world."  Miss Rosa went to sleep.  She awoke to a never-ending nightmare.

Miss Rosa told me that the phrase "Hey man" could have been about a female.  She believes it was probably a female who called him late at night because he would not have left the house to see a man.  He would have left for a female.  She told me that the ECSO should know the phone number that called Brock because his phone is still in evidence.

The Beasley's from Diego Circle came to Miss Rosa's house on Nantes Way, a distance of about six-tenths of a mile--easy walking distance along Montpellier Drive.  She drove to Diego Circle, now Westernmark Park.  She saw blue lights and yellow tape.  The deputies stopped her at the tape.  She told them the name of her son.  They looked at her funny.  "I knew it was my child.  I turned around.  I said, 'Lord God let me know if its my child.'  And I just floated under the tape and saw my son and prayed to God to save his soul.  My son was just laying there.  I couldn't be there to help my child.  All I could do was cry and ask the Lord to help me.  It was a long time before the ambulance came.  They took me to the hospital and my blood pressure was up to 299.  I should have died.  But the Lord kept me alive.  The police never covered his body with a sheet.  Just left him there.  I can still remember that day.  It's always there."

Every mother I have spoken to has told me that they do not want another family to experience this tragedy.

Miss Rosa told me, "I just don't want to see this happen to anyone else.  Whenever I hear about another murder, I feel very badly for the family.  No one knows what's like to lose a child."

"All I want is justice.  He has a family that loves him.  He's got a son.  Why did they have to take his life?  Why not just fight and let the best man win?"

"This violence has got to stop.  Kids need to get into church.  They are living a gangster life instead of a Christian life.  You don't want to see this happen to your family, your brother.  Why take a life?  Why use guns?"

"I don't understand why no one hasn't said anything.  Diego Circle never sleeps.  There is more than one person who saw.  Michael Wells knows.  I suspect he was part of it."

"I really miss him at holidays.  His son, Little Brock, wonders why his daddy was killed.  His son, my grandson, cries for his daddy.  It hurts me.  [Very long pause].  It hurts.  It hurts."

"I can't hear that boy calling me on the phone.  I can't hear him calling my name.  I can't see his smile.  They crushed his life.  They crushed his dream of seeing his son grow up.  They took the sunshine out of his family.  He always kept the peace.  He made sure children went to school.  He looked after older people in the neighborhood."

Miss Rosa's Appeal

"Show your homeboy loyalty by saying what happened.  Show loyalty to your homeboy."

"If it was a member of your family, you'd want somebody to come forward.  A lot of cases would be solved if people came forward."

"There are ways to do that.  Call Crime Stoppers.  Just drop a postcard.  I just want justice.  I'm going to keep telling my story.  What happened to my child could happen to your child.  You never know what is going to happen."

"We need to stop the violence.  We have younger children coming up.  We have to save them."

"Kids have to have love in the family.  Listen to them.  Don't let them get gangsta love from the streetss.  We've got to stop this murder."

"Tell what you know.  We've got to solve these cold cases."

"I heard people saying it wasn't supposed to happen that way.  Why is Michael Wells still walking around?  Michael Wells won't say what happened."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

LMV's "School-to-Prison Pipeline" Panel Discussion Tapes


The Pensacola chapter of the League of Women’s Voters held a “School-to-Prison Pipeline” panel discussion on August 31, 2015, at Franco’s Restaurant.  The event was organized by LMVP representative Dr. Paula B. Montgomery.  Ms. Keyontay Humphries of the American Civil Liberties Union helped organize the panel and participated from the floor.  The panel was moderated by Ms. Lisa Nellessen-Lara, editor of the Pensacola News Journal.  Panelists included Dr. Harper, economist; Chief David Alexander, Pensacola Police Department; Ms. McDaniel, former Youth Defender; Judge Nickinson, former Youth Court judge; Superintendent of Education Mary Beth Jackson, Okaloosa County; Dr. Amir Whitaker, lawyer, Southern Poverty Law Center; and, Ms. Keyontay Humphries, American Civil Liberties Union, from the floor.

If there is a bottom line to the presentations, I would say that there are at least six fundamental points that need to be considered if we are going to address successfully the reduction of sending our children into the school-to-prison pipeline.

First, as Superintendent Jackson explained, she made ending out-of-school suspensions her number one strategic goal and replaced that destructive practice with a Student Training Program.  She also pointed out that nothing in education is cheap, but it is vital to make the distinction between what something costs and what its value is.

Second, as Chief Alexander stated, we need the best trained School Resource Officers in our schools and to reimagine what we are doing and want to achieve.

Third, Judge Nickinson stated that the best solution is to do everything possible to keep our children from ever entering the juvenile justice or the criminal justice system.

Fourth, Dr. Whitaker pointed to specific policies that have been enacted in other cities and states that have, in fact, reduced the number of children facing in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and arrests for misdemeanors and felonies; we over-criminalize youth behaviors, especially the behaviors of Black and brown boys and girls relative to their white counterparts.

Fifth, Ms. McDaniel spoke of the larger social issues like poverty, low wages, and high levels of income inequality that all work against hard-working concerned moms and dads.  We cannot expect to save our children, to keep them out of the school-to-prison pipeline, through wishful thinking and magical solutions.  It will take money.

And sixth, as Dr. Harper pointed out, putting our children into the prison pipeline is not only wasting a precious life, it costs the taxpayers of Escambia County millions of dollars and produces essentially nothing except former convicts who cannot find a job, cannot vote, and end up returning to prison.

For more resources, see the following studies on the "School Offense Protocol" that Ms. Humphries recommends as a specific policy that is proven to reduce the flow of our children into the school-to-prison pipeline.

"Reducing School Referrals" by Judge Teske, 2009
"Jefferson County (AL) Family Court's School Offense Protocol," January 2010
"Birmingham City Schools Collaborative Agreement," October 2009
"When Did Making Adults Mad Become A Crime?," January 2013, Judge Teske's presentation is the second of the seminar.

Biographies of Panelists

Dr. Rick Harper, economist at the University of West Florida, received his doctorate in economics from Duke University in 1989.  He has held visiting appointments at the Superior School of Commercial Sciences (ESSCA is the French acronym), one of France's top 20 business schools; the University of Nottingham, England; and, University College, in Cork, Ireland.  From 2001 to 2006 he represented northwest Florida on then Governor Jeb Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.  Currently, he is the director of the University of West Florida's Office of Economic Development and Engagement.

Pensacola Chief of Police David Alexander III earned a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and a Master's degree in human resources management from Troy University.  He is also a graduate of the FBI's National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.  Starting as a rookie cadet in 1983, Chief Alexander has held positions in Uniform Patrol, Administrative Technical Services, Neighborhood Services, and Criminal Investigations divisions.  He is the first African-American chief of police since the organization was founded in 1821.

Ms. Mary G. McDaniel is a graduate of the prestigious Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.  Ms. McDaniel describes herself as a "zealous advocate" for her clients.  Her distinguished public service career includes serving as a Public Defender in Florida's 1st Judicial District and internships with the Federal Public Defender, Middle District, Louisiana; Juvenile Public Defender’s Office; 19th Judicial District Court, Louisiana; and, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Currently, she is in private practice doing divorce and family law.

Mrs. Mary Beth Jackson, Superintendent of Schools for Okaloosa County, is an Okaloosa native who has served 30 years with the Okaloosa School District holding positions in elementary, middle, and high schools.  She has a Bachelors degree in Social Science from William Carey University and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida.  Superintendent Jackson has made the elimination of out-of-school suspensions her number one strategic objective which informs her diagnostic and corrective policy efforts.  She replaced out-of-school suspensions with a Student Training Program (STP) where students stay in school, complete their assignments, and complete modules that address student behavior.  She is also highly concerned with school safety and ensured that all school buses had cameras installed and is pushing to have highly trained School Resource Officers in all the district's schools, including elementary schools.

Dr. Amir Whitaker is a civil rights attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Florida office.  In addition to being a graduate of the school-to-prison pipeline, Dr. Whitaker has earned five college degrees, including a degree from Rutgers University, a Masters and Doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, and, in May 2014, earned his law degree from the University of Miami's School of Law.  Dr. Whitaker has taught in multiple schools through Miami-Dade's Street Law Program, and has taught for nine years from South Central Los Angeles to South Africa.  In 2012, he started the non-profit Project Knucklehead to empower at-risk youth to reach their potential for greatness.

Video Presentations In Order of Appearance

Introduction, Dr. Paula Montgomery, Education Committee, League of Women Voters, Pensacola Chapter

Introduction, Ms. Keyontay Humphries, American Civil Liberties Union

Biographies of Panelists, Ms. Lisa Nellenssen-Lara, moderator, editor, Pensacola News Journal

Dr. Rick Harper, economist, University of West Florida
Chief of Police David Alexander III, Pensacola Police Department

Ms. Mary McDaniel, former Youth Defender

Judge Nickinson, former Youth Court Judge, Florida 1st District

Superintendent of Okaloosa County Schools, Mrs. Mary Beth Jackson

Dr. Amir Whitaker, Southern Poverty Law Center

Q&A:  Superintendent Jackson on School Resource Officer Results

Q&A:  Chief Alexander on Communication, Reimagining, and Respect

Q&A:  Chief Alexander, Dr. Whitaker, and Superintendent Jackson on School Behaviors

Q&A:  Judge Nickinson, Chief Alexander, Dr. Whitaker, and Ms. Humphries on Civil Citations

Q&A:  Ms. Donna Waters, Escambia County School Board Attorney on Civil Citations

Q&A:  Ms. McDaniel and Superintendent Jackson on Larger Social Issues Affecting Schools

Q&A:  Chief Alexander on Training School Resource Officers

Q&A:  Chief Alexander, Judge Nickinson, and Superintendent Jackson on What Concerned Residents Can Do To Help Save Our Children

Closing Remarks by Dr. Harper, Chief Alexander, and Ms. Humphries

Sheriff Morgan to Americans United: 'Go Pound Sand'

On August 30, 2015, CJ's Street Report published an article based on a letter that Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent to Sheriff Morgan regarding his use of Law Enforcement Trust Funds to fund religious groups that openly proselytize with public funds.  That letter was based on three CJ's Street Report articles examining the funding and the practices of the Youth-Reach Gulf Coast in Alabama, the Men's Barn Meeting in Pensacola, and the Assembly of God's drug counseling program at Teen Challenge in Pensacola.

Americans United's letter claimed that "the [these] grants also violate Article I, [section] 3 of the Florida Constitution, which states that "'[n]o revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.'  This provision renders the Florida Constitution even more restrictive of public aid to religion than the U.S. Constitution."

Americans United requested that the Sheriff's Office stop funding such religious groups and respond to their letter within 30 days.  The Sheriff's Office response: we are not going to respond and if you want us to follow the Florida Constitution, sue us.

On August 31, 2015, Deputy Chief Eric Haines and I discussed Americans United's letter and the possible response of Sheriff Morgan.  It was a friendly conversation.  The Deputy Chief has a firm handshake and equally firm views.  He's loyal to the Sheriff.  It was an interesting conversation.

Deputy Chief Haines and I discussing local politics, August 31, 2015.  Thanks to Anthony Brice for the photograph.

To be fair to the Deputy Chief, neither he nor Sheriff Morgan stated that their response to the Americans United letter was "go pound sand."  But, that was the meaning of what the Deputy Chief told me.

The Deputy Chief told me that the Sheriff was not going to respond to the letter.  He stated, and I have not verified, that the Sheriff's use of Law Enforcement Trust Fund monies to fund Christian group's whose primary purpose is proselytizing and recruiting people for Christ was approved by a legal opinion from the Florida Sheriff's Association.  Second, he stated that because the Trust Fund monies are from contraband seizures they are not "revenue" as stated in the Florida Constitution and they are not "taxpayer funds."

My response was simple.  I am not a constitutional lawyer and we will just see how the lawyers thrash this out.

The Deputy Chief's response was go ahead and sue us.  This is a win-win situation for the Sheriff.

Deputy Chief Haines explained that if the Sheriff were sued, it would make him appear that he was being hounded or persecuted by godless heathens--especially in an area that is conservative both politically and religiously.  If the Sheriff lost, no big deal, he wins with his base.  If he wins, he wins big.  He told me to look at the Florida Sheriff that put "In God We Trust" on his patrol cars.  He's more popular after having national media attention on the constitutional violation than he was before.

Deputy Chief Haines then stated that my suggestion at the end of the article that the Escambia County Board of Commissioners take a "closer look" to "determine what penalties, if any, are linked to such unconstitutional and unethical behavior by Sheriff Morgan" was never going to happen.  He explained that this was a conservative area and the Board was not going vote to look at what Sheriff Morgan was doing that could possibly have violated the Florida Constitution; nor were they going to vote to stop funding these openly proselytizing religious groups.

In essence, the response of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office to an alleged violation of the Florida Constitution is to "go pound sand."