Monday Musings: June 9, 2014

– It’s that time again.  Every four years, the world’s thirty-two best soccer teams meet in a predetermined county – this year it will be Brazil – to compete for The World Cup.  The opening match is Thursday, and the World Cup final will be held on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro.

This is the world’s sport, which captivates citizens across the globe.  Over a billion people – yes, billion with a “b” – viewed the final match of both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals.  So, for the next few weeks, I will certainly be musing about the beautiful game’s largest tournament.

Americans aren’t drawn to this massive world event.  According to a recent poll, 86% of Americans know nothing or little about the World Cup, two-thirds won’t be following it, but 7% will be following it closely.   

I’m not going to hypothesize why that is.  I’m sure there are several reasons.  I’m one of the 7% who will be following it closely.  And I’ll likely be musing about it.

If you’re one of the 86%, let me start you out with how this works.  I’ll do this slowly as the tournament proceeds.

The first step is the Group Stage.  The 32 teams that have spent the last couple years qualifying in their regions for a place in the World Cup, are randomly drawn (with some rules to evenly distribute teams by national regions) into eight groups of four teams.  Each team plays every team in their group once.  The winning team gets 3 points, and if the match ends in a draw, both teams get 1 point.  The top two teams in each group advance to the next round.  If there is a tie in the number of points, goal differential (goals for minus goals against) is the first tie-breaker, and if goal differential is tied, then whichever team has the most goals breaks the tie.

The groups for the 2014 World Cup are as follows:

Group A:  Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon.
Group B:  Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia.
Group C:  Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan.
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy.
Group E:  Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras.
Group F:  Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria.
Group G:  Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA.
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea.

The United States is in Group G, which you’ll hear referred to as “The Group of Death.”  This is because most groups have one or two dominant teams which should advance, however Group G has four quality teams which means two quality teams will be eliminated after this round.

Thursday the tournament begins with Brazil vs Croatia.  ESPN and ESPN2 will be televising the matches, so check your local listings for times.

– I seem to have a lot of premiere’s on my calendar this week.

On Wednesday evening in Troy, Grey Wolfe Publishing is holding a Summer Launch Party for a number of books in their line.  I will be there to sign copies of my novel, The Y in Life.  For details, go to Grey Wolfe Publishing’s website.

On Thursday evening in Detroit, Lolita Hernandez will be releasing her new collection of short stories, Making Callaloo in Detroit.  Details HERE.

On Friday evening, the Cass Cafe in Detroit will be opening the art exhibit, Marie Mason: Prison Work, which runs through June 21st.  For now I’ll say that Marie Mason graduated from Plymouth Salem High School in 1980 with me, and is currently serving time in Carswell Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas.  I’ll write more about her story on Friday.  For now, here’s the info on the opening, and a song by the fabulous folk singer, David Rovics about Marie.

Cass Cafe
4620 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI
July 13, 2014
7PM- 10PM

Proud of my team and family of supporters

“What I’m Thinking About” Wednesday
June 4, 2014

Friday night is soccer night in Detroit. Detroit City FC is hosting the Erie Admirals, which promises to be an exciting night. Erie is the team that eliminated DCFC from the playoffs last season, sparking an instant hatred of that team by supporters.

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Sports are interesting, aren’t they? The pitting of two teams, and their supporters, against one another in competition creates a dynamic whereby rivalries and grudges are created. University of Michigan fans and Michigan State University fans hope for in-state bragging rights against the other. The Michigan – Ohio State rivalry is one of the top of all time rivalries in any sport. The professional sports world experiences them, too, such as the Yankees/Red Sox in baseball, Redskins/Cowboys in football, Leafs/Canadiens in hockey, and Celtics/Lakers in basketball. We have soccer rivalries here in the US – Portland Timbers/Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes/LA Galaxy are a couple that come to mind. But over the pond, where soccer is even more prominent and proximate, there are some heated rivalries, called derbys (pronounced “darbys”). Manchester United and Manchester City. Liverpool and Everton. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Arsenal and Tottenham’s stadiums are only five miles apart. Someone once said that you could change your home, change your job, even change your spouse, but you never change your soccer team.

Last Friday I drove to Cincinnati where my sister and her family live. DCFC battled the Cincinnati Saints, and my sister and two of my nieces attended the game. I sat with the traveling Detroit supporters, while my sister and her kids stayed true to their hometown team. The banter prior and subsequent to the match was fun.

This Friday will be interesting also because the Detroit City FC players will be wearing special jerseys promoting the “You Can Play” project which creates a welcoming and inclusive environment in sports for athletes to be judged on their talent, heart, desire and work ethic and not discriminated against because of sexual orientation. The jerseys will be auctioned following the game with a portion of the proceeds to go to the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, Michigan, which provides short and long term residential support for runaway, homeless, and at-risk gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender youth.

Parents rejecting sons and daughters for prejudicial reasons is not a new phenomenon. People have a hard time understanding and accepting someone from a different culture or different religion or different race or different sexual preference than their own. Parents believe they instill their values in their children.  So when one’s offspring brings home a date who is not of the same religion or nationality, or skin color, or if their date is of the same sex, the parents feel rejection and failure. If anything, these parents should be proud, for they have taught their child that love and acceptance isn’t limited to people who look like, think like, and/or believe like them.  Love transcends those artificial barriers.

There’s a lot I don’t understand. I don’t understand how people proclaiming to be Christian would deny a couple the right to marry.  Sure, if you believe it is against the narrow tenants of your religion, then deny them a ceremony.  But don’t deny them the right.  I don’t understand how one’s sexual orientation affects his or her potential to be a great family member, employee, athlete, or all around human being.  To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr. from his legendary speech, we should judge people by the content of their character. I liked the way the Northern Guard Supporters phrased it on their Facebook cover photo, “If they wear our crest, they are family. Regardless of who they love.”

Former Columbus Crew/current Los Angeles Galaxy player Robbie Rogers publicly came out in February, 2013. The NFL’s St. Louis Rams drafted openly gay, Michael Sam, this summer.  Brave men and excellent examples of organizations accepting players for their talents on the field. Add to that DCFC who, on the eve of Motor City Pride weekend in Detroit, embrace the “You Can Play” philosophy and help raise funds to help those shunned by their families.

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Sports rivalries encourage hatred for those on the other team. But this is just sports. We can go into the night hating and verbally abusing the Erie Admirals. But in the end, we’re not going to disown our family and friends simply because they root for the opponent. My sister still let me spend the night at their house after DCFC beat their Saints.  Similarly we should not disown our family and friends merely because they are of a different sexual orientation than ourselves.

I hope we trounce those bastards from Erie.  And I hope I win a silent auction, too.

Is my name on the list? Is yours?

“What I’m Thinking About” Wednesday
May 28, 2014

I saw this story come across my Facebook page this morning.  Glenn Greewald told the Times of London that the biggest bombshell of documents to be released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden will be a list of all the American citizens spied on by the NSA.  This could be quite eye-opening.

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist who I likely first heard of on Democracy Now!.  My appreciation and respect for him as a journalist rose after reading his book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, which I highly recommend reading if you haven’t.  It exposes the myth of our country adhering to the concept of the rule of law by exposing how the wealthy and powerful are not touched by the judicial system, however the 99%ers are overly prosecuted and imprisoned.  It’s about how money plays its role – both in keeping the wealthy out of trouble by passing laws that grant immunity and by keeping the poor down and imprisoned.  It starts with the pardoning of the “tough on crime” president Richard Nixon by Gerald Ford and moves forward through time to President Obama’s “we need to look forward, not backward” view towards the human rights abuses and war crimes of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Former senior member of the United States intelligence community, Edward Snowden, reached out to Greenwald, which began the gradual release of the 1.7 million documents Snowden had downloaded.

I’m a bit behind on this story, though Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man is on my to-read shelf (and Greenwald’s new book is on my wish list).  To me, people like Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange are heroes.  Freedom and liberty are founded in the 4th Amendment of our Constitution.  These folks help blow the cover off the US intelligent community who thwart such liberty.

After reading the article, I got to thinking.  What if my name were on this list?

Pause, and think about that for a moment.  What if your name were on this list?

A lot of people will say, “well, I have nothing to hide,” but it doesn’t protect them from being spied upon.  I imagine that for someone who doesn’t even fathom that they could have been spied upon will feel violated if they discover otherwise.  Like when you walk into your home and find someone’s been there and has stolen your stuff.

How would I feel if my name were on the list?  The sarcastic side of me would almost be offended if I were not on the list.  I’m sure a chill would run down my spine.  But little else would change.  I wouldn’t change or hush my political beliefs, or stop support of protests and Occupy-like activity.  And if a class action law suit were to commence, I’d seek to be party to it.  I wonder, too, if I would file a FOIA request to find out what data they had collected on me.  And wouldn’t the results of that be mind-blowing?

How would you feel?  What would you do?

February 15, 2003.  Metro-Detroiters march with the world in protesting the United States planned invasion of Iraq.  Photo by Michael Kitchen.
February 15, 2003. Metro-Detroiters march with the world in protesting the United States planned invasion of Iraq. Photo by Michael Kitchen.

50th Anniversary of Gideon’s 6th Amendment Victory

You are driving in your vehicle when a police officer pulls you over.  You resign the fact that you were driving above the speed limit, but didn’t think it was a big deal.  You notice the officer looking in the windows of your car as he approaches.  The officer asks for your drivers license and proof of insurance and you give them to him.  He again looks in your back seat window as he returns to his vehicle.  When he returns, he instructs you to step out of the car and asks you if you have anything illegal on your possession that he should know about.  You tell him that you don’t, to which he asks if you mind if he searches the car.  You don’t have anything to hide and allow him.  He finds a small plastic bag of marijuana in the back seat.  You loaned the car to your son or daughter when they went out with friends the past weekend, and assume it belongs to one of their friends.  But that doesn’t matter because you’re sitting in the back of the squad car, on your way to the police station to be booked and fingerprinted.  You’re now facing a charge of possession of a controlled substance, which is punishable by four years in prison.  You’re given an arraignment date.  When you appear before the judge, you enter a not-guilty plea.  Being financially strapped as you are between jobs or lost one of your part-time jobs, you ask the judge for your Sixth Amendment right to counsel.  The judge declines and you’re forced to take your case to trial all on your own.

That’s what would have happened fifty years ago.

The landmark case of Gideon vs Wainwright was decided by the United States Supreme Court on March 18, 1963.  In 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon, father of six, was charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit a misdemeanor, which was a felony under Florida law.  He asked the court to appoint counsel, which the Florida judge denied.  The judge stated that “Under the laws of the State of Florida, the only time the Court can appoint Counsel to represent a Defendant is when that person is charged with a capital offense.”  Gideon was forced to defend himself.  He conducted his own trial and the jury returned with a guilty verdict.  Sentenced to five years in prison, Gideon petitioned the Florida Supreme Court, appealing his conviction based on the lower court’s failure to provide him counsel arguing it was guaranteed under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.  The Supreme Court of Florida denied relief.

Gideon didn’t stop there.  He petitioned the United States Supreme Court, which granted him a hearing.  The Court also appointed counsel to represent him.  Oral arguments before the Court were held on January 15, 1963.

AMENDMENT 6
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Before 1938, courts would appoint counsel for indigent defendants, however it was sporadic in execution.  In Johnson v. Zerbst, the US Supreme Court held that the 6th Amendment right to counsel was valid in federal court unless the defendant waived the right.  The 6th Amendment Rights – minus the right to counsel – was made obligatory on the States by the Fourteenth Amendment in the 1942 US Supreme Court decision of  Betts v. Brady. In Betts, the court had concluded that because the defendant was a 43-year-old man of ordinary intelligence and ability to take care of his own interests, he was not at a serious disadvantage at trial.

It took only two months for the Court to render its unanimous decision in favor of Gideon.  The Court held that the Betts decision was wrong.  Justice Hugo Black, writing for the Court, stated:

The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.  From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law.  This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.

Gideon’s case was referred back to the Florida court, where a new trial was held.  The court appointed counsel and after only an hour of jury deliberation, Clarence Gideon was found not guilty.  After losing two years of his life in prison, Clarence Gideon was released as an innocent man.

Justice Black wrote in the Gideon opinion that, “government hires lawyers to prosecute and defendants who have money hire lawyers to defend are the strongest indications of the wide-spread belief that lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries.”  That doesn’t mean that the states have a public defense budget equal to its prosecutorial budget.  When it comes to per capita spending, according to a 2008 study, Michigan ranks 44th in per capita spending on indigent defense ($7.35 per capita), and is dispensed on a county by county basis, meaning an unbalanced approach to delivery and payment of public defense.

Fifty years ago, it would have been you (or your son or daughter) versus a well-funded, government prosecutor in your case of marijuana possession.  Clarence Gideon’s two-year fight from his prison cell insures that if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

SOURCES:

Books:
American Criminal Procedure: Cases and Commentary, Stephen A. Saltzburg & Daniel J. Capra (West Group, 6th Edition 2000)

May It Please The Court…Transcripts of 23 Live Recordings of Landmark Cases as Argued Before the Supreme Court, Edited by Peter Irons and Stephanie Guitton (The New Press, 1993)

Websites:
National Legal Aid and Defender Association, “Michigan Ranks 44th in the Nation for Public Defense Spending; So-called “McJustice” System Puts Communities at Risk.”

Cases:
Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)
Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455 (1942)
Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932)
Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458 (1938)

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Where do enemies come from?

Where do enemies come from?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines enemy as “one who feels hatred toward, intends injury to, or opposes the interests of another.”

In our personal life, an enemy can be obvious.  In elementary school, a kid who conspired with two of my friends to steal baseball cards from me became someone I considered an enemy.  In middle school, a kid who introduced me to comic book collecting made physical threats via telephone when in high school became someone I considered an enemy.  I felt hatred towards those two people as a result of their actions towards me.

An enemy can expand into a broader group.  For example, sports rivalries can create enemies.  University of Michigan football fans hate Ohio State University and its football fans and visa-verse.  The rivalry arises from opposing interests seeking the same goal that only one can achieve – a victory over the other on the field of play.  As an Arsenal fan, I hate Manchester United.  I’m also supposed to hate Tottenham Hotspur, because they are the main geographic rival to the Gunners; their stadiums just a few miles apart.  But not having grown up in north London, the battle for the top of the league against Manchester United formed my hatred of the Red Devils and my ambivalence towards Tottenham.

Enemies emerge out of competing ideologies; religion and politics, for example.  Others are based on cultural identities, like nationalities or regions within a country.  There are some people in the southern states of the US that still despise “Yankees.”

These latter group enemies I believe are not genuinely made, but rather learned.  When one identifies with a certain group, the person becomes indoctrinated into making an enemy of another group.  Being a Michigan resident, and not having any ties or familial history with the University of Michigan, I don’t think twice about driving to Columbus, Ohio and calling the Columbus Crew my favorite Major League Soccer team.  I had a conversation with a friend about soccer and going to Crew home games.  He being a University of Michigan fan stated that he could never see himself rooting for a team from Columbus.

I pondered this question of where enemies come from as a result of the recent death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.  To listen to American media and elected officials, one might have been indoctrinated to believe the Venezuelan president was our enemy.  I reject that notion.

United States media has portrayed Chavez as an enemy.  Democratic strategist Doug Schoen on CNN in January, 2009, said of Chavez that “He’s given Al-Qaeda and Hamas an open invitation to come to Caracas.”  Newsweek compared Chavez to Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin.  ABC labeled him as a “fierce enemy of the United States.”  The Washington Post declared Chavez an “autocratic demagogue.”  And of course, Fox News said that Chavez’s government was “really communism.”

A closer examination reveals that Hugo Chavez was nothing close to what the US media painted him to be.

In 1998, Hugo Chavez won the election for President with 56% of the vote, and was inaugurated in 1999.  Speaking out forcefully against globalization, he introduced a hydrocarbons law that doubled royalties charged to foreign oil companies and replaced Petroleos de Venezuela, the state-owned oil company’s top executives with people loyal to him.  (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, pg 196).  Prior to his election, austerity measures imposed by the IMF in 1989, saw Venezuela’s per capita income plummet 40% between 1978 and 2003.  (Perkins, page 197).

 Chavez kept his commitments to the poor – urban and rural.  Instead of re-injecting profits into the oil industry, he invested them in projects aimed at combating illiteracy, malnutrition, diseases, and other social ills.  Rather than declaring huge dividends for investors, he helped Argentina’s embattled President Kirchner buy down that nation’s IMF debts of more than $10 billion and he sold discounted oil to those who could not afford to pay the going price – including communities in the United States.  He earmarked a portion of his oil revenues for Cuba so it could send medical doctors to impoverished areas around the continent.  He forged laws that consolidated the rights of indigenous people – including language and land ownership rights – and fought for the establishment of Afro-Venezuelan curricula in public schools.  (The Secret History of the American Empire by John Perkins, pg 111).

The Bush administration was complicit with a coup attempt in Venezuela in April, 2002, removing Chavez from power.  However, they underestimated the Venezuelan people’s support of Chavez, who ran out the insurgents and returned Chavez to power 48 hours later.

During Chavez’ 14 year presidency, poverty fell from 55% in 1995 to 26.4% in 2009.  Unemployment was 15% in 1999, which has fallen to 7.8% in June, 2009.    “Over the last fourteen years, Chávez has submitted himself and his agenda to fourteen national votes, winning thirteen of them by large margins, in polling deemed by Jimmy Carter to be “best in the world” out of the ninety-two elections that he has monitored.”  Over 30,000 communal councils, direct participatory democratic structures were formed over Chavez’s presidency, making the country more democratic than prior to Chavez’s first election victory in 1998.  Cooperatives and self-managed workplaces also grew.

Perhaps you’ll recall Hugo Chavez’s speech on September 20, 2006 before the United Nations.  Popularized in the news was his referral to George W. Bush as “the devil” who, having spoken there the day before, Chavez said he could  smell sulfur.  A New York Times reporter said that Chavez received “loud applause that lasted so long that the organization’s officials had to tell the cheering group to cut it out.”  (Helene Cooper, “Iran Who? Venezuela Takes the Lead in a Battle of Anti-U.S. Sound Bites,” New York Times, 21 September 2006, cited in What We Say Goes by Noam Chomsky, pg 45).  Did they cheer about Chavez’s name calling?  The NY Times reporter did not address that question.  “It was because he (Chavez) was expressing a point of view that happens to be very widely accepted in the world.  In fact it’s the overwhelmingly dominant position.  Chavez’s views are called “controversial.”  It’s quite the opposite.  It’s the views of the U.S media and commentators that are controversial.”  (Chomsky, pg 45)

Where do enemies come from?  There are those who harm you personally, the ones you know and can identify.  But then there are others who try to convince you that “they” are your enemy, because you are one of “us.”  The corporatocracy tried to sell to me that Hugo Chavez was an enemy.  He was an enemy to their tyranny only.  Not to the people of Venezuela or, for that matter, people around the world, including Americans.

Sources:

“Hugo Chavez Kept His Promise to the People of Venezuela” by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/05-8#.UTfKPckDdXs.facebook

“Chavez Democratized Venezuela Making it the Most Equal Country in Latin America” By Gregory Wilpert http://venezuelanalysis.com/video/8073

“In Death as in Life, Chavez Target of Media Scorn” by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. http://fair.org/take-action/media-advisories/in-death-as-in-life-chavez-target-of-media-scorn/

“The CIA Was Involved in the Coup Against Venezuela’s Chavez” by Eva Golinger http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/800

“On the Legacy of Hugo Chavez” by Greg Grandin http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/06-2

“Hugo Chavez Dead:  Transformed Venezuela & Survived U.S.-Backed Coup, Now Leaves Uncertainty Behind” – Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/6/hugo_chvez_dead_venezuelan_leader_leaves

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2004).

The Secret History of the American Empire by John Perkins (Dutton, 2007)

What We Say Goes by Noam Chomsky (Metropolitan Books, 2007)

February 15, 2003…The story’s not over.

It was mid-February, 2003, when I was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a conference.  The weather was pleasant enough – 70’s and 80’s during the day, 60’s in the evening.  But there I was, in my hotel room, with the heater kicked on high, wearing sweats under the blankets.  I must have had it up over 80 degrees in the room, but I was still chilled to the bone.

The reason I recall this is because Common Dreams published Phyllis Bennis’ article reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the worldwide protest against the United States’ push for invading Iraq.

Saturday, February 15, 2003, I was one of among twelve to fourteen million people around the world, and between 1,350-1,650 people in Detroit, participating.

I remember it being a very very cold day.  A group of us met at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, and together we walked to Grand Circus Park.  I had my photo-journalist vest over my winter gear, to carry both my zoom and normal lenses and plenty of film.  We arrived after the speeches had begun, the crowd surrounding the Hazen S. Pingree statue.  Then, we walked.  The group holding signs, chanting, and walking in step with the cadence of drummers, proceeded down Washington Boulevard toward Cobo Hall.  I snapped off photo after photo, while chanting with the crowd.  The cold seemed less severe for a while.

February 15, 2003.  Metro-Detroiters march with the world in protesting the United States planned invasion of Iraq.  Photo by Michael Kitchen.
February 15, 2003. Metro-Detroiters march with the world in protesting the United States planned invasion of Iraq. Photo by Michael Kitchen.

As the march concluded at Cobo Hall, many sought warmth within.  The annual Boat Show was taking place, yet anti-war protesters occupied the vast lobby.  My wife, not comfortable in confined spaces, backed away towards the windows as I moved in to stand with a circle of drummers.   The drumming echoed within the great lobby of the hall, drawing protesters and curious Boat Show visitors.  I noticed a ring of Detroit Police Officers begin to circle the drummers, but I maintained my position, snapping photos in rhythm.  The officers were rather close, standing mere steps behind each drummer, but no action was taken.

After several minutes, I decided to turn around, locate my wife, and decide what we were going to do next.  I was surprised to find her standing within steps of me.  We maneuvered our way out of the crowd and she informed me that something almost happened.  She told me that as the police officers were converging, one held a radio communicating to the others.  An officer next to her tapped her shoulder and pointed directly at me (I did not see this happen), and called the troops off from breaking up the drum circle.  I can only assume that they thought I was the press and photographs of officers breaking up the drummers wouldn’t reflect well on the Department.

February 15, 2003.  Metro-Detroiters in Cobo Hall as part of the world's protest against a US invasion of Iraq.  Photo by Michael Kitchen
February 15, 2003. Metro-Detroiters in Cobo Hall as part of the world’s protest against a US invasion of Iraq. Photo by Michael Kitchen

Upon reflection ten years, we didn’t stop President Bush from engaging in an illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq.  We didn’t prevent the deaths of 110,000-120,000 (and counting) Iraqi citizens.  But as Bennis said in the soon-to-be released “We Are Many” documentary, the February 15, 2003 protest “set the stage for movements to come;” movements like the Arab Spring and Occupy.

Frederick Douglass said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”  Well, at the 2-15-2003 protest and all marches I’ve attended up to Occupy, one of the echoing chants is “Ain’t no power like the power of the people cuz the power of the people don’t quit.”

I needed the heat within that Fort Lauderdale hotel room in 2003 to restore my physical body to full strength from the flu I contacted that cold Saturday.  Little did I conceive the long-term impact of our participation.  Thinking that the chapter of the history book had closed with Bush’s invasion a little over a month later, it was just the first page of a story that is still being written.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consultion with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph…

A noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as most I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, “Well! give me peace in my day.” [A] generous parent would have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.

Thomas Paine, from an address written in 1776, and read aloud by order of George Washington to the encampment at Valley Forge. (Source:  Occupy: Scenes from Occupied Amercia Verso Books, 2011)

Huffington Post photo credit

The Huffington Post graciously contacted me today about using a photo of mine for their story, Louisiana Hines Dead:  World’s Oldest African American Dies at 113.

The photo was taken at the 90th Birthday Celebration of Erma Henderson, on August 31, 2007 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.  Erma is featured in the second photo holding Ms. Hines’ hand as she spoke about Erma.