CASH IN THE APPLE for 5-7-15
By Cash Michaels
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY – As always, we want to wish each and every mother in our community a very, very happy Mother’s Day this Sunday, and hope that you and yours enjoy an excellent weekend together. I don’t have to tell you just how important mothers are in our world today. Moms are the first teachers and nurturers. We owe them all so, so much. We love you Mom, and always will!
HAPPY GRADUATION – Big weekend for college students coming up, as many of them will be graduating from many of our area universities. Congratulations for making it through four years of hard study. Now you’re ready to really learn the lessons of life. Welcome to the real world graduates! We’re proud of you.
THANK YOU, WLLE LISTENERS – Thank you to all of the listeners of the old 570 WLLE-AM “WiLLiE” Radio who came out to see our documentary “WLLE: The Voice of the Community” and share their cherished memories of Raleigh’s first African-American radio station.
A very special thanks to Ms. Saundra Cropps, manager of the Olivia Rainey Library in Raleigh for graciously hosting us, and of course, to Prof. Sheila Smith-McKoy of NCSU’s Africana Studies Program, and Marian Fragola of NCSU Libraries for once again co-sponsoring. I hope that we can do it again.
BULL OF RIGHTS - Freedom of speech is a very important American principle, and certainly our constitutional right. It means that we have the freedom to say anything we want, wherever we want, however we want, about whomever we want, whenever we want. That's what the folks who sponsored that dumb-as-nails Prophet Muhammad cartoon art contest did in Texas over the weekend, virtually inviting, in fact daring followers of the Islamic faith to do something about it, which is exactly what happened.
As a result, both gunmen are dead. Fox News' Megyn Kelly would have us believe that the right-wing sponsors of the contest should be held blameless for provoking the violent reaction that they got, and she points to freedom of speech as the shield behind which they should hide behind. As someone who literally makes his living by virtue of freedom of speech, I say to Megyn Kelly BULL!
Yes, the right-wingers had the constitutional right to sponsor the contest, but they also knew they were provoking violence, which is why they also spent $10,000 for private security to be at the event. Secondly, Muslims, just like everyone else in this nation, have the right to practice freedom of religion, meaning they should be able to carry out their faith without government intervention, or harassment from those who disapprove. That cartoon contest, in my opinion, constituted harassment of all Muslims by mocking a cherished Islamic religious figure.
Now I'll admit that lawyers reading this will tell me quick that I'm stretching that last point, but then let me ask you the following - we are not allowed to yell "FIRE" in a crowded place because the reaction will be intense and immediate and a threat to public safety if there, in fact, is no fire. That's one of the limits to freedom of speech - the likelihood of resulting harm. I had a friend a few years ago who got up at a community forum and urged the black people in attendance to "kill white people." Needless to say, his life changed dramatically after that, and while he might have truly felt it, I think he wishes now that he never said it in a public forum. The bottom-line is, as a society, we often hold people responsible for things they say and do publicly, especially when we see (or suspect) that they are deliberately trying to incite a reaction. Megyn Kelly of Fox News has some blasted nerve defending the right-wing group who sponsored that hatefest Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest. Yeah, constitutionally, they're protected, but realistically, we all know what they were up to, namely trying to foment more hate, not just against alleged terrorists as they claim, but towards all Muslims, which is wrong.
If a group of Muslims sponsored a similar Lord Jesus cartoon contest mocking our Christian GOD, knowing that it would incite a violent reaction, would we be so understanding as to their constitutional "right" to do so? I think not!
COVERING BALTIMORE – Last week, just like in other prolonged breaking news, the cable channels did what they do to keep up with events in Baltimore after the funeral for alleged police abuse victim Freddie Gray, the subsequent riots, followed by several tense days of curfew, and culminating with the announcement of charges by the state prosecutor that six Baltimore police officers were charged in Gray’s death.
CNN put so-called “exclusive” interviews on with excusers for the police to try and explain away Gray’s death. MSNBC deployed the always excellent Joy Reid and Thomas Roberts to the streets of Baltimore to hear from the people, and when tough questions arose, gave great airtime to their local NBC affiliate investigative reporter to debunk false stories from the Washington Post.
But Fox News did its best to turn the tragedy of Baltimore into a political soapbox, once again, on how blacks don’t have fathers at home, and black Democrats don’t know how to govern, and how the black female mayor “wanted” the city to be destroyed in the riots,…and worse yet, how Freddie Gray may have killed himself.
Still worse, Fox personality Geraldo Rivera, after being confronted in the street by angry black youth, calling them “vandals” to their faces. Talk about a time when a behind-kickin would have been completely justified.
TV news coverage of raging events like Baltimore is never going to be perfect, but at least they could try to be responsible and honest.
ORLANDO JONES OUT AT “SLEEPY HOLLOW” – Widely reported this week that talented actor/comedian Orlando Jones, will not be returning to one of my favorite TV shows, “Sleepy Hollow” when it returns for its third season this fall. Jones portrayed Capt. Frank Irving, the police investigator who ultimate comes to believe that the little town of Sleepy Hollow is haunted by demons, and joins the battle against them.
Why Jones is being written out has not been made clear, but apparently it part of the retooling of the show, which barely got a third life after a second season of dismal ratings.
Jones recently paid a visit to the offices of The Wilmington Journal to talk about a show he had in April in the area. He and his family reportedly live in Wilmington, even though the show has now moved from Wilmington to Georgia.
Brotherman has great talent, as we saw in the film “Drumline” and other productions. I have no doubt he will land on his feet.
“AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON” – Took the family to see “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” last weekend, and enjoyed, though not as much as I did the first one. This sequel to the hit 2012 film is darker and slower than the first, but still has it’s moments among an impressive cast led by Robert Downey Jr.
I rate this 7.5 out of ten Cash Apples (yes, really).
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.waug-network.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html).
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.
By Cash Michaels
Charging that the president of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) was “…making accusations that amount to nothing more than propaganda intended to interfere with the proper administration of justice,” NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has blasted the police union for calling for a special prosecutor in the Freddie Gray police abuse case.
“Your request for a Special Independent Prosecutor is illogical and unfounded in the law,” Chairman Butterfield (D-NC-1) wrote in a May 5 letter released this week, adding that he has full confidence that Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby can prosecute the six officers charged without prejudice. “Undoubtedly, prospective jurors have read your letter which suggests that you could be trying to improperly influence public opinion in these cases.”
In a May 1st open letter to Mosby, Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, requested that she appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case against six Baltimore police officers charged with contributing to the death of the young black man.
Gray, 25, was arrested April 12th by Baltimore police officers for allegedly carrying a switchblade. He was transported to police headquarters in a police van, but subsequent evidence determined that Gray was not secured in the vehicle safely, and arrived at the station unconscious. He was taken to the hospital, and diagnosed with a ruptured spleen.
Gray died a week later.
After a week which began with rioting, looting and buildings set on fire hours after Gray’s funeral, followed by tense days of curfew, State’s Attorney Mosby shocked the city on May 1st when she announced that six officers – three white and three black - were being charged in connection with Gray’s death.
"[The officers] failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray's arrest as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray... Accordingly, [he was] illegally arrested," Mosby said in a statement, establishing that, in fact, the knife Gray was carrying was legal under Maryland law.
One of the arresting officers insists that the knife was illegal.
She also indicated that contrary to Baltimore Police Dept. regulations, Gray was not seated-belted in the van for safe transport, meaning that his handcuffed body was at the mercy of whatever speed the van driver was moving at. At a later stop, his feet were shackled and he was placed face down on the floor of the vehicle.
It is during that ride, the coroner’s report says, that Freddie Gray was severely injured in what was deemed a “homicide.”
"Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon,” Mosby alleged in her theory of the case, adding that not until the end of the ride was any medical attention sought for Gray.
The driver of the van, Officer Cesar Goodson, was charged with second-degree depraved heart murder (which carries a maximum of 30 years in prison), involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, manslaughter by vehicle by means of gross negligence, manslaughter by vehicle by means of criminal negligence, misconduct in office by failure to secure prisoner, failure to render aid.
Two other officers were charged with involuntary manslaughter, while all of them also face second-degree assault or negligent assault, and misconduct in office, among other charges.
Mosby’s investigation began the day after Gray’s injuries, so her office has been involved with the case from the beginning, thus the quick turnaround in charges All six officers have been released after making bail. They are scheduled to appear in court for preliminary hearings on May 27th.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch assured Freddie Gray’s family Tuesday during a trip to Baltimore to meet with community leaders, that the US Dept. of Justice was also looking into the matter.
In his May 1st letter to state’s attorney Mosby, Baltimore FOP Pres. Gene Ryan alleged that “…none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray. To the contrary, at all times, each of the officers diligently balanced their obligations to protect Mr. Gray and discharge their duties to protect the public.”
After expressing “full faith in your professional integrity” and “the utmost respect for you and your office…,” Ryan then accuses Mosby of “many conflicts of interest…,” including her personal and professional relationship with Gray family attorney William Murphy; her lead prosecutor’s “connections” with the media; and the fact that her husband is a Baltimore City councilmember.
“In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Butterfield wasn’t having it after reading Ryan’s letter.
“Your statement that “none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray” is reckless and irresponsible,” Butterfield, a former NC Supreme Court justice, wrote to Ryan. “You do not have the ability to make those determinations. It will be a jury verdict of Baltimoreans that will decide these cases after the parties present substantial evidence of guilt or innocence, not the Fraternal Order of Police.”
Chairman Butterfield continued, “Your letter states that you have full faith in Ms. Mosby’s professional integrity yet you conclude that a conflict of interest exists by her office investigating the case. You specifically cite a personal and professional relationship between Ms. Mosby and defense counsel. You went on to state that the lead prosecutor has connections with the local media. And, finally, you recklessly state that the political career of Ms. Mosby’s husband will be impacted by her participation in these cases. These frivolous and inflammatory statements are repugnant to any citizen with knowledge of our criminal justice system.”
Prosecutors in every jurisdiction across the country have relationships with the local bar but exercise their duty to prosecute cases without allowing those relationships to influence their zealousness in prosecuting the case. Rules of Professional Responsibility do not prevent a lawyer from participating in a case because of a friendship with the lawyer for the opposing litigant.
Butterfield continued, “You have damaged the good reputation of your organization in writing the letter, releasing it to the media, and making accusations that amount to nothing more than propaganda intended to interfere with the proper administration of justice. Undoubtedly, prospective jurors have read your letter which suggests that you could be trying to improperly influence public opinion in these cases.”
“I respectfully ask that you reconsider your statements and make the necessary corrections,” Chairman Butterfield concluded. “These are serious cases which should proceed to trial using the customary procedures involved in other felony cases in the City of Baltimore and jurisdictions across the country.”
SIBLINGS WIN LEGAL BATTLE
OVER DISPUTED PROPERTY
Special to The Carolinian Newspaper
After an eight and a half year legal battle to be justly compensated, Harriet Hurst Turner and her brother John Henry Hurst will receive the lion’s share of a $10.1 million settlement for pristine waterfront property adjacent to Hammocks Beach State Park. Under an agreement negotiated by Turner and Hurst’s attorney, Charles T. Francis of Raleigh, the state has paid $6.9 million, with the Conservation Fund covering the balance of the sale price and leasing the land back to the state until the full amount for the property can be paid over the next several years.
The deal, which closed on Thursday, will add 289 acres to Hammocks Beach, a nearly nine-fold increase in the mainland portion of the park. Under the agreement, 27 of those acres will be used by Turner to establish a new camp for young people.
“Having the camp be a part of this settlement was so important to me from the very beginning of this long, long struggle,” said Turner, a paralegal who works for the Social Security disability office in Raleigh. “It really brings us back to my grandparents’ original mission for this property.”
The Turner-Hurst property was purchased in stages between 1923 and 1931 by Dr. William Sharpe, a neurosurgeon from New York. Dr. Sharpe hired John Hurst, the son of a slave, as a hunting guide and the two soon became fast friends. Sharpe and his wife hired John Hurst and his wife Gertrude as managers and caretakers of the more than 1,000-acre Hammocks Beach property, which includes Bear Island.
Not everyone in Onslow County in the 1930s and 40s liked an African American couple having so much power, said John Henry Hurst, their grandson and one of the plaintiffs in the suit.
After many years of friendship, Dr. Sharpe and his wife decided to make the land a gift to the Hursts. However, as reflected in an agreement recorded in the Onslow County Registry in 1950, “Gertrude Hurst, having formerly served as a black teacher in the then racially segregated public school system, requested Dr. Sharpe instead make a gift of the property in such manner that African-American teachers and their then existing organizations could enjoy the property.”
At the request of Gertrude Hurst, Dr. Sharpe deeded the land to a nonprofit corporation, the Hammocks Beach Corporation, as trustee. Its purpose was “primarily for the teachers in public and private elementary, secondary and collegiate institutions for Negroes in North Carolina.”
For many years, the land was used just as the Hursts had wished. It was home to thriving camps and Hammocks Beach became known as an African-American beach. Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the black and white teachers associations merged and African American families had far more options for camps and travel at the beach. Over the years, HBC began leasing parts of the land to other groups but in recent years, the properties fell into disrepair, with broken windows, decaying bunk houses and little to no use.
Under the terms of the Sharpes’ deed, when the land was no longer being used for its original purposes, the trusteeship was to be offered to the North Carolina State Board of Education. If the State Board declined, the property was to revert to the Hursts or their heirs. The State Board turned down the opportunity to take over from HBC as trustee of the land on two occasions.
Turner and John Henry Hurst filed suit to claim their property in 2006. After Turner and Hurst prevailed on all issues at a 2010 jury trial, in 2011, the State reversed its early position declining the land and tried to assert itself as trustee and take the land from the Hurst heirs without compensation. The case went twice to the State Court of Appeals and all the way to the State Supreme Court, in its long and twisted legal journey.
“This has been my longest and perhaps most strenuous court battle in 26 years as a trial lawyer,” said Francis, Turner and Hurst’s attorney, who has a picture of himself visiting the HBC camp at age 2 with his father. “This was a nearly nine-year litigation that took perseverance and staying power. At every turn there was a new obstacle to getting Harriet and John the compensation they deserved for their family’s land and legacy. But Harriet had a compelling vision, to revive the camp and bring the land back to her grandparents’ original idea for Hammocks Beach. I am pleased we succeeded in defending their property rights and Harriett’s dream for a camp.”
The transfer of the property was recorded on Thursday afternoon in Onslow County. Turner and her brother, who works at the landfill in Onslow County and works part-time at a laundromat, will be compensated millions of dollars because of their dogged fight.
The result is a vindication of the rights of property owners against the condemnation power of the state. But it also preserves a rare natural wonderland at the coast for future generations, while honoring the hopes and aspirations of a generation past.-30-
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 5-7-15
WAKE SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES $1.4 BILLION BUDGET
It will be interesting to see what the Wake County Commissioners say once they see the Wake School Board’s $1.4 billion operating budget, unanimously passed Tuesday evening. The budget includes pay raises for teachers and staff members, and $48.3 million larger than the 2014-15 budget request. The county commission board must now consider the proposal to determine how much of it will actually be funded.
RALEIGH COP SUES STARBUCKS FOR ALLEGED HOT COFFEE INJURY
A Raleigh police officer will have to prove in court this week that a free cup of Starbucks coffee he was given in 2012 was so hot that when, he alleges, the cup collapsed and burned his legs, it severely disabled him, and hindered his ability to be a good husband. That’s what Lt. Matthew Kohr contends in a lawsuit against the giant coffee chain. Kohr wants $50,000 for his injuries, and up to $750,000 in punitive damages if he wins. Attorneys for Starbucks say the hot cup accident was Kohr’s fault.
COUNCIL OF STATE APPROVES DIX PROPERTY SALE TO CITY OF RALEIGH
The deal is finally done. Thanks to a unanimous vote the NC Council of State earlier this week, the $52 million deal for the city of Raleigh to purchase over 300 acres of property which has been the home of Dorothea Dix Hospital in downtown is complete. The plan now is to turn the property into destination park where families from across the state can come to relax and recreate. The state Dept. of Health and Human Services will continue to headquarter there in a $1-per year lease deal with the city. The Raleigh City Council must now determine how it will finance the agreement.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 5-7-15
EX-OFFENDERS, ADVOCATES SEEK “SECOND CHANCE” LAWS PASSAGE
[RALEIGH] Those who have served their time for past crimes and their advocates met once again at the state Legislature for their annual “Second Chance” Day to lobby lawmakers to eliminate barriers towards gaining employment. Advocates seek “Ban the Box” legislation that would eliminate questions about a person’s criminal record from job applications. That bill did not make the crossover period for passage this session, but advocates vow to keep pushing for it.
STATE REPAYS $2.8 BILLION JOBLESS BENEFITS DEBT
[RALEIGH] Gov. McCrory and top Republican legislative leaders celebrated the complete repayment of the $2.8 billion debt for unemployment insurance the state owed to the federal government. After just two years, the final payment was made last Friday. In order to pay it off, businesses had to pay higher unemployment insurance fees, and payments to jobless workers, and the number of weeks they could receive them, had to be reduced.
STATE HOUSE BUDGET DUE WEEK OF MAY 18
[RALEIGH] Look for the proposed budget from the NC House to arrive the week of May 18, with votes on it May 20-21, says state House Speaker Tim Moore. That budget proposal will be based on the latest tax revenue projections, reported to be a $400 million surplus. The state Senate is expected to take up the budget once the House proposal is introduced.