Monday, June 22, 2015



By Cash Michaels

FINALLY – On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced that she will call the SC Legislature back into special session, and push for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol grounds. At the insistence of the NAACP and other grounds, the flag was taken down from on top of the state Capitol 15 years ago, only to be moved elsewhere on capital grounds. Now, in the wake of the Charleston church massacre last week, the pressure was mounting to have this current-day symbol of white supremacy removed from SC state government property once and for all.
We applaud Gov. Haley for leading this effort. It’s the right thing to do.
UNSPEAKABLE – The tragic events of last week at Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. will remain with us always, in the same way the events of Sept. 11, 2001 have. They remind us that at any moment, place and time, evil will have its way. So the question becomes, are we ready for it when it does.
Nine precious people, proud members of “Mother” Emmanuel Church, including its outstanding pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and an 87 year-old grandmother, mowed down like animals by a sadistic young white supremacist who attended the weekly prayer meeting solely for the purpose of murdering black people.
Why he chose that church on that night is something we probably won’t know until his trial a year away. But this much we do know – the hate that this young man for black people is unparalleled, and should not be taken lightly. There is more of it out there, much more.
And yet, in the true Christian tradition, relatives of the victims confronted the alleged killer during a court hearing last Friday, and told him in stunning fashion that despite their enormous pain and hurt, they forgave him for his evil deed.
Why? Why would they ever, given all that was taken from them, want to forgive such a hateful animal?
A friend of mine from South Carolina says that GOD has always been at the center of the lives of black South Carolinians because of their history of struggle. So these folks have been raised in the church to face hard times with the strongest of faiths.
I must say that while I pride myself for my Christian beliefs, I don’t know if I would have the strength, and yes, courage to forgive anyone who has hurt my family. So I am in awe of these people, and their strength, given all that has been taken from them.
And yet, there are people who are very critical of these family members for their gallant act, saying that black people have to learn how to fight back. But the question must be asked, fight back with what? Violence is out of the question because black people would never win. Even Dr. King realized that during the 1960’s civil rights movement, which is why nonviolence confrontation was the tool he used to achieve equality.
During my keynote Father’s Day address at Fisher Memorial United Holy Church last Sunday, I suggested that the only way for African-Americans to fight back against racist attacks, against police brutality, against voter suppression and so many other ills that plague us as a community, is to be better, and do better as a community.
That means doing better in our homes and families; doing better in insisting on decent educations for our children; doing better in starting and maintaining businesses and creating opportunities; doing better at challenging the negative images that pervade the media our children watch; doing better at making our churches more viable; doing better and strengthening and supporting our civic organizations; doing better at political involvement and empowerment; and of course, doing better at strengthening our individual and collective faith in GOD.
By remaining weak, we leave ourselves prey for anyone to do anything to us, and our community. Only by strengthening all aspects of our community will we be able to withstand, and overcome.
Besides, forgiveness is not healing, which is much needed after tremendous personal tragedy, but the beginning of healing. The hurt and pain must be stabilized, but it’s not going to happen all at once. And yet, the process must begin at some point. Why not sooner than later?
But there’s something that the critics of forgiveness in the Charleston church massacre forget that is very important – forgiveness does not take the place of justice.
Those wounded family members are able to say, “I forgive you” because they have faith and trust that the South Carolina criminal justice system will do its job by fairly trying and convicting the alleged killer, based on the evidence. As long as justice for his acts is assured, the family members can slowly but surely loosen their grip just enough to trust the process. With nine murders, the alleged killer faces the death penalty for sure, and thus far I’ve not heard anyone oppose that reality.
The massacre at Emmanuel AME Church has taught us all a lot of lessons, lessons that we must pass on to our children – lessons in faith, courage and resilience. It’s how all of us use these lessons for our betterment that will ultimately determine our future.
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 And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (
           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.


            [RALEIGH] In a rare unanimous vote, the state House Tuesday rejected the NC Senate budget proposal, now officially setting up the framework for a conference showdown where the two sides will have to compromise. The House budget proposal spends upwards of 6.5 percent more than current spending, something the Senate rejected, saying that more tax cuts for citizens and corporations should be the order of the day. The House also passed a Medicaid plan in a separate measure which removes the state-run health insurance program from DHHS management, and sets up North Carolina-based companies to offer services.

            [CHARLOTTE] Owner Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets will host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in the Queen City, announced NBA Commissioner Adam Silver this week. It will be the first the game will be in Charlotte since 1991. Jordan, still considered one of the greatest NBA players the world has ever known, says this is a sign that the Hornets are on their way back to winning and prominence. He said progress has been slow, but his organization is working hard to make it happen.

            [RALEIGH]  In a surprise move, Republican state lawmakers amended their 2013 voter ID law last week, relaxing the requirement that as of 2016, all registered voters must show a state-approved photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot. Now, in lieu of a government-issued ID, voters who are unable to produce one can bring an expired driver’s license or state-issue ID that’s less than four years old. Voters will also be able to sign an affidavit attesting to why they were unable to produce a photo ID. These changes now call into question a lawsuit against the law pending in state court. Superior Court Michael Morgan has given both the state, which is defending the law, and the plaintiffs, who want to see the law thrown out, until July 2 to decide whether the case should go forward.


            A Wake school bus driver was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of assault on a child under 12. Jacqueline Harris Dennis, 50 of Fuquay-Varina, is accused of assaulting both a 7-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy on her school bus. She resigned he job three days before her arrest. She began working for the school system in October 2012.

            The Durham County Board of Commissioners this week passed their budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1. The county’s tax rate will remain the same at .7931  cents per $100. Durham Public Schools will see $123 million of the total $564 million budget, a 2.7 percent increase over this year. A new fire district was also created covering Bethesda and Parkwood.

            Out of concern for the number of students who must cross the road to a waiting school bus in the early morning hours, the Wake County Public School System is now implementing a new policy which gives the bus driver greater control in signaling when it is safe to cross.  The new policy begins July 7.


New study: N.C.’s reckless use of death penalty threatens the innocent
Citizens face capital prosecution, despite evidence too weak to prove guilt

DURHAM — Death penalty advocates say executions are needed to punish a small handful of the “worst of the worst” criminals. However, a new report from the Center for Death Penalty Litigation finds that the death penalty in North Carolina is being used broadly and indiscriminately, with little regard for the strength of the evidence against defendants — and putting innocent people at risk of being sentenced to die. 

On Trial for Their Lives: The Hidden Costs of Wrongful Capital Prosecutions in North Carolina  is the first study in the United States of cases in which people were charged or prosecuted capitally but never convicted. The study finds that 56 people since 1989 — about two a year — have been capitally prosecuted in North Carolina despite evidence too weak to prove their guilt. The wrongful prosecutions happened in 31 counties in every region of the state. 

The report comes on the heels of the exoneration of Henry McCollum, North Carolina’s longest serving death row inmate. It exposes another facet of a capital punishment system that targets innocent people with the death penalty. Considering that only 40 people have been executed in North Carolina in the time period the report covers, more people have faced the death penalty and not been convicted of a crime than have been executed in North Carolina.

“Many say we need the death penalty to punish the very worst offenders for the most heinous crimes, but that is not how the death penalty is being used,” said senior CDPL attorney Ken Rose, who represented McCollum for 20 years. “People are being charged capitally based on the thinnest of evidence. Prosecutors are using the threat of the death penalty to persuade people to plead guilty. If we keep using the death penalty like this, North Carolina will sentence more innocent people to death.”

While it is inevitable that innocent people will occasionally be swept up in investigations, the report finds that the system took years to correct its errors and that shoddy investigations or misconduct were frequently a factor.

These unjust prosecutions had a devastating impact on the lives of the defendants  — as well as a large public cost. The report finds that:

●        The state spent nearly $2.4 million in defense costs alone to pursue these failed cases capitally. Had the defendants been charged non-capitally, all that money could have been saved. (This conservative figure does not take into account the additional prosecution and incarceration costs in capital cases.)
●        Defendants who were wrongfully prosecuted spent an average of two years in jailbefore they were acquitted by juries or had their charges dismissed by prosecutors.
●        The 56 defendants in the study spent a total of 112 years in jail, despite never being convicted of a crime.
●        By the time they were cleared of wrongdoing, many defendants lost their homes, jobs, businesses, and savings accounts, and saw personal relationships destroyed.They received no compensation after they were cleared of charges.
●        Serious errors or misconduct played a role in many cases. The 56 cases involved instances of witness coercion, hidden evidence, bungled investigations, the use of improper forensic evidence, and highly unreliable witnesses.

Interviews with defendants and attorneys show that North Carolina is using the threat of the death penalty as leverage to encourage defendants to confess or accept plea bargains, a strategy for securing convictions in cases with weak evidence.

“National polls tell us that Americans across the country have become increasingly uncomfortable with the administration of the death penalty in the United States,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a national non-profit organization that provides analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. “This study shows that the misconduct and miscarriages of justices that so frequently occur in capital cases are not limited to cases in which the death penalty is imposed. The types of wrongful capital prosecutions documented in this report can only further undermine public confidence that the death penalty can be administered fairly.”

The 56 cases included in the report represent a conservative estimate of the number of wrongful capital prosecutions during the past 25 years. The state does not track such cases, and researchers did not consider cases in which they could not find adequate information. They also used strict criteria that excluded cases where the defendant was convicted of any lesser offense related to the murder.

To read the full report, see a detailed database of all 56 cases, and hear the stories of people who were wrongfully prosecuted for their lives, go to  

           MARTYRS FOR THE CAUSE - Without realizing it, the nine victims of the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church massacre have become civil rights martyrs, leaders say. Their alleged killer, a white supremacist, wanted to start a race war. Instead, his violent action so shocked the nation and the world, that now serious efforts are underway to remove the Confederate battle flag from all state government auspices, and major retailers are now banning the sale of its image from their stores.                                               

By Cash Michaels

            In the aftermath of the Charleston church massacre, Republican leaders, like North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, are calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from government auspices.
            Meanwhile, major retailers Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart, Amazon, and even eBay, have announced that they will ban the sale of all merchandise with the Confederate battle flag insignia on it.
            “We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags and many items containing this image because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” said a statement from eBay.
            The move is now belated confirmation that the Confederate battle flag – used during the Civil War by Southern states to defend slavery, and later raised in defiance by the South in refusal to the 1954 US Supreme Court decision to end racial segregation in schools – is an offensive symbol of white supremacy, especially since white hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Skinheads appropriated it as their symbol.
            Indeed the alleged killer charged in last week’s massacre at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., Dylann Storm Roof, 21, is seen in several pictures on his purported website posing with a Confederate battle flag. Roof allegedly fatally shot nine black congregation members during a prayer meeting at the church, saying that he wanted to start a “race war” because “blacks rape [white women} and are taking over our country.”
            Roof was captured without incident in Shelby, NC the day after the shootings.
This week, the governors of five Southern states, led by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, called for the flag to be removed in association with their state governments.
In a dramatic announcement Monday, Gov. Haley, flanked by African-American clergy and leaders, including Congressman James Clyburn [D-SC], said that even though there are many South Carolinians who still regard the Confederate battle flag as an important part of their culture and heritage that commemorates their Civil War dead, the flag, for many others, represents racial division and hatred.
Haley indicated that she will call state lawmakers back into special session to debate removing the flag from state property, and to a museum. Fifteen years ago, under tremendous pressure from an NAACP-led boycott, SC lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate flag from to top of the Capitol Dome, but still display it prominently on capitol grounds.
On Tuesday, the SC House overwhelmingly passed an amendment to debate removal. A two-thirds vote of both SC legislative chambers is required any final decision. The move was backed by the state’s two Republican US senators, Lindsay Graham and Tim Scott.
Also on Tuesday, a spokesperson for NC Gov. Pat McCrory said he will seek to change a law that allows the Confederate battle flag insignia to be used on specialty license plates sold by the state. Reportedly 2,064 of those plates have been issued to members of the NC chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose official insignia employs the flag.
            Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has also called for the removal of the controversial insignia from his state’s specialty plates.
            The move to purge state-issued special plates comes after the US Supreme Court last week, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that states refusal to issue them is not a violation of free speech since the license plates are state property. The High Court ruling came before the Emmanuel AME Church massacre.
            In Mississippi, the House speaker, Republican Phillip Gunn, also called for the Confederate emblem to be removed from that state’s flag, which had been established in 1894. In Tennessee, some lawmakers want to retire a bust of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest to the museum and away from the state capital.
             At press time Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the removal of the Confederate flags from the state Capitol.
            Arkansas, Georgia and Florida officials are also taking a close look at removing any remaining vestiges from their state governments.
            Flag supporters vow to fight any removal of the symbol, saying that it has nothing to do with racism, and nothing to do with the Charleston murders.
            President Barack Obama has condemned the massacre and the lack of gun control restrictions from the Congress. He also said in a podcast interview that racism is still “in the DNA of America.”
Of the 2016 presidential hopefuls, thus far former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has directly called the Charleston church murders what many believe they are – terrorism.
            “That night, word of the killings struck like a blow to the soul,” Clinton told a church audience in Florissant, Missouri Tuesday evening.  “How do we make sense of such an evil act – an act of racist terrorism perpetrated in a house of God?”
            Clinton, who also called the Confederate battle flag, “a symbol of our nation’s racist past,” went on to say that “…America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.”
            On the Republican side, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the Charleston church massacre “an accident,” for which he has been rounded criticized. Other GOP presidential candidates have danced around the issue.
            Black Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson, however, has been direct in saying that the murders were a direct result racial hate, and that the Confederate flag should be removed.
            Meanwhile, the body of Emmanuel A.M.E. Church pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney laid in state in the SC Capitol Wednesday as his colleagues paid respect.  President Obama is scheduled to attend Rev. Pinckney’s funeral on Friday, and deliver the eulogy.

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