Ding Dong…Antifa Calling

08.20.2017 by @WinterwoodGrace

 

Nazi:

1 :  a member of a German fascist party controlling Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler

2 often not capitalized a :  one who espouses the beliefs and policies of the German Nazisfascistb :  one who is likened to a German Nazi :  a harshly domineering, dictatorial, or intolerant person a grammar nazi

Fascism:

1 often capitalized :  a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

2 :  a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control early instances of army fascism and brutality — J. W. Aldridge

Berlin police arrest 35 neo-Nazis at Rudolf Hess rally

The main stream media and social media have exploded in the wake of  events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both would have you believe that there is no violence on the left, and indeed, groups like Antifa are peacefully working to bring change to our societies, our country as a whole. The only problem with that rhetoric is that Antifa is actively recruiting on platforms such as Facebook. Further complicating matters is the fact that the recruiters are not paying attention to the people they are actually trying to recruit. Naturally, when a friend received a recruitment message, she forwarded it to me. This was not an attempt to recruit me, but a hope that I would expose it for what it truly is. This message is a call to violence against any that do not agree with their point of view.

-Copied and pasted and do the same;

“Hey, are you looking for ways to support your local antifa that don’t involve being on the front lines? Spread this around everywhere. Copy and Paste, Do not share this!

“Look, people. This is fucking serious. Please read. We aren’t glitter bombing Nazis. We aren’t throwing flour on them. We definitely aren’t going to peacefully shut them down. They want to kill us, they said so in Charlottesville. They made it very clear where they stand and how they plan on taking action. Their violence needs to be met with great force. If you are not down to physically fight these fuckers, please stay off the front lines. You’ll get hurt and your pacifism will be a liability, resulting in others being hurt. Run support. We need more support.

-Go to a street medic training

-Run jail support

-If you’re good at using the internet (as in better than average), learn how to securely (and correctly) doxx these people.

-If you’re a creative type, write a ‘zine about anti-fascism (we can chat about specifics if you can’t think of anything) -If you’re EMT trained, HOST a street medic training

-Become a legal observer through the National Lawyers Guild

-Set up letter writing events to send to political prisoners

-There’s a lot of parents who want to fight but can’t because of their kids, watch their kids for them

-If you can cook, organize food drives/potlucks for the larger demonstrations.

-Help people in more counseling/therapy ways.

-When organizing, inclusivity is not optional, and is mandatory to win.

-Listen to the concerns of those most affected

-If you are white, use that privilege to engage your racist relatives and neighbors in thoughtful discussion to change hearts and minds so that burden doesn’t fall on our comrades of color.

Copy/paste. Do not share. Also, add any extra support jobs you think of.”

So much focus is being put on hate groups and racism, the bigger picture goes unseen. If this country goes into a civil war, we will be ripe for a takeover by ISIS, or any other extremist group that wants us. The main stream media promoting the violence and hate only fuels a fire that needs to be extinguished. They are helping Americans to lose sight of what really matters right now, which is a united front in the face of adversity.

 

Let’s face it, this homegrown violence has nothing to do with statues. Those statues have been there for a number of years and nobody had a problem with it. Statues don’t hurt anything. They didn’t hurt anybody during President Obama’s tenure and they haven’t hurt anybody during President Trump’s tenure. The statues are merely an excuse to incite violence, and when you respond to that you play right into the hands of the real enemy. How can a race claim to be oppressed and unable to get past events that happened hundreds of years ago, but can skip right on past a foreign terror attack on our own home soil? That doesn’t wash.

You can’t blame President Trump for white nationalists, Antifa, BLM, neo-nazis, KKK, or any other organized group. These existed long before Trump became the president. The sooner people learn that we do not live in a democracy, perhaps the better off we will be. We elect out leaders by a representative vote, and we speak to our government the same way. It is shameful for an elected official, such as a state senator, to publicly wish for the death of any person, including the president. There may be frustration and trauma, but that does not give anyone the right to call for murder. I was very frustrated and traumatized by the power company this past month. I don’t wish them dead, I didn’t drive a car into anyone representing them. I am grown, and having been raised by responsible members of society to be a responsible member of society, I know better than to act like a 5 year old having a temper tantrum. I can, and do, wish for things to change with the power company, but I’m not going to threaten to do them harm if I don’t get my way.

Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes, I believe I am. I believe that regardless of politics, if my brother is in danger, I should help protect him. Regardless of race, if my brother needs help, I should try to give what help I can. I believe that regardless of my brother’s religion, if he is hungry, I should try to help feed him. I believe that regardless of my brother’s personal beliefs, if he is dead, I should help care for those he left behind. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. That doesn’t mean that I will give charity or sacrifice my family for my brother. I may give my brother a job, so that he may feed and shelter his family, I may offer him training so that he may defend his family. I expect my brother to work as hard as I do. I’m no bleeding heart. I don’t believe in the concept of a something for nothing Utopia. I do however, wholeheartedly believe that we can be better people to each other than what we currently show.

 

If you feel your race is an issue that allows others to hold you back, reevaluate your sphere. There are hundreds of thousands of people of color that are more successful than I am. They obviously worked harder than I have. That’s on me, not them. If you want a better life, go get it. A statue isn’t what is holding you back. Neither is a president. Look inside yourself and find the person you want to be, and work to become that person. If you keep allowing the agendas of others to dictate your life, you may wake up one day and discover you no longer have the freedom to become the person you want to be.

As always: #BeTheRain

 

The case of Marcellus Williams. Reasonable doubt? Without a doubt.

 


08.19.2017 by @51kikey

Marcellus Williams was arrested in November of 1999 for the murder of Felicia Gayle on August 11th the year prior. Up until a jailhouse informant disclosed details that Williams had admitted to the murder in June of 99 whilst being held for an unrelated arrest Gayle’s murder case had garnered no leads. With this newfound information, law enforcement talked with Williams’ ex-girlfriend who also disclosed details pertaining to his possible guilt. At the time of going to press, Marcellus Williams will be put to death this coming Tuesday.

I first heard of this case 24 hours ago. One whole day. Time related pressures can lead to focus but can also lead to errors. When I heard of Williams’ possible injustice I attempted to find as much possible information I could. One problem when sourcing information is that it’s just as easy to source mis-information. The real problem lies in being able to differentiate between the two. Williams’ situation does not lend itself to dithering however so I’ve had to make some compromised decisions. I have no strong opinions whether Williams is guilty or innocent. From what I have been able to source though, I do have a very strong opinion that Williams’ case requires further attention. I will go through what I believe to be reliable sources and attempt to explain why I believe it to be the case that Marcellus Williams should be granted an evidentiary hearing. Four days time is just around the corner and possible errors made in Williams’ case will not be rectifiable after that.

Questions have been raised relating to DNA evidence or, lack-of regarding Williams’ conviction. Until recent appeals, results of DNA testing on the murder weapon had not come to light. Bode Cellmark Forensics were tasked with as to whether Williams’ profile could be linked to that of the knife used to murder the victim. Gayle was stabbed 43 times with a large butchers knife with seven of the wounds deemed to be fatal. Their findings that Williams could not be excluded from the murder weapon as the results gathered were ‘inconclusive’ have been strongly countered by 2 further independent studies into the results from testing. Whilst integrity has not been questioned, internal protocols relating to Bode Cellmark Forensics have.

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/pdf/HampikianDNAReport_Williams.pdf

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/pdf/RudinDNAReport_Williams.pdf

Amazingly the Missouri Supreme Court took less than one day to dismiss these reports by independent experts and also offered no reasoning as to why this was the case. All the more amazing as the man appealing, could have his life taken from him in just four days time. Surely if there is possibly an erroneous conviction that is leading to an imminent execution time should be taken and reasons given? Added to the findings of two independent experts that Williams’ DNA was proven to not be present on the murder weapon is the presence of an unknown 3rd parties DNA. Coupled with the fact that skin cells found under Gayle’s fingernails were not that of Williams and no DNA pertaining to the convicted was found at the crime scene, an evidentiary hearing should be granted in my opinion. My opinion is not based purely on DNA findings however.

Ineffective counsel is an often used term to lay the blame squarely at a defence counsel’s door. It is often easier to blame the individual than the system itself. Unreasonable workloads and the vast disparity in funds used to defend and prosecute defendants tend towards an uneven playing field. Ineffective counsel can of course manifest from poor representation due to lack of expertise as well. However, I don’t believe in blindly bashing public defenders. In my opinion, the system is clearly at fault here and crippling workloads lead to time constraints that can affect defendants. Nevertheless, whoever is apportioned the blame for this is of little consequence to the defendant. It is their right to be represented by a professional who is able to elicit their best practice towards any given case.

Williams’ own original counsel cited time constraints due to a heavy workload regarding a concurrent case as to their failure to cite Williams’ background pre-sentencing. Whilst, not a slight at the defence, Williams’ rights were hindered by this omission. Two out of four federal judges agreed with this opinion as the defendant’s case was reviewed by the 8th Circuit Court. The following 2-1 decision in favour to vacate the original Habeas Corpus decision left Williams looking to the Supreme Court for appeal and relief. Linked below is the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.

www.documentcloud.org/documents/3932140-PETITION-FOR-WRIT-OF-HABEAS-CORPUS-MARCELLUS.html

The unsolved murder of Debra McClain one month prior to that of Gayle by similar means and location also raises questions of a possible connection between the two. McClain was murdered in Pagedale on July 18th 1998, less than four weeks before that of Gayle. It is important to acknowledge that St Louis County in Missouri, is an area heavily burdened by crime. Trusting to reports St Louis has been gauged as the most dangerous city in the entire United States. Varying surveys have other Cities jockeying for the top spot but when multiple examples are taken into account, it is clear St Louis ranks high.

Most Dangerous Cities In The United States

The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the United States

Pagedale lies 7 miles per the crow from St Louis and whilst the knowledge that St Louis City is awash with homicides lessens the possibility that the two crimes are connected it also furthers the prospect that Williams was one of multiple suspects that could be linked to the murder of Gayle. It’s a frightening statistic to realise that 6 out every 10,000 inhabitants of St Louis end up becoming a homicide statistic. Easy to see how perhaps Public Defenders have too much work on their plates to operate at maximum potential? These problems are related and are a breeding ground for potential errors of justice.

Jury selection is an integral part of how the US judicial system operates. After all, the power held by these 12 individuals to deliberate over the freedom and future of the accused is tangible. Rightly so, much significance is made of the Voir Dire process. Voir Dire is the means by which a jury is selected. The number of potential jurors interviewed for a final place on the panel can number into the hundreds. Both the Prosecution and Defence will attempt to have what they believe to be the best jury panel to suit their goals. A questionnaire is filled in by each and every potential juror and then the interview process begins. Voir Dire aims to assemble 12 jurors of non-bias. 12 jurors that can assimilate the evidence given to them at trial and come to a decision on the guilt or innocence of the defendant before them relating to the laws put in place. Missouri’s demographics for 2010 revealed a population made up by 83% white ethnicity and 12% black ethnicity. St Louis, one of its largest cities on the other hand was made up of 44% white ethnicity and 49% black ethnicity. Williams’ case was heard before 11 white jurors and 1 black juror.

http://censusviewer.com/state/MO

http://censusviewer.com/city/MO/St.%20Louis

To suggest that white jurors are more likely to find a black defendant guilty of the murder of a white victim is a disservice to the individual. The same applies to suggest that a black juror is more likely to find a black defendant innocent of the same crime. I am not implying that jurors selected necessarily showed bias however; the ratio selected trends to that of the demographic of Missouri and not to that of St Louis. By know means should these selection processes be run by demographical statistics but history needs to be respected. Cases such as, Andre Cole, Herbert Smulls and Kimber Edwards were all sentenced to death by all white juries after potential black jurors had been dismissed by Prosecutors and judges alike. Edwards sentence was commuted at a later date. Cole and Smulls will not be afforded that luxury as both have already been executed. Were Cole, Smulls, Kimber and now Williams afforded a fair jury selection? This I cannot definitively answer. All I will say though is that racial make-ups of jury panels are important. The process by which these panels are appointed can play as important a part in the defendants fate as the subsequent trial itself. I am sure of circumstances arising where lopsided juries can be reasonably explained. I am also sure of circumstances where they cannot. Aspects of Voir Dire should be addressed.

Marcellus Williams is due to be executed at 6pm on Tuesday the 22nd of August. My opinion of his innocence or guilt is not possible and more importantly not relevant. My opinion on him being granted due process and a platform for evidence to be heard before an evidentiary hearing is relevant and a right that should be afforded to all that come before any judiciary in the world, let alone the United States.

I am an advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty. At present 31 States still have the death penalty at their disposal if they feel fit to use it. The idea that justice will be served to the families of victims and peace will follow from the death of the guilty party does not ring true to me. It is not just the possibility of killing an innocent person but also the mindset that these actions can be seen as healing to a community. The death penalty is clearly not a deterrent but rather an act of lowering oneself to that of a murderer. I’ll leave you with a quote by Marietta Jaeger, a woman whose seven-year-old daughter was kidnapped and murdered in the United States back in 1973. Words of wisdom spoken despite indescribable pain.

“Concerning the claim of justice for the victim’s family, I say there is no amount of retaliatory deaths that would compensate to me the inestimable value of my daughter’s life, nor would they restore her to my arms. To say that the death of any other person would be just retribution is to insult the immeasurable worth of our loved ones who are victims. We cannot put a price on their lives. That kind of justice would only dehumanize and degrade us because it legitimates an animal instinct for gut-level blood thirsty revenge…. In my case, my own daughter was such a gift of joy and sweetness and beauty, that to kill someone in her name would have been to violate and profane the goodness of her life; the idea is offensive and repulsive to me.”

If you wish to sign the petition to halt the execution of Marcellus Williams, please do so here:

https://www.change.org/p/eric-greitens-do-not-execute-marcellus-williams?recruiter=640674650&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive

#BeTheRain

Did Investigators Stack the Deck When Finding Accusers?

 


08.18.2017 by @WinterwoodGrace

 

Jannie Ligons was the first in what was to become a long line of accusers for Daniel Holtzclaw. The detectives working this case latched onto her story like a drowning man clutches at a life preserver, and set out to destroy Daniel’s life. And so far, they have managed to do just that. Starting from that first report on June 18, there were a total of 21 accusers claiming sexual assault. Of those 21 accusers, 20 were female and 1 was a male. Of those original 21, 8 were found to be baseless and without merit. That means the detectives determined that those 8 accusers were lying. It begs the question of why those 8 would lie, but Jannie Ligons wouldn’t, doesn’t it? To be fair, the first press coverage occurred on June 23, which would tend to draw out the scammers. However, to believe that no one would attempt to scam prior to news coverage is simplistic thinking. As long as there are people, there will be those looking for a quick way to beat the system and profit at the same time. Why should Jannie Ligons be exempt from that investigatory thought process?

It has been widely reported that there were 3 accusers that came forward on their own. This is not entirely accurate. Jannie Ligons did indeed initially come forward. (Daniel was convicted of 2 counts of sexual assault and given 21 years for Ligons.) Terri Morris had complained in the weeks prior to Ligons complaint, but Morris’ complaint initially gave detectives no reason to think it was Daniel Holtzclaw. Her complaint originally indicated a different car, different description of the officer, and an area where Daniel didn’t patrol. It took several tellings before she was finally spoon fed the “facts” that detectives needed to hear to charge Daniel. Another thing to note is that Terri Morris was a known drug addict with severe mental issues. This information was naturally excluded from any reports by the media. Daniel was found not guilty of any charges in regard to Terri Morris. The third person to come forward voluntarily was Shardayreon Hill on September 19, 2014. This was most definitely after the media had taken this story and ran with it. Hill  accused Daniel of sexually assaulting her in the recovery room of the hospital where she was receiving care for an intentional overdose of PCP. She also claims he came to her home in his personal vehicle on his off day and assaulted her there. Hill may be one of the most controversial accusers because there is the suspicion that not only did she lie, but also that Detective Gregory was aware that she was lying and proceeded anyway. Daniel was found not guilty of the charges associated with Hill as well.

The month of July brought Kala Lyles and Sherry Ellis to the attention of  the detectives in Daniel’s case. Both women claim that Daniel had taken them to the “abandoned schoolyard” where they were assaulted. Kala Lyles’ claim is that her assault occurred on June 18, the same day as Jannie Ligons. Remember Ligons’ claim is that her assault occurred around 2 in the morning. Therefore, if Lyles was to be believed, he assaulted her shortly before assaulting Ligons. Fortunately, the jury did not believe, and Daniel was found not guilty of the charges associated with Lyles. Sherry Ellis claims she was assaulted on May 7 by Daniel, a man she described as a short, black male. Daniel’s GPS  information did not support her account either, yet he was convicted of 4 counts and given 62 years.

The majority of Daniel’s accusers were found in August of 2014. Detectives made contact with 5 accusers in a 3 day span, from August 13 through August 15. Florene Mathis, Carla Johnson, Tabitha Barnes, Carla Raines and Rosetta Grate all accused Daniel of varying degrees of sexual assault. Of these 5 women, 2 women were unsuccessful, and Daniel was found not guilty of charges related to Florene Mathis and Carla Raines. Charges related to the complaint from Carla Johnson netted 16 years, while charges stemming from the complaint filed by Barnes netted 18 years, and charges relating to the complaint by Grate added 20 years.

 

The final 3 accusers were found in October. The most notable of these is Adaira Gardner, a troubled 17 year old girl that told her mother she had met a “hot cop” and they were going to date. Her mother denied this in court, even though her statement was presented. Her mother also denied filing a complaint against Gardner for battery, even though the complaint was also presented in court. Gardner is the only accuser that has any suggestion of physical evidence to support her claims. Minute amounts of her DNA was located on Daniel’s pants. While more suggestive of secondary transfer or “touch” DNA, it was nevertheless misrepresented by the prosecution in the most derogatory, inflammatory way possible. Daniel received 50 years for charges stemming from her complaint. He received 46 years for charges stemming from the complaint filed by Syrita Bowen, and 30 years for the charges in regards to the complaint filed by Regina Copeland. Totaled together, Daniel Holtzclaw received 263 years. The math is pretty straightforward.

What is perhaps not so obvious, unless you do the math, is that over 60% of Daniel’s accusers were found to be untruthful or not believable. Of the original 21 complaints, he was only tried on 13, and only received convictions from 8. That comes out to 62%.  In the grand scheme of things, 62% is a pretty large margin. What made the other 38% believable? According to jurors, the misrepresented DNA evidence is what convinced them. Let that soak in. DNA evidence intentionally misrepresented by the prosecutor convicted Daniel Holtzclaw. No other evidence, because there was no other evidence.

 

Added to that is the simple fact that the prosecution overwhelmed the jury with the sheer number of accusers and complaints handled within a single trial. With 13 accusers and 36 charges, they gambled on the law of averages for a conviction. It was a gamble that they won.

 

We cannot tell you what to believe in this case, or in any other case, for that matter. We ask you to look at the facts for yourself, do the research, read the information available and make an informed decision. Would you be comfortable if it was your husband, brother, or son on trial in Daniel’s place? How confident are you that the complaints, and ultimately the convictions were valid and fair? Do you see reasonable doubt? Ask yourself if there is something more that needs to be done. We are doing our small part to help Daniel Holtzclaw, by bringing you information on his case. We hope you decide to help in the fight to free Daniel Holtzclaw. You have a voice. Make it heard.

Please check back soon for more on the ongoing @WinterwoodGrace #BeTheRain series on the Daniel Holtzclaw case.

Dakota Access Pipeline: Where Do We Stand?

 


08.18.2017 by @Reform_Justice

 

Almost exactly a year ago today we embarked upon a mission and headed out for a late Summer rendezvous with the Lakota Sioux in Cannonball, North Dakota. The Standing Rock Reservation resides in the heart of the Great Plains. We felt a kindred spiritual tie to the people standing up for their rights against Corporate America and set off in hopes of helping bring this story to others. Little did we know we would be stepping into a truly historic moment. The people and the enduring Indigenous Movement that greeted us upon arrival are already the stuff of legend. The story of the Water Protectors is far from over.

The courageous Lakota Sioux at that time had been joined by several thousand fellow Water Protectors from many supporting Tribes from around the nation and abroad. In mid to late August 2016, the fight for water was just beginning to gain real national exposure. Very soon thereafter, a powder keg would explode and a grass roots movement captivate the World. One year later we want to update where things stand as the movement has moved off the front pages somewhat, yet the legal battles continue.

While the fight for water protection took center stage, we at BTR saw at the heart of this struggle an outcry from indigenous people. A people who had once again felt lied to and cheated by a federal US government and the interests they serve. This is nothing new to Native Americans. Our country is built upon the mistreatment and disregard for our native ancestral peoples. Treaty rights and promises have been broken time and time again. So many times, in fact, that the Federal Government seldom even considers whether they are violating Treaty rights anymore.

In future articles, we will look deeper into the ways the US Government has lied to and deceived our Native American forefathers. The story of US oppression and genocide is staggering. The mistreatment of minorities in this country has been ongoing since inception. We will also look deeper into how indigenous movements continue to fight for environmental rights we should all be concerned with, both here, and in other countries. Though the Lakota Sioux and their vast array of supporters would not so claim a year ago, this fight was not over water, it was over Race.

Russell Means American Indian Movement leader involved in protests including the 1969 Alcatraz Occupation and Wounded Knee, SD in 1973

Our nation and the capitalistic forces that drive it are legendary for abusing minorities. Not even 250 years into existence, we have allowed slavery, turned a blind eye to the manipulation of minority labor, and have put laws in place to ensure oppression. Recently we have been asked by a new President, to “look at the other side” of White Supremacy and Hate Mongering. We try not to veer into the political lane or spectrum here, but in some instances, it’s unavoidable. These and other issues need to reach a broader audience and need the help of concerned people everywhere.

Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Interior (DOI) were somewhat more sympathetic to the plights of Indigenous people and ordered an EIS or Environmental Impact Study be done before the Army Corps of Engineers issued any final permits for boring under the Missouri River or Lake Oahe.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs:

“Indian Affairs (IA) is the oldest bureau of the Department of the Interior. Established in 1824, IA currently provides services (directly or through contracts, grants or compacts) to approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.  There are 567 federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives in the United States.”

https://www.bia.gov/

was tapped under Barack Obama to help mediate and negotiate Treaty Rights and to consider Environmental Impact for the Standing Rock Reservation, The Cheyenne River Reservation, and everyone within the Missouri River Basin and watershed. The EPA was a vastly different agency a year ago and was under mandate to protect our environment. The Army Corp of Engineers answered to a leadership concerned with Climate Change, our national carbon footprint, and how public works projects affect our collective future. That governmental goodwill evaporated with the November 2016 election of Donald J Trump.

Trump advances controversial oil pipelines with executive action

Trump is (or was) a stakeholder in Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, Keystone XL, Trans-Canada, and many other natural gas and crude oil pipelines. Whether he divested before taking office is neither here nor there. Within days of taking the oath of office, one of Trump’s very FIRST Executive Orders was to direct the ACOE to issue permits allowing the final DAPL aquifer crossings (thus allowing completion of the pipeline).  In several quick strokes of the pen, he also revived the previously dead Keystone XL pipeline.

Those mandates have now been struck down by a US District Judge. In June US District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ruled Trump’s EO invalid and ordered the ACOE to complete the EIS as previously ordered.

US District of Columbia Decision

Oil is now of course flowing from the Bakken oil fields to distribution centers in Illinois and beyond. A new administration has since pulled out of the Paris Summit and other global agreements dealing with renewable energy. Instead, this administration seems to favor fossil fuels and ignoring the development of wind, solar, or other renewable technologies. It would appear at the very least, that this administration is more concerned with the lobby that got him elected than the constituents he was sworn to serve. Policies favoring fossil fuel development at a point in history when the entire world is moving away from these resources and developing new clean environmentally friendly technologies.

The Coal Industry Is In Decline So Trump Considering Bailout.

The picture that heads this article shows the Bakken Oil Fields at night via satellite. The image is breathtaking as we see the flaring (burning off of gases during extraction and refinement processes) illuminate the Great Plains in an area larger than Denver Colorado to the Southwest.  So many questions and issues are embedded within the DAPL saga and ongoing struggle. Issues of Race and Native American relations, environmental impact for drinking water, carbon emissions and standards, and global policy on Climate Change to name but a few.

DAPL Developer Spills Drilling Fluids Into Wetlands While Constructing Another Pipeline

The Problem

Where does it go from here? We here at Be the Rain will remain steadfast in focusing on environmental issues as well as other areas of justice and social reform. This article is the first in a new series looking at these and other related developments moving forward. We hope you will become involved in these incredibly important issues and will take up the fight.

 

 

Here are some links to ETP investments and corporate speculation:

Energy Transfer: Can This MLP Be Saved?

Energy Transfer Partners: Merger With Sunoco Logistics Partners Bodes Well

Some related reading on Trump Administration Environmental policies 2017:

A Running List of How Trump Is Changing the Environment

Trump’s Interests vs. America’s: Dubai Edition

 

 

The Icelandic Six- Six False Confessions On Ice Since 1974

 

08.16.2017 by 51kikey

Iceland rests in the North Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by cold waters and inhabited almost entirely around its Southern coastline. Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, sits within its Southwest corner and makes up for over one third of the country’s population. By comparison the entire population of Iceland is less than that of the United States’ smallest State, Wyoming by almost half. A fairer comparison would be to that of a County within the 50 States. Jefferson County New York, Calhoun County Alabama and Napa County California all have similar populations to that of the most densely populated city in Iceland of approximately 120,000 inhabitants.

Back in January of 1974, Gudmundur Einarsson, inebriated after an evening spent at a club, unwisely took the 10km journey home by foot in freezing conditions. The start of his journey was witnessed by several people including drivers as Gudmundur failed in attempting to hitch a ride. He was never seen again. His body never recovered. Approximately 10 months passed when a second man, Geirfinnur Einarsson (non related) also went missing after visiting a harbour cafe local to his home. Due to the low crime rate within Iceland as a whole the police rightly or wrongly drew a connection between both men and began an investigation. The investigation was carried out, yet no evidence of foul play was forthcoming. That is until Erla Bolladottir, a 20-year-old local was brought in for questioning on an unrelated embezzlement charge some 2 years later. During law enforcement’s investigation of Bolladottir’s fraudulent activities (She had embezzled close to 1 million Icelandic Krona/ 10 thousand US dollars) they showed Bolladottir a photograph of  Gudmundur. Bolladottir recognized the man and said she had met him at a party some time ago and that she could recall a dream that had occurred on the night that he went missing. A dream that involved her boyfriend, Saevar Ciesielski with what was possibly a body standing outside of her room. Ciesielski was known to the police at the time as part of a group of ‘hippies’ that were involved in thievery and violence. Ciesielski and four of his friends were brought in along with Bolladottir for questioning and so begins their story. A story of false confessions and in turn false narratives tailored to a crime that needed to be accounted for whether the truth or not.

I shall not go into great detail as to the chronological details of their case. Below is a far more in depth retelling of their story. BBC 4 in Great Britain and Netflix have recently released a fascinating documentary based on all of their plights.

The Strange Case of the Innocents Who Confessed to Murders They Didn’t Commit


The Icelandic Six

How do six people confess to the murder of two unrelated individuals over the space of ten months? False confessions have been highlighted in the US over recent years with many cases being placed under the microscope. From Juan Rivera to Kevin Fox and Charles Erickson to Jeffrey Deskovic, examples of false and coerced confessions continue to litter the history of the United States justice system. Cases of individuals admitting to crimes they did not commit are commonplace, yet awareness is being raised that a confession does not necessarily equate to guilt. There is a long way to go but, steps in the right direction are being taken. Surely though, six individuals confessing to crimes spanning two separate murders is unheard of? This is not the case however. One need not look no further than the Central park 5 or the Norfolk 4 for case studies that offer striking similarities. Still, the question remains. What factors lead to these extraordinary confessions?

The Central Park Five: A Story of Injustice

The events that lead up to the false confessions in Iceland deserve to be looked at in greater detail. Saevar Ciesielski who had fathered a child with Erla Bolladottir, spent 615 days in solitary confinement and was subjected to 180 interrogations that lasted in excess of 340 hours during this time. Whilst in solitary confinement, Ciesielski endured sleep deprivation. Caused by prison guards who named him ‘The rat’ as ‘He was guilty after all’ and due to his fear of water, Saevar’s head was often submerged in water with similar results akin to that of water-boarding. Bolladottir, the mother of a baby at the time was placed in solitary confinement for 241 days and was the recipient of 105 interrogations. During her confinement she was administered drugs to sedate her. Bolladottir was not charged in direct connection with the murders but served 3 years for her involvement in the embezzlement concocted by Ciesielski and herself. Kristjan Vidar attempted suicide twice whilst in custody and Tryggvi Leifsson was held in solitary confinement for nearly two years. The disorientation felt by the six suspects lead to what is called ‘Memory Distrust Syndrome’ A condition where the individual doubts their own memories and becomes susceptible to fabricated stories. Add this to suspects being played off or against each other, much like that in the case of the Central Park 5, and the likelihood of false confessions becomes greatly increased.

Using a false confession by itself to convict without physical evidence to corroborate the admission can, and certainly does lead to wrongful convictions. If used as the primary source of evidence the confession itself can often drive the discovery of evidence. As often happens law enforcement end up with a case where the narrative leads the evidence rather than the evidence leading the narrative. When solely using a confession to base a case around, often the evidence becomes either corrupted or unavailable. This makes sense because the story told is untrue. The case of Brendan Dassey is where it is now because there is no physical evidence that a crime took place that involved himself. All the State has is a confession and if said confession is believed to be true, that should lead to evidence discovery. In the case of the Icelandic 6 there is no physical evidence. No body, no crime scene, no murder weapon and so on.


Investigative team in 1974

Accountability can often be paramount. The prospect of certain crimes being unsolved and just as importantly unpunished can lead to insurmountable pressures by those in positions of power. From the ground-force up, law enforcement through State prosecutors onto Government officials there is always someone to answer to. The role that the media plays within this hierarchy of power is often duplicitous with whom controlling whom often a sticky subject. Needless to say, both sides feed off each other and public opinion, whilst integral plays a part in both their rise and fall in popularity.

The United States of America could just as easily be named the United Countries of America. With State law varying greatly between its members and Federal law only being called upon in certain situations and often when irreconcilable damage has already occurred it’s not surprising that each State develops its own characteristics. What occurred in Iceland in the mid-1970’s is not dissimilar to many cases that occur in Counties within the States of the US. Smaller communities demand somebody or somebodies be held to account for grievous crimes. Look no further than the West Memphis 3. The pressure put upon law enforcement to match a face to the murder of 3 young boys was incredible. I’m not justifying the imprisonment of 3 teenagers and whilst they were released via an Alford Plea I personally consider them innocent but I will say there is an unhealthy need for retribution. Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin became the scapegoats for a community that demanded a monster(s) be caught. Without theirs or somebody else’s timely arrests and most importantly convictions, jobs were going to be lost. The scramble for accountability often leads to mistakes.


Reykjavik’s current prison built in 1872 soon to be replaced by modern facility

Whilst the incredible pressure put upon law enforcement still cannot justify wrongful arrests the public must take responsibility for their actions that can lead to witch hunts. The media can often be detrimental in the assertion of assumed innocence before proven guilt not being levied. Trial by media is something that needs to be stamped out but at the same time misconduct by prosecutors happy to utilize this shortcoming should be dealt with even more firmly. There is a responsibility that is not being undertaken by varying professions that when put together violate the rights and freedoms of the public and inturn lead communities to wanting quick justice that can lead to errors by law enforcement that then become magnified higher up the judiciary system. Whether that be in the USA, Iceland or Argentina human nature runs throughout the globe. Sadly sometimes at the cost to the planet itself.

We at this site primarily discuss justice reform. Citing wrongful convictions is a clear way to look deeply into the shortcomings of not only the USA but of all countries around the world. It is not only the publics right to question but also the their responsibility. It would be easy to believe that all mistakes made should easily be rectifiable and by a set of simple changes these mistakes would be reconciled. Of course this is not the case but lessons learned do originate from home and often quick judgements lead to erroneous outcomes. I will be the first to admit to jumping to quick conclusions when faced by stories played out by the media. Stories that often hold weight and truth behind them. However on occasions when they do not and there is ulterior motives behind them it is oh so easy to be led down the wrong path.

Take time to form your opinions as it is with these opinions that we can help shape a more progressive world in which we live in.

Out of Thin Air the new Netflix true crime documentary explores the famous unsolved Icelandic Six murder case from 1974. Six suspects confessed to the murders of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson. The case is now being re-opened under a new investigation.

More on the Icelandic Six here:

New arrests in 40-year-old Iceland murder case

2014 In-Depth BBC Investigation: The Reykjavik Confessions

A 2017 murder case involving a pretty, young Reykjavik woman, 20-year-old Birna Brjánsdóttir has the close-knit Icelandic nation revisiting the 1974 cases of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson:

How a rare murder in Iceland has chilled a nation

“I Have Seen the Promised Land”

 

It is NOT Charlottesville, Va…

08.13.2017 by @Reform_Justice

… a great man once stated prophetically (on the day before his execution at the hands of a racially motivated oppressor). The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words on April 3, 1968 at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. The next day, Dr. King was taken from us by an assassin’s bullet. One of many Civil Rights leaders unceremoniously gunned down or otherwise taken from us during that turbulent and fateful, disgraceful era. King was at once prophet and visionary. During his last year leading up to Memphis, Dr. King was extremely troubled and at odds with his fate and the fate of the Movement he had come to embody. King was a reluctant leader at first, yet ultimately deciding that his own fate was immaterial when weighed against the desired outcome. That outcome being equality and a society that pays no special attention to race, color, creed, sex, or gender.

King’s “Mountaintop” speech in Memphis the day before he was killed stands as a poetic and historic statement with his “I Have a Dream” speech from the Washington, DC Mall after the peaceful March on Washington event. Delivered 100 years following the Emancipation Proclamation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In front of 250,000 people of all colors and ethnicities, Dr. King laid out the vision for a tolerant future. Remembering the mistakes of the past, but warning that people of color will never be satisfied without equal and fair treatment under law and recognized for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

 

“Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re FREE AT LAST!”

Apparently, I was born with no bias nor racism within my genome. I am not special. Psychology and Biology teach us none of us are. We learn and develop our personalities and beliefs based largely on input during developmental stages. Racism and HATE is learned behavior in society, it is NOT inherent in our makeup.

As a child of the ‘70s, I can attest to racial tensions and to wondering why. I had friends of all colors and backgrounds. What the hell does the color of your skin or your ethnic or religious belief have to do with you as a person? For whatever reason, this was my thinking as a child. I assumed at the time this was the feeling of every youngster I knew because, well why wouldn’t it be? I am White but some of my best friends from childhood were of other ethnic backgrounds. In my naïve youth, I specifically remember thinking that once my generation takes power, all these issues will be dealt with and yes, Promised Land.

The events in 2016 involving multiple killings of Blacks at the hands of mostly White Cops were eye-opening. As a White person, I cried. We were in Milwaukee while the scenes were still smoldering. We watched, seemingly every night last Summer as more killings rang out across the country. A year later (and apparently, LE reigning in its’ policies across the Land), we have now been set upon by a backlash of the White supremacist or ALT Right as they like to be called.

Neo-Nazi organizations are alive and well in 2017 America. All the intrusive abilities of the US Government are seemingly unable to sniff out domestic terrorism. Despite the fact the Government has the ability to see and hear any and every conversation you or I have ever had online. See the Daniel Snowden situation.

 

 

The events in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend were shocking to say the least. My heart goes out to the victims and families. My heart also goes out to a diverse Nation that seemingly can’t get it right, as a society. How in the HELL can this Country profess to be a moral or ethical “Leader” of the Free World if we can’t take care of business at home? How is it we continually see racism marring our landscape? Someone took a car and used it as a weapon to attack and mow down innocent people. How is this not Domestic Terrorism?

 

We, as a People, have faced adversity before. We will face it again. How is it that people of all colors and ethnicities will not come together despite Governmental issues or mandates. MLK has seen the Promised Land…

 

…It is not Charlotteville, Virginia circa 2017. It is not Milwaukee Wisconsin, Falcon Heights Minnesota, Tulsa Oklahoma, Charlotte North Carolina, Baton Rouge Louisiana, or Ferguson Missouri. Nor is it anywhere involving a relatively young and still developing Nation calling itself The UNITED STATES of America. The rest of the World has been torn asunder by countless wars, slavery, genocide, religious persecution, and all manors of discrimination for centuries. Man’s inhumanity to Man is well documented throughout history.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr., when he spoke of his desire for a future where Blacks and Whites, among others, would coexist harmoniously as equals had it right. King’s delivery of the speech on August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Delivered to over 250,000 Civil Rights supporters, the speech is often considered to be one of the greatest and most notable speeches of the 20th Century. Yet today we have a slumbering society, destined to repeat the past, and to embrace 200 years of racist behavior and oppression. Have we learned nothing as a Society?

How did it come to this?

#BeTheRain

 

Independent Experts Becoming a Danger to State Narratives

 

08.13.2017 by 51kikey

Backstories can help or hinder in varying ways. In relation to law and legal cases they become integral to the main story. Whether they are pertinent can often take time to materialize. Regardless they fill spaces created by the inevitable wait for progress and updates for appeals regarding possible wrongful convictions.

Melissa Calusinski’s case is just one of the unthinkable amounts of cases waiting on such an appeal. In Melissa’s case we wait upon the decision to hear Oral Arguments. This decision itself falls on that of Judge Daniel Shanes. Since attorney Kathleen Zellner’s request for Oral Arguments back in May of this year, a simmering backstory has developed involving ex-coroner of Lake County Thomas Rudd. Rudd served as Lake County coroner from 2012 and was seeking re-election for another term when documentation relating to the election was questioned. Rudd is accused of falsely witnessing nomination petition signatures in five cases back in 2016. Rudd withdrew his nomination from the election and cited possible clerical errors for the accusations against him. More pertinently Rudd also cited a  “a political witch hunt.” as the underlying current from which said accusations arose.

All involved and concerned with Melissa’s case well know of Rudd’s opinions as to her trial. When clarity involving Benjamin Kingan’s x-rays became available, Rudd championed the opinion of many, that ‘facts’ testified as to by State witnesses were in fact incorrect pertaining to the alleged skull fracture Kingan received due to the actions of Calusinski. These opinions have been well documented through both media outlets and legal appeals, some of which are listed below. Please read these. They are important in gaining a timeline for events unfolding. Whether it be Lake County Illinois, Manitowoc Wisconsin, or Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to name but a few, the inevitable time spent by the public waiting for developments in cases can be months or even years.

Donnelly says no need for special prosecutor

Rudd special prosecutor Towne indicted

2 Investigators: Dr. Rudd’s Surprising Legal Ally

Ex-coroner’s attorneys again file motion to dismiss election-related perjury charges

Is it a surprise to the reader that questions should be raised as to the discretion of experts offering their opinions on cases that oppose those of the State? Beyond Rudd’s troubles the focus must be on that of examples inevitably ahead. With regards to Thomas Rudd it is clear that the roots of his conviction are contaminated partly to do with his connections to Calusinski. The ex-County Coroner of Lake County was becoming a thorn in the State’s side.

Retiring at 60, Rudd did so to look after his terminally ill mother for the final 4 years of her life. During this period he saw problems with the present coroner at the time and then in turn with law enforcement in Lake County. Rudd decided to apply for the County Coroners position but to no avail. Disturbingly, the qualifications required to be a coroner are merely that of a high school education and a lack of felony charges against the applicant. Misdemeanours are not an issue however, only felonies. The charges against Rudd become less and less surprising. The reasoning behind the low level of qualifications needed to apply for the position can be partially explained by the sparsity of qualified people in the US. Ideally each County would wish to have a forensic pathologist as their coroner but with only approximately 500 available this becomes impossible. The United States has close to 2000 counties harboured within its 50 States and the numbers just do not work. Granted, many of the counties populations might not possibly warrant a forensic pathologist as to the amount of work generated. Still, many counties certainly do. Even if one cannot be assigned however, higher qualifications than that are presently required is surely a must?

Rudd applied once more and was this time successful. His term as County Coroner ran between 2012 to 2016 and as an elected official his tenure was protected via an open ended contract. Again, a felony conviction would be the only way to have him removed from office. So we arrive at Rudd turning himself in on 5 felony perjury charges in February of 2017. Those charges relating to his re-election campaign for Lake County Coroner.

Former Lake County coroner turns himself in on perjury charges

There has been a certain degree of dumbing down relating to this turn of events. With hints in the media that Rudd’s indictment on perjury charges could be politically motivated? Well here we do not see it that way. Rudd is clearly too outspoken but more importantly over qualified and at the same time not willing to tow the line and back up the stories that Lake County officials wish to spin. Thomas Rudd is being railroaded and it is as clear as the light of day.

The case of Trayvon Martin from Sanford, Florida who was fatally shot by George Zimmermann in 2012 centred around testimony given by Dr Shipping Bao. Bao’s position was that Martin had been held down by Zimmermann and during a one sided altercation had been shot in the heart. However, the ‘story’ that even the prosecution wanted to be heard was not that. Bao was only asked certain questions and legally one can only answer those questions given. What was Bao to do? Bao wanted the court to know his expert opinion. Clearly the State did not. Shipping Bao was fired after not giving the testimony that was required. His opinion was not what was wanted and as he did not have an open-ended contract, his tenure was terminated. Bao stood up for what was right. He told the truth and was duly fired. Rudd has ended up in a familiar position. The only difference being that the powers that be had to create a jumped up felony charge to remove him.

So, what can we do? Speaking to a very intelligent, switched on friend of mine over the past week they explained to me that up until the last couple of years they were unaware of the levels of corruption that affect each and every State of the US. Not until actually researching one case followed by another and so forth did she realise the extent of what was occurring. It’s all too easy to just accept what is put in front of you. Whether that be media controlled news stories or political debates and speeches etc you should question them and do your own research. By all means question this article too. We want you to. Find out for yourself. Educating oneself is detrimental and reading only from one source can only lead to bias and an opinion not formulated by the reader but dictated to by the writer. It’s not enough to look back in retrospect and say ‘Hell, it was patently obvious Rudd was targeted as an expose of Calusinski’s innocence.’ or ‘Dassey was clearly a tool to cement Avery’s conviction.’, even ‘Let Holtzclaw take a much needed fall for accused law enforcement corruption.’. The truth being that whilst awareness and involvement in corruption becomes more apparent so does the reaction to that. There is a reason software companies always wish to employ hackers. They are one step ahead of the game. We, as a concerned public must do the same.

There is a possibility of Melissa Calusinski becoming her own back-story. The charges against Rudd threaten to muddy the waters even further in regards to her wrongful conviction and ongoing case. Professionals such as Rudd need protection. Stories such as his are manufactured to ward off independent thinking experts who are capable of making correct judgements that are not politically motivated.

We need to do whatever we can to help protect these invaluable professionals.

More on the Melissa Calusinski case in the weeks and months to come.

Be The Rain will be following this case closely and will keep you informed as the process plays out in Lake County, Illinois.

48 HRs: The Fight For Melissa

 

Danger Comes From Feckless Detectives

 

08.10.2017 by @WinterwoodGrace

The 2 hour interrogation of Daniel Holtzclaw should be a lesson to all investigators. It shows, more clearly than anything, why bias is a dangerous thing in any investigation. From the very first utterance heard from Detective Gregory off camera, throughout the entire encounter, it was abundantly clear that the interview was strictly for form. They had no interest in truth, or facts, or even professionalism. They walked into that interview room acting as judge, jury and executioner, ready to sacrifice one of their own to suit agendas not related to actual justice. From an investigative standpoint, it was lacking miserably, with many questions left unasked. However, let’s take a hard look at what they did do.

 

 

The first thing that can be heard from off camera is Detective Rocky Gregory welcoming Daniel to “their domain”, and asking if  “you gotta piss or anything?” Just one of the guys, right? Because asking if he needed a restroom would be less good ol’ boy sounding? It set the tone for the amount of professionalism used throughout the entire interrogation. Detective Gregory also discussed using both of his hands to masturbate during the interview, which is information nobody needed. Ever. Neither did we need Detective Kim Davis’ response, that she does that left handed. (At approximately 6:01 minutes into interrogation) Keep in mind that these are detectives in the sex crimes unit.

The lack of basic decorum is astounding, and more than a little disturbing. During this portion of the video, it is clear that their banter made Daniel uncomfortable. They go on to assure Daniel that they are trying to be discreet, and hope to stop the rumors with the interview, but that there was already talk around Springlake station. Why was there talk? The complaint wasn’t made there. If the detectives had been as discreet as they claim, nobody would have known except Chief Citty. So where were the rumors coming from? Perhaps the esteemed detectives were not as circumspect in their behavior as they claimed to be.

While Daniel appeared to initially be relaxed, he was also unaware in the beginning of the type of complaint filed. He had no idea that Jannie Ligons had claimed he forced her to perform oral sex, or as Detective Gregory so succinctly phrases it, forced her into giving a “blowjob.” It took around 20 minutes before they finally told him what kind of accusations he was facing. Compounding the danger to Daniel was the assurances by Detective Davis, before he was read his Miranda rights, that this was going to make the rumors go away, and tomorrow the rumors would be about someone else. Was this done to help ensure Daniel didn’t immediately ask for legal representation? A false promise to guarantee he would waive those very important Miranda Rights? It became clear fairly quickly that in their minds, there was no one else. Not even an Oklahoma City officer that had been previously terminated for allegedly engaging in sex with  prostitutes, though he had been hired back, and was actively patrolling during this time frame. It seems tunnel vision was set in the instant that they got Daniel Holtzclaw’s name.

As the interview progresses, Gregory asserts that there was another victim with an almost identical complaint. Only actually, there wasn’t. Not really. The second victim had filed a complaint a month prior, and it in no way alluded to Daniel as her assailant. Gregory had already started building the case of racial profiling against Daniel, and added Terri Morris to bolster that ideology. Gregory was so committed to this course that he approached Morris multiple times AFTER she stated she didn’t want to file charges or discuss it, each time feeding her a narrative that she eventually agreed to. Of course, in order to do that, she had to change the location, the date, and the description of her attacker.  The reason all these changes to her complaint were accepted was that Morris is a convicted drug user with a history of mental illness.  No reason to lie, right?

They discuss video evidence with Daniel, misrepresenting, as detectives often do during interrogation, the actual quality of the video evidence, as well as fabricating a tale of finding pubic hair in Daniel’s patrol car. Again, Gregory asserts over and over that it doesn’t look good for Daniel because of the video and he needs to be honest with them. Here is the only video showing the stop. You be the judge.

While misrepresenting evidence is an accepted interrogation technique that can work on a guilty person, usually there has been other evidence of guilt obtained, even circumstantially. However in Daniel’s case, there was NO evidence at all. The detectives are clearly grasping at straws, but committed to a course of action that they were determined to see through to the bitter end. The adamant refusal to even entertain any scenario other than the one presented by Jannie Ligons, and expanded upon by the detectives is clearly a very disturbing rush to judgment that clouded their reason and their ability to effectively perform their job. This type of thing struggles on for 2 hours, and Daniel never wavers from his explanations.

 

Finally Detective Davis leaves the room to call Daniel’s girlfriend to verify parts of his version of events. When she returns, she said that his girlfriend did not corroborate what Daniel said, and she didn’t believe him. She also said she did not tell his girlfriend what was going on. So a strange woman calls his girlfriend, and with no background given, questions whether Daniel attempted to have sex with her the night before. Most people would not have directly answered such questions. That is not surprising. Detective Davis’ reaction to this was surprising, though. It’s almost as if she cannot believe that someone would indirectly refuse to have that type of conversation, therefore the one phone call cemented Daniel’s guilt. By this point, Daniel was visibly shaken and upset. He has begun to realize how serious these detectives are about pinning this on him, and he also begins to realize they have no interest in facts or evidence. However, Daniel still has faith in the system he works to support and uphold, and knowing he is innocent, he continues on through the rest of the interrogation, still never changing his version of events.

 

Detective Gregory opens an evidence bag, not wearing gloves, and runs his arm down into the bag up to his elbow, in order to ensure the bag is open, then places it on the floor. Daniel begins to undress, an ordeal that takes almost 5 minutes from start to finish. He places his uniform pants and Velcro belt in the single bag provided by Gregory (rather than providing a bag for the pants and a bag for the belt), which is then closed up and removed from the room. They do NOT take Daniel’s shirt, which tucks in behind the zipper of his pants. They do not take his bulletproof vest which also has a fabric flap that hangs behind the zipper of his pants. And finally, they do not request his underwear, which are the no-fly compression style underwear. It is also worth noting that throughout the interview, Daniel uses both detectives’ pens, and wipes his hands repeatedly on his pants. After handling these items from detectives multiple times, he naturally MUST touch the fly/zipper area of his pants to undress. Yet the detectives were never ruled out for secondary transfer of DNA, and no other part of his pants were tested as a control.  These details may seem minor now, but they become very important as you see how this case was handled. Finally, he is advised that he is on administrative leave, his equipment is taken, and the interrogation mercifully ends.  This is the tip of the iceberg but demonstrates how this entire investigation was handled by biased and inept detectives.

Lead detective Kim Davis attempts to justify a biased and tunnel-vision investigation on local Oklahoma City News9 in January, 2016:

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

We hope you will continue to follow Daniel’s story here at Be The Rain as we next look at each accuser, and how the detectives followed through on the investigation.

If you’d like more information, we recommend watching Michelle Malkin Investigates two part series,  Daniel in the Den:

We welcome your feedback, and hope for your support for Daniel Holtzclaw.

Presumption of Innocence? Not For Daniel Holtzclaw

08.06.2017 By @WinterwoodGrace

 

The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is supposed to be the foundation of our legal justice system in the United States. It’s a sound theory, given to ensure our constitutional rights. What happens when that presumption of innocence is only a theory, and not a practice? Meet Daniel Holtzclaw.

Daniel Holtzclaw was an Oklahoma City police officer in 2014.  A former football player, Daniel is built like like a concrete wall with feet. Standing at around 6’2” tall and heavily muscled, he would be an intimidating sight, if not for the still boyish face and relaxed air.  In 2014, Daniel believed in his job, the criminal justice system, and the basic premise that truth prevailed. Today, Daniel sits incarcerated, in an undisclosed location, for crimes he didn’t commit. Daniel was afforded no presumption of innocence at any point during the investigation. Before he had even been interviewed about his alleged crimes, detectives had already decided his guilt, and set a process in motion designed to uphold that belief, and only that belief. That process started a wave that pushed justice away, and replaced it with an investigation so fundamentally flawed that it carried all the way to the prosecution. That wave washed away Daniel’s innocence, and his freedom.

In the early morning hours of June 18, 2014 Daniel made a traffic stop that would forever change his life, and the lives of those close to him. That single traffic stop would ruin his career, while helping another detective achieve the pinnacle of supposed success. That traffic stop was the ripple that started the wave, the one that washed justice away in the pursuit of accolades. At a little after 2 a.m. Daniel was just off duty, and heading home, when Jannie Ligons swerved in front of his police car. Daniel, fearing that she was driving under the influence, initiated a traffic stop, while off duty, in the interest of protecting her and others. That’s what police are supposed to do, serve and protect.  The traffic stop, lasting a little less than 15 minutes, was unremarkable except for the allegation of sexual assault that resulted, roughly 2 hours later. Daniel admittedly made mistakes with this stop. He didn’t report the stop, he didn’t log back into his on-board computer to run Ligons for wants or warrants. He violated these procedures, put in place for officer safety. He freely admits to this. He wanted to ensure she was not driving under the influence, and he wanted to go home, in that order. Of these facts, there is no dispute. There is no evidence that supports the claims Jannie Ligons made to officers over an hour later.

Jannie Ligons arrived home around 2:45, and from that point, details become clouded. Ultimately, though, her story eventually gels into an initial report to officers that resulted in the case being assigned to sex crimes Detective Kim Davis at 4 a.m. What followed was a lax and appalling investigation designed to to nothing more than convict Daniel, first in the court of public opinion, followed by the trial court. In the 12 hours between Detective Davis being assigned to this complaint and interviewing Daniel, detectives had found surveillance video, and another victim claiming almost the exact same scenario. They had already processed Jannie Ligons car, made contact with Daniel’s superior officers, and set the wheels in motion to interview Daniel. It is painful to watch Daniel’s initial interview with Detectives  Kim Davis and Rocky Gregory. There is an appalling lack of professionalism from the detectives, as well as a glaring belief that Daniel was guilty, and nothing was going to change their minds on that.

Throughout the almost 2 hour interview, Daniel never wavered from his version of events. No matter how desperately the detectives tried to trip him up, his narrative never changed. The same cannot be said for Jannie Ligons’ version of events. Starting with what time she arrived home (somewhere between 2:42 and 3:00 in the morning, depending on which version you follow) throughout the claims of attempts to report the assault, and even the assault itself, her complaint flows, growing here, changing there, much like a mud puddle that is constantly being walked through. The only thing that is clear, is that there was in fact a traffic stop. During Daniel’s initial interview, Detective Davis expresses disbelief that an ordinary traffic stop could take 15 minutes, and more disbelief that Ligons would make up a story. She seemed to feel that Ligons had nothing to gain. One can certainly hope that she was only pretending to be that dense, in the mistaken belief that it would trip Daniel up. If she was not pretending, the glaring lack of investigative intelligence should scare every person she has ever had official contact with. Simply put, Jannie Ligons spent the evening with a male friend that was not her boyfriend. Many woman have lied to protect relationships with men other than their acknowledged partners. Added to the fact that Jannie Ligons has since filed as civil suit naming Daniel Holtzclaw and Oklahoma City as defendants. There is plenty of motivation to lie.

Likewise, Detective Rocky Gregory’s conduct is troubling at best. From joking about masturbation to asking Daniel if he’d like to see the surveillance videos that show the alleged assault, Detective Gregory was more concerned with trying to make a name for himself  than the actual facts and evidence presented. The video shows no evidence of assault, and in fact barely shows the traffic stop itself. It is certainly a far cry from the implication Gregory made to Daniel that it clearly showed Jannie Ligons’ breasts or Daniel’s penis. It never occurred to either detective to care that Daniel was innocent. There were no names to be made that way, no warm fuzzy feelings fostered amongst the community if they concerned themselves with Daniel’s innocence.

This is the start of a story that tore lives apart, cost a man his freedom, and epitomizes the need for reform in the criminal justice system. Most recently, it has been shown that DNA evidence in Daniel’s case was purposefully misrepresented by the prosecution. This DNA evidence was key to obtaining a conviction that resulted in a 263 year prison sentence for Daniel Holtzclaw. It highlights the need for harsher penalties for prosecutorial and police misconduct. Daniel’s story is one that needs to be heard, and understood. His story is not one that should be repeated due to a failing justice system that embraces conviction rates over justice. We hope you will follow along as Daniel and his family fight to overturn his conviction and clear his name. We hope you will add your voice to the outcry, and most sincerely, we hope you will not become another Daniel Holtzclaw.

To learn more about Daniel Holtzclaw’s case, follow along here on Be The Rain, as well as the following sites:

 

Holtzclaw Trial

Free Daniel Holtzclaw

Justice For Daniel Holtzclaw

Public Opinion Matters: Get Involved

08.06.2017 by @51kikey

It’s so much easier to narrow down public opinion than allow it free reign. More than two options often cause headaches for those that would rather keep things simple. The public is often broken down into opinions of ‘Black & White’ or ‘Shades of Grey’, this in itself being narrowed down to two possibilities. Things are far less complicated when a decision is to be made when it’s a, yes or no, a right or wrong, or of course, an innocent or guilty. I’m certainly no different. Many times I’ve begged for there to be less choice on my chosen platform when looking for a film or documentary to watch. 7000 choices of any particular genre that I want to sate my fascination with is too much! My mind is scrambled. I know I want choice but sometimes I just want a simple option. Take the decision out of my hands.

This thought process worries me. I try to let it not bother me relating to my TV viewing habits but, these thoughts run higher up the scale. Social media offers an invaluable insight into human nature. Much is made of the ‘Keyboard Warrior’ who hides behind their screen to say whatever they wish. Whilst many examples of this are clearly there to be seen, it is too simple to leave it at that. For the anonymous it is easy to be outspoken. There is no comeback PerSay but at the same time there is no weight of comment. At the other end of the scale we see dumbing down of speech because there is too much weight and there lies the balance. There is a choice to be made by each individual. Your individual stance on any particular topic is unique. Unique because you do have control.

The ‘Truther’ vs ‘Guilter’ shit slinging battles of 2017 on mediums such as Twitter , Facebook, and Reddit were easily predicted because of the previous incarnations each and every year past. Again, this is human nature and will never abate. The only question I will raise is related to the waste of energy that could be directed towards greater aspirations. Hatred has never been a solution to anything. It is a reaction born of fear that detracts from matters of the heart. Oh so easy to gravitate towards but best left outside the boundaries of progress. It’s important to look at more constructive ways of allocating our time.

Supply and demand dictates that Innocence Projects throughout the USA are well spread. Whichever State you may live in, chances are that you will be represented. Offering your support to one or more of these organisations does make a difference. Linked below is the most up-to-date Innocence Project list I could find. Please let me know if there are any changes to this list. Your input is always needed.

https://www.aallnet.org/sections/sr/residents/List-of-Innocence-Projects.html

I’m not trying to suggest that taking part should only occur in the post conviction phase. Write to your local legislator in your State and voice your opinion. There is a common misconception that this will fall on deaf ears. The reason for this is that the voice is not loud enough. Stop procrastinating and push forward because change doesn’t materialise when it’s only harboured in the mind.

Remember the first time your passion was lit over a wrongful conviction? An Injustice? I do because it was so recently. I’m a long way behind the game I know! I’m trying to catch up though. Trying to find a way where I might be able to make a difference.  The power of ‘Making a Murder’ first turned my head because it wasn’t just instant gratification. The playtime here ran long. A reason for its guaranteed worth is that it has tempted so many people to pull back the curtains and see the garden that should have been tended long ago. The guilt or innocence of the two protagonists became a footnote in the ever growing story of justice, injustice, truths and lies that has now captivated an eager audience. There must have been a nod or two from seasoned activists wondering to themselves ‘where have you been all this time?’. Still, better to join the party late than never, even if the party encourages nightmares.

Going sideways after an initial burst of enthusiasm or perhaps even inspiration is not uncommon. The 7 week/ month/ year itch of wondering if your voice makes a difference to your chosen vice can lead one to thinking ‘What’s difference do I personally make?’. The truth is that’s up to you. You can make a huge difference and the more of you that make that choice the faster reform will begin to take place.

The power of your convictions are in fact in your own hands. Be involved.

#BeTheRain