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Commentary :: Race
Black Rep Expelled - Injustice in the Massachusetts House of Representatives
19 Feb 2014
Modified: 04:50:44 PM
A black representative is expelled from the legislature for conduct that has nothing to do with being a representative.
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Henriquez_t768.jpg
With a vote of 146-5, the Massachusetts House of Representatives expelled Carlos Henriquez. More than likely that vote is unconstitutional.

Once a representative is elected by the people, House rules cannot summarily repudiate the results of elections. There must be a sound justification for an expulsion to pass constitutional muster. African Americans have been battling the improper exclusion from office of their elected officials since Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was denied his seat in Congress on Feb. 28, 1967.

Henriquez was convicted on two misdemeanor counts of a domestic violence charge brought by a female acquaintance. It was an unseemly but private matter. What political mischief could ensue if it were possible to remove from office legislators with misdemeanor convictions that are totally unrelated to their official duties.

The House Ethics Committee unanimously decided that Henriquez was in violation of Rule 16A(1), which states in part that members of the House

“Should exercise prudence in any and all such endeavors and make every reasonable effort to avoid transactions, activities, or obligations, which are in substantial conflict with or will substantially impair their independence of judgment.”

It is clear from earlier segments of 16A(1) that the purpose of the rule is to establish ethical standards for members pursuing other commercial or professional employment.

Somehow the committee has made the rule applicable through a convoluted rationale. Since Judge Michele Hogan, who heard the case, has sentenced Henriquez to two and a half years with six months to be served, the committee opined that his time in jail will be “in substantial conflict” with Henriquez’s ability to provide his “independence of judgment” on behalf of his constituents.

The absurdity of this conclusion becomes clear when one considers that Henriquez will most likely be released in four months or so, and will then be available to resume his seat in the House. That is too short a time to have an effective interim election. New candidates would have too little time to introduce themselves to the electorate before it would be time to go to the polls.

The fact is that if Judge Hogan had not decided to make an example of Henriquez, a first time offender, to benefit the issue of women’s rights, members of the House would have no legal basis at all to oust Henriquez. Hogan’s decision to incarcerate demonstrates a callous disregard for the disparate rate of imprisonment of black men.

With the incarceration of Henriquez, Hogan contributed to the woeful statistic of injustice for black men involved with the criminal justice system. According to several studies, blacks are jailed at almost six times the rate of whites. While drug use is relatively equivalent between blacks and whites, blacks are imprisoned for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of whites. And blacks serve as much time in prison for drug offenses as whites do for violent crimes.

Clearly, America has two serious social problems: the physical abuse of women and the unjust imprisonment of black men. Apparently, Hogan believes that intensifying injustice to black men benefits the cause of abused women. And, in a blatant appeal for the women’s vote, politicians have crassly supported Henriquez’s removal from office. One wonders how a black, a Latino or any individual committed to justice could support Henriquez’s unconstitutional ouster from his elected office in the Great and General Court. The voters in his district should decide his fate in the next election.

..........


The details of what happened on the night of July 8, 2012 remain sketchy, but the end result is not: convicted of assault, state Rep. Carlos Henriquez has been sentenced to six months in prison and will likely lose his 5th Suffolk District seat.

Henriquez, who maintained his innocence, began serving his sentence last week.

The jurors were presented with two different stories. Henriquez’s attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, said her client and Katherine Gonzalves met for sex in the backseat of Henriquez’s rental car outside the Arlington home where she lives with her mother, but Gonzalves was angered by his refusal to have a committed relationship with her.

Gozalves’ attorney said she refused Henriquez’s request for sex and he subsequently assaulted her, stole her cellphone when she tried to record him, then drove her to Boston where she escaped from his car.

Henriquez was charged with striking Gonzalves in the face, holding her down, choking her, taking her cellphone and removing its SIM card — three counts of assault and battery, one of witness intimidation and one of larceny.

The jury of four white women and two white men found him not guilty of three of the five charges, convicting him of two counts of assault for holding Gonzalves down and choking her. Gozalves and Henriquez had been dating on and off for several months before the incident took place.

Soriano-Mills said she was stunned by the jury’s verdict and the judge’s decision to give Henriquez jail time for assault charges that usually result in a suspended sentence, especially given that her client had no prior convictions or arrests. Soriano-Mills said the prosecution’s case was weak, noting the Gonzalves was the sole witness and gave differing accounts of what happened.

“This woman had seven different accounts of what happened,” she said. “The first officer who saw her when she got out of the car that night saw no bruises or marks on her body.” Soriano-Mills said that Henriquez will likely appeal his sentence, but will likely serve out much of his sentence behind bars before his appeal is heard.
Special election

Both Gov. Deval Patrick and House Speaker Robert DeLeo have called on Henriquez to step down from his seat.

The 5th Suffolk District seat Henriquez has represented for two terms has had a turbulent history since Nelson Merced became the first person of color to hold the seat in 1989. He was bumped from the seat in 1992, when Althea Garrison challenged his signatures, noting that he had not written the word Democrat at the top of one sheet.

Merced’s name was taken off the ballot and Garrison held the seat for one term, before she was unseated by Charlotte Golar Richie in 1994.

When Richie resigned in 1999 to head the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development, Marie St. Fleur won a hotly contested special election for the seat, holding it until 2010, when she left to head the city’s office of Intergovernmental Relations.

Henriquez won the resulting special election, and still holds the seat as of the Banner’s press deadline.


http://t.baystatebanner.com/news/2014/feb/12/injustice-massachusetts-hou/

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Re: Black Rep Expelled - Injustice in the Massachusetts House of Representatives
21 Feb 2014
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turner_1107_CMYK.jpg
In an inspiring event Nov. 1 2013, at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury’s Dudley Square, the heart of Boston’s African-American community, about 200 people, many of them Boston school bus drivers, attended the Boston premiere of the documentary film “Mumia Abu-Jamal: Long Distance Revolutionary.” The event was emceed by Miya X of the Women’s Fightback Network.

The first of three introductory speakers was Andre Francois, chief steward of Steelworkers Local 8751 and one of the suspended Boston School Bus Union 5. Francois hailed Mumia’s revolutionary determination to fight for justice and connected it to the fight to stop the attack on their union and its leaders by international union-buster Veolia Corporation, which took over the Boston school bus contract in July.

The featured speaker of the evening was Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner on his first day of freedom after serving time on a political frameup by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General’s office. Turner’s prosecution was motivated by his tireless fight against racism and advocacy for the African-American community.

Many members of the community came out to wish Chuck well on his first day of freedom. Community members prepared a celebration cake reading, “Welcome Home Chuck, we love you — the Community.” Chuck described the U.S. as evil in its actions at home and abroad, and hailed union leaders Kirschbaum and Gillis as being revolutionary in the same sense as Mumia.

The final speaker was Monica Moorehead from Millions for Mumia, a project of the International Action Center. Moorehead participated in a video interview with Mumia in 1996 while he was on death row. Segments of that video are included in the documentary.

Moorehead outlined the role of the decisive mass movement in saving Mumia from legal lynching by the repressive state of Pennsylvania, starting with the 10,000-strong march on Aug. 12, 1995, in Philadelphia when Mumia was scheduled to be executed on Aug. 17. Other important events, numbering in the thousands, eventually led to his death sentence being overthrown and removing him from death row. It is the continuing mass struggle that will win Mumia’s final freedom from life in prison.

The film itself showed and explained Mumia’s extraordinary life journey starting when he joined the Black Panther Party at the age of 14, as a journalist against racist police brutality, to his almost 32 years in prison as the “Voice of the Voiceless.” The documentary, directed by Stephen Vittoria and produced by Street Legal Cinema in association with Prison Radio and Noelle Hanrahan, included interviews and testimonials from dozens of prominent individuals attesting to Mumia’s extraordinary dedication as a revolutionary.

http://www.workers.org/articles/2013/11/04/two-hundred-attend-boston-pre/

2011 - Chuck Turner sent to jail

For decades, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner has been a leading progressive activist on issues affecting the African-American communities in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, Mass. He has supported working people’s struggles for decent jobs and against employment discrimination, fought against resegregation of the Boston public schools, and been in the forefront of the movements to oppose U.S. wars abroad and to demand funding for community needs, not the Pentagon.

Turner was the target of an FBI sting operation and racist federal prosecution. He was falsely convicted of corruption — of accepting a $1,000 bribe. In January, federal Judge Douglas P. Woodlock sentenced Turner, who is 70 years old, to a stiff three-year prison term, denying him a stay while his appeal is pending, or any leniency. Turner began serving his sentence on March 25.

Turner wrote a letter to his supporters, which appeared in the Bay State Banner. In it he says, “It seems inconceivable that after 46 years of service to my people and my community, I am about to spend three years in a federal lockup. However, as the song says, ‘Keep your eyes on the prize.’” He asks everyone not to “let the defeats in the struggle for justice distract,” and says that it’s most important to “stand up and fight back whenever you see injustice.”

Turner says that although the government aimed to “break our spirit, they can’t break mine.” He reiterates that he cannot be silenced, that “while this system can put my body in jail, my spirit and voice remain free.”

http://www.workers.org/2011/us/chuck_turner_0407/
Re: Black Rep Expelled - Injustice in the Massachusetts House of Representatives
25 Feb 2014
Workers World Party: The pseudo-left face of the Democratic Party By Jerry White ( 24 October 2013 )

Earlier this month, a two-day event took place in Detroit under the banner of the “International People’s Assembly Against the Banks and Against Austerity.” The meeting, which was attended by a little over 100 people, was organized by the Workers World Party to provide a platform for the Democratic Party.
One would be hard pressed to find a more distasteful combination of political scoundrels and charlatans than those who spoke at the October 5-6 event. They included Detroit City Councilwoman Joanne Watson and other local politicians who are complicit in the decades-long attacks led by the Democratic Party against the workers of Detroit.
Also speaking were various union bureaucrats—from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)—who have made their careers selling out the working class. This included former AFSCME Local 207 President John Riehl, a “left” union bureaucrat who was voted out of office after he betrayed the 2012 strike by Detroit Water and Sewerage workers.
The Workers World web site enthusiastically reported the demagogic statements of Wayne County Commissioner Martha G. Scott, who opened the event by declaring, “We’re calling on the banks to refund the money they stole from our community. Make the banks pay!”
The principal aim of the assembly was to bolster a party that is presiding, at both a local and national level, over the impoverishment of the working class on behalf of the banks. While the Workers World Party has long served as a “left” appendage of the Democrats, this event demonstrated that the organization is no longer capable of maintaining even a pretense of independence from the Democratic Party.
On the contrary, it finds its raison d’etre in basking in the reflected glory of Democratic officials. A Workers World spokesman made a point of thanking US Congressman John Conyers for his endorsement, saying it had been “key to the success of the assembly.”
The promotion of big business politicians and union bureaucrats is all the more noteworthy in that it occurs in the midst of the most concentrated assault on the working class in the country—the bankruptcy of Detroit—which is being perpetrated precisely by these forces.
The city’s Democratic City Council and Democratic mayor are collaborating with the emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, himself a Democrat appointed by a Republican governor to destroy city workers’ pensions, sell off public assets and restructure the city for the benefit of the financial and corporate elite.
Key to the effort to refurbish the image of the Democratic Party and block the development of a conscious political movement of the working class is the peddling of the lie that the Obama administration can be pressured into opposing the attacks by Orr and Governor Rick Snyder.
Watson suggested that the visit by Obama officials to Detroit last month was a great opportunity to get the federal government to intervene on behalf of the workers of Detroit. According to the Workers World web site, Watson “told the assembly that, rather than allow an invitation-only meeting about the city’s future with the Obama administration to take place behind closed doors on September 27, ‘I showed up anyway.’ When she was told there was no room for the City Council at the meeting, she protested, saying, ‘The people of Detroit should be represented here.’ The assembly applauded her defense of people’s rights.”
What a fraud! The Obama administration has intervened in the bankruptcy court to support the bankruptcy, filing a Justice Department brief opposing legal challenges. The administration sees Detroit as a model to gut pensions and health care benefits for public workers across the country.
For its part, the City Council has overseen the elimination of 45 percent of the city’s workforce over the last decade, the gutting of fire protection, public transportation and other essential services for city residents, and the payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in interest to the Wall Street banks.
Before the installation of Orr, Council members argued that no emergency manager was needed because they were more than willing to impose the austerity measures demanded by Wall Street. In so far as some local Democrats have grievances with Orr, it is because he threatens their ability to cash in on the privatization of services and the selling off of city assets.
The Workers World Party is a pro-Stalinist organization that has long allied itself with the Democratic Party, promoting, in particular, its African American wing. After decades of collaborating with and defending the attacks by the Democrats and the union bureaucracy on the working class, the organization has been fully integrated into the corporate-controlled political establishment.
What brings all of these forces together is their fear of the emergence of a politically conscious opposition by the working class in Detroit, which would have national and international implications. Such a movement would threaten the capitalist system, which the Democratic Party, the unions, and their pseudo-left acolytes—representing more affluent layers of the middle class—defend. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/10/24/work-o24.html
Re: Black Rep Expelled - Injustice in the Massachusetts House of Representatives
25 Feb 2014
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Chuck Turner Speaking at WWP Event
Saturday, 22 Feb 2014


The Workers World Party is holding a public meeting in Boston with the topic “Africa and the Struggle Against Imperialism. One of the featured speakers will be Chuck Turner the former Boston City Councilor released from prison in October 2013. Councilor Turner was convicted of taking bribes after being videoed taking money during a handshake with a paid Federal agent. Chuck Turner said it was a “preacher's handshake.”


Supporters of the unjustly fired union activist and leaders of Local 8751 USWA Boston School Bus Drivers Union will also give an update on the struggle to “Stop Veolia's Union-Busting and Hire the Fired Leaders.”

http://www.iacboston.org/
See also:
http://www.iacboston.org/