Sistah’s Step Up

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Late last week, Georgia State Representative “Able” Mabel Thomas announced her intention to challenge Congressman John Lewis for re-election.  

 

 

 

She becomes the second serious challenger to Lewis, the first being Markel Hutchins, a community activist and minister.  This marks the second time Thomas has challenged Lewis. Representative Thomas lost badly in 1992 and won less than 25% of the vote.  Able Mabel is a serious politician having served in both the Georgia House of Representatives and the Atlanta City Council.  She is also a progressive legislator having twice passed legislation to increase Georgia’s homestead exemption to protect low income and elderly people from losing their homes.

 

She, like Hutchins, frames the contest in generational terms, I believe that, at the end of the day, that my opponent is not only beatable, but my opponent should — right now — just get out of the race and let a new generation come forth.”

 

Hutchins subsequently released a statement as well and obviously got the memo that this is a change election. “While my campaign will continue to respect the contributions of the elder politicians that have come before us, this congressional race is about sending a true change agent to Washington that has the energy to work, audacity to hope, courage to lead and propensity for diplomacy needed to effectively represent and advocate for all of the people of Georgia in the United States Congress.”

 

This follows on the heels of an announcement last month that Georgia State Senator Regina Thomas, (no relation) will challenge Congressman John Barrow for re-election in the July Democratic Primary. Barrow, a conservative Democrat, barely made it last election and has raised an impressive war chest to fend off stiff Republican competition.  

 

 

Senator Regina Thomas, a Savannah Democrat, has a weakness for colorful and elaborate hats and apparently hers is on too tight.   She cannot possibly win this seat in a general election despite having the demographic advantage of a 40% African American population in the district.  She’s a weak fundraiser but a solid progressive. Unfortunately, that ain’t gonna be enough to overcome white resistance to liberal black representation in rural South Georgia. 

John Lewis escapes plantation Clinton; endorses Obama

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Hat Tip: Atlanta Journal Constitution

WASHINGTON — Hoping to put an end to a month of confusion and dismay, Rep. John Lewis on Wednesday said he’s switching his support from Sen. Hillary Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Lewis cited the overwhelming preference for Obama in his district as a reason for his change of heart, but he also talked about Obama’s campaign as transformational for the nation.

“Something’s happening in America, something some of us did not see coming,” Lewis said. “Barack Obama has tapped into something that is extraordinary.

Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and an elder of the civil rights movement, at first sparked outrage from Georgia’s African American community by backing Clinton, a friend, over Obama, the nation’s first viable African American candidate.

Then confusion struck about a week ago when Lewis told the New York Times that, as a super delegate to the Democratic National Convention, he would feel compelled to vote for Obama as the nominee because his district – and the state’s African American population overall – so overwhelmingly for Obama in the state primary.

Lewis’s office later charged that the story was inaccurate but did not clarify who Lewis was actually backing.

In an interview in his congressional office, Lewis said the decision to switch his support was a difficult one, a choice between a longtime friend and a little-known black man.

“I did it because I felt I had to support Mrs. Clinton because of our friendship,” Lewis said. “But also I thought she was ready to lead. Lewis had placed a called to Clinton’s office Wednesday morning but hadn’t heard back from her. He also had a Please-Return-The-Call message of his own from Obama. By midday, he still hadn’t returned it.

“It’s been a long, hard and difficult struggle to come to where I am now,” Lewis said.

John Lewis challenged for re-election

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Hat Tip: By Jim Galloway, Atlanta Journal Constitution

For the first time in nearly a decade, U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta on Wednesday picked up opposition to his re-election to Congress.

Markel Hutchins, an Atlanta minister who took up the cause of a 92-year-old woman killed in a botched police raid, announced he would challenge the 11-term congressman and civil rights icon in the Democratic primary.

“Now is the time for us to move beyond the nostalgia of the Civil Rights era,” said Hutchins. The minister said he met privately with Lewis on Tuesday.

Hutchins, 30, said Lewis’ October endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race, while the 5th District largely supported Barack Obama, was a factor in his decision to challenge Lewis. “That presented some problems for many of us,” Hutchins said.

But Hutchins also said Lewis had not brought home enough federal dollars to help the city of Atlanta cope with its crumbling infrastructure. On Wednesday, to illustrate the point, he made his announcement on a Martin Luther King Jr. Drive bridge that he said was in desperate need of repair.

Lewis, who will turn 68 today, declared he was ready for the fight.

“Leadership cannot be given. It has to be earned with respect and integrity,” the congressman said in a statement issued by his campaign. “There is no question that something is happening in America. There is a movement, a movement I helped give birth to, that creates the conditions and the climate for change. I have always been a fighter.”

Bastardizing the Dream: Alveda King

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This is the week set aside in honor of one our own, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Normally a time for celebration, I have come to dread our annual commemoration because of photo-op’s like the one above with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, has fallen off the mountaintop, bumped her damn head, and become a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

 

Employed full-time by the religious right, she is an aggressive pro-life activist, minister, and professional public speaker. As she has moved steadily to the right, Alveda has provided political cover and given full license to those who would distort, defame, and destroy the dream of her late Uncle in the name of a fictitious colorblindness that is really white supremacy.

 

A long time opponent of Affirmative Action, she is entangled in a network of right-wing preachers hell bent on destroying the progressive social change that Dr. King fought for. While Dr. King spoke of the power of love and the creation of the beloved community, the glue that holds their little movement together is hatred, homophobia and a fixation with stopping same sex couples who love each other from having the right to marry.

 

In the month of Mrs. King’s death, Alveda participated in “Justice Sunday,” a wingnut gala consisting of the full constellation of reactionary politicians and their talabangelical brethren dedicated to fighting for the confirmation of Bush’s judicial nominees like Samuel Alito. Alito, an archconservative with a history of hostility to civil rights, provided the fifth vote to strike down voluntary Affirmative Action plans in the public schools last year. Weakening the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education without the guts to admit it, Alito and his allies on the court dealt the principle of ending separate but equal education a mortal wound.

 

Among those beating the drums of fascist religiosity with Alveda were Justice Sunday colleagues Tony Perkins, Head of the right-wing Family Research Council and a former Louisiana politician who paid white supremacist and neo-Nazi David Duke for his mailing list, and Jerry Falwell, a former segregationist who smeared Martin Luther King, Jr. as a tool of communists.

During most of Dubya’s first term, he found some way to paw Coretta Scott King in a manner that made my blood boil. Born on the same day as my grandmother two years apart, Mrs. King was always an icon in my household. I would NEVER allow George W. Bush to put his damn hands on my grandmother and I could never understand why Mrs. King visited the White House of a man who stole the Presidency. Her graciousness was always taken advantage of by this White House and she invariably became a colored prop in Dubya’s annual racist stage play of deceit every third Monday in January.

 

My personal favorite was the 2003 King Holiday. Within days of the holiday, the Administration announced a bold frontal assault on Affirmative Action by filing a brief against the Affirmative Action Admissions programs for both the University of Michigan and its School of Law. Writing a powerful Five-to-Four opinion upholding the principle of Affirmative Action, Sandra Day O’Connor ended her twenty years of steady opposition to Affirmative Action programs. Within two years, she resigned from the court only to be replaced by Alveda’s choice, Samuel Alito. It is only a matter of time now before Affirmative Action is destroyed by the Roberts Court.

 

Monday, I kept hearing reports of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee being invited to attend King Day services at Ebenezer Baptist Church by a member of “the King Family.” While not identified, I have a hunch that the black fool in question was Alveda. She was the one sitting next to the presidential contender that told White South Carolina Republicans that they shouldn’t tolerate anybody dictating to them about where, when and how to fly the confederate flag. After desecrating the sanctuary with his presence, Huckabee used the occasion to accept the endorsement of a group of black wingnut preachers, the “Coalition of African American Pastors,” a group Alveda has claimed a board membership of on her website.

 

 

This week, Martin Luther King III, “deeply” concerned about politicians misappropriating the legacy of his father, wrote John Edwards a beautiful letter telling him to keep fighting and stay in the race. If he was truly concerned about folks distorting the dream, he would have stopped his Mama from being used by George W. Bush, stopped his sister Bernice from demonizing gays and lesbians, put his foot down to permit the man who paid for his Daddy’s funeral, Harry Belafonte, to eulogize his mother instead of the ignorant patrician in the White House, and done something to put his cousin Alveda in check.

 

As adherents of the drum major for justice who preached non-violence, it would be unseemly for the members of the King family to take Alveda aside and beat her ass until she remembers what the hell the dream is really about. Nevertheless, let me be the first one to say to the King family that all of black America would happily forgive y’all if you laid down the principles of non-violence temporarily to “lay hands” on Alveda with “the love of the Lord.”

 

I won’t tell nobody and I am quite sure that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, a King family friend, would help. After all, she has kept her girls outta jail, despite the mess they’ve been involved in, and I’m very sure a discrete word from the mayor to the Po-po would squash it. If Shirley can’t help, somebody can always call Bishop Thomas Weeks, Juanita Bynum’s soon-to-be ex-husband. The way I see it he’ll pop either the question, Alveda, or both.

 

Although I can’t help but lampoon Alveda and make light of this situation for the sake of my fragile sanity, bastardizing Dr. King’s dream is no laughing matter.

Apollo Holmes gets bail in Darius Miller beatdown case

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Hat Tip: Beth Warren, Atlanta Journal Constitution

The mother of a celebrity fitness trainer critically injured when he was beaten in a Midtown parking lot made an emotional plea to a judge Friday to think of her comatose son before granting bail to a suspect.

Patricia Bonhomme told Fulton County Magistrate Richard Hicks that her only son, Darius Miller, 41, nearly died when his heart stopped, but doctors were able to bring him back.

Doctors at Emory Crawford Long Hospital have told the family Miller may never come out of his vegetative state, Bonhomme said.

“I sit there watching my son suffer,” the mother said. “This violence has to stop. My son is lying there fighting for his life with tubes down him.”

Hicks told the victims’ mother, “I feel for you,” but under Georgia law, he had to grant bail to Apollo Holmes, who has no criminal record. He set it at $100,000.

Holmes, 24, is charged with aggravated assault in the attack on Miller.

Accounts differ regarding what happened the night of Dec. 16 outside two popular Peachtree Street nightclubs. One thing that is known is that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s two daughters, Kai Franklin Graham, 35, and Kali Jamilla Franklin, 29, were present.

In one version, witnesses said a man turned his video camera on Graham, Franklin and a third, unidentified woman, and Miller, a friend of the mayor’s daughters, asked him to stop. At that point, witnesses said, about 10 men attacked Miller.

Page Pate, an attorney for 01 Entertainment, a party promoter filming an event at one of the clubs, has told a different story. He said witnesses told him the fight started after the three women became upset when they thought someone was videotaping them leaving a club about 2:30 a.m.

Miller stepped in and tried to take the video camera as several men crowded around him, Pate said. A scuffle ensued, and Miller ended up striking his head on the pavement, the attorney said.

Holmes’ attorney, Bruce Harvey, brought in several witnesses who were ready to testify. The defendant’s newborn son also was brought to court.

But Hicks opted not to hear from the supporters. Besides granting bail to Holmes, the judge assigned him a 6 p.m. curfew and ordered him to live with his mother in Mableton.

Holmes will continue his job at a rug manufacturing plant but cannot keep working nights as a front-desk security guard at a condominium due to the curfew, Harvey said.

Fulton prosecutor Jack Barrs said outside court that the case remains under investigation.

“There are other arrests coming,” Barrs said without elaborating.

Apollo Holmes arrested in Darius Miller beatdown, Kai Franklin remains silent

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, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A man wanted in connection with last week’s brutal beating of a personal fitness trainer turned himself in to authorities Monday morning, Atlanta police said.

Apollo Holmes turned himself in at the Fulton County Jail at around 8 a.m., according to Atlanta police spokesman James Polite.

Holmes, 24, has been charged with aggravated assault in the attack early Wednesday on Darius Miller in a parking lot outside two popular Peachtree Street nightclubs in Midtown Atlanta.

Miller, 41, was attacked during a dispute that witnesses said started when Mayor Shirley Franklin’s daughters complained about being videotaped outside one of the clubs, He remained in a coma over the weekend at Emory Crawford Long Hospital.

Police spokeswoman Judy Pal has said the investigation was continuing and that more arrests were possible.

Holmes was “affiliated” with 01 Entertainment, a party promoter that was videotaping an event the company staged at one of the clubs Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, according to a lawyer for 01 Entertainment.

Attorney Page Pate said Holmes was in the parking lot at the time.

Witnesses said the fight started because of objections to videotaping people leaving the clubs.

But the accounts differ on what happened as Kai Franklin Graham, 35, Kali Jamilla Franklin, 29, and a third woman who has not been identified came into an adjoining parking lot at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

In one version, witnesses said as soon as a man turned his video camera on the three women, Miller, who has a number of celebrity clients, asked him to stop. At that point, witnesses said, about 10 men attacked Miller.

But in a telephone interview Saturday, Pate said 01 Entertainment contends the sisters started the argument that led to Miller’s injuries when Graham and her sister demanded the camera from the man they believed had just photographed them.

The attorney said Miller had gone to retrieve his truck and was not present when the dispute began.

“[The sisters] started arguing with them, saying they were already famous and they don’t need to be famous,” Pate said. “He [Miller] heard the argument between the mayor’s daughters and he jumped into the middle of it.”

Pate said Miller tried to take the camera, and two other people came up to help the photographer.

“I don’t think it was as big of a melee as has been described,” Pate said. “There weren’t a lot of blows thrown.”

Then Miller went to his truck,”saying he wants to air this out,” prompting one of the 01 Entertainment contractors to fear Miller was getting a weapon, Pate said.

“As he [Miller] was trying to go into the passenger seat … he fell down and was wrestling with one of them,” Pate said.

Miller, he continued, “got back up and he fell … He fell back … on the pavement with the back of his head.”

Kai Franklin to avoid jail

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Hat Tip:  By Alan Judd, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Greenville, S.C. —- In November 2004, Kai Franklin Graham’s life was unraveling.

Her husband of three years was a fugitive from justice, charged with operating a transcontinental drug-trafficking ring. One of his co-defendants —- a potential witness against him —- had been shot to death. Federal agents had searched the Grahams’ $650,000 house in suburban Atlanta. And the mortgage was due.

One day, about two weeks after her husband had fled to California, the oldest of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s three children traveled to seven post offices. At each, she bought two $1,000 money orders, a total of $14,000 that she used for house payments. She paid cash.

The money, federal prosecutors said here Monday, came from drug dealing. And the transactions, Franklin Graham admitted to a judge, were designed to evade government reporting requirements that help authorities spot money laundering.

With her mother watching, Franklin Graham, 35, pleaded guilty Monday in a federal courtroom to a single charge of illegally structuring a financial transaction.

“Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?” U.S. District Judge Henry M. Herlong Jr. asked her.

“Yes, sir,” she said.

Franklin Graham is likely to avoid jail time; her plea agreement calls for her to serve three months of home confinement, followed by three years of probation.

However, “she has to be fully and completely truthful” with federal investigators, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Moore said.

Otherwise, she could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and be fined up to $250,000. Herlong is expected to sentence her in 60 to 90 days.

Authorities will ask Franklin Graham about a double homicide in Atlanta that is linked to her former husband, Tremayne Graham, 34.

Graham, whom she divorced in 2005, pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2006. He is serving a life sentence in a high-security federal prison in Kentucky.

Prosecutors have alleged that he ordered the killings of Ulysses Hackett III and his girlfriend, Misty Denise Carter. They were shot to death in Carter’s Virginia-Highland townhouse on Sept. 5, 2004. Hackett was thought to have incriminating evidence against Graham. Atlanta police never solved the case.

Franklin Graham will be asked to disclose what she knows about the killings and other matters, and might have to pass a lie-detector examination.

“We’re going to ask her a number of questions about a number of things,” Moore said outside Greenville’s federal courthouse. “I don’t know what, if any, information she has.”

Her testimony could be important to prosecutors, who might seek a death sentence for Graham or others implicated in the killings.

In court Monday, Franklin Graham was not accused of drug-related offenses.

However, Moore said: “We have looked into all the people who were involved. Not just limited to drug dealers, but people who assisted drug dealers, such as Ms. Franklin Graham.”

More than a dozen people have been convicted for their role in a ring that moved more than 2,200 pounds of Mexican cocaine through Atlanta to South Carolina.

Graham was indicted and arrested in 2004, several months after Hackett was arrested as he delivered cocaine to a “safe house” in Greenville.

On Nov. 12, 2004, 15 days after her then-husband skipped his $400,000 bond, Franklin Graham went to an Atlanta post office and used cash to buy two $1,000 money orders, Moore said in court.

Federal law requires postal officials to tell the Internal Revenue Service about any transaction exceeding $2,000.

Over the next several hours, Franklin Graham visited six more post offices, where she completed identical transactions, ultimately converting $14,000 in cash into money orders. She needed the money orders, Moore said, because her bank would have been required to report a cash payment of more than $10,000.

“This was a clear —- very clear —- transaction,” Moore said later.

The judge asked Franklin Graham whether she had known she was breaking the financial reporting laws.

“Yes,” she said, “in general, your honor.”

“You either did or you didn’t,” Herlong responded.

One of Franklin Graham’s lawyers, Richard Deane, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, told Herlong she knew reporting laws existed but not the details.

The guilty plea provided a dramatic coda to a series of indignities for Franklin Graham: personal bankruptcy, forfeiture of her home to the federal government, and the implication that she aided her husband’s drug ring.

Flanked by two lawyers, Franklin Graham stood facing the judge throughout Monday’s 22-minute hearing. Wearing a red turtleneck and black pants, her long, straight hair pulled into a ponytail, she answered Herlong’s questions in a quiet but clear voice.

Her mother watched alone from a second-row bench in the courtroom, her trademark fresh flower in her lapel. Asked outside the courtroom to comment on her daughter’s guilty plea, the mayor politely declined.