Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Black News: Judge Herman Thomas Acquitted of All Charges

A former Alabama judge was cleared Monday of charges that he spanked and sexually abused male inmates.

Former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas was found not guilty on seven counts after more than a week of testimony. Judge Claud Neilson threw out the remaining 14 charges.

Thomas wept and hugged his wife and supporters after the judge threw out the remaining charges. He left court without comment. As he left, one supporter threw her hands in the air and shouted, "Thank you Jesus." Other supporters gathered in a circle to pray.

Defense attorneys had painted the 48-year-old as a prominent civic leader who became a victim of felons who lied about him to manipulate the court system.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Black News: Rally to be held in Kennett, Missouri in Support of Heather Ellis

To join the Your Black World Coalition, please visit www.YourBlackWorld.com.

From Dr Boyce Watkins


To the Your Black World family:

When the children of my assistant Shauntay (Justin and Journi) brought the case of Heather Ellis to me, I was in disbelief.  I was shocked that in 2009, a young college student, with no criminal record, could face 15 years in prison for cutting line at Walmart.  I was even more appalled by the threats from the KKK and allegations by local leaders that the town went as far as blacking out the local news coverage during the minutes that the family held a press conference in support of their daughter.  We sent information about the case to CNN and other media outlets, and they covered it (along with BET, Essence, ABC News and others), but I don't feel this is enough.  We've decided that we aren't going to take this sitting down, and we hope you won't either

In honor of Justin and Journi, the two young visionaries who convinced me to take on this issue, we've created the "Journey for Justice," set to take place in Kennett, Missouri on Monday, November 16 at 11 am.  On that day, we are going to meet at the Walmart where the incident took place (1500 1st St., Kennett, MO) and march to the steps of the courthouse(Square 200 Slicer St.).  You can find out more information about the case and rally on the site www.TheHeatherEllisCase.com.  Given that the prosecutor in the case (Stephen Sokoloff) has asked for a change of venue (to Bloomfield, MO - a town with less than 20 black people), some of the details of the rally might change (I have no doubt that they are scheming to make this as difficult as possible).  But I can guarantee you this: On November 16, we are heading down there to fight against the madness occurring in this county, no matter what the cost.

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Your Black News: Media Matters Discusses the Heather Ellis Case

Racial injustice rears its ugly head again, this time in rural Missouri, where heavy-handed prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff is threatening to impose a lengthy prison sentence on a woman after an altercation at a local Wal-Mart almost three years ago.

In January 2007, 20-year-old Heather Ellis, then a student at Xavier University, and her cousin David went to a Wal-Mart in Kennett, Missouri, near the Tennessee border, in an area commonly known as the Missouri Bootheel.  Kennett, in rural and conservative Dunklin County, which boasts that it seceded from the Union during the Civil War, is overwhelmingly white.

At the check-out line, the pair split up in order to find the shortest line.  When Ellis left her line to join her cousin at a shorter line, customers complained and a store employee accused her of cutting, at which point an argument ensued and a manager notified a security guard, an off-duty Kennett Police officer.  The situation escalated from there:

In the Ellis version, she was shoved by another customer, had her items pushed aside by the clerk and then was short-changed when she finally was checked out. The police affidavit contends, at numerous times, Ellis became belligerent, loud, abusive and cursing when she was told to leave by the store's assistant manager. Summoned by a frantic phone call from her son, as the pair walked out to the parking lot, [Ellis' aunt] Blackmon says she arrived in time to witness her niece being brutalized by police during attempts to place her in a squad car.


Ellis was charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing, resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a police officer. Yet, curiously after being described in the police affidavit as "completely out of control" during her arrest, she was released to the custody of her parents to receive medical attention only 45 minutes after being jailed. However, her arrest triggered a whole series of problems. Although she returned to school in Louisiana, two months later, an attorney hired by the family tried to talk Heather into taking a plea deal offered by powerful Dunklin County Prosecutor, Stephen Sokoloff.


Click to read.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

15 Years in Prison for Cutting Line – Pretrial Has Begun

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Heather Ellis is a college student facing15 years in prison for cutting line at Walmart - visit www.SaveHeatherEllis.com for more details on the national protest to be held in Kennett, MO on November 14.

According to the family, the prosecutor in the case, Stephen Sokoloff, has asked for the trial to be moved to Bloomfield, MO, a town with less than 20 African Americans in it.

Heather Ellis Has a Pre-Trial – 10/25/09

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Heather Ellis is a college student facing15 years in prison for cutting line at Walmart - visit www.SaveHeatherEllis.com for more details on the national protest to be held in Kennett, MO on November 14.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Black News: Was Megan Williams Lying About Lying?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  A woman imprisoned for her role in the 2007 kidnapping and torture of a black woman by seven white men and women said Friday the victim wasn't telling the truth when she denied this week that the attack occurred.

Frankie Brewster told WCHS-TV in Charleston that multiple crimes were committed against Megan Williams during the attack in West Virginia's rural Logan County, about 50 miles south of Charleston.

An attorney representing Williams said Wednesday that she is now recanting statements incriminating Brewster, her son Bobby and five others. All seven pleaded guilty and six are serving lengthy prison terms.

Brian Abraham, the Logan County prosecutor in 2007, also has dismissed Williams' new story, saying the convictions were based on the defendants' own statements and physical evidence rather than what Williams said.

Williams originally said her captors, including boyfriend Bobby Brewster, beat her, raped her, forced her to drink urine and eat feces, poured hot wax on her and taunted her with racial slurs in a trailer in Logan County. Williams was rescued after a passer-by heard cries from the shed where she was kept and an anonymous caller tipped off sheriff's deputies.

Brewster is rejecting Williams' new version of events.

"It did happen," Brewster said during the interview at the Lakin Correctional Center, where she is serving 10 to 25 years. "All of us participated."

Click to read.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Black Lawyer Tells Juan Williams to “Go Back to the Porch”

I have no idea why FOX News political commentator Juan Williams is defendingRush Limbaugh, perhaps the most divisive, hateful person in American media today. I'm not sure why Williams is letting FOX News use him in the same way Armstrong Williams has always trotted out to defend conservative issues. (It's hard out there for a journalist.)
However, I do know that he does not deserve to be told to "go back to the porch," as radio talk show host Warren Ballentine said during a debate about Limbaugh last week.
The comments were made by Ballentine during a discussion with Williams on the 'O'Reilly Factor' about Limbaugh being dropped from a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams football team. Williams and Ballentine disagreed about whether the 'Barack the Magic Negro' song that Rush Limbaugh played was "racial."
BILL O'REILLY: The reason that Limbaugh is not going to be able to buy in to the NFL is because a bunch of made-up stuff became legend, and he got hammered.
WARREN BALLANTINE: Okay, we won't look at the made-up stuff. Let's look at him playing 'Barack the Magic Negro,' and we're going to say that's just funny, that's just a joke, that's not racial either. It is racial to real black people.


Click to read.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Black News: Man Shoots Boy for Sleeping with His Daughter

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

I have daughters and I love them all. They are all at "that age," between 16 and 20, where they tend to love the boys that you want to beat down the most. Every time I hear them express their undying love for Lil Wayne, I can only think about him having 3 women pregnant at the same time. When I see a Chris Brown poster in their room, I remind them that Chris was accused of having boxing practice on Rihanna's face.

But as a father, you can't protect your daughters from themselves. Some things they have to learn on their own. And if sleeping with a pants-saggin, "purple stuff dranking," gold grill wearing, 10,000 tattoo having buffoon is the way they need to learn their lessons, you just kinda have to deal with it.I empathize with Wade Edwards, the man accused of shooting a boy for sleeping with his step daughter. Wade shot the boy four times, aiming for the "relevant zone" with each bullet. But while I can understand Wade's anger, I do not, for one second, condone his actions.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Protestors Planned to Support Black Student’s Arrest

Kennett, MO. – Heather Ellis, a young college student out of Kennett, MO is now facing 15 years in prison if she is sentenced after being accused of cutting line at a local Walmart. Her case has gotten the attention of the nation, and has been the subject of extensive online protests.

Heather was in a Walmart store 3 years ago with her cousin. The two split up to find the shortest line. Since her cousin was in the shorter line, Heather joined him. That’s when the clerk accused Heather of cutting in front of the other customers. An argument ensued, leading to the manager and security guard being called, and finally the police.

The incident left Ellis, an honor student on her way to medical school, charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing and two counts of assaulting a police officer. After Heather refused to sign a plea agreement, Stephen Sokoloff, the town’s prosecutor, filed felony charges against Heather.


Click to read.

Black News: Boy Gets Burned Alive by His Classmates

Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 5:23 am
By: Denise Stewart, BlackAmericaWeb.com

A black Missouri teen, who last month was doused with gasoline and set afire by two white schoolmates, now faces charges himself as he recovers from burns over most of his body.

Walter Currie Jr., a 15-year-old in Poplar Bluff, Mo., was burned on June 13 after an exchange with two teens with whom he reportedly had a previous altercation.

The youth who allegedly doused him with the gasoline and lit the fuel has been charged with assault as a juvenile, Currie’s parents said. 
On July 6, several weeks after the incident, authorities gave Currie and his parents notice that he is being charged in connection with another incident where a teen related to the youth who set him afire was hit in the face, said Winonia Currie, Walter’s mother.

“All of a sudden, they decided to charge him with something that happened on June 10, but Walter said he didn’t have anything to do with it,” she said.

Because all of the people involved are juveniles, court officials in Butler County, Missouri said they can give only limited details on the incidents and cannot discuss names.

“I can tell you that there are charges against everyone involved,” Lesi Smith, chief juvenile officer for Butler County, told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Click to read.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your Black News: Tom Joyner Gets Great Uncles Pardoned for Murder

South Carolina board pardons Tom Joyner's ancestors

from TheGrio.com 

Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner holds up the signed pardon given to him from Samuel Glover, right, director of the South Carolina Dept. of Pardon, Probation and Parole, as Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., third from the right, smiles after a hearing Wednesday Oct. 14, 2009, in Columbia, S.C. A posthumous pardon was given to Joyners' great-uncles Thomas and Meeks Griffin, who were wrongly sent to the electric chair for the 1913 murder of a Confederate Army veteran.

(AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Two great-uncles of syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, sent to the electric chair for the 1913 murder of a Confederate Army veteran, were unanimously pardoned Wednesday by South Carolina.

Officials believe the men are the first in the state to be posthumously pardoned in a capital murder case.

Black landowners Thomas and Meeks Griffin were executed 94 years ago after a jury convicted them of killing 73-year-old John Lewis, a wealthy white veteran living in Blackstock, a Chester County town 40 miles north of Columbia. Two other black men were also put to death for the crime.

"This won't bring them back, but this will bring closure. I hope now that they rest in peace," Joyner said. "This is a good day."

Joyner, who lives in Dallas, and his attorney made a presentation to the state parole and probation board on Wednesday, then left the room while the board voted. Family members who flew in for the hearing included his wife and sons, of Dallas, and brother and his family, from Jackson, Miss.

Though he talks to roughly 8 million listeners on the radio daily, Joyner said facing the seven board members "scared me to death." When he was told how they voted, he said he waved his hands and hugged family members in a flood of relief and joy. He also called in to his radio show.

Joyner learned about his uncles' fate two years ago during filming of the PBS documentary "African American Lives 2," which traced his lineage and 11 others' through the research of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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Dr. Boyce: KKK, Walmart, 15 Years in Prison – The Heather Ellis Story

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

I mentioned the story before about Heather Ellis, the young woman who was threatened by the KKK after protesting about her arrest that took place in a Walmart store. The story was quite interesting in that Ellis now faces 15 years in prison for effectively cutting line at a Walmart. The unfortunate events occurred when Ellis was shopping with a cousin in Kennett, Missouri.

Heather and her cousin went to separate lines and when her cousin found the shorter line, Heather joined him. Ellis was then accused of cutting line by the person checking out customers, which led to an altercation. When Ellis was asked to leave the store, she argued with the managers, which led to the police being called. Ellis was eventually charged with disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a police officer.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins: What We can Learn from Dr. King’s Kids

What you can learn from Dr. King's family squabble

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Martin Luther King is rolling in his grave. Yes, I said it. So sue me.

Well, you might actually do that if you were one of Martin Luther King's children. In fact, yesterday Martin Luther King III and Rev. Bernice King - who were suing their brother Dexter for mismanaging the funds in their parents' estates - avoided a jury trial and settled their longstanding feud. The three children had been the only shareholders in King Inc, the corporation created to control their father's valuable legacy. Dexter is still the president and CEO of the estate, and had been, until late last night, its administrator.

Martin and Bernice had accused Dexter of wrongfully taking money from the family, alleging that he took "substantial funds" out of their mother's estate and "wrongfully appropriated" money from their father's. I am not sure what the difference between "wrongfully appropriating" money and good old fashioned stealing is, assuming that there is one, but perhaps I am not wealthy enough to know the distinction. Of course Dexter denied the accusations.

Click to read on MSNBC’s TheGrio.com

Monday, October 12, 2009

Your Black News: Obama Getting Chewed up by Comedians

"That's pretty amazing, winning the Nobel Peace Prize," Jay Leno said Friday night of President Barack Obama's latest accolade. "Ironically, his biggest accomplishment as president so far ... winning the Nobel Peace Prize."

That joke may be indicative of the TV comedy world sharpening its arrows a bit more when the current occupant of the White House is the target, The New York Times reports.

President Barack Obama Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

The Times quotes Bob Lichter, who has tracked themes in late-night humor for 21 years, as saying "it will be telling to see how the comedians treat" the president's winning the peace prize: Is there now a caricature taking hold of a man more celebrated than accomplished?

Lichter, of George Mason University's Center for Media and Public Affairs, said it was too soon to tell whether the Oct. 3 Saturday Night Live skit suggesting that Obama has accomplished nothing is a "harbinger" or not. "The danger is that Mr. Obama is going to be defined by inaction and not living up to expectations," he said.

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Dr Boyce: Woman Faces 15-Years for Jumping Line at Walmart

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

In case you haven’t heard, there is a young woman in Kennett, Missouri who has gone through one of our worst nightmares.  Three years ago, Heather Ellis was in a local Walmart shopping with her cousin.  The two cousins decided to go in separate directions to find the shortest line.  After seeing that her cousin’s line was shorter, Heather went to join him.  That’s when things got strange.

Heather was accused of cutting line and the security guard was notified.  According to Heather, she and her cousin repeatedly informed the guard that they were together, but that didn’t seem to matter.  The police affidavit claims that Ellis was loud, belligerent and cursing when she was told to leave the store. 

After police arrived, Ellis was taken to jail in front of her family.  Her aunt, Lily Blackmon, arrived on the scene after receiving a call from her son about the incident.  According to Blackmon, her niece’s head was being slammed against the police car and the officer only said “she cursed,” when asked why she was being treated so harshly.

Ellis was charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing, resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a police officer.  The young college student was then offered a plea bargain from Dunklin County Prosecutor, Stephen Sokoloff.  The felony counts were reduced to one misdemeanor of disturbing the peace.  However, Heather’s aunt believes that the offer was made so the family would not sue the police department.

Heather refused to take the plea deal, since she says she’d be lying if she admitted to committing a crime that day.  Eleven months after the incident, the misdemeanor was surprisingly dropped.  While this might seem to be good news, it wasn’t.  The misdemeanors have been replaced by felony assault charges, carrying a maximum sentence of 15-years in prison.

Heather believes that the pending felonies have cost her two jobs and the chance to get into medical school.  She still refuses to sign the plea deal.  Either way, she has a reason to fight, and I want to fight with her.   Heather’s case speaks to all of us: most of us have jumped the line at Walmart to be with a relative, and most of us know what it’s like to experience police abuse of authority.   No matter how much cursing Heather might have done that day, she doesn’t deserve to go to prison.  Also, if the prosecutor can reduce major felonies to one tiny misdemeanor, he could have dropped all the charges and let this woman go on with her education.


Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of The Your Black World Coalition.  To follow Dr Boyce on Twitter, please click here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Neo-Conservatives Can Learn from Obama’s Nobel Moment

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, Howard University 

With a decision that has shocked many around the world, on Friday October 9, 2009 the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that President Barak Hussein Obama is the 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace. This announcement not only recognizes extraordinary accomplishments but also brings with it extraordinary expectations.

In 1895 Alfred Nobel bequeathed the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. His intent was to award a prize to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." This year the Nobel Committee determined that President Obama, “…for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples… Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.”

What President Obama has demonstrated on the world stage is that by themselves ideologies are not rational. They tend to focus on and confuse the imagery of the “should be” and “ought to be” with the practical “is.” Without people who are able to inject pragmatism and tie logic and reason to an ideology, it can take an institution, group or country down some very perilous roads. This is why ideologues (people who profess ideologies) make terrible politicians and ideology can make for very bad public and foreign policy. Ideologues are so focused on the “should be” that they fail to take into account the practical applications of the “how.”

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At the top of the Corporate Ladder, the Only Color that Matters is GREEN

by Fenorris Pearson 

Despite a growing number of women and minorities in the workplace, the directors of corporate boards remain mostly white and male, according to a new report on Fortune 100 companies. Women and minorities together account for less than a third of the directors on more than 60 percent of the boards examined, according to the report. African Americans represent 7% of all corporate board members.

In spite of these grim statistics, there is a great deal of hope for the possibility of women and minorities sitting in positions of authority. The more you perform and the higher you go up the corporate ladder, the less color matters. The truth is that corporations are seeking individuals who can enhance the bottom line. A good corporate manager doesn’t care if you are black or white, as long as you deliver the green.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Financial Times: Obama under fire over falling dollar

By Edward Luce and Krishna Guha in Washington
The Financial Times (FT.com)

The sharp fall in the US dollar is giving ammunition to the critics of the Obama administration and fuelling broader concerns about the erosion of America’s reserve currency status.

Republican politicians have highlighted the dollar’s slide as evidence of waning US power. On Wednesday, Sarah Palin, the Republican former vice-presidential candidate, added her voice to those who have expressed concern over the consequences of rising US indebtedness and dependence on foreign oil.

“We can see the effect of this in the price of gold, which hit a record high today in response to fears about the weakened dollar,” she wrote on her Facebook site.

Most economists attribute the recent surge in the gold price to the actions of a few speculative investors hedging against inflation fears in the US. And they point out that the far deeper US bond markets show no sign of concern over inflation. Indeed, analysts say that the dollar’s slide stems more from investors’ growing appetite for risk and the prospects of interest rate rises elsewhere.

Over the past six months, the dollar has fallen 11.5 per cent on a trade weighted basis.
Tim Geithner, the US Treasury secretary said this weekend that the US will do “everything necessary” to maintain confidence in its currency. “It is very important to the United States that we continue to have a strong dollar,” he said. “We recognise that the dollar’s important role in the system conveys special burdens and responsibilities on us and we are going to do everything necessary to make sure we sustain confidence.”

However, angst about the dollar extends beyond conservative political circles. Last week, Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, warned that recent warnings from the Chinese and other major US creditors over US indebtedness could worsen in coming months.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ACORN embezzlement was $5 million, La. attorney general says

October 06, 2009, 5:46AM

Louisiana's attorney general has broadened the scope of an investigation of ACORN to include a possible embezzlement of $5 million a decade ago within the community organization, five times more than previously reported.

ACORN Chief Executive Officer Bertha Lewis said the new reported amount is "completely false."

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has been conducting an investigation of ACORN since June. He issued subpoenas in August seeking documents related to former ACORN International President Wade Rathke and his brother Dale Rathke, who kept the group's books. Those subpoenas were focused on possible ACORN violations for non-payment of employee withholding taxes, obstructing justice and violating the Employee Retirement Security Act. No charges have been made.

The attorney general had inquired in June into an alleged embezzlement within ACORN that happened 10 years ago. The group last year dealt with an internal dispute and a lawsuit involving accusations that Dale Rathke made nearly $1 million in improper credit card charges in 1999 and 2000. The brother and a donor repaid the money.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Shocking Legal News: Judge Accused of Sexually Abusing Inmates

Herman Thomas

Judge Herman Thomas

The trial of a former US judge accused of having sex with male inmates in exchange for leniency is set to start in Mobile, Alabama.

Herman Thomas, 48, denies the charges, which include sodomy, kidnapping, extortion, sex abuse and assault.

Up to 15 current and former prisoners are set to testify against him at the jury trial.

He was once the Democratic Party's choice to be the first black federal judge in south Alabama.

Mr Thomas resigned as a judge in 2007 following allegations that he spanked inmates in his private office at the county courthouse with a paddle.


Click to read.

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Eric Holder Visits Chicago to Discuss School Violence

Chicago will get a double dose of Obama Cabinet members next week in the wake of a brutal fatal beating of a Fenger High School honor student.

Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Chicago on Thursday to discuss youth and school violence. The new date contradicts first reports from the White House that the trip will be Wednesday.

Hannah August, a Holder spokeswoman, disclosed the new date today, saying final arrangements still are being made for his visit. It’s expected Holder will meet with school officials, students and community residents.
“I would anticipate him talking about not just violence in Chicago, but at a national level,” she said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks in Chicago on Wednesday at an education grant conference. He also plans to speak about school violence.


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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Did ACORN heed legal advice given on June 19, 2008? Apparently not...

Per Big Government.com
EXCLUSIVE: ACORN Legal Memo Confirms Depths of Troubles

by Matthew Vadum

“But whether you try to implement some or all of these recommendations, there must be someone committed to follow-up. There must be a review mechanism, and a means of holding people accountable after any final decisions are made. If you do not make some hard choices now and ensure they are carried out, they almost certainly will be made for you.”

–Elizabeth Kingsley of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg Eisenberg LLP, in a prophetic legal memo to ACORN dated June 19, 2008, the day before ACORN’s national board ousted ACORN founder organizer Wade Rathke

ACORN’s lawyer warned ACORN 15 months ago to begin fixing its massive internal problems or face certain catastrophe. It chose to do nothing.

The advice from Elizabeth Kingsley of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg Eisenberg LLP came in the form of an eerily prophetic legal memo to ACORN dated June 19, 2008, the day before ACORN’s national board fired disgraced founder Wade Rathke.

To read the full memo, please view the following link below:

The memo is a kind of Holy Grail for ACORN researchers. One source of mine keeps a copy in a safety deposit box. I’ve lost track of how many people have asked me over the last year if I knew how to get ahold of it. One source told me that there are many people who would “kill” to gain possession of it. This is a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but not much.

Having read this categorically damning memo, I now understand what all the fuss is about.

Full story on the ACORN memo is at American Spectator, here.