Welcome! This free speech community journal was created so the Maple Heights African American community could share videos, photos, events, articles, posts, ideas, thoughts, and information.  We're now exclusively on Facebook, so don't forget to also check out our Facebook page.  Have a fantastic day!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


On August 23, 2013, I sent an email to the Maple Heights council president, and in that email I made the following statement "Considering that I had to take out a loan to pay my current property taxes, I want to know where every penny is going, and how it's being used.  This is more than a hint on how I'm going to vote on the levy in November.". [Full text]     *see my other comments at the bottom of this post

Well I didn't get a response to that email or an email of concern and wanting to help in some way to ease my tax burdens.  What did happen after the 2013 tax levy was defeated ... I received a letter (dated 12/3/2013) from my mortgage company stating  "A recent review of tax records has revealed delinquent taxes on the property securing the above referenced loan." It referenced $221.05, and a threat was made that if "I don't pay the $221.05, my mortgage company may exercise the option to pay those taxes, and the amount of the payment will be deducted from my escrow account and if I don't have an escrow account, one will be set up for me."  Well folks, months ago, I set up  payment arrangements with "Cuyahoga County" and presently only owe $37 which will be deducted from my checking account per that agreement.  I also have  monies deducted from my checking account to pay for taxes due in January.

Note:  Actually I may have been eligible for hardship assistance (due to excessive medical bills, etc); but chose a payment plan for the entire amount instead. 

Additional Note: Around the same time, I also got a letter from the IRS saying I owed them $149.17.   A simple misunderstanding and luckily that problem was solved quickly.

Now I'm not sure if my email caused someone in Maple Heights government to  inquire  about  my tax affairs to cause problems for me, but the letters and their timing  sure seemed damn suspicious.  See, I'm a senior citizen who criticizes Maple Heights government and asks questions ... questions that from responses I've received or lack of response, indicate to me that the leadership in Maple Heights is not happy with my criticisms or questions or requests. 

What I had uncovered previously was that the company mentioned in the letter I received, a company called Corelogic (2), I've seen in public records dealing with Maple Heights government, and whose tentacles in the mortgage (property) business, etc  are spread throughout Ohio and across the United States.

More troubling:
In 2012, I asked for public records related to salaries, benefits, ethnic code, etc of Maple Heights public employees.  I was completely ignored until I started posting my "public records request" emails on this blog.

***I must have rattled some cages with those requests and other questions and concerns because one day in July 2012 while I was in the drive-thru line at Wendy's, several cop cars pulled into the Wendy's parking lot.  The officers parked their cars, got out and approached my car and hung around my car until I picked up my cell phone and called my mother (to tell her about those officers) .. the officers then got back into their patrol cars and drove out of that parking lot.  I jotted down the tag on one of the police cars, and when I got home I called and emailed a number of people to let them know what had happened, and gave them the number on the tag.

This year:
At the end of June, Channel 3 did a story about a former Maple Heights officer accused of excessive force.  I had a link to that story posted on this blog around July 3rd or 4th.  On July 5th, within minutes of putting out my trash, my video relay camera on my home captured a white male in (what appeared to be) a bullet proof vest walking up my drive way, past my side door.  In that person's hand looked like a gun. It was raised while he walked up my driveway, and then pointed in front of him (toward the ground) when he walked by my side door.  

I sent the video and photo to a number of people to get  their opinion because I didn't want to overreact.  I even called the electric, gas, water companies to see if they were in the area reading meters (they said no).  Most of the people I sent the video and photo to said the white male was holding a gun.

Days later I called my attorney and Channel 3 because I wanted to know what this person (who appeared to be law enforcement) was doing on my property.  It was a deadly serious issue, because aside from questions related to my safety,  I actually could have been shot because I was behind my home dealing with the trash for 10 minutes or so (before the incident), and if you saw how he moved past my side door into my back yard, it would have been very likely that I could have been killed/murdered. 

I eventually obtained police service records (which, by the way, took a call from the NAACP to obtain) for the day in July (2012), and July 5, 2013.  Both times the police were in the vicinity on a call, but it appeared to me that both times they decided to take a side trip (if you know what I mean) that had nothing to do with the business at hand, but may have been an attempt to intimidate or worse. 

What you may not know is the leadership in Maple Heights is predominantly white and the police force (at that time) had only one African American officer (I believe we now have 2).  The city of Maple Heights is suffering financially, and over 68% of the population is African American; and if you know the history of blacks in this country, especially the history surrounding white law enforcement and the criminal justice system (see below), you know that for many black folk, to have to deal with people who can and have murdered blacks with impunity is especially daunting and sickening; and the fact most of their (predominantly white [male] Maple Heights police) salary is paid by the predominantly African American community (and we only have 1 or 2 blacks on the force) is insulting and offensive.

So why did I tell you my story?  Because I want to (with a new year approaching) still let people know what's going on in Maple Heights; and because it is a story told by thousands of African American and Hispanic individuals, and nothing is done.  The police force remains predominantly white in predominantly African American communities, and they continue to intimidate, harass and murder African Americans and Hispanics with impunity.  If you want to change these things, you have to change the leadership in your community, and you must file a federal complaint (and/or call the NAACP) if you think you're the target of a "color of law abuse" or a government employee is trying to intimidate/frighten you.  Make sure you back up everything you do and keep good records and keep copies of everything related to the incident.  Also tell friends and family about suspicious incidents, etc., give them copies of things related to the incident, and watch out for each other.  Finally, be very careful and obey the law, because the "color of law" abuser  will probably  try to deflect (and/or cover up) his/her/their behavior and try to  embarrass or discredit or create problems for the  complainant or  whistle blower  (that's why, if you're an African American, you need to get the NAACP involved and if necessary the "ColorofChange").  If you're a senior citizen,  there are additional laws to protect you against various kinds of abuse and you may want to include filing a complaint on that level too.

I also think the African American community needs to see  if there is a pattern of abuse and intimidation against African Americans who run for public office or serve in a public office, and a pattern of abuse and intimidation against African Americans who speak out and ask questions, complain, or request information that they are entitled to receive.

We also need (more money going to) community/neighborhood (paid) policing by people who actually live in our communities, and there should be regular public meetings with those who "protect and serve" and residents. 

Do try to remember:
It's your community ... you can design whatever kind of police/security presence you want (public or private), with advisory boards (under federal purview), and policies that protect you from abuse and protect your constitutional rights.

[To be further edited]

 Color of Law Abuses

Deprivation of Rights

Retired Police Officer Gets Choked Up Reflecting On The Injustices

The Year the Prison System Changed? 

[BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLER] Jonathan Ferrell: Supposed to Die?

Black Codes

Black Holocaust in America

Black Skin, White Justice: Race Matters in the Criminal Justice System by Gary Highsmith

Police addicted to drug money: Column

Save the Dream Ohio Programs

*After you read the full text of the email I sent the council president ...... I want you to  guess who swore the council president in at the "swearing in ceremony" in January.   Yes, ... the law director (who answers to the mayor, who also serves as safety director - see Maple Heights City Charter,


The Department of Safety shall be under the direct charge of the Mayor, who shall be the Director of Safety.

   The Department of Safety shall consist of a Division of Police and a Division of Fire. The Safety Director shall make all necessary rules and regulations for the government of these Divisions and shall be charged with the duty of enforcing within the limits of the City all police, sanitary and safety regulations that are prescribed by ordinance or by the general laws of the State. Each division shall be composed of such officers and employees as may be provided by ordinance or resolution of the Council, unless otherwise provided for in this Charter. The Safety Director shall keep a detailed and complete record of all activities of these Divisions, and shall cause each employee of the Department to make report of his or her activities.
   The Director of Safety shall have the authority to suspend any employee of this Department for incompetency, gross neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, failure to obey orders given by the proper authorities, or for any just and reasonable cause. Any employee may appeal from such decision to the Civil Service Commission. In such event the Mayor shall forthwith transmit a copy of the charges and proceedings and the Commission shall hear such appeal and may affirm, disaffirm or modify the judgment, and its judgment in the matter shall be final.)."


Now go over to the public records request page on this blog, and you'll understand my growing concern.

Additional background information:
Maple Heights population has been in steady decline since at least 2007 (remember the mortgage crisis).  A number of us questioned the salary of the mayor given that decline and looking at other cities and mayors who were facing financial crisis.  Anyway, Maple Heights council in 2012 did a brave thing and reduced the mayor's salary (to take effect in 2016 (?) ).

The mayor vetoed the resolution.  ***On the day of the police incident at Wendy's restaurant (mentioned above), I emailed the council president and asked if council could override the mayor's veto.  The council president answered my email and said "yes".   That night at council meeting, they voted and override the mayor's veto. [awesome]

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Established by Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a holiday that honors African heritage and celebrates family, community, and culture. It takes its name from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which in Swahili means "first fruits." 

Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 through January 1st."


Kwanzaa 2013: Dates, Facts, And History Of The Celebration Of Unity, Faith, And African Roots

Wednesday, December 18, 2013




Opening ReMARCs
Last week, I joined Rev. Al Sharpton along with other civil rights groups, retail executives and the Retail Council of New York State to unveil a newly-created "Customers' Bill of Rights" aimed at protecting customers from "shop-and-frisk" practices.

The bill of rights, which is in direct response to several incidences of alleged racial profiling at major New York retailers, includes key practices for retailers to follow and informs customers of what they can expect when they visit store locations.  Several national retailers have agreed to post the bill of rights in their stores by next week.

We initially gathered last month to discuss the issue of loss prevention and racial profiling during a retail forum that was attended by Mark Lee, CEO of Barneys and senior executives from Macy's, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. The bill of rights is the result of our subsequent task force meetings and is the first collective action to address this issue.

The statement at the heart of the bill of rights clearly articulates our position:  "Profiling is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated."

We know that this issue is not isolated to New York.  Moving forward, we remain committed to working with the retailers to make recommendations on the creation of high standard, best-in-industry store security protocols and cultural sensitivity efforts that can be adopted by retailers across the country.

To view a copy of the Customers' Bill of Rights, visit the Retail Council of New York State.
To Be Equal
“Our victory in defeating apartheid was your victory too. We know that our pride in regaining our dignity is shared by you. To you, and to all of the American people who supported the anti-apartheid struggle, we thank you from the bottom of our heart for your solidarity, and for having cared.” - Nelson Mandela, September 1998, New York City
What Mandela Meant to America
As the world mourns the passing and celebrates the life of Nelson Mandela, America is especially indebted to the great leader for his inspiration and solidarity in our shared struggle for human freedom, equal opportunity and justice for all.

Nelson Mandela’s heroic struggle for a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa inspired freedom-loving people around the world but was especially intertwined with the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement in America.  African Americans felt a special relationship with Mandela, a man who, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., endured years of persecution and discrimination in pursuit of freedom and equal opportunity for his people.

Both Mandela and King were  unafraid to agitate for justice and equality, but each ultimately changed the course of history through the power of reconciliation and unity.  Though Dr. King was 11 years younger, Mandela often spoke of his admiration for America’s fallen civil rights champion.  In fact, in his 1993 Nobel Peace Prize speech, Mandela praised King, saying,  “It will not be presumptuous of us if we also add, among our predecessors, the name of another outstanding Nobel Peace Prize winner, the late African-American statesman and internationalist, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He, too, grappled with and died in the effort to make a contribution to the just solution of the same great issues of the day which we have had to face as South Africans.”
Partner Spotlight

On Sunday, December 15, 2013, African American organizations, churches and community members across the country led a “moment of remembrance” dedicated to Nelson Mandela, his life and his legacy through a number of special activities such as: a Minute of Silence; Liturgy; Youth Presentation/Recitation of Mandela quotes; Dance ministry performance/dedication; and other events.

It is impossible to think about Nelson Mandela without thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr. While separated by great physical distance, the walk to freedom for Blacks in America and Blacks in South Africa was fueled by an inextricable spiritual connection personified in the lives of these two men who changed the world for the better.

As a freedom fighter and a unifier, Mandela reminded us, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, [we] can be that generation.” He understood that bitterness and hatred were poison to the soul. As President of South Africa, he modeled forgiveness and reconciliation in a way that left the world in awe. For his noble fight, his personification of forgiveness and his ongoing inspiration to create a better future, we pause in national unity to honor, salute and remember Nelson Mandela.

Mandela’s life serves as an inspiration to people everywhere to continue the fight for freedom and equal opportunity. As we pause on Sunday, let us pledge to continue the unfinished business to which this great, yet humble, servant dedicated himself.
Washington Bureau
Mel Watt Confirmed to Lead FHFA

The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency by a vote of 57 to 41.

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement applauding Rep. Watt's confirmation.

“We applaud the confirmation of Rep. Mel Watt as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).    With more than four decades of experience in housing and finance and a strong grasp of the issues confronting home owners and banks, we believe Rep. Watt is the right man at the right time to lead the FHFA and help it fulfill its mission to promote a strong and sustainable housing market.

“Rep. Watt has earned the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and from stakeholders in the finance and housing industry.  His integrity and focus on solutions will serve him well as he works to rebuild a still-fragile housing market and advance policies to help struggling home owners and those still hoping to achieve the American dream.”

Her Path to Success Begins Today
Your gift provides the tools for her to overcome economic challenges and realize her dreams.
Affiliate Newswire
Urban League Receives $150k
The Urban League of the Upstate (Greensville, SC)  announced on December 9th, it will be the receiving nearly $150,000 for education and employment programs in the second quarter of their fiscal year.

“With the season of giving being in full swing, we are happy to announce that the Greenville and Spartanburg communities are showing their increased support”, said Jil Littlejohn, President/CEO. The main core of the Urban League focuses on education and employment. Five of the agencies programs received funding from 3M, Hollingsworth, Jolley Foundation, Mary Black Foundation, Symmes Foundation and TD Bank, that will allow them to increase and expand capacity. 

Thanks to the Symmes Foundation we can continue to provide services in Greenville County at Berea High, Carolina High, Greenville High, Hillcrest High, JL Mann High, Mauldin High, Southside High, Wade Hampton High, and Woodmont High. 

A generous donation of $30,000 from the Mary Black Foundation in Spartanburg County school districts will allow the Urban League to increase capacity for Project Ready. JM Smith Foundation also supported the Spartanburg operations.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Cities have turned to outsourcing  and mergers as a  panacea  to financial budget constraints  [a result of,  to some degree, poor  government policies and a lack of intelligent, creative urban planning].   Unfortunately, this has led to other problems; specifically, higher unemployment rates among the poor and "people of color". 

It's   bad enough (even insulting at times)  that predominantly African American communities are under-represented in the workforce (public and private), but increasingly devastating are the ongoing threats ... "outsourcing" and "public mergers".

Aside from the issue of a lack of minority contractors, does outsourcing release a city from regulations and laws designed to protect certain groups from being discriminated against in hiring? 

Are these private companies [that we've outsourced to] scrutinized for their hiring practices?  It shouldn't matter if you are public or private, if you are receiving tax payer dollars, public monies, you should be bound by the same state affirmative action programs, anti-discrimination laws, EEOC regulations, etc. [A word to the wise ... those cities who band together to use the same private company,  ... you better make damn sure those regulations and laws are being complied with.]  

African Americans need to take a look at  the companies their city contracts with. 

African Americans (esp. in  predominantly Black neighborhoods) also need to take a close look at:  who is delivering their mail and packages;  who is reading their gas and electric meters; who the cable guy is; who represents them; who teaches their children; ... Where I live, I see a lot of white males in these roles (with the exception of teachers who are mostly white females).

What is most alarming is that more and more Blacks (esp. Black males) are disappearing from the [full-time] workforce.  While this is alarming, it is not surprising.  The "system" has created problems (social, financial, political, legal, structural) that is unique, offensive, and devastating  to African Americans and other "people of color".  In the mix  [laws that give certain groups (dominated by whites)  an advantage,  our unjust legal/justice system, overcriminalization,  the for-profit prison system, and law enforcement (which is predominantly white and designed to act in one's own best  interests)  which has the power to completely destroy an individuals life], and you  get some understanding why Blacks and other "people of color"  have higher unemployment rates than other racial/ethnic groups.

It's high time we  address these issues, and also come up with intelligent and creative ways to insure that "people of color" are properly represented in every industry in the workforce.


Top 6 Outsourcing Disadvantages: Outsourcing Disadvantages: Reasons That Outsourcing is Bad for Your Company  By

How Employers Weed Out Unemployed Job Applicants .. 1/14/2011

Employment Law Outsourcing Checklist (Mar 2006)

What is White Supremacy?

Michelle Alexander at Riverside: New Jim Crow convict under-caste