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Tag: Detroit

Detroit to Get $14 Million Border Patrol Station to Replace Old Building

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

DETROIT — The U.S. Border Patrol is building a new station in Detroit after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $14 million contract for the design construction of the new building, the Associated Press reports.

The 45,000-square-foot facility is expected to be done in spring 2015.

It is to include space for 100 agents, a kennel, fitness area, holding facilities, storage space and processing area. the AP wrote.

The Detroit station protects 70 miles of border with Canada.

The Agonizing Death of the Death Penalty in America

This is the first of two parts.
 
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Stephen Simmons slowly walked up the steps to the scaffold in Library Park in Detroit. It was September 24, 1830, his last day on Earth, and he looked out at the festive crowd of 2,000 celebrating spectators.

Men had brought their wives and children, there were refreshment booths, and a military band played a lively tune.

A local tavern owner, Simmons was a pleasant enough guy while he was sober but a demon when he was drunk. One night a month earlier, in a drunken rage, he had strangled his wife Livana when she refused to drink with him.

The crowd quieted as he stepped up to the gallows. In his last words he made a heartfelt confession about his crime and the evils of liquor.

The holiday mood evaporated as he sang a Christian hymn. Then the noose was placed around his neck and he dropped to his death. Public enthusiasm for the death penalty plummeted in the Michigan territory.

Seven years later, across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, Patrick Fitzpatrick was hanged for murder despite his protests of innocence. A few months later, another man made a deathbed confession that he, not Fitzpatrick, had committed the murder.

When the Michigan legislature considered the issue of capital punishment in 1846, these two factors—the public’s moral repugnance of the death penalty and the fear of executing an innocent man—convinced them to abolish capital punishment for murder. The state was the first English-speaking government in the world to abolish the death penalty.

 

The Simmons hanging in Michigan had defined the capital punishment debate not only in the state but, to some extent, for the rest of the country, in moral and religious terms.

Was the death penalty morally justified as a just retribution for the taking of a life? Did the Bible authorize it or forbid it as a penalty option in the most heinous cases?

Michigan and a handful of states rejected the ultimate punishment, but the overwhelming majority of states embraced the death penalty as morally justified and ordained by God as “an eye of an eye.”

There were other great historical causes in 19th early 20th Century America that were also vigorously debated primarily in terms of morality—temperance, women’s suffrage, and the abolition of slavery. While both sides of each of these issues raged on for decades without a resolution, ultimately it was the pragmatism of economics and politics which settled them, not so much morality. For a growing majority, the country’s future simply could not proceed with unenforceable and corrupting Prohibition and the marginalization of large parts of the population.

Similarly, the future of the death penalty is being decided in terms of economics—taxpayer dollars and cents. Slowly, incrementally, the death penalty is dying in America. Not because most people believe that the worst offenders do not deserve the most severe sanction. Nor has the debate over the efficacy of the penalty produced anything definitive. Studies on both sides of the issue claim to prove that the death penalty either does or does not deter others from committing the worst forms of murder.

Not only are these previously debate-defining terms not coming to any resolution, they are slowly being moved to the role of afterthought. Few people even talk about deterrence and moral justification any more. Instead what little debate that is occurring focuses on questions like: can local prosecutors’ offices afford death penalty litigation? Can the death penalty be administered in a humane and botch-free manner? In a post-DNA world can we guarantee that no innocent person will be executed?

More than any other factor, the future of the death penalty is being determined by the growing sentiment that we simply cannot afford it. Even though a majority of Americans probably continue to believe that capital punishment is justified for the mass murderers we hear about on the news with disturbing regularity, they are no longer willing to pay the increasing price. Just as likely, pragmatic considerations in an era of economic insecurity affect those moral decisions on whether as a society we need capital punishment.

Next week this column will explore this downward trend in the use of the death penalty and discuss one ex-prosecutor’s view on where it is heading—the death of the death penalty in America.

 

FBI Looking for New Employees at Field Office in Motor City

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The job market may be suffering in Detroit, but not at its FBI office.

The FBI is searching for special agents, intelligence analysts and interns to work at its field office in Detroit, WWJ reports.

“We’re looking for special agents who have either an extended degree or a degree with at least three years work experience. We’re looking for interns who are either in grad school or will be juniors next year,” Special Agent Laura Watters said told WWJ. ”And for the intelligence position, we’re looking for folks who are ready to move on, possibly relocating in March when the position is posted.”

For more information on the jobs click here.

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Detroit Mob

FBI Joins Probe of Racist Graffiti at Church, Election Polling Location

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 The FBI has joined an investigation into racist graffiti spray-painted on a suburban Detroit church that also was serving as an Election Day poling place, the Associated Press reports.

Bishop-Elect James Richard Evans Sr. said he believes the graffiti, which included an anti-black slur, was intended to intimidate voters.

Racial problems are nothing new in Mt. Clemens, where many African Americans are moving to escape high crime in Detroit.

The AP wrote that FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Eberle spoke about racial equality to an audience of about 100 at the church.

A Co-Defendant’s Plea in Mid-Trial Could Hurt Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Victor Mercado

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit
DETROIT — A surprise guilty plea on Monday by former water department director Victor Mercado in mid-trial could do some serious harm to his co-defendants in the Kwame Kilpatrick public corruption trial, particularly the ex-mayor.

“It’s more likely than not to have a negative impact on the jury’s feelings toward the other defendants,” said defense attorney James W. Burdick, who does not represent any defendant in the case. “I think could say, ‘ahh, they must all be guilty.’”

Burdick said the judge will tell the jurors that Mercado is no longer part of the trial, but won’t say why, and will remind them not to read into his absence when judging the other defendants.

But Burdick, a former state prosecutor, said it’s almost impossible these days with the omnipresent media — be it TV, radio or newspapers — for jurors not to find out that Mercado pleaded guilty.

“The jurors always read the paper, watch TV,” Burdick said. “The family is watching TV. They’ll all know.”

To read the full story click here. 

Family of Muslim Leader Shot Dead Challenges FBI’s Version of Raid

Luqman Ameen Abdullah

Steve Neavking
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — A Detroit Muslim leader was unarmed when authorities fatally shot him during a raid inside a suburban warehouse in 2009, the family of the man said in a lawsuit, a claim that’s totally contrary to what the FBI concluded,  the Detroit Free Press reports.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit alleges an unarmed Imam Luqman Abdullah was shot 30 times as he tried to protect himself from a police dog, according to the Free Press.

The claims stem from the affidavit of Muhammad Abdul Salaam, a Detroit man who witnessed the raid and shooting.

“As Abdullah struggled to prevent the canine from attacking his face, and while Abdullah was on his back, the FBI agents began shooting at him,” Salaam said in his affidavit, the Free Press wrote. “Abdullah never pulled any weapon towards the canine or towards any of the FBI agents. At no time during that day did I see Abdullah carry a gun.”

In separate investigations, local, state and federal authorities concluded the federal agents broke no laws when they opened fire on Abdullah. They concluded that he opened fire on the dog as agents approached.

Betrayal: High School Pal of Ex-Detroit Mayor Becomes a Star Prosecution Witness

Derrick Miller, inset, was a boyhood friend of Kwame Kilpatrick and part of his trusted inner circle at city hall. Miller will testify against his Cass Tech classmate.

 
By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — In the eighth-floor federal courtroom where Kwame Kilpatrick is on trial, prosecutors in coming weeks will summon one of their star witnesses: Derrick “Zeke” Miller.

Miller, who authorities say was a “bagman” and “right-hand man” for Kilpatrick, was a close friend of the mayor — not a fair-weather flatterer, as politicians often attract.

He first met Kilpatrick in Mrs. Cunningham’s ninth-grade English class at Cass Tech High School. They forged a friendship. He helped Kilpatrick get elected and worked in Kilpatrick’s inner circle at city hall along with another classmate of theirs, Christine Beatty, who would eventually become a central figure in the text messaging scandal.

“Other than my wife and Christine, I trusted no one more than Zeke,” Kilpatrick wrote in his 2011 autobiography. Eventually, the friendship died.

Miller — who went by nickname “Zeke” because of his affinity for Pistons basketball star Isiah “Zeke” Thomas — could have been sitting at the defense table along with Kilpatrick. He was initially one of five people named in the Kilpatrick indictment along with Kilpatrick’s close buddy, Bobby Ferguson, a contractor; father Bernard Kilpatrick and water department ex-director Victor Mercardo.

To read the full story click here.