Wednesday, June 5, 2019

CONYERS CONTINUES AT 90: Birthday bash draws over 300 friends, Congress and Detroit VIP’s, well-wishers, and comments on news

John Conyers, Jr.
A Detroit 90th birthday bash for retired Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Detroit) held on May 18 at his brother Nathan’s house drew over 300 friends, Congress and Detroit VIP’s, and well-wishers. The party, organized by wife Monica, Nate, and sons John III and Carl, brought Detroit area congressional representatives Brenda Lawrence, Debbie Dingell, and Rashida Tlaib, great-nephew former State Sen Ian Conyers, and many Detroit political officials including Council President Brenda Jones. An array of Conyers’ former Washington and Detroit top staffers also joined the celebration.
Conyers said in an interview at the event:

· He suggests “not to impeach” Trump now but keep investigating. “The longer he stays in, the more mistakes he’ll make.” He added, “the election will be a tough race. If we’re not careful he’ll win again.”
· Among his many achievements, he’s “most proud” of his Martin Luther King Birthday Holiday bill becoming law. He was asked, “Did you think it would grow into this big an event, a national day of service?” He responded, “Yes. At first there was a small group of people with me. A larger group said it “would never happen. Then other people joined. More introduced their own. Support grew. After the assassination, what he had done resounded with people.” Conyers mentioned he felt the “most association” with King among American leaders, marched with him, went to his home, was endorsed by him for Congress.
Congressman John Conyers Jr. and
Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence
· He’s “all in” supporting Joe Biden’s run for President. Biden was a close colleague who chaired the Senate version of Conyers’ House Judiciary Committee and came to Conyers’ Hill portrait unveiling in Washington. Conyers said Saturday: “He has a good chance, better than Barack had at this point.” Conyers also supported Obama very early on.
· He’s happy his Reparations bill has become a major issue in the presidential campaign. Cong. Brenda Lawrence told him at the event, “It’s the talk of the country.” Conyers said, “It’s getting traction because it makes sense.” He joked, “Most of my stuff makes sense but it doesn’t always help it right away.”
Conyers and Friends at his birthday party.
· On the Medicare-for-All movement where he enlisted a majority of House Democrats, but now weakening a bit under political arguments and industry lobbying since he’s left? Conyers said, “I still feel good about it, it’s moving, it takes time.”
· His resolution that passed in the House for no Iran war without congressional approval is “relevant especially now.”
· He noted that “the first person I hired when I was elected was Rosa Parks.”
· He said his health is good: “There’s not a thing wrong with me, no complaints.” He said he stays “active with events, there are so many who invite and welcome me. I’m privileged.” He said he’s been with many groups “from the beginning.” He’s thinking he’ll “write a book.”
· He offered positive words about his successors, Cong. Talib in Detroit and, at the Judiciary Committee in Washington, Jerold Nadler (D-NY). Talib presented Conyers with a flower bouquet. He said that despite some criticism of her rhetoric, people need to know she “means well.” He said that Nadler is carrying a “good program, well organized” on constitutional issues concerning Trump. Top Judiciary Counsel Perry Apelbaum came from Washington with a resolution congratulating Conyers signed by all Democratic Judiciary congressional members. Also at the party were former office Chief of Staff Ray Plowden and former Judiciary counsel Julian Epstein (and spokesman Bob Weiner, author of this article).
Congresswoman Dingell was seen crying at the event and was asked why. Perhaps summarizing the feelings of many, she said, “I’m just missing him. Lots of great memories of the ups and downs of life.”

Weiner is former communications director for Cong Conyers, a former Clinton and Bush White House spokesman, and former senior aide to Cong. Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. He now heads a group recruiting young journalists to write for top papers and contributes regularly to the Chronicle.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Friday, April 26, 2019

Ringleader in 1998 gruesome Texas dragging death to be executed

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

The bill was first introduced into the 107 Congress's House of Representatives on April 3, 2001, by Rep. John Conyers and was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime. The bill died when it failed to advance in the committee. It was reintroduced by Rep. Conyers in the 108th and 109th congresses (on April 22, 2004, and May 26, 2005, respectively). As previously, it died both times when it failed to advance in committee.
Mylinda Byrd Washington, 66, left, and Louvon Byrd Harris,
61, hold photographs of their brother James Byrd Jr. in Houston.
James Byrd Jr. was the victim of what is considered to be one of
the most gruesome hate crime murders in recent Texas history.
Huntsville, Texas – A man who orchestrated one of the most gruesome hate crimes in U.S. history is set to be executed Wednesday for the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. nearly 21 years ago.

John William King, who is white and an avowed racist, was put on death row for chaining Byrd to the back of a truck and dragging his body for nearly 3 miles along a secluded road in the piney woods outside Jasper, Texas. The 49-year-old Byrd, who was black, was alive for at least 2 miles before his body was ripped to pieces in the early morning hours of June 7, 1998.
Prosecutors said he was targeted because he was black.
Authorities say the 44-year-old King is openly racist and has offensive tattoos on his body, including one of a black man with a noose around his neck hanging from a tree.
If executed, King would be the fourth inmate put to death this year in the U.S. and the third in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.
The hate crime put a national spotlight on Jasper, a town of about 7,600 residents near the Texas-Louisiana border that was branded with a racist stigma it has tried to shake off ever since. Local officials say the reputation is undeserved.
King’s attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution, arguing that King’s trial lawyers violated his constitutional rights by not presenting his claims of innocence and conceding his guilt. His lawyers cited a 2018 Supreme Court ruling in a Louisiana case in which the justices said that a lawyer for a criminal defendant cannot override his client’s wish to maintain his innocence at trial.
“From the time of indictment through his trial, Mr. King maintained his absolute innocence, claiming that he had left his co-defendants and Mr. Byrd sometime prior to his death and was not present at the scene of his murder. Mr. King repeatedly expressed to defense counsel that he wanted to present his innocence claim at trial,” A. Richard Ellis, one of King’s appellate attorneys, wrote in his petition to the Supreme Court.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday rejected a similar request to stop the execution.
John William King
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday turned down King’s request for either a commutation of his sentence or a 120-day reprieve.
Over the years, King has also suggested the brutal slaying was not a hate crime, but a drug deal gone bad involving his co-defendants.
King, who grew up in Jasper and was known as “Bill,” will be the second man executed in the case. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in 2011. The third participant, Shawn Allen Berry, was sentenced to life in prison.
King declined an interview request from The Associated Press in the weeks leading up to his planned execution.
In a 2001 interview with the AP, King said he was an “avowed racist” but wasn’t “a hate-monger murderer.”
Louvon Byrd Harris, one of Byrd’s sisters, said she and other family members plan to attend King’s execution.
“I think it will be a message to the world that when you do something horrible like that, that you have to pay the high penalty,” she said.
Harris said she doesn’t expect King to be remorseful. Brewer said nothing to Byrd’s family before he was put to death.
“All they are going to do is go to sleep. But half the things they did to James, all the suffering he had to go through, they still get an easy way out to me,” Harris said.
Billy Rowles, who led the investigation into Byrd’s death when he was sheriff in Jasper County, said after King was taken to death row in 1999, he offered to detail the crime as soon as his co-defendants were convicted. When Rowles returned, all King would say was, “I wasn’t there.”
“He played us like a fiddle, getting us to go over there and thinking we’re going to get the rest of the story,” said Rowles, now the sheriff of neighboring Newton County.
A week before Brewer was executed in 2011, Rowles said he visited Brewer, who confirmed “the whole thing was Bill King’s idea.”
Mylinda Byrd Washington, another of Byrd’s sisters, said she and her family will work through the Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing to ensure her brother’s death continues to combat hate everywhere.
“I hope people remember him not as a hate crime statistic. This was a real person. A family man, a father, a brother and a son,” she said.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Congressman Conyers Soon to Speak at Coretta Scott King Funeral - 2-7-2006

Congressman Conyers Soon to Speak at Coretta Scott King Funeral
John Conyers, Jr. & Coretta Scott King
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. is in Lithonia, Georgia for Coretta Scott King's funeral. The Congressman, who worked with Mrs. King to author the bill making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday, will be honoring her life's work with following remarks.
Today we mourn the passing of a dignified and peaceful woman who should be remembered as an equal partner in the struggle for civil rights. For more than forty years, she continued the pursuit of her husband's legacy of justice and equality - proving that she was an activist in her own right. For that, our nation owes her its most profound gratitude.
I first met Coretta when I traveled South during the civil rights movement as a lawyer. What many people may not realize is that Martin did not bring her to the Movement. She was already there. As a child of the South, she recognized the injustices of segregation and as a college student, began her own work to obtain equality.
We all recognize Coretta as a vibrant and dedicated partner to Dr. King. When he insisted that the Civil Rights Movement begin in the deep South, where racial injustice permeated every aspect of its society, she could have joined those who tried to dissuade him. Coretta could have made a strong case for standing on the sidelines when he was called to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott with Mrs. Rosa Parks. After all, King was working on his doctorate, they had just started a family, and there was a great deal of danger involved in this struggle. However, she recognized the fact that the importance of this struggle transcended personal interest and people would have to step out on faith and do the right thing.
As Martin Luther King grew in the struggle, Mrs. King grew along with him. When he traveled to India in 1959 on a pilgrimage to disciples and sites associated with Gandhi, Mrs. King was by his side. She would travel around the country, giving speeches, singing, and leading marches. Coretta was not trying to make headlines or gain personal recognition, but she quietly and eloquently acted as a leader in the Movement.
Following Dr. King's assassination, Coretta continued to advance their shared vision of a free and equal America. She honored her husband's legacy by founding the King Center in 1968, the largest repository of King's speeches, writings, and other works. Coretta devoted her life to advancing racial and economic justice and the recognition of the rights of women, children, the poor, the homeless, and all those disenfranchised. Most notably, this woman stood for equality and peace - the virtues to which her husband dedicated his life.
With Coretta's approval, four days after Martin's death on April 4, 1968, I introduced a bill to name a federal holiday in his honor, and in 1969, I was proud to join her at the King Center in Atlanta to kick off the campaign for a King holiday. A stalwart leader, she orchestrated a national grassroots movement that urged passage of this legislation and would come to Congress in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983 to testify before Congress and urge support of the King Holiday, which was passed into law in 1986.
Today, as we mourn her loss, we also pledge to continue the King legacy just as Coretta has done for the last 38 years. Their contributions impacted millions during their lifetimes; it is our challenge to ensure that their legacies continue to compel justice and peace, and the very best that this country can be.

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Judiciary: Hearing on the History and Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Conyers To File Misconduct Complaint Against Starr - 1998

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 5) -- The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee is preparing a letter asking Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate what he believes to be repeated abuses of power by Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr, CNN has learned.
Meanwhile, CNN has also learned the Justice Department last year rejected a similar call for an investigation of Starr saying it found "no indication ... that Mr. Starr is unable to put his personal views aside."
Sources said the letter from Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) runs more than a dozen pages and accuses Starr of a variety of ethical lapses, including allegations he has pressured witnesses to commit perjury in his effort to build a case against President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
A draft of the letter also accuses Starr of orchestrating illegal media leaks of secret grand jury testimony, and questions his objectivity by detailing his ties to conservative groups and activists during his tenure as independent counsel.
The sources said the letter would request that Reno ask her ethics office, the Office of Professional Responsibility, to begin an investigation into whether Starr should be removed from his position.

Justice's earlier refusal to investigate Starr

CNN has obtained a previously undisclosed letter to a leading public critic of Starr's investigation, which says allegations of political bias and conflict of interest against Starr cannot be "viewed as so extreme as to call for the Attorney General's use of the extraordinary power of removal."
The February 7, 1997, letter from top Justice official Michael Shaheen, then-Counsel for the Office of Professional Responsibility, was sent to private attorney Francis Mandanici, who had demanded action against Starr by the Justice Department and by the federal judges in Arkansas.
Despite this earlier refusal, a Justice Department official said if Conyers' letter is received, "It would be reviewed just as we review anything from a member of Congress."
In last year's letter, the Justice Department stressed that Reno can remove an independent counsel from office only for "good cause, physical or mental disability or any other condition that substantially impairs the performance of such independent counsel's duties."
Citing the legislative history of the independent counsel statute, the Justice Department told Starr's critic the removal provision was to be used "in only extreme, necessary cases," or it could severely undermine the public confidence in investigations of wrongdoing by public officials.
The letter went on to say: "With respect to the allegations concerning Mr. Starr's political affiliations, there is no indication in any of the materials that Mr. Starr is unable to put his personal views aside while performing his duties as Independent Counsel," Shaheen wrote. "It would not be practical to require that Independent Counsels be selected only from among persons with no clearly expressed political opinions".
The letter also dismissed complaints against Starr based on claims he had a conflict of interest because his law firm was involved in dealings with the Resolution Trust Corporation at the same time Starr was investigating an Arkansas savings and loan in the Whitewater investigation.
CNN's Terry Frieden and John King contributed to this report.

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