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Archive for April 3rd, 2017

Utility Disconnections Leave Thousands Around the Nation “Out in the Cold” or Left in the Dark

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

NAACP report outlines disproportionate impact of utility shut-offs on poor and African American communities

BALTIMORE, MD –According to a new report from the NAACP, utility company shut off policies disproportionately impact low-income and African American communities, literally leaving thousands in the dark, stranded in the cold during winter or severely impacted by sweltering summer temperatures.

With 2016 on record as the hottest year to date, and January of this year documented as the 3rdhottest January on record, many are looking at the coming summer and winter months with fear and dread regarding the potential for utility shut-offs, that leave a disproportionate number of African American and poor communities in the dark and out in the cold.

““The life-threatening fact that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, means climate change and global warming are painful household realities for those whose heat, air-conditioning and power are shut off. Dangerous and unnecessary shut offs in the sweltering heat and frigid cold disproportionately impact the poor, the elderly and communities of color,” said NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks. “The measure of our great nation is not unreasoned and unrestrained profitability but rather reasoned solutions and unrestrained compassion for vulnerable populations. This report is inspired by such compassion and offers such solutions,” emphasized NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.

The report issued by the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program (ECJP) shows lower income communities spend a greater portion of income on electricity and heating costs than high-income communities. African Americans are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-African Americans and spend a significantly higher fraction of their household income on electricity and heating as non-African Americans, who spend more on energy used in the production and consumption of goods.

Since African Americans make up a higher percentage of low-income households, their vulnerability to high energy prices and in turn utility disconnections is exacerbated at levels disproportionate to other groups due to rate hikes or swings in weather.

The NAACP’s ECJP in analyzing state policies concerning utility shut-offs, showed:

• customers with limited income bear a disproportionate burden of energy bills;
• disconnections have a disparate impact on low-income communities and communities of color;
• customers may be reliant on utility services for medical devices and life-supporting systems;
• vulnerable customers’ use of hazardous heating, cooling, and lighting measures can have harmful and even fatal results.

NAACP ECJP also highlights the inconsistencies in state shut-off polices, which makes it tougher to implement national utility reforms. States and the District of Columbia are uniform only in the fact that all are required to send out disconnection notices, yet:

• 7 states offer no payment plans to cure delinquency;
• 8 states have no medical protection policies on affecting disconnection of services;
• 11 states have no disconnection limitation polices;
• 14 states have no date-based protection policies. Date based – set specific dates of when customers cannot without due diligence be disconnected from a utility service;
• 28 states have no temperature-based policies: Meaning regardless of how cold it becomes, utilities can be shut-off;
• 11 states have no disconnection limitations; and
• 36 states have reconnection fees.

These inconsistencies in consumer protections result in thousands of individuals and families each year ending up with no heat or power in their homes during the worst of times.

Unfortunately, these numbers are slated to expand tremendously due to President Donald Trump’s proposed elimination of the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The elimination of LIHEAP would disparately impact over a million African Americans, and nearly 7 million Americans who utilize LIHEAP. 



Iowa – 85,777 households

Michigan – 623,549 households

Ohio – 454,520 households

Pennsylvania – 391,461 households

Wisconsin – 214,531 households

*Climate Nexus

“Caught between a rock and a hard place, low-income families across the country are often faced with tough choices between putting food on the table, paying for medicine and lighting and/or heating their homes.” said Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program. “In researching this report, we’ve seen too many cases where poverty ends up being a death sentence when circumstances result in fatally perilous choices.

For Arizona native Amy Mays whose struggles with utility shut-off and path to energy independence are profiled in the report, new policies are needed immediately.

“We need these solutions sooner rather than later, because climate change is going to make these issues worse. Extreme weather events, like dangerously hot and cold days, are projected to increase as a result of climate change – stretching ratepayer’s pockets and putting them at even greater risk if their power is shut off. ”

The amount owed by low-income customers for unpaid utilities often has a minimal impact on company finances.

Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (First Energy) 2015-2016

Executive Base Salary    Total Compensation     Pay Increase

1  $ 1,118,558.00     $ 4,238,701.00         $ 3,120,143.00 

2 $ 636,154.00       $ 2,339,431.00          $ 1,703,277.00 

3 $ 510,231.00        $ 7,054,125.00          $ 6,543,894.00 

4 $ 752,789.00        $ 3,004,793.00         $ 2,252,004.00 

5 $ 599,176.00         $ 2,135,552.00          $ 1,536,376.00 

6 $ 552,404.00        $ 2,017,272.00          $ 1,464,868.00 

Total $ 4,169,312.00   $ 20,789,874.00   $  16,620,562.00 

A study of utility costs and spending in Cleveland, OH found that while customers with Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company who were facing disconnection owed nearly $12.3 million in unpaid bills between 2014 and 2015, the top executives for the same company were paid more than $16.6 million in performance bonuses.

Total Service Disconnections for Nonpayment

Jun 2014 – May 2015

Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company  14,594

Columbia Gas of Ohio  92,313

Dominion East Ohio  62,398

Orwell Natural Gas  $216

Total  169,521


According to the NAACP, there are several solutions that can implemented by states and utilities to begin to decrease the impact of shut-offs among poor and communities of color. The solution strategy begins with the establishment of a universal right to uninterrupted energy service, which would ensure that provisions are in place to prevent utility disconnection due to non-payment and arrearages.

The NAACP ECJP also calls for a moratorium on utility shut-offs and calls for utility companies to incorporate a basic set of principles into their policies including:

• Secure ACCESS to utility services for all households;
• INCLUSION of all customers in the development of utility policies and regulations;
• TRANSPARENCY of the actions of and information held by utility companies, regulating bodies; legislatures, and utility affiliated organizations;
• PROTECTION of the human and civil rights of all customers; and
• Advance programs that help ELIMINATE POVERTY, so that all customers can pay utility bills.

“We can create more humane policies but it will involve a greater number of activists and individuals from communities disparately affected by cut-off policies,” said Jacqui Patterson.

“Through directly engaging elected officials, utility companies and local legislators, we can get the type of solutions listed in the report passed into law and in doing so change this nation for the better” she added.

Copies of the “Lights Out in the Cold” report can be found on our website at naacp.org

Click here or email mrussell@naacpnet.org

The People’s OPL, Members of the Obama Presidential Library CBA Coalition Discuss the Need for a Community Benefits Agreement to Protect the Community’s Interests

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Members of the Obama Library CBA Coalition will be guests on the Nonprofit “U” radio blog talk show on Monday, April 3, 2017, from 2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.  Guests include Allegra Cira-Fischer, Staff Attorney with The Law Project; Jawanza Malone, Executive Director, KOCO and Dominic Surya, Organizer, Prayer and Action Collective of  the Obama-library CBA Coalition.  Nonprofit “U” is an online forum where nonprofit stakeholders can discuss the latest developments in the sector and increase their capacity to serve their clients and build sustainable communities. Valerie F. Leonard, an expert in community and organizational development is the host. The show will stream live from BlogTalkRadio.com/nonprofit_u.  There will be opportunities for listeners to call in with questions and participate in live chats. Nonprofit professionals, community advocates, developers and other  community stakeholders are especially encouraged to call in and share their stories. The live call in number is (347) 884-8121. The archived podcast will be available on BlogTalkRadio, Valeriefleonard.com/NonprofitU, iTunes Podcast Chart, Blubrry and Stitcher.

According to UChicagogate.com, construction of the 22-acre Obama Presidential Library itself is estimated to cost around $600 million, and could result in the creation of an estimated 1,900 permanent jobs. Surrounding neighborhoods could see $30 million in new food and retail development, which could translate into as many as thirty restaurants, eleven stores, and a hotel.

Given the potential community impact, is a community benefits agreement necessary?  The Obama Foundation argues “no”, as the construction of the OPL, in and of itself, is a community benefit.  Some local community organizations agree, adding that the  Obamas can be trusted, and that it’s an insult to ask them to enter into such an agreement.

However, the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Agreement Coalition feels differently, given the historic displacement of low-income Black residents through the construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway, the CHA Plan for Transformation and fallout from school closings. Join us for a lively discussion on the Obama Presidential Library and the prospects of negotiating a community benefits agreement to protect community interests. 

Immigrant Rights Petition Signed by Over 40k To be Delivered to Senators

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
Today, April 3rd – Activists with United We Dream and Justice for Our Neighbors will stand with immigrants and refugees as we deliver this petition, currently signed by 40,000 people, to Illinois Senators Duckworth and Durbin to demand they reject Trump’s $3 billion budget plan to terrorize immigrants.
Trump’s budget to fund Executive Orders will pay for the following:
*  $1.5 billion for the construction of new immigration detention center;
*  $1.4 billion to go toward building a disastrous border wall;
*  $314 million for the hiring of 500 additional border patrol agents and 1,000 ICE officials to break down doors, racially profile, fabricate charges and deport immigrants; and,
*  Housing 45,000 people in detention camps every day.
Activists will gather at 12 noon, Monday, April 3 at the Intelligentsia Coffee Monadnock Coffeebar, 53 W. Jackson Boulevard, and then proceed to the senators’ offices.
Full text of the petition can be found here:


Prison Strike Leader Moved to Infirmary after Twenty Four Days Refusing Food

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, a national prisoner leader has been on hunger

strike since Monday, February 27th. On Friday, March 24th he was moved

to the infirmary, presumably due to failing health. His appeal to the

Rules Infraction Board (RIB) was also denied by Ohio Department of

Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Gary Mohr.


The administration at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) has been targeting

and restricting Hasan’s communication access on any pretense they can

find or invent since his outspoken support for the nation-wide prisoner

strike on September 9th of 2016.


Hasan and another prisoner, Jason Robb began refusing food when the OSP

administration put them on a 90 day communication restriction for being

interviewed by the Netflix documentary series Captives. Hasan appealed

the RIB’s decision, arguing that they violated policies regarding

timelines, access to witnesses, and prisoners’ due process rights.

Director Mohr’s response to the appeal was a form letter that did not

address any of the issues Hasan raised.


Hasan and Robb are on death row and have been held in solitary

confinement since the 1993 prison uprising in Lucasville. They believe

that the ODRC and the Ohio State prosecutors targeted them after the

uprising because of their role in negotiating a peaceful surrender.

State officials, in both the Captives documentary and a 2013 documentary

called The Shadow of Lucasville, have admitted that some prisoners were

given deals to testify against Hasan, Robb and others, and that no one

really knows who committed the most serious crimes during the uprising.

In court, they argued the opposite to secure death penalty convictions.


The Lucasville Uprising prisoners have been fighting to tell their story

for decades, and are currently suing the ODRC over an unconstitutional

media blockade, which the Captives documentary crew circumvented by

unofficially recording video visits with Hasan and Robb. The current

hunger strike is part of an ongoing struggle for equal protection, basic

human rights and survival after decades of living under the most

restrictive and torturous conditions of confinement at OSP, Ohio’s

supermax prison.


Supporters are asking people to please call Director Gary Mohr at

614-387-0588 or email him at drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us as well as

Northeast Regional Director Todd Ishee, 330-797-6398. Demand that the

punishments being imposed on Jason Robb and Siddique Abdullah Hasan be

reversed and that OSP authorities be severely reprimanded for violating

their rights to due process and displaying bias toward them.


For more information on the Lucasville Uprising, the struggles of these

prisoners, and the media blockade against them, please visit



Hasan’s Conduct Report and appeal:



Gary Mohr’s form letter response:



Feb 28th announcement of hunger strike:



Info about the lawsuit against media blockade:



Articles about Hasan’s involvement with the September 9th prison strike:



Iwoc-news mailing list




Harper Fights to Stop Part-Time Politicians from Obtaining Perks

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – In an effort to make government officials more accountable to the people they represent, Illinois State Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, supported a measure that would restrict part-time politicians from receiving a taxpayer funded pension.


“I want all elected officials to be held accountable to the people they represent, and that means eliminating perks for politicians who work only a few hours each week,” said Harper. “Newly elected, part-time officials who work less than 20 hours a week do not need a taxpayer funded pension. Average workers who work far longer hours do not enjoy similar benefits, and their local officials should follow that example.”


House Bill 291 is a bipartisan, fiscally responsible initiative that requires newly elected, part-time politicians to work 1,000 hours annually in order to receive a taxpayer funded pension. During these difficult times for Illinois’ economy and taxpayers, Harper believes that state and local governments need to prioritize their expenditures on critical services above politicians’ pension and life-time benefits.


“All levels of government need to establish their priorities, and my top priority is passing a fair and balanced budget that protects our most vulnerable citizens,” said Harper. “By requiring part-time officials to put in more work hours is not a big request and is not unreasonable. This is the right thing to do for our constituents.”


Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Honors 35 Vietnam War Veterans

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS


Illinois Veterans’ Home in LaSalle hosted a Welcome Home celebration


LaSalle, IL – Vietnam War Veterans were honored and thanked for their service during the Vietnam War at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veterans Home in LaSalle, Illinois.  During the ceremony, a total of 35 Veterans were honored with a 50 year commemoration pin and certificate.  This national commemoration was authorized by Congress, established under the Secretary of Defense, and launched by the President as follows: In 2007, the 110th Congress incorporated language in H.R. 4986 authorizing the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  

 “The celebration is to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war, or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States, and to thank and honor the families of these veterans,” said IDVA Director Erica Jeffries. “These veterans put their lives on the line for us. They deserve our recognition and respect for the sacrifices they undertook for our nation.”

 The Commemoration honors all United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time between November 1, 1955  and May 15, 1975, regardless of location. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that today there are 7 million living Vietnam veterans and 9 million families of those who served in this time frame. We make no distinction between veterans who served in-country, in-theater, or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.

Unemployment Rate Decreases in Most Metro Areas

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Many downstate metros continue to report job losses

 Not Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates


CHICAGO, IL – All but one of Illinois’ metropolitan (metro) areas experienced decreases in their over-the-year unemployment rate. Six of the metro areas had increases in nonfarm jobs, eight reported declines, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

“More than half of the metro areas statewide lost jobs,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Of all the nonfarm jobs gained over the last year, less than 10 percent were outside of the Chicago metro area.”

Illinois businesses added jobs in six metro areas, in which the largest increases were seen in: Kankakee (+2.3 percent, +1,000), and Springfield (+1.1 percent, +1,200). Total nonfarm jobs in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro Division increased (+1.1 percent or +38,500). Illinois businesses lost jobs in eight metro areas including Carbondale-Marion (-2.6 percent, -1,500), Peoria (-2.2 percent, -3,900), Rockford (-2.1 percent, -3,200). The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metro areas were: Education and Health Services (ten of 14), Professional and Business Services (nine of 14) and Financial Activities (eight of 14).

Not seasonally adjusted data compares February 2017 with February 2016. The not seasonally adjusted Illinois rate was 5.5 percent in February 2017 and stood at 12.2 percent at its peak in this economic cycle in January 2010.  Nationally, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in February 2017 and 10.6 percent in January 2010 at its peak. The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for work, and is not tied to collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

* Unemployment rates for cities with total population of 25,000 or more can be found atwww.ides.illinois.gov/LMI/Pages/Current_Monthly_Unemployment_Rates.aspx

Lake & Kenosha Counties, IL-WI Metro Division

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.6 percent in February 2017 from 6.1 percent in February 2016. The last time the February rate was equal to or lower than the current rate was in 2007 when it was 5.4 percent. For the month of February 2017, the estimated number of unemployed people in the labor force was 25,500.

Total nonfarm employment declined -3,400 compared to February 2016. The Leisure-Hospitality (-3,200) and Professional-Business Services (-3,000) sectors recorded the largest employment declines compared to one year ago. Manufacturing (+1,400), Government (+1,000), and Transportation-Warehousing-Utilities (+400) sectors reported the largest payroll gains.

Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metro Division

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.1 percent in February 2017 from 6.5 percent in February 2016. The last time the February rate was equal to or lower than the current rate was in 2007 when it was 5.0 percent. For the month of February 2017, the estimated number of unemployed people in the labor force was 193,000.

Total nonfarm employment increased +38,500 compared to February 2016. Financial Activities (+11,000), Government (+8,900), and Educational-Health Services (+8,900) reported the largest payroll gains. The Professional-Business Services (-1,600), Manufacturing (-1,300), and Transportation-Warehousing-Utilities (-900) sectors recorded the largest employment declines compared to one year ago.

Elgin, IL Metro Division

The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 6.0 percent in February 2017 from 6.6 percent in February 2016. The last time the February rate was equal to or lower than the current rate was in 2008 when it was 5.7 percent. For the month of February 2017, the estimated number of unemployed people in the labor force was 19,200.

Total nonfarm employment increased +300 compared to February 2016. Government (+1,100), Wholesale Trade (+800), and Information (+300), reported the largest payroll gains. Leisure-Hospitality (-600), Construction (-500), Other Services (-500), and Professional-Business Services (-400) sectors recorded the largest employment declines compared to one year ago.

Metropolitan Area





Over-the-Year Change













Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights








Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL
















Lake-Kenosha, IL-WI
















St. Louis (IL-Section)




Illinois Statewide




* Data subject to revision.


Total Nonfarm Jobs (Not Seasonally Adjusted) – February 2017

Metropolitan Area



Over-the-Year Change

Bloomington MSA




Carbondale-Marion MSA




Champaign-Urbana MSA




Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro Division




Danville MSA




Davenport-Moline-Rock Island MSA




Decatur MSA




Elgin Metro Division




Kankakee MSA




Lake-County-Kenosha County Metro Division




Peoria MSA




Rockford MSA




Springfield MSA




Illinois Section of St. Louis MSA




Illinois Statewide




                  *Preliminary    **Revised

Not Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
(percent) for Local Counties and Areas

Labor Market Area



Over-the-Year Change

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin IL-IN-WI MSA




Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metro Division
Cook County




DuPage County




Grundy County




Kendall County




McHenry County




Will County




Elgin, IL Metro Division
DeKalb County




Kane County




Lake & Kenosha Counties, IL-WI Metro Division
Lake County




Cities (with total population of at least 100,000) *
Aurora City




Chicago City




Elgin City




Joliet City




Naperville City




Monthly 2016 unemployment rates and total non-farm jobs for Illinois metro areas were revised in February 2017, as required by the U.S. Dept.of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS).Comments and tables distributed for prior metro area news releases should be discarded as any records or historical analysis previously cited may no longer be valid.



Women Sentenced for Providing Material Support to Terrorists

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two women were sentenced today for terrorism crimes related to their material support of al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Muna Osman Jama, 36, of Reston, and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, of Kent, Washington, were sentenced to 12 and 11 years, respectively, for conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The women were found guilty of the crimes after a bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga on Oct. 25, 2016.

According to court documents, Jama and Dhirane, who are both originally from Somalia and are naturalized United States citizens, sent money to financiers of al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, which they referred to respectively as the “Hargeisa side” and the “Nairobi side.” The defendants also organized what was called a “Group of Fifteen,” which included women from Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as Minneapolis, Minnesota. The “Group of Fifteen” met regularly in a private chatroom that Jama established to organize and track monthly payment of money to the “Hargeisa side,” which was used to finance al-Shabaab military operations in the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, and the “Nairobi side,” which was used to fund two al-Shabaab safehouses. One of the safehouses was used by al-Shabaab to store weapons and to prepare for attacks. The other was used to treat al-Shabaab fighters who had been wounded in battle.

A substantial part of the government’s case consisted of recorded telephone calls and other communications among the “Group of Fifteen.” These recordings demonstrated that the women had close connections with al-Shabaab leadership and were privy to non-public, inside information concerning al-Shabaab activities. Jama and Dhirane were recorded as they laughed as the carnage at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was still taking place. Dhirane and co-conspirator were also recorded as they laughed at the Boston Marathon Bombing before it became known who committed the attack.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mary B. McCord, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Jay S. Tabb, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Assistant U.S. Attorneys James P. Gillis and Danya E. Atiyeh prosecuted the case with assistance from C. Alexandria Bogle, Trial Attorney, Counterterrorism Section.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office, with the assistance of the FBI’s Minneapolis and Seattle Field Offices. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis also provided valuable assistance to the prosecution. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs played an essential role in coordinating arrests and searches with foreign authorities.

Source: FBI

Jay-Z and His Mom’s Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship Program Now Open for Students

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

April 30, 2017 is the deadline to apply 
Rapper Jay-Z and His Mom

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) – The Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship provides financial support to high school students as well as undergraduate students entering college for the first time. The purpose of the scholarship is to help under-served students who may not be eligible for other scholarships.

Students who have either graduated from high school or earned their G.E.D. may apply. Minimum grade point average is 2.0. Students must have a strong desire to go to college and earn their degree. Students must also have a desire to give back to their communities.

The scholarship fund was established by Gloria Carter and and her son Shawn Carter (better known as rapper/ business mogul Jay-Z) to offer a unique opportunity to students who have been incarcerated or faced particular life challenges but still want to pursue higher education. The program gives them a chance that most other programs do not offer. The Carter Foundation is a firm believer in helping young people not only reach their career goals but also establish a secure future.

Students up to age 25 may apply. The scholarship can be used for tuition, room and board, books, fees and other college-related expenses. All high school seniors, undergraduate students at two-year or four-year institutions and vocational or trade school students are eligible.

All applications must be submitted by April 30, 2017. Incomplete and late applications will not be accepted.

For more details and/or to apply for the Shawn Carter Foundation scholarship, visit:

To apply for hundreds of other 2017-2018 scholarships, visit:


Known Thieves, Who Outright Stole and then Secretly Sold Afro-American Family’s Property Three Years Ago, Yet To Be Arrested for Their Wrongdoings

Posted by Admin On April - 3 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Letters to Editors


News from the I(E)rving Family

Thelma Joyce Irving Taylor


SALUDA, S.C. – Had Attorney Billy C. Coleman (Saluda, SC) along with his cohorts [including Attorney Kathy O. Rushton (Saluda, SC); Attorney Christian G. Spradley (Moore Taylor Law Firm, PA, Saluda, SC); Attorney Henrietta Gill (Leesburg, SC); the late Richard “Dick” Clark (friend of Coleman, Leesville, SC); and Bobbie Jo Clark (wife of Clark, Leesville, SC)], not been involved in the outright taking and then secret selling on March 28, 2014 of the I(E)rvings’ heirs property in Saluda, SC, then the 185+ U.S. residing descendants of David and Sallie Mae (Williams) Irving (Saluda, SC), would be, today, in the midst of the final preparations for what was to be their grand celebration in 2017 of their 100th year of ownership of their property.

“It was Coleman and Clark who became the masterminds in plotting to take my family’s farmland,” says Bennie Warren Butler, a second generation I(E)rving family heir who resides in Saluda, SC.  “These two men, together, in befriending the I(E)rving family for years, got to know my grandfather’s children and their children very well.  My grandfather’s sons (my uncles) hunted and fished lots of times with both Coleman and Clark on the I(E)rvings’ property which was purchased by David and Sallie Mae on November 28, 1917 for $2,750.00 in cash from Mrs. Eva Lou Mitchell (Saluda, SC).  Coleman was, at one time, even the legal counselor for the entire I(E)rving family.”

According to court records, Coleman and Clark made their first sneaky attack upon the I(E)rvings in December 2003.  When they were confronted on December 24, 2003 (Christmas Eve) by the late Rev. Thelma Joyce Irving Taylor, the youngest daughter of David and Sallie Mae and the I(E)rving family’s matriarch, Coleman and Clark were immediately angered because she had found out about this attack.  It was then that they made the threat that they would, indeed, take the I(E)rvings’ property from them.

“My family (the I(E)rvings) was unwillingly forced by Coleman and Clark into a decade-long court battle where they, along with their cohorts, continuously attacked and fiercely tormented us, especially targeting and then taking advantage of some of our weak, sick and mentally incompetent I(E)rving family members ,” recalls Diethric Langford (Indianapolis, IN), youngest daughter of the late Rev. Irving Taylor.  “In their effort to destroy the original deed acquired by my grandparents in 1917, Coleman and Clark filed in the Saluda Court House records, a number of erroneous court documents along with nine falsified and/or questionable deeds they made up from 17 transactions that they executed.  Hearings were held on short notice.  Court reporters were dismissed.  Our lawyer’s motions and appeals were regularly overruled or thrown out.  We [the I(E)rvings] even had to contend not only with Coleman and Clark posting untruthful documents on the Saluda Courthouse door and publicly publishing untruths about the I(E)rving family, but also with their installing gates and hanging “No Trespassing” signs on the I(E)rvings’ property.”

After Clark’s death and Coleman’s retirement, it was actually Attorneys Rushton, Spradley, and Gill who continued to harass and torment the I(E)rving family as they dutifully carried out this most devious plot.  Without one of the 185+ I(E)rving family members knowing, Rushton, serving as the Judge/Special Referee, eventually used a 2008 untruthful complaint written and filed by Spradley, to quiet title and then sell, on March 28, 2014, the I(E)rvings 110 acres of Saluda farmland to Randy A. Barnes and Adam T. Barnes (Barnes Oil and Propane, Batesburg, SC) for supposedly $201,000.00.  No notification or paperwork regarding this sale of their property was received by the I(E)rvings until nearly a month after it’s occurrence.  To this day, the I(E)rvings have no idea who cut down and took the timber (having grown for over twenty years) and the 14 pecan trees (planted between 1917-1929) that were on their property [Note: During litigation, I(E)rvings were told that it would be against the law for them to cut down their own timber].

It was on April 22, 2014, at a so-called “supplemental hearing” held in a backroom of the Saluda Courthouse, that Spradley presented the I(E)rving family with his Disbursement Explanations (Exhibits A & B) that included his made up monetary distribution amounts, incorrect mathematical calculation, misspellings, I(E)rving family name omissions as well as other errors.  According to this document, $100,464.67 was to be given to a plaintiff with no name and $57, 312.12 to the lawyers/law firm where he worked (Moore, Taylor & Thomas, P.A., Saluda, SC).  Even Gill, serving as the Guardian ad litem (GAL) who couldn’t even tell the I(E)rvings the name of one I(E)rving family member she had been an advocate for during this decade-long case, was included to be paid for services rendered.  Spradley picked out only three living members of the I(E)rving family and assigned them a total of $27,813.88.  Three deceased members of the I(E)rving family were assigned $15,449.33.  Note: Spradley intentionally assigned to an ex-inlaw (husband to one of the deceased members) a second payment for his agreement to lies told earlier by Coleman and Clark).  I(E)rving family members were told that money not picked up would go to the State.  It was Rushton, again serving as Judge/Special Referee, who concluded, without even examining or questioning anything that Spradley had presented, that Exhibit A was proper.  Overlooking every complaint and protest that the I(E)rving family then had, Rushton immediately signed Exhibit B and had Spradley quickly go, even before the hearing was over, to file this document in the Saluda Court records.   The I(E)rving family, to this day, has no final document(s) or clear idea as to what these lawyers exactly did with all of the money from the sale of their property.

“These Saluda County area lawyers (and their cohorts) are known thieves. They should have been arrested long ago for their wrongdoings,” says some of the third generation I(E)rving family heirs.  “It’s plain to see that they schemed and plotted, manipulated the law, and then outright took and then sold our family’s 110 acres of Saluda farmland for their own self-profit.  We’ve filed enough complaints and reports about them to federal, state, and local authorities.  The question now is “Why are these lawyers and their cohorts, three years after committing this most atrocious criminal act upon the I(E)rving family, still walking around free?”

For more information, contact: Debrah J. Taylor-Greene @ 773-259-4293

Email: victoryforthelma@gmail.com


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the (E)erving Family and not those of www.copylinemagazine.com



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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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