Oh my God!!!!
Like many of you, my faithful readers, I'm familiar with Citizens Against Joe Deters. But, until today, I honestly can't remember ever visiting the weblog (http://citizensagainstjoedeters.blogspot.com/). And, after what I read today, I can't imagine having forgot anything written at on that blog. What I read today SHOCKED and DISTURBED me.
Among other things, the blog accuses Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters of getting busted humping a hooker in the backseat of a car in Cleveland and of having sexual relations with his mother-in-law, Slyvia Hendon, a judge on Ohio's First District Court of Appeals.
Part of me wants to bestow the Cincinnati Black Blog 1st Amendment medal of the month on the blog's publisher, Ms. Frankie Butler-Kidd. After all, isn't this the type of stuff that made Larry Flint famous? (Well, his political lampoons only supplemented his pornography, but he did engage in political satire, which is what I'm sure Frankie is doing when she says Deters is sleeping with Judge Hendon.) And doesn't Jim Schifrin, publisher of The Whistleblower, get away with saying all sorts of vile and disgusting things about public figures? (He continues to suggest that Gov. Ted Strickland and Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory have, or have had, sexual relations with men. Some of my GBLT friends will say there is nothing defamatory about accusing someone of being gay, but that's not the point or the issue here today.) So, because I want Black people to stand up and demand equal treatment under the law, and I hate to see Black people, like Michael Steele, get bullied by powerful white people like Rush Limbaugh., I want to encourage Frankie to keep doing what she is doing.
But another, more responsible, part of me is afraid for Frankie. Its not my place to criticize her, but I do believe that I, as a Black man, have some duty to speak a word of caution to a sister when I see them doing something that may bring them a boatload of trouble. This is true even though I've never met or interacted with the sister. (I doubt that anyone else is advising this woman to be safe and protect herself). I've fought Deters and other powerful people in this community. I've got the battle scars to prove it. And I know this: they have looong memories; just about everybody who says they have your back will desert you when they come after you; they are connected and work together. Flint was able to prevail against these people because he had lots of money to pay for the best legal representation, but they still ran him out of town.
Who is Frankie Butler? What is Citizens Against Joe Deters? And why am I concerned for Frankie's safety? (Before I answer these questions, let me make it clear that I have no beef with Frankie and this isn't one of my famous exposés.)
WHAT IS CITIZENS AGAINST JOE DETERS?
Some people turn their anguish into prayers and let it go like a kite. Some wear it every day like a pair of tight shoes. And some beat it into a weapon on an anvil of white-hot anger.
"It's not personal," said Franki Butler-Kidd. "It started out personal. But it's not personal anymore."
She's the creator of Citizens Against Joe Deters, a blog that's like a pothole on the internet - a puddle of muddy smears, gossip, rumors and outright falsehoods.
She calls it "a grass-roots organization of citizens who are frustrated by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters' double standard of justice and public insults against people of color, people who aren't wealthy, and people who aren't well-connected."
I understand the anger. Her son was prosecuted by Deters. Andrew Butler and his pal Christopher Avery are doing 20 years for two armed robberies. They wore black masks and fired four shots into an Ohio Checkcashers in Mount Auburn on July 16, 2007, but couldn't break in. The next day, they pointed guns at customers and took $130,000 from a bank in Reading.
They claimed they were broke and needed college tuition. It was good enough for sympathy in some circles. But I'd say that's a lot of "tuition."
"They were violent and they were using guns on innocent people," Deters said. "They are the kind of guys you want to go to prison." He consented to parole in 12 years if they "totally behave and are model prisoners."
But Butler-Kidd is having none of it. The divorced, Clermont County mom says she gets e-mails every day that fuel her crusade to make Deters resign.
The Deters haters insist he's unfair because he declined to prosecute a mother who made a fatal mistake and left her baby in the car at Cincinnati Christian University. Minorities don't get that kind of break, they protest.
But the cases that supposedly prove it are as different as oranges and artichokes. The moms who were "unfairly" prosecuted made deliberate decisions to endanger their kids.
Butler-Kidd sounds like an anguished mom who can't stop beating on that anvil....
WHY AM I CONCERNED?
This is from CityBeat:
A woman who created a group to protest what she calls the unprofessional conduct of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says a detective on his staff recently called her and tried to intimidate her into stopping the group’s high-profile criticism.
Franki Butler-Kidd, who heads “Citizens Against Joe Deters,” says a detective e-mailed and then telephoned her on Nov. 12 to warn her that Deters would file a lawsuit alleging defamation of character unless Kidd stopped the group’s activities and her criticism of Deters on a blog.
The detective, McKinley E. Brown, is employed by the Prosecutor’s Office and sent the initial e-mail to Kidd using an official Hamilton County e-mail account. The email asked Kidd to call him and, if he wasn’t available, to leave a number where she could be reached.
“I found the whole thing highly unusual and really weird,” Kidd says. “I definitely felt like I was being threatened. There are a lot of people frustrated with Joe Deters and how he runs his office. I feel like I’m being singled out.
“Everything I’ve spoken out about or written has been a matter of public information. What makes me any different than newspapers or anyone else who’s written about him?”
Kidd says Brown told her on the telephone that Deters held a meeting with some staff members that morning, on Nov. 12, to discuss her activities. Brown told her that Deters was planning to sue, according to Kidd.
“I told him that I didn’t have anything to lose,” Kidd says. “And he said, ‘Oh, yes you do. You have kids.’ ”
The exchange continued and Brown began fishing for information, she says. “He said, ‘I want to protect you, but we want to know who’s feeding you information. Don’t you know you’re just a pawn?’ ”
Kidd provided CityBeat with Brown’s e-mail, sent from a Prosecutor’s Office address, seeking to have a telephone conversation with her.
Neither Deters nor Brown responded to requests for comment for this story. Although a Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman said some sort of official response would be forthcoming, it hadn’t arrived five days after the request was made.
Kidd formed “Citizens Against Joe Deters” (citizensagainstjoedeters.blogspot.com) in September after she became disturbed by what she termed unequal application of justice by Deters’ office. She believes the Prosecutor’s Office routinely seeks more serious charges and penalties against poor and minority residents compared to suspects in similar situations who are white and more affluent.
The group describes itself as “a grassroots organization of citizens who are frustrated by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters’ double standard of justice and public insults against people of color, people who aren’t wealthy, and people who aren’t well-connected. Our organization’s mission is simple — pressure Joe Deters to resign from his position as Hamilton County prosecutor.”
Although the group has only about a dozen members, it collected roughly 600 signatures on a petition protesting Deters’ job performance.
The organization also has staged several public events, such as an Oct. 24 Halloween-themed protest in front of Deters’ downtown office when members handed out candy to minorities and poor people but not to those they deemed to be privileged.
“Unfair? So is double-standard sentences dished out by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters,” a press release stated. “Clearly, there are two criminal justice systems in Hamilton County.”
Laws governing conduct on emerging new media like blogs and Web sites still are evolving but, just as with newspapers and magazines, people deemed to be public officials are held to a different standard than private citizens when it comes to criticism.
In its guide for bloggers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) offers some guidelines about online defamation law. “Generally, defamation is a false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and published ‘with fault,’ meaning as a result of negligence or malice,” the EFF’s guide states.
But there is a difference between private and public figures, it continues.
“A private figure claiming defamation … only has to prove you acted negligently, which is to say that a ‘reasonable person’ would not have published the defamatory statement,” the guide states. “A public figure must show ‘actual malice’ — that you published with either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth. This is a difficult standard for a plaintiff to meet.”
Public figures are described as “someone who has actively sought, in a given matter of public interest, to influence the resolution of the matter. In addition to the obvious public figures — a government employee, a senator, a presidential candidate — someone may be a limited-purpose public figure. A limited-purpose public figure is one who voluntarily participates in a discussion about a public controversy, and has access to the media to get his or her own view across.”
Alphonse Gerhardstein Jr., a prominent local civil rights attorney, says Deters should be aware that it would be legally difficult, if not impossible, to prove defamation of character.
“The answer to any allegation is more speech and exposing any misrepresentation of facts rather than a coercive act,” Gerhardstein says. “To intimidate somebody or have a member of law enforcement staff make a call, that’s wrong.”
A Milford resident, Kidd works for a nonprofit agency. She became familiar with the Prosecutor’s Office due to an incident involving her son, Andrew Butler, age 20.
A University of Toledo student, Butler was convicted in December on two charges of aggravated robbery and six charges of kidnapping. The charges stem from the robbery of a Reading bank last summer and a botched hold-up of a check-cashing business to get money to help pay for college tuition. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
“It was a personal situation that first got me involved and made me do some research,” Kidd says. “There’s always going to be something personal to bring you to a cause, but you have to have a passion to keep it going. I get a lot of e-mails every day. There are a lot of people frustrated with Deters.”
Kidd acknowledges the incident on her blog, trying to see the benefit from a negative situation.
One blog entry reads, “Finally to my beloved, Andrew. Thank you for robbing that bank and being sent to prison for 20 years (Yes, Joe Deters lied about the 12-year deal). If not for your crime I would not fight passionately to end racial disparities in sentencing. I would not write my youth column to help other young people not make the same mistake as you. I would not fight for human rights.
“I love you and I forgive you.”
I don't know enough about Frankie's son's case or similar cases to say whether his sentence was excessive or not. (And that's not the point of this blog entry.) That said, I do understand the issue: equal enforcement of the law. As I read the stories (there's also a story in last month's Cincinnati Magazine about the case), Frankie never says that her son deserved no punishment for his crimes -- which he admitted doing -- what she says is Deters didn't give enough deference to her son's dire situation. She may be on to something. I also question whether Deters and his staff can relate to Black people and whether this disconnect impacts their decisions on which cases to prosecute and how hard to pursue them. We will never know how Deters would've reacted to Barbara Joly, the so-called "granny robber," and whether he would've pushed to give her 20 years in prison like he did to Andrew Butler. (Ms. Joly got a total of nine years for multiple bank robberies in Butler and Warren counties.)(source)
WHAT'S NEW ON CITIZENS AGAINST JOE DETERS?
On Tuesday, Frankie published the following blog entry titled "Early HUMP day GIFT for Joe Deters."
It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the Persecutor has stumbled or where the path of his dirty deeds lead. The credit belongs to the attorney who actually told me that Deters got busted humping the hooker in the backseat of the car in Cleveland. Her face might have been marred by sweat and cum. Did he strive to protect her valiantly when they were busted by the cop. He who errs and continues to come up short again and again. Who knows the great devotions; who spends themselves a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with timid souls who know never see defeat. I have done my part. I have fought long and hard. And not just for my son. It has always been the needs of the people that I have placed first and foremost. Knowledge is Power. Exposure can compel action, even if through shaming those who should have NOT acted immorally, ethically or legally.
Deters' my pastor always says, "be sure your sins will find you out."
I think the red-fonted words in the last line of the first paragraph probably should have been immorally, unethically, and illegally, but we still got the point.
On Saturday, February 28, 2009, Frankie published "Joe Deters' Mother-in-Law and WLW's Bill C. VIDEO." (I omitted the video.)
STOP BEFORE YOU WATCH THIS VIDEO PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER (Citizens Against Joe Deters strongly believes that families of public servants (although Deters does not serve the public justly) should be off limits as it pertains to politics. However, when a public official steps out of the role of public servant, switches their Prosecutor’s hate with a Persecutor’s hat, and continuously makes reckless public comments, and holds a public lynch against the accused (CAJD beloved son) before they are convicted in a court of law, then the public servant loved ones are subject to similar treatment from our group.
This blog will occasionally report accusations that are told to us. We cannot ascertain the validity of anything we report. Having said that-- we were told that Joe Deters’ mother-in-law introduced her daughter to Deters. We were told that Joe Deters and his mother-in-law are involved in a love affair. We were told that Joe Deters was shit-faced at a bar complaining to a former St. X chum, that he was sick of screwing his mother-in-law.
CAJD is NO Cunningham fan. The strange reaction to us confronting Cincinnati’s best loved or most hated Re-thug-lican clown is a reaction that stemmed from nervousness (and perhaps tequila). Check back for more video clips. We’ve got Chabot, Tryingtofoolya, Portman, Our Good Friend the Honorable Jean Schmidt and Charlie Winburn
It looks like the Citizens Against Joe Deters blog was created in September 2008. I've got quite a bit of back reading to do.
Ms. Butler: Please Be Careful.