The Black Politico

Orlando politics and more -- from a black perspective

The lesson behind the two slain Kissimmee officers

Central Florida once again grieves the loss of two law enforcement officers.

Thousands attended the funerals held at First Baptist Church of Orlando for Kissimmee Sergeant Richard “Sam” Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter after they were killed by a gunman while helping to protect a citizen.

Once again, the issue of the death penalty has become a hot topic ever since the sitting State Attorney in the ninth judicial circuit announced she would not seek capital punishment on anyone for any crime in her circuit during her administration.

The killing of a law enforcement officer certainly fits the description under the law of a heinous crime that is worthy of the death penalty. As a result, the next day, Governor Rick Scott removed the two cases via Executive Order 17-222. The order reassigned the case of the accused, Everette Glenn Miller, from State Attorney Aramis Ayala to State Attorney Brad King. Governor Scott said, “Last night’s violence against our law enforcement community is reprehensible and has no place in our state. In Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence and those who attack our law enforcement. Today, I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “Two Florida police officers were brutally murdered and the victims’ families deserve a prosecutor who is willing to consider all sentences, including the death penalty – that is why the Governor and I agree the investigation and prosecution of this case must be reassigned.”

This is sad because we have the first black woman as State Attorney in the state of Florida and we are seeing injustice come in the form of blatant neglect of duty and rebellion by an elected official who is sworn to uphold the law.

On the other hand, what I hear from some in the community, is that we are undoubtedly seeing excessive force cases from around the country where some in law enforcement have abused their authority.

There is a disconnect there because in no way should justification for the actions of some recoil unfavorably for those who are good officers. In addition, the outcry from the black community after two black law enforcement officers have been killed has been awfully quiet and that is wrong.

These officers were black and they were good cops and there is no reason why we should be waging war on an entire community.

If we are guilty of being silent when good cops are killed we are just as guilty as the cops that are silent when they witness other officers use excessive force against us.

See, just as there are more good people in this world than bad, there are more good cops than bad cops. Matthew Baxter’s Grandfather spoke at the funeral of the officers acknowledging there have been some problems with law enforcement and said we have a tendency to paint all law enforcement officers with a broad brush, however, he said, there are good cops out there.

It is important that while we are fighting to change the actions of the bad officers that we don’t neglect the good ones in the midst. Leaving those who truly serve and protect us behind is just as extreme as rebelling against the law because we are angry about the actions of some officers. As we wait for the Supreme Court’s decision and possible the suspension of Ayala for misfeasance or malfeasance, we must be careful not to respond as those who are extremist in their rebellion to what’s already the law.

If “we” are to change the laws that we don’t like, it must be done fairly and properly or we will have to sit quietly by when an elected official challenges us to something that is just as extreme.

Ayala’s position on the death penalty is still a hot topic

Yesterday Governor Rick Scott pulled 21 death penalty cases from Orange and Osceola county State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

This morning, Representative Bob Cortes held a press conference calling for Ayala’s removal from office.

Last week, there was a rally supporting Aramis Ayala in Tallahassee and a press conference held by victims of violent crimes and law enforcement. Both were sparked by the State Attorney’s decision to not pursue the death penalty in any case in Orange and Osceola counties which are located in Florida; a state that lawfully uses the death penalty to punish those guilty of heinous crimes.

We, as a unit, are fighting about where to fight. Some say we should be standing with Ayala and if you’re not, you’re called a sell-out. Others say we should be following the letter of the law.
As black people, we march and take to the streets, the capitol or anywhere else we see fit. We have that right to be able to peaceably assemble. But what really are supporters of Aramis Ayala marching for?

I’ve heard they are marching to protest the death penalty and Ayala’s decision to not enforce it. The fact of the matter is the death penalty is already legal in this state and Ayala’s decision to not enforce it is unlawful. Color of Change was a part of the movement and helped to provide petitions showing Floridians are against the death penalty.

Many of those petitions aren’t from Florida residents.

Ayala spent over a million dollars pleading her case to a small portion of Orange and Osceola counties to win the seat of State Attorney after she disenfranchised Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and NPA’s by dumping a write-in candidate into the race. With all those ad dollars coming in, never once did she use the airwaves, online or print media to tell voters her position on the death penalty. Do you think that was just by happenstance or because no one asked her?

On the flip-side, when she was an Assistant State Attorney, she had no qualms about the death penalty. She was even excited to try her first homicide case.

Prosecutors are typically questioned extensively about their position on the death penalty and most are questioned when being interviewed for the job. Someone who is uncomfortable with the death penalty would likely not be suited as a homicide prosecutor nor would they be rising through the ranks as she did in Jeff Ashton’s office if she were anti-death penalty.

But, let’s say her views changed after she launched her campaign. After receiving $1.4 million dollars in campaign money from a billionaire donor named George Soros, who is an anti-death penalty proponent, her decision to not seek the death penalty is being questioned, and rightfully so.

As State Attorney, Ayala does have prosecutorial discretion. She used that when she decided not to seek death against Markeith Loyd, who police say killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend and Officer Debra Clayton. Governor Scott removed her from the Loyd case and assigned State Attorney Brad King from the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Florida. The Governor’s reasoning to do so is absolutely on point.

Ayala’s error is not that she used prosecutorial discretion to keep from charging Loyd with death, but her error lies in announcing a blanket policy not to pursue the death penalty in her administration. At all. Ever. For any case current or in the future.

That’s right. Even cases in the future. God forbid another Pulse nightclub tragedy happens and the suspect is taken alive.

Florida Statute 782.04 1(b) states, “In all cases under this section, the procedure set forth in s. 921.141 shall be followed in order to determine sentence of death or life imprisonment.” Shall within a statute is a must. It’s mandatory. It’s imperative. She did not follow the law.
On another note, Florida Statute 921.141 then continues to spell out the proceedings for the sentence of life or death imprisonment for capital felonies. The aggravators for pursuing the death penalty are within this same statute. It appears, Loyd’s case fulfills at least 5 of 16 aggravators. Prosecutors only need one to seek the death penalty.

Making this about race, inflames both sides. Florida Senator Randolph Bracy even wrote an op-ed saying Florida Governor Rick Scott is being “vengeful”. Vengeful? Really? That’s not just a stretch, it’s outright wrong to describe him as such and to use the media to brand him as a “vengeful Governor” simply for upholding the law and the Florida Statutes.

Gov Rick Scott removes 21 cases from State Attorney

Gov Rick Scott removes 21 cases from State Attorney

Ayala announced her policy which supersedes the law and that is what this is all about. Nothing more. Nothing less. Making this about law, is the only way and this case should be sitting before a judge and jury as a death penalty case. The jury would have the option to sentence Loyd to death, certainly not a State Attorney who is the prosecutor. If the framework in Florida Statute 782.04 1(b) on capital felonies is to be followed on a case-by-case basis, how in the world can Ayala do that when she has a policy to never pursue the death penalty?

Ayala has neglected her duty as prosecutor by not looking at each on a case-by-case basis and therefore should be removed from office as her personal beliefs and her donors personal beliefs clearly conflict with the law.

State Attorney’s decision to be anti-death penalty in a death penalty state is a dangerous one

There has been an outcry from those who support and those against the death penalty over the past several days.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala held a press conference saying she would not seek the death penalty on accused murderer Markeith Loyd.
She also said, she would not seek the death penalty on any other cases during her administration; current and future.
She stood with her pastor at her side while making this announcement. When a reporter asked shouldn’t voters have known about her position on the death penalty, Ayala arrogantly responded, “they know now.”
Well, we do know now and so does the Governor of Florida. Governor Scott rightfully asked the State Attorney to recuse herself from the case yet she refused.
This decision is a big one as it means she took control by taking a piece of the law from the hands of legislators in Tallahassee and decided to govern it as she sees fit. In other words, she’s legislating her own anti-death penalty rules from the office of “Top Cop” in Orange and Osceola counties. In case anyone is wondering, a Prosecutor’s job is to be the bad guy in the eyes of criminals, not their advocate. In this case and all future cases, she is claiming to be an advocate for crime and criminals.

Sorry, Ayala, but you don’t get to do that. At least not in Florida.

State Attorney of Ninth Judicial Circuit at press conference telling community she will not seek the death penalty on any cases

State Attorney of Ninth Judicial Circuit at press conference telling community she will not seek the death penalty on any cases

It’s clear she’s not ready for the position of Prosecutor, in recent stories she’s shown she’s not ready to manage an office by holding a press conference and outting employees that she thought did drugs during off-duty hours. She’s never had any management experience prior to being elected and she likely should have put her name in the hat for Public Defender instead of State Attorney since her sympathy toward criminals far exceeds her ability to be a prosecutor.

Seeking only Life without Parole for an alleged cold-blooded killer is disturbing and some are silent because they fear retaliation.

On Monday, a hearing was live-streamed and Ayala, who was recused from the case by the Governor, was there. So was Markeith Loyd and so was Brad King, the prosecutor appointed to take over the case. As Loyd left the courtroom he looked at the State Attorney and nodded at her as if they were working together.

This is a situation that most have never seen before. Even Judge Lauten, who presided over the hearing, said he’s not seen anything like this before in his career.

This is dividing communities of color, further and here’s one reason why. The Black and Brown communities are filled with good people. People who want to provide their children with a great education and it oozes people who want to be safe. Ayala’s move shows there is no system in place in Orange and Osceola counties to defend the rights of Law Enforcement or law abiding citizens.

My Mother used to take us to the bus stop armed, to let the drug dealers, prostitutes and all other criminals know that Rhea, Rhetta and any other kid that rode our bus, were not to be bothered. She is fearless. Many are not. Having a system in place that protects us is warranted. Having a balanced judicial system is necessary.

On the other hand, it’s clear, we have a problem with justice in America. Black and Brown men and women populate prisons for violent and non-violent crimes. However, what Ayala is doing is not the way to make the necessary changes and legislating from a Prosecutor’s seat means she lied when she took the oath of office to uphold the law.

After the hearing on Monday Ayala released a motion to stay on the case. In that motion, she mentioned, she is a “popularly elected” State Attorney. That is also untruthful.
She was elected after closing the primaries against State Attorney Jeff Ashton with a fake write-in candidate. That loophole disenfranchised Independents, NPA’s and Republicans.

She still couldn’t get her head above water during the campaign so she sold her soul to billionaire and Black Lives Matter financier, George Soros, who then ran a campaign against Ashton to the tune of $1.4 million in slanderous ads that called Ashton a biased, racist, State Attorney.

Furthermore, over 20,000 people wrote-in another name on the general election, ballot as opposed to selecting Ayala, something that has never happened in a State Attorney’s race in Orange and Osceola counties.

Ayala’s oath appears to uphold Soros’ agenda and not the law of the State of Florida.
If she leaned on her Christian beliefs to make this decision, she did not separate church and state and that should scare everyone. Not all people believe in Christianity and if a non-Christian was in that seat and made a decision based on their faith, all hell would break loose. In this case, all hell is breaking loose because many believe having the Death Penalty on the table is a tool prosecutors use to get the harshest punishment they can. Ayala’s actions are summing up to look like political suicide.

There are many active groups and caucuses out there claiming to represent Black people. But, they are listening to organizations like the NAACP and other Black groups that may not represent the perspective we truly have. But, these same organizations are the ones that in the 1990’s helped fuel the mass incarceration problem by asking President Clinton to crack down on crime in the Black communities; and that wasn’t the work of the Republicans, that was the work of the Democrats. They then sketched out a plan to help stop and punish crime and that led to many people of color being incarcerated for non-violent offenses.

Ayala has a history of being sympathetic to criminals. She worked as a Public Defender and also mentioned on her campaign trail that she is married to a felon who spent 7-10 years in federal prison for dealing drugs. According to Ayala, he has since done his time and is living a new life.

But what about those who were addicted to drugs and purchased drugs from him? Do they get a new chance at life? Likely not. Addicts, if they survive, are treated as criminals and not as people suffering from a disease called addiction.

As for the real movement to make change between some law enforcement officers and the Black and Brown communities, currently, there are over 32 bills in Congress for Blue Lives Matter and none for Black Lives Matter. Congress is where the change really takes place.

If Ayala and Soros are using Markeith Loyd as their poster child for stopping mass incarceration or the death penalty, their actions have put the final nail in the coffin of the Black Lives Matter movement and shame on all the Black and Brown organizations that are allowing this to happen.

The Controversial Case Against Markeith Loyd

This is a pivotal case in the rights of Black people in America, whether we collectively realize it or not.

Markeith Loyd, a triple murder suspect, was captured by police last week after a 9-day manhunt.

According to Orlando Police Department’s Chief Mina, OPD officers along with other agency officers were on scene when Loyd was located in a house only two blocks away from the family of Officer Debra Clayton, the Officer Loyd is accused of killing.

According to the aerial view of Loyd’s capture, the suspect crawled out to the officers, surrendered and ‘cowered like a little girl.’

During Loyd’s perp walk, he shouted, “They beat me up. They beat me up. They beat me up.”

Newly elected State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who ran as a candidate funded by George Soros, the financier of the Black Lives Matter movement, can’t seem to find sufficient evidence to charge any of the Officers with excessive force in this case. Not only that, at this time, she’s not even investigating excessive force against Loyd. Read the previous paragraph again. Does that even make any sense? The answer is no.

During the press conference after Loyd’s capture, elected leaders took to the podium and described Loyd as a killer, never using the word “alleged” or “suspect.” The description of Loyd by leaders makes it that much harder for Loyd to have a fair trial.

The Orlando Sentinel and journalist Rene Stutzman did an in depth piece on excessive force by the Orlando Police Department last year that I believe everyone should read.
According to the law, Loyd should have excessive force charges brought up against the arresting Officers. There’s plenty of evidence that shows he was beaten. Loyd didn’t need to yell that out because we could clearly see that. We also saw him surrender and then be kicked and beaten.

Let’s get one thing straight. Officers are human beings. They lost two of their own while trying to apprehend this suspect. Loyd is lucky he came out alive because had I been an officer I don’t know if I could have shown the restraint they showed to keep him breathing. But, under the law and according to Loyd’s actions when he surrendered, Loyd deserved to come out of that house looking like Dylan Roof did when cops took him into custody.

Roof, the Charleston 9 shooter, went into a Black church and shot worshippers killing 9 of them. He’s now rightfully serving a death row sentence. Now and only now can Roof be called a cold-blooded killer without damaging his case or defaming him.

Here’s the irony. The current State Attorney, a Black woman, rode into Orange and Osceola counties, closed the primaries with a fake write-in candidate and then used $1.4 million of Black Lives Matter money from George Soros to call the previous administration racist. Keep in mind and regardless of what you heard, that previous administration, run by a white man, did charge police with excessive force against Black people.

Ayala promised to be fair to the Black community and to hold those responsible, accountable. But that’s not what appears to be happening here. This Loyd guy, to me, is a monster. But according to what America put down on paper, he’s supposed to be innocent right now, until he is proven guilty. That same State Attorney, the same State Attorney that sat on the Orlando Police Department review board and refused to move forward with charges against OPD officers for excessive force, is now remaining true to her history, regardless of the law and is not pressing any agency, including her own, to draft charges against the officers that beat Markeith Loyd.

That should scare every resident in the ninth judicial, regardless of your race. Roof, was tried in a court of law and ultimately sentenced. He had due process. Laws are put in place for a reason and we should follow them. Roof, a white boy, was not a victim of excessive force.

As for Markeith Loyd, I say, your rights have been clearly violated as an American citizen based on what America promised. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11, states, “everyone charged with a penal offense, has the right to be presumed innocent, until proven guilty, according to law in a public trial, at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.”

When you strip someone like Loyd of his rights, you make him more likely to be back on the streets again.

Each person standing at that podium during that Press Conference, post Loyd’s arrest, should have been briefed by a well-versed Public Information Officer, prior to going on camera.

However, Mr. Loyd, you likely deserved what you received when you crawled out on your hands and knees to your oppressors. Good luck with a fair trial. So far, it doesn’t look like you’re getting one and you have a Black State Attorney to thank for that.

Debate at Mt. Sinai ruffles feathers

The African American Council of Christian Clergy (AACCC) of Central Florida reached out to Senate, House of Representatives, Comptroller, State Attorney and Judicial candidates this election season to have what was first called a “meet and greet” by some. It then turned into a forum and then a action-packed debate. In the invitation, the AACCC stated, the organization is a council of multi-denominational congregations over a myriad of residential districts. “Each of the 60 congregations have been impacted by injustice and social sin,” stated the AACCC.

Stewart Moore of WESH Channel 2 helped to moderate the debate with Pastor Larry G. Mills of Mt. Sinai and President-Elect of the AACCC/Candidate for House of Representatives District 45, Kelvin Cobaris. Former Miss America Ericka Dunlap was scheduled to show but had a death in her family and was understandably absent.

The forum’s invitation stated, “We have the moral and civic duty to change politics and systems which create conditions that oppress the body of Christ. One of the ways we can do this is by voting locally, statewide and nationally for candidates that can act justly, love mercifully and walk humbly.”

Here’s where feathers were ruffled.

This forum was put on by a 501(c)3 organization and was not neutral. Regardless of the time being shortened for some candidates and lead-in questions being asked to help certain candidates by moderators, the truth was found solidly in the incumbents. Candidates have the opportunity to say all they want about the hope and change they wish to see. They aren’t in office, yet so what they may say sounds good, preachy and right. Wrong. Some of them didn’t even appear to know how to do the job they were fighting so hard to get while others were banking on winning the election on one issue only.

However, incumbents are the ones who can truly tell you what shape our government is in and many of them that were on that stage know how to fix it. Let’s be clear, government is no place for on-the-job training. It’s ok if you’re a community organizer and activist and you want to ignite change but before you compare yourself to President Obama remember that he had a Law Degree and was a Senator at the time he worked his way up to the Presidency.

Incumbent Democratic State Representative Bruce Antone spoke candidly about his accomplishments in the House of Representative and his ability to pass legislation and secure major funding for projects and organizations in District 46, the largely urban and inner city district he represents in the Florda House of Representatives. So, let’s be clear. The incumbent in the District 46 race is far more experienced than his opponent. As I sat in the audience and listened to the debate between the candidates for Comptroller, I heard a woman next to me ask, “what is a comptroller?” Now, I’m not judging her at all. Many don’t know what a Comptroller is and many people work two sometimes three jobs in our community so they are not as in-tune with politics as you and I. But, if you don’t know what a Comptroller is, it’s time to jump off Facebook, whip out Google and start clicking buttons to see what impact that office has on your life and most of all, the finances of where we live.

What’s near and dear to me is the State Attorney’s race. This race is important because most people don’t know what a State Attorney does. Our State Attorney, Jeff Ashton, is a prosecutor. He is not our defense attorney.

He is supposed to put people in jail. But our State Attorney just so happens to be an advocate for us as well. He is our advocate for crime happening in our community. He prosecutes people for wrongdoing. He’s also changed the game, so to speak, so that children who make mistakes don’t go to jail or prison as they once did. He put to use a Civil Citations program so our young black and brown children can be without those records following them for the rest of their lives. I’ve said this time and time again. I had a friend who was murdered here in Orlando and to this day, we don’t know who killed him. We will never feel the justice many get seeing the person who harmed their loved one put behind bars.

As a people, we don’t quite understand, collectively, what we have in the State Attorney that is sitting in that seat now because we won’t look past the color of his skin. Before you call me biased, call him brilliant. Call him fair. And call him much better than that last guy. Please, open your mind to the information I’m about to put before you.

The previous State Attorney ran an office that I believe to be racially unjust. The number of attorneys of color were few. Since Jeff Ashton has taken over, the diversity in that office has now increased to well over 10% and now there are attorneys that are Black, Latino, Muslim, Asian trying cases alongside their White colleagues. The website is also translated in French so that our Haitian brothers and sisters can get the information they need as well as they are a significant part of our community.

What bothered me in the debate was the lack of factual information given by the opponent. The State Attorney’s opponent had the audacity to insinuate the lack of color in that office. She worked there under Jeff Ashton for two years and was promoted twice according to her own words. She was a product of his ambition to hire attorneys of color. But now, she’s been recruited and funded by the Vose’s, a white male Republican who worked for and helped propel the racially biased office before Jeff Ashton took office. And let me not forget to say this Bill Vose guy “just so”  happens to be a write-in candidate in this race. Let me explain why that’s a problem.

With the opponent in this race’s blessing, Vose put himself in the race to close the primaries. Because of that only Democrats can now vote in the election. This was done so Jeff Ashton’s opponent could fair better in this race. Talk about disenfranchising all voters! And if anyone tells you otherwise, including your Pastor, tell him to dig deeper and to stick to the good word in the Bible, because a biased church shouldn’t be so deeply involved in such a process.

Ashton is a Democrat and has fought hard to put together a team of people that represent this community. As an attorney in this community, his opponent is funded by Republicans, a group who is trying to take over the Black Lives Matter movement from young black people and his opponent was less than truthful in her “sermon” at the debate and forced her way into the minds of people who should just dig a little deeper and ask a few more questions than they ever have before.

Our community is being lied to and cheated and regardless of the color of someone’s skin that should never, ever happen.

One lady stood up and said Jeff Ashton sent her to prison for 15 years for driving a getaway car that “hurt somebody”. Wrong. The victim in that case was killed. She set up a good man, a black man, to be robbed and he was shot multiple times and died. That was a murder, not a wound as she initially tried to phrase it. In addition, she agreed to a plea of 15 years. Jeff Ashton didn’t “put” her anywhere. She did that to herself.

All I ask is that we ask the deep questions and come to the table with an open mind and open heart to be able to receive the information that is before us.

Lastly, I was approached by Representative Bruce Antone’s opponent weeks ago at a meeting. She attacked me with words, because I mentioned she had an endorsement from her Pastor Derrick McCrae. It was true. She did have an endorsement from her Pastor. And, my God it’s only Facebook!  I didn’t have a dog in that fight. I can’t imagine voting for and sending someone to Tallahassee to represent me who attacks constituents and voters because they may disagree with them.

My point is to be sure you ask the right questions that will lead to the best vote that you can make this season. Putting people in office that have little to no experience doesn’t help us. As for the State Attorney’s race, mark my words, if that office goes backwards to the way it was before, simply by using a person with a good sermon and black skin to do the dirty work of those who dogged us before, we can kiss our advances forward, a great big “goodbye”.