Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP
DETROIT – The
recent response to the Denby and Almont High School District 5 finals by the
Superintendent of the Almont School District is most disappointing. It appears
the Superintendent is placing the entire responsibility on the backs of the Denby
players. This shows a lack of understanding, sensitivity and creative balance
to resolve not only this dispute but to use this incident as a teaching moment.
The experience of black youth at this football game in which they were spat
upon, called the n-word, pushed and excoriated by adults supporting the Almont
team must weigh heavily on any decision made. This is particularly important as
it relates to discipline or accountability for any individual involved. Where
is the evidence of the Sheriff’s Department, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s
office, or the Almont School District that this incident was stimulated,
motivated and perpetuated by only three black players from Denby High School?
Now is the time for grown folks to act like grown folks. There should be a coming together of both districts to address this unfortunate incident in a manner that precludes any further outrage. The Michigan High School Athletics Association must ensure greater diversity, training and accountability on the field, during the game, and at the conclusion. There has been no coming together of the individuals involved in this incident. It is natural, although it may not be desirable, for young people to respond in this way to defend themselves or to stand up for their rights as demonstrated and reflected at the recent game. We do not support violence or verbal abuse by any individual or groups. However, we call upon the Superintendent of Almont, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Prosecutor’s office, the Detroit Public School Community District and any others involved to sit down around a common table to resolve this issue. Charging students who clearly were standing up for themselves and protecting their rights should not be condemned but should be understood. This is clearly a case where some have reacted on all sides in the midst of such hostility which involves not only black players but white players and white fans.
The following press statement was issued by Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony.
DETROIT – On June 1, 2009, President
Barack Obama said, “I also recognize the
importance of a viable auto industry to the well being of families
and communities across
our industrial Midwest
and across the United States. In the midst of a deep recession
and financial crisis the collapse of these companies would have been
devastating for countless Americans and done enormous damage to our economy
beyond the auto industry. It was also clear that if GM and Chrysler remade and
retooled themselves for the 21st century, it would be good for
American workers, good for American manufacturing, and good for America’s economy.”
In short, the president indicated, “Our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a hands-off approach and get out quickly.” As a result, this commitment, following an initial investment of $15 billion dollars and an additional investment of $30 billion dollars in General Motors, an investment that entitled American taxpayers to the ownership of 60% of the new GM. This was done because of the tremendous sacrifices made by American workers and their families across this nation. Well, General Motors today is back on its feet as of August 1, 2019. CNBC indicates the company reported revenues of $36.1 billion. Shares of GM rose more than 7% over that last 12 months and are up more than 21% since the beginning of the year. The original estimation of revenues was $35.98 billion vs. an achieved $36.1 billion. This is an indication of a company that is doing well and is in a position to support, encourage and invest in the workers who have enabled it to achieve these goals.
DETROIT (December 6, 2018) – One has to wonder whether or not we actually had midterm elections in 2018. The recent actions by Republican led state legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin, and election controversy in North Carolina raise serious questions about maintaining the integrity of our electoral process. The actions now taken to undercut the election in the state of Michigan by the Republican dominated state legislature is more crooked than the great train robberies committed by Jesse and Frank James in the Missouri territories. The only thing the legislature in Michigan lacks is a face mask and a six shooter.
One of the framers of our democracy Thomas Jefferson said, “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” During this “shame duck session,” some members of the Michigan House don’t seem to care nor are they acting as if the people are looking. They are robbing the citizens who voted overwhelmingly for Proposal 2 (Voters Not Politicians), 67-33%, designed to end the practice of gerrymandering. They are attempting to rob the people of their affirmative decision in Proposal 3 (Promote the Vote), 61-39%, designed to provide greater voter access. This is no more than a political heist of the highest order. The plan is to undercut the power of incoming Governor-Elect Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State-Elect Jocelyn Benson, and Attorney General-Elect Dana Nessel. In other words, they are attempting to steal the power of Michiganders who voted to change the political direction in Michigan.
The Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony issued the following press statement during a press conference held on Tuesday, October 23.
DETROIT (October 23, 2018) – Good Morning. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made it plain when he said over 50 years ago, “I have come to see more and more that one of the more decisive steps that the Negro can take is that little walk to the voting booth. That is an important step. We got to gain the ballot and through that gain political power.” It is for this reason that we have come together to openly declare and encourage every Detroiter, every citizen in Wayne County or Michigan, regardless of political persuasion, to come back to the voting booth. We encourage everyone to Take Your Soles to the Polls.
The Detroit Branch NAACP is pleased to be working with the AARP, faith-based organizations, community groups, the city of Detroit, and Wayne County in the effort to increase and motivate the voter turnout for the general elections on November 6. All of us have the responsibility to vote. Each individual must consider these three questions.
What good is a voice if you don’t use it?
What good is a vote if you don’t exercise it?
What good is your freedom if you don’t protect it?
From now through election day we will be engaged in a program specifically to help mobilize our community to exercise their voter franchise. This election is too critical for the future of our children as well as those adults and seniors who desire to improve the quality of their lives. Some persons may have already voted in the early or absentee voting process. We encourage everyone to vote early, stay in line, and do not let the weather determine whether or not you will vote.
Detroit Branch NAACP President issued the following press statement regarding the suspension and investigation of a Detroit Police Department officer beating of a mentally ill woman.
DETROIT (August 2, 2018) – Once again, we find ourselves forced to denounce another inappropriate action on the part of a member of our police department. The recent beating of a mentally ill woman while held in custody at Detroit Receiving Hospital is unacceptable, inappropriate, and inexcusable. Part of the oath that a police officer takes includes this section: “I will uphold fundamental human rights and afford equal respect to all people according to law.” Police officers are held to a higher standard and must be accountable for their actions which could lead to injury and death.
This very tragic incident reminds us again of the need for training, accountability, and monitoring of members of law enforcement. Police Chief James Craig was correct in immediately indicating at today’s press conference, a “grave concern and being troubled by the video displaying the incident.” The suspension of the police officer is indeed appropriate. An 18-year veteran should know better and is expected to do better. While we do not excuse and condone disrespect or abuse by citizens on police officers, it is understood that such occasions of possible conflict will occur. It is in these circumstances where training kicks in. In such situations, sound judgement must be demonstrated. Police officers carry tasers, handcuffs, and communication devices. They go through physical and mental training. As the Detroit Police Department must deal with at least 500 calls per month regarding the mentally ill, this was not an unusual situation. Certainly, three or four officers should be able to detain a naked, mentally challenged woman. The officer in question has had mental health and community policing and advocacy training.
The following press statement was issued by Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony.
DETROIT (July 10, 2018) – The Coalition led by the Detroit Branch NAACP which includes Grand Rapids Branch NAACP, Michigan State Conference NAACP, Michigan Conference United Church of Christ, Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL), ACLU of Michigan, Greater Lansing Clergy Forum, LA SED, Progressive National Baptist Convention, UAW Region 1D, and LEAD Michigan supports the recent efforts of the Bethany Christian Center to re-unite children under 5 with their families. This coalition made a trip to Grand Rapids on June 27th to protest the separation of children from their families at the border by the Trump administration. It also included a sit-down discussion with officials at the Bethany Christian Center on the need to re-unite all children. The Federal court has determined that children under 5 must be re-united with their families as of July 10th. The Trump administration is seeking an extension due to the fact that they are unable to identify parent and child. In the words of a mother separated from her child at the border, “Why was it so easy to take my child from me and yet so hard for you to bring my child back to me?” This evil incompetence on the part of the Trump administration reflects the malfunction in the very heart of the American spirit.
The following press statement was given by Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony during a rally and press conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. urging for the reunification of immigrant children with their families.
DETROIT (June 27, 2018) – Today we have come to Grand Rapids, not to separate people, highlight political divisions, or exacerbate family values. We are here because as people of God we believe in the teachings as expressed by the Psalmist in 127:3, “Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from him.” Recognizing that God in his infinite wisdom has blessed us with a special gift, when one goes about the business of tearing a child from its parents, you are in fact ripping the gift that has been provided by God.
We are here today because we want to restore the gift. We want not to separate, but to unify. We want as a people not to have conflict, but to have compliment in the ability to recognize the dignity of all people. We cannot as Christians, Muslims, Jews, or whatever our faith orientation may be stand idly by and watch infants, toddlers, and teenagers, who have done nothing other than seek a better life, be torn asunder. For those who believe these actions may not impact you, there was a prominent protestant pastor by the name of Martin Niemoller who during WWII spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camp. He is best remembered for these words: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The Detroit Branch NAACP issued the following press release on
Tuesday, May 8, 2018.
DETROIT (May 8, 2018) – Today’s announcement by Mayor Mike Duggan of a special program to end driver responsibility fees for nearly 76,000 Detroiters is indeed welcome news. Nearly 350,000 Michigan residents have been affected by this terrible law which finally will end in October of this year. SB614 allows for the Workforce Development Training Program, which will enable drivers to get their driver’s license back much sooner. This law, coupled with the horrendous high insurance rates imposed on citizens of Detroit and other communities, diminishes the quality of life, prevents access to jobs and education, and can lead to unnecessary conflicts with law enforcement.
The following press statement was issued by Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony regarding the shooting of Brennan Walker.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
DETROIT – 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. diagnosed for the nation its most dangerous and deadly spiritual ulcer. Yet today, there are still too many in our communities who have failed to heed his prescription to see our character because they are too blinded by our color.
America still suffers from an illness rooted in an assumption fueled by a false perception and sustained by our racial condition. The recent shooting at 14-year old Brennan Walker, at a home in Rochester Hills, while simply trying to find his way to school, by a white homeowner, is another case-in-point. According to young Mr. Walker, after he knocked on the door for directions, he stepped back, a lady came to the door and started yelling, “Why are you trying to break into my house?” He indicated he was simply asking for directions. Herein lies the assumption. He is a black youth, at a white door, in a suburban neighborhood, therefore he must be trying to break in. Immediate reaction: grab your gun, shoot first, ask questions later.
Detroit Branch NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony along with ACLU Michigan, Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL), Atty. Leonard Mungo, Congressman John Conyers Jr. and the Michigan State Conference NAACP led a press conference on Tuesday, October 10 calling for Governor Rick Snyder (R-Michigan) to meet and address:
Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue’s role as the Director of the Michigan State Police (MSP)
MSP’s current lack of diversity
MSP’s testing practices
On Tuesday, October 3, Rev. Anthony sent an official request to Gov. Snyder for a meeting, details and data on MSP’s number of African Americans, Latinos, other minorities and women as troopers and senior staff since the federal consent decree removed in 1993.