SOS continues the struggle for Medicaid Expansion with demonstrations in Montgomery

SOS members kneel in prayer placing banner saying “Black Lives Matter
and Expand Medicaid” in the street in front of the State Capitol.

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy has continued its fight for Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature to Expand Medicaid especially in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
On August 6, 2020, on the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, about 50 members of SOS held a demonstration and press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.
Despite the presence of over twenty Montgomery Police Department officers, SOS members carried a banner saying “Black Lives Matter and Expand Medicaid” and placed the banner in the street in front of the Capitol, where its members had previously been arrested in July for writing those same words in the street with yellow spray paint.
On August 20, 2020 SOS members held a “Shout Out to Save Lives” in front of the Governor’s Mansion in the Garden District of downtown Montgomery. When SOS demonstrators arrived at Noon, the police had barricaded the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Governor’s Mansion for 400 feet.
SOS set up its speaking podium on the sidewalk in viewing and hearing distance of the Mansion and began our shout-out for Medicaid Expansion despite the barricades and the police insistence that we move our cars that were parked across the street from the Mansion or risk having them towed.
Former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, who also serves as Co-Chair of the SOS Health Committee, said “Health rights are the Civil Rights issue of our times. In this time of COVID-19 there is a need for great Federal and state support of health care for all people but especially people of color who are dying at disproportionately higher rates.”
Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of the Ordinary People’s Society in Dothan, Alabama and an advocate for prisoners, said “I do not understand why Gov. Ivey and the State Legislature is ready to accept money from Federal sources for building prisons and every other purpose but will not accept funds to expand Medicaid. We must also work to release prisoners from jails and prisons so they will not contract the coronavirus.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “An Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) poll released three weeks ago shows a majority of the people of Alabama – Democrats and Republicans and Independents –support Medicaid expansion. Alabama is one of only 12 states in the nation that has failed to act. The people of Alabama know we need Medicaid expansion and want Medicaid expansion in Alabama NOW. All it takes is leadership.”
Greene County Health System Board Chair and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert said: “There is a reason why the Alabama Hospital Association has been campaigning and fighting so hard for the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid expansion will not only save lives and improve the health of those Alabamians who need and should be getting health care in our state. It will also save Alabama hospitals, both rural and urban, which Alabama has been killing at an alarming rate. Every time a hospital closes in a community, all people with insurance as well as those without insurance are detrimentally affected, and too many times this results in failed health and death. This is wrong, and Governor Ivey is a murderer for intentionally refusing to expand Medicaid. All it takes is leadership to end this wrong.”
Since July 23th, 2020, 13 Alabamians have been arrested by the Montgomery City Police for civil disobedience misdemeanors to save lives in our state, improve health in Alabama and secure justice for people in Alabama. They include: Kumasi Amin with Black Lives Matter; former Tuskegee Mayor and state Representative Johnny Ford; Community Advocate and Civil Rights activist Karen Jones; attorney and Civil Rights activist Faya Rose Toure; Board Chair of the Greene County Health Systems and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert; Stef Bernal-Martinez with the Poor People’s Campaign; attorney Ellen Degnan with the Southern Poverty Law Center; Judson Garner with Black Lives Matter and SOS; Yomi Goodall, a community leader based in Montgomery and Selma; Alabama Law Professor Emerita and attorney Martha Morgan; Hank Sanders, an attorney and former 35-year Alabama State Senator; Dana Sweeney with Alabama Appleseed; and Queen Tate, a film specialist.  
Law enforcement, after calling their superiors, originally assured the peaceful protesters at the Capitol on July 23rd that no one would be arrested. Then hours later City Police issued two arrest warrants for Black leaders Karen Jones and Johnny Ford that night. When SOS pointed out the next day the Montgomery City Police only issued writ of arrests for two Black people, instead of summons as advised by the Governor in her 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Proclamation, and also not for the White man who painted “Expand Medicaid” on a small patch of pavement with no traffic in front of the Capitol at the same peaceful event.
The next evening three more writs of arrest were issued, including for John Zippert. Those five, who learned of their arrests from the media and not the City Police, voluntarily turned themselves in on signature bonds on July 27th and were held in a jail with City employees and inmates who were not masked for more than five hours. 
 Nine additional misdemeanor arrests were made on July 30th by the Montgomery City Police, with five of those arrests being for people simply standing on the pavement in front of the Capitol and nothing more. While in custody on July 27th, only two individuals who turned themselves in on misdemeanors were strip searched – Black women Karen Jones and Faya Toure. During the later July 30th arrests, the City started strip searching White man Judson Garner but suddenly halted that.
City Police also threatened to arrest two Whites on July 30th for legally parking in a public parking space only after they realized they were with members of SOS. Similar intimidating actions by the City of Montgomery Police continued today even though all protestors were peaceful. The City again said, as they did on July 23rd, that no arrests would be made today, and no arrests have been made and no arrest warrants have been issued thus far. SOS and the other groups will continue their work to ensure Medicaid is expanded in Alabama so no one else has to needlessly die due to inaction by Alabama elected officials.

Alabama New South Coalition holds Fall Convention

ANSC new state officers: L to R: Debra Foster, President, Everett Wess, First Vice President, Sharon Wheeler, Treasurer and Patricia Lewis Corresponding Secretary
ANSC Healthcare Panel: Rep. Merika Coleman speaking, Norma Jackson, Sen Malika Sanders Fortier and John Zippert ANSC past president.

On Saturday, November 2, Alabama New South Coalition held its Fall Convention at the RSA Activity Center on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery.
More than 200 delegates from around the state attended this 34th. annual convention of the predominately Black and progressive political and social change organization. The theme of the ANSC Fall Convention was “ Lifting our Values, our Voices and our Votes”.
The convention had three workshops on important voting issues; two mayors – Mayor Gary Richardson of Midfield and newly elected Mayor Tim Ragland of Talladega – addressed the luncheon. U. S. Senator Doug Jones also addressed the group about his service in Washington D. C. and plans for the upcoming 2020 election.
The members of ANSC approved a report from their Nominating Committee for new state officers for a two-year term beginning at the end of the Convention. Debra Foster of Calhoun County was elected President, Everett Wess of Jefferson County elected First Vice President, Ivan Peebles, Greene County, Second Vice-President (youth), Sharon Wheeler, Montgomery, Treasurer, Matilda Hamilton of Tallapoosa County for Recording Secretary and Patricia Lewis of Mobile for Corresponding Secretary.
The Healthcare Workshop heard from Rep. Merika Coleman of Jefferson County, Senator Malika Sanders Fortier of Dallas County and Norma Jackson of Macon County.
Rep. Coleman said, “Working people in Alabama deserve healthcare that is why we have been working to expand Medicaid for those whose income is up to 138% of the poverty level. This impacts over 300,000 people from all parts of Alabama. Governor Ivey promised that after we passed an increase in the gas tax that she and the Republican leadership in the Legislature would revisit the issue of Medicaid Expansion but they have not followed through. This is because they know it would involve an increase in the budget, which would have to be paid for with increase in taxes or some other changes.”
Senator Fortier, said, “Without Medicaid Expansion, 340,000 people in Alabama face terror in securing health care. They are one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. Our state is 5th worse in the nation, in our rate of infant mortality which is preventable with expanded healthcare coverage.” Fortier says she has been working with other Senators of both parties to find a solution to expand Medicaid. “ We need $158 million for year one and $30 million each year thereafter to fund Medicaid expansion in the state of Alabama. The Federal government provides 90% of the cost, under the Affordable Care Act and the state must match with 10%. We can find this money to cover 340,000 working adults, provide 30,000 new jobs in the healthcare field, keep hospitals, especially rural hospitals open, and improve the general health and wellbeing of our people in Alabama.”
Norma Jackson, Chair of the Macon County ANSC Chapter said, “We have a sickness-care system in Alabama not a health care system. We need to do more to take care of our own health alongside doctors, hospitals and others.” She suggested five steps: “eat fresh foods, drink clean water, breath fresh air, do exhilarating exercise and have rejuvenating rest for better healthcare that we can take responsibility for ourselves.”
The panel on Criminal Justice and Economic Development featured three speakers including Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa, County Commissioner Sheila Tyson of Jefferson County and Robert Avery of Gadsden.
Rep. England said, “Conditions in Alabama’s prison system are so overcrowded and bad that inmates are condemned to cruel and unusual punishment worse than the death penalty.” He said, “ The solutions lie in reducing the use of the system as a debtors prison, for those who cannot pay fines; more restorative justice, where prisoners are taught a skill in prison that they can use to make a living when they come out of prison, pay correction officers a fair wage, to attract better people and building more prisons to replace existing out of date and overcrowded prisons.”
Commissioner Tyson spoke to removing barriers to people to get workforce training and jobs with new industries. She said that she worked to change bus routes to go in low-income neighborhoods to increase participation by poor people in workforce training for new jobs coming into her district.
The third panel on Voting Rights was moderated by Faya Rose Toure and included: Robert Turner of Bullock County who stressed that a voteless people are a helpless people; Sam Walker of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma; Senator Bobby Singleton, who spoke to the issue that half of the registered Black voters in Alabama, do not turnout to vote; and Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, who spoke on his efforts to encourage people in jails, prior to trial and conviction, who are eligible to vote, to vote absentee and helping to restore the voting rights of previously incarcerated felons, under Alabama’s new Moral Turpitude Law.

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow says “God had prepared us for this attack”

Special to the Democrat By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

 

Glasglow.jpg

On Friday, May 4, 2017, The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS) of Dothan, Alabama held its 17th Annual Founders and Unity Day. The dinner was attended by 200 people who were honoring Rev. Kenneth Glasgow on his 53rd birthday, the TOPS organization for its work with the community and incarcerated people around the country and ‘Moma Tina’, Glasgow’s mother, for her work in sustaining the organization and helping to feed hungry and homeless people in the area.
The dinner came in the shadows of Rev. Glasgow recent arrest and suspicious charge of ‘capital murder’ in the March 26th death of Breunia Jennings. Rev. Glasgow was asked by Jamie Townes, a friend to help him find his car that was taken. Glasgow, Townes and two others went to search for the car. They spotted the car and then the car rammed into them.
Townes jumped out of Glasgow’s car, drew a gun and shot Jennings. When the police came they arrested Townes and Glasgow and released the other two persons. Glasgow, a nationally recognized activitist on prisoner issues was charged with ‘capital murder’ under an Alabama statute which says unless you actively try to prevent a crime you are an accessory and implicit in it.
National and state organizations like the NAACP, Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy, ANSC, ADC and others challenged the suspicious nature of Kenneth Glasgow’s arrest and are working to have the charges dismissed. These groups and others packed the Dothan Courthouse for Glasgow’s preliminary hearing on April 6, 2018.
Circuit Judge Benjamin Lewis sent Glasgow’s case to the Houston County (AL) Grand Jury but also made the unusual decision in a capital case to grant a bail request of $75,000. Glasgow has been out of jail on bail since April 9, 2018.
Friday’s dinner was one of his first opportunities to make a public statement to supporters about his case. “ We expected this kind of attack because of the work we have done on prisoners rights, our fights against police brutality and mass incarceration of Black young people. We have been preparing for this. God has been preparing us for this kind of attack.
“We were ready for this. We were prepared. When we got to jail, we started organizing and had a prayer circle for the DA, the Police Chief and others. WE must get beyond this to fight the real issues.”
There were other speakers at the dinner that supported Glasgow and TOPS including Dorsey Nunn of ‘All Of Us or None, a California group that initiated the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign; Asha Bandele, with a New York City prisoners campaign, State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee and others.
Rev. Glasgow said that he needs people to continue to help support the work of TOPS (The Ordinary People’s Society, 403 West Powell Street, Dothan, Alabama 36303; phone 334-671-2882 office and 334-791-2433 cell; West Powell Street. Dothan, AL 36303) and support his Legal Defense Committee by going to this website: http://www.glasgowdefensecommittee.org.

Glasgow released Tuesday on $75,000 bail Dothan community activist, Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, charged with capital murder in suspicious case

 

Rev. Glasgow with attorney

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow with one of his attorneys, Derek Yarborough, at preliminary hearing (photo courtesy of the Dothan Eagle).

News Analysis by:  John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, President of The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS) in Dothan, Alabama, has been charged by police with capital murder in the death of Breunia Jennings, a 23 year old female, even though the police admit that Jamie Townes, who is also charged, actually did the shooting.

Rev. Glasgow has been involved for many years with assisting ex-felons and the formerly incarcerated to rebuild their lives and reclaim their right to vote through TOPS and other organizations in the State of Alabama. Glasgow is an active participant in the Save Ourselves (SOS) Coalition for Democracy and Justice, with forty other organizations in the state fighting for social, political and economic justice.
Most recently, Glasgow has helped local activists in Troy, Alabama raise concerns about the savage beating by police of an unarmed Black man.
The ‘trumped-up’ capital murder charges against Glasgow result from a March 26 incident in Dothan. At a preliminary hearing held in District Judge Benjamin H. Lewis courtroom in Dothan on Friday, April 6, 2018, Dothan Police investigator, Justin Dotson, presented the results of his interrogation of the persons involved in the shooting incident. The preliminary hearing allowed the judge to determine if the charges against Glasgow should proceed to the Houston County Grand Jury.
Local white attorney Derek Yarborough and Darrel Atkinson, a Black attorney from a North Carolina criminal justice organization, represented Glasgow at the preliminary hearing.
According to Police investigator Dotson, Jamie Townes asked Rev. Glasgow to assist him in locating his car and phone, which were taken from his residence on Blacksheer Street in Dothan. Glasgow, who was driving his friend, Joy William’s 2018 Toyota Camry, picked up Townes and two other persons, Choyce Bush and ‘Little John’ Irvin and drove off in search of Townes car.
This occurred about 10:30 PM on March 26. Glasgow drove with Townes in the back seat behind him, Choyce Bush also in the back seat and Little John Irvin in the front seat next to Glasgow. After driving around for less than thirty minutes they spotted Townes car, which was driven by Ms. Jennings near the intersection of Lake and Allen Streets.
Ms. Jennings at some point began driving erratically and she drove through a church parking lot knocking over hedges and other structures. When she did this someone contacted 911 and alerted the police to an erratic driver in the area.
Ms. Jennings then deliberately drove Townes car and crashed into the car driven by Rev. Glasgow. At this point, Jamie Townes jumped out of the car, pulled out a gun and started firing into the car driven by Jennings. Jennings drove away and went a few blocks to the intersection of Lake and Allen Street. Townes followed her car on foot and then fired again allegedly killing Ms. Jennings.
At this point, it was a little after 11:00 PM and the police arrived on the scene as a result of the prior calls to 911. They interviewed and retained five people, at or near then scene including Rev. Glasgow, Jamie Townes, Choyce Bush, Little John Irvin and Joy Williams, since she was the owner and holder of the insurance on the vehicle.
Police inspector Dotson interviewed five people that were detained. They basically all told the same story. Jamie Townes and Rev. Kenneth Glasgow were charged with capital murder in the death of Jennings. The other two people were dismissed without charges.
Rev. Glasgow stated that he did not know that Townes had a gun and he was not aware that he had jumped out of the back seat of the car. Glasgow also did not know that Townes had shot and killed Ms. Jennings.
Dothan police charged Rev. Glasgow with complicity in the murder under Alabama law because he was present during the crime and did not attempt to stop Townes from committing the crime.
Police inspector Dotson also said Glasgow was charged because he did not tell the truth about who drove the car and did not call 911 after the car crash.
Under cross examination, Dotson indicated that there was no obligation to contact 911 and that Glasgow may have been correctly concerned about the insurance on the car. Dotson tried to suggest that Rev. Glasgow and Townes had a ‘relationship” based on Townes being a drug dealer and Glasgow having a ‘half-way house’ for former felons in the same neighborhood.
Kimbrough, Glasgow’s lawyer, pointed out that Rev. Glasgow was in the business of helping people on a daily basis and that he assisted Townes to find his car because he tries to assist people not because they had any prior ‘relationship’ with Glasgow.
Kimbrough asked Judge Lewis to dismiss the capital charges against Glasgow before taking them to a Grand Jury; or reduce the charges, and consider setting bail for Glasgow. At the end of the preliminary hearing, Judge Lewis said he would take the matter under consideration and give a decision later.
On Tuesday, Judge Lewis passed the decision on the charges against Rev. Glasgow to the Houston County Grand Jury. He also agreed to set bail of $75,000 on Rev. Glasgow. He was able to meet the bail requirements and get out of jail to go back to work serving the community.
The SOS Coalition for Democracy and Justice issued a strong statement in support of Rev Kenneth Glasgow at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, which says in part, “ SOS resolved to fight for justice for Reverend Glasgow on multiple fronts:  in the courts; in the community; in the media; and in the political arena.
“SOS is fully prepared to fight in all arenas until justice is secured for Reverend Glasgow.  SOS resolved as its first step to send a strong delegation to the preliminary hearing to show our support. The preliminary hearing fully reinforced the strong belief that Reverend Glasgow is completely innocent of the charges against him.
“Anyone who knows Reverend Glasgow knows that he did not commit this crime.  In fact, he has helped stop other people from committing crimes and helped people find their way back into society after being convicted of crimes.  SOS knows Reverend Glasgow, and SOS members expect the Court’s actions to support what we already know.”