#HeToo: A True Story

The Facts & Statistics

I’d like to personally give a special shout to the #MeToo movement for giving women who’ve been victims of sexual assault as well as sexual harassment a platform to be vulnerable. It has given an insurmountable amount of support to women who have been abused and mistreated by men in their lives, most times by those who are the closest in proximity.

Before we go any further let’s have a firm understanding of what the difference is between sexual assault and sexual harassment:  According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” [2] The emphasis here seems to be on the verbal nature of the harassment; whereas the U.S. Justice Department defines sexual assault as being less verbal and more physical: “. . . any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

But what of the men who have been sexually abused or harassed? Are there any studies on this subject? Why or why not?

My search extensive search has lead me to the following statistics:

  • 3 out of 5 women will have been sexually harassed in their lifetime
  • 1 out of 5 men will be sexually harassed in their lifetime
  • According to the EOCC 80% of people, regardless of gender, never file a harassment complaint

A large reason for this are the feelings of shame, betrayal, embarrassment and perhaps even backlash from the immediate community. Most individuals feel like no one will believe their story so that’s why they don’t come forward. The person that took advantage of them may be a person of great influence or power. And let’s not mention the legal issues that could stem from making such a claim against a person.

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A recent online survey  provided by Stop Street Harassment illustrates that 3 out of 4 women are verbally harassed compared to 1 out of 3 men.

Inspiration

My inspiration to write this piece came from two men in particular that gave me the courage to come forward. Months ago on my #StrengthInNumbersPodcast I expressed my thoughts of Terry Crews’ run in with Adam Venit. Long story short Terry Crews had his genitals publicly groped at a party in Hollywood for everyone to see, you can watch his interview here:

 

 

 

Keep in mind that this was all done in front of his wife and the part that bothered me the most is that his assaulter was laughing. The audacity!!! As I listened to his story I was reminded of the slavery stories of buck breaking. Buck breaking is a process by which a slave master would emasculate their slaves in order to have control over the slave family. After the slave was beaten, he was often times raped in front of his wife and kids.

What stood out for me most about his interview is that he would not be ashamed of what happened to him, and the truth of the matter is that no one should.

My next source of inspiration is from a Breakfast Club interview I watched featuring Broward County’s VERY own, Denzel Curry. His new album TA1300 (Taboo) is exactly just that, it speaks on taboo subjects ranging from molestation to drug abuse. He then went on to say that he had been molested by a man as a child.

 

 

 

 

As I was watching the interview I recognized an all too familiar pain on his face that was similar to mine. I empathize with and commend that young man for being brave enough to share his story despite the pain it carried with it. You’re indeed stronger than most!

 

Personal Experiences

The Slumber Party

My first sexual experience was at the tender age of 5.

It was one of those weekends where my father picked me up, but before we went home he just so happened to make an extra stop to pick up one of his girlfriends, her daughter and her infant son. I suppose they figured it was a good idea since her and I were around the same age but I believe she was younger than me.

I can vividly remember my dad and his girlfriend of the that night being in a hurry for us to go to bed, for obvious reasons. Her son was put to sleep on the couch while her daughter and I slept on the living room floor, it was a slumber party of sorts. The light was turned off so that we could fall to sleep and they disappeared into his room.

While I was resting I could feel something on my body, moving around. I could feel that I was being caressed up and down my body, mainly my chest and stomach.

A burning sensation rushed through my entire body.

“What feeling is this?”

“Why am I feeling like this?”

It eventually traveled down to my genitals and I woke up to my slumber partner fondling my member. When I looked in her eyes they were bright and inviting; I don’t think this was done to be malicious but it definitely made me uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable to the point where I forcefully moved her hand away. It was uncomfortable to where it was physically tender for a couple of hours after.

Looking back on those events I strongly believe that she had witnessed her mom in a sexual act or that someone had sexually molested her. How else would she know what to do at such a young age? This being my first sexual encounter ever, it should be understood that I was thoroughly confused. I’m not even sure what this can be categorized as in today’s terms.


 

Capture

The Met

I remember vividly joining Metropolitan Community Church in 2001. My mom and I had just recently migrated from Quinn Chapel to this new institution that my godfather had transitioned to play the organ. When we finally did join the congregation greeted us with opened arms and we assimilated almost seamlessly into the population.

I think one of the greatest selling points that led us to join was the fact that there was a young population that I could assimilate into as well. Shortly after we joined the church I joined the Junior Usher board and made friends with everyone. I was basically the one kid everyone in the church used to sing praises about highlighting how handsome and respectful I was towards adults.

This is more than likely the time I started being observed by administration, more specifically the head minister of the church. Over the years of being involved in the church I began to look at the pastor as a father figure, an uncle or a big brother. So I divulged in extremely personal information that I feel like I couldn’t share with my family. I don’t have a close relationship with my biological dad, my stepfather and I had always been on bad terms since I began to develop as a man. There aren’t many men in my family and the ones that are I felt wouldn’t do shit anyway, in all honesty.

Our relationship had gotten so close that one year I even wrote a Fathers’ Day speech and presented it to the congregation. It described how much I appreciated him as a positive male role model in my life and the amount of trust I had in him.

Perhaps he saw this as a signal that I wanted to be sexually active with him.

It was during this time that I was attending South Suburban College and most times I would frequent Calumet City Public Library. It was there that I met Pierre.

Now this is not the first time I had seen Pierre, I had seen him in the ‘hood on numerous occasions but our paths never crossed. He was two to three years older than me anyway so why we bump into each other in the first place.

Anyway while I was studying for my exams I noticed Pierre studying the Bible. Our first conversation was about how he was slowly but surely turning his life around and how he was a junior pastor at a local institution in Calumet City. We both held out churches in high regard and invited each other to attend service.

The day after Pierre attended service he told me, emphatically and without a shadow of a doubt, that the head pastor was hiding something. He was so sure that he told me and whoever else I knew to stop attending.

Unfortunately, or fortunately that wasn’t the case, I suppose it depends on your perspective.

On my eighteenth and nineteenth birthday he had even taken me out for dinner. I thought absolutely nothing of it because my godfather had even treated me out for dinner on numerous occasions in the past.


 

One night, a couple of weeks after my 19th birthday I came home at about 11 o’clock at night. Shortly after I came home the phone rang, which was definitely out of the ordinary. When I saw that it was my pastor, I immediately picked up the phone but in the back of my mind I did feel as if it was a weird time for him to be calling home. Now that I think about it I’m pretty certain that he had watched me come in the door that night. He told me to come outside and I obliged.

As soon as I entered the car I smelled the strong scent of alcohol all throughout the vehicle but I pretended as if I hadn’t caught my attention. We greeted each other as usual and he asked me,

“Are you ready?”

I responded, “Ready for what?”

That’s when a large, unsettling, Chesire cat-esque appeared on his face.

He said, “Are you ready to go to this WILD party?”

Eventually I agreed and we were on our way. We drove west on 159th and anybody who’s familiar with the south suburbs knows how far 159th goes traveling west. For some reason I thought that we were going to a strip club to have “our talk”. I asked him exactly where we were going but he wouldn’t give me a concise answer.

“Damn maybe Pierre was right, this is probably what he was talking about”, I thought.

We eventually entered a residential neighborhood in Orland Park where he currently resides. The neighborhood was exactly the type of neighborhood you would expect a pastor to live in, it was very nice and each mini mansion had a great amount of yard space. When we enter the residence he tells me how much of a privilege it is to have a personal tour of his house. He goes to the fridge, pulled out some vodka in a fancy bottle and asked, “Ice or no ice?”

“No ice.”, I replied.

I hardly took any sips of that liquor because it definitely could’ve been spiked with something, anything.

Next he went to his humidor and asked if I knew how to prep a cigar, my response was no. He told me the way to prep a cigar in the same way “a girl would suck the tip of your dick.”

I laughed an uncomfortable laugh. In my eyes he was completely inappropriate but I was actually nervous as I had ever been in my life. He was completely out of pocket and I didn’t know what his plans were so I kept my composure.

“Are you ready?”

“Ready for what?”

“This talk…..”

We entered his garage which was filled with candles already lit, there had to be more that ten at the very least! There was a small table to set down our drinks with an ashtray for our cigars, two chairs were on either side of the table.

“Am I walkin’ into a séance or what the fuck is this?!”, I thought to myself.

We sit down and begin our conversation as normal but I could tell that he wanted to talk about the topic of sex for some odd reason. I made it crystal clear….

So I tell him, “I’m not a homophobe but I’m not gay.”

“Would you ever let another man suck your dick?”

“Hell NAW!!”

“You said that like I was offering.”

“Are you?!?!”, he didn’t reply but he gave me a look, the same exact look that he gave me when I first entered the car.

Keep in mind that this is the same pastor who had come to my prom send-off and had actually told me to “wrap it up”.

I asked him if he has ever done anything sexual with another man and he tells me that he had in college. By this time, I was beyond ready to go but I kept cool, in all honesty I didn’t know what he was willing to do.

I guess he figured that I was done with the conversation but he’s too intoxicated to drive so I had to. As I’m driving back to Calumet City he motioned as if he was going to touch me, each time he did I jerked the car left to right. This was coupled with him saying, in a creepy manner, “nobody wants to suck your lil dick anyway.” I guess this was his way of using reverse psychology to see my penis.

I mean he really pulled out all of the tricks that were in his hat which means they must’ve worked in his favor before.


 

The Confrontation

I hadn’t told my parents about what I experience that night for a solid year. So many thoughts ran through my mind and it forced me to look at myself under a microscope. Had I given him some signal to let him know that I was interested in that way? Why did God allow that man to be “of the cloth”? Who could I tell that could actually do something? What would the police do with the information when there was no concrete evidence? What would my church family do or say? How would the usher board react to these allegations?

I eventually told my mom and step dad about the encounter, she was clearly empathetic but my stepdad was actually tickled by the situation. I found that extremely weird, especially for him. Nonetheless a meeting with the pastor was scheduled.

I explained in graphic detail as I did above about the series of events that took place. Instead of admitting his wrong doing he deflected; claiming that I took his words out of context and went on to insult my intelligence. Next he told my parents that I had gotten someone pregnant, which was true, but he used it as a way to misdirect from his gross misconduct. I later found out that she actually had an abortion.

I genuinely expected him to get his ass beat right then and there but we left peacefully. As soon as we got in the car my mom said that we would never be attending that church again.


 

Reflection

“Fuck God, he can’t be real if he’s lettin’ motherfuckas like that lead congregations!?!”

“Why is God lettin’ predators like this live?”

This was my thought processes from age 19 to about 23, 24. I was actually fixated on what had happened to me. It made me ENRAGED that I was taken advantage of, I felt like a damn dummy. I actually missed seeing all of the inviting smiles when I walked into the sanctuary but most of all I missed the connection I had with the friends I made on the Junior Usher Board.

I was at a very dark time in my life where I began to question everything, in fact, this experience turned me away from God. I had become atheist, then agnostic and now at 31 years of age I KNOW that I am spiritual everlasting being.

I AM God and God is in me!

We have to take into consideration the difference between God and humans. Unfortunately we, often times, place celebrities, singers, police officers, actors and members of the clergy on a higher moral pedestal when we shouldn’t. Most ministers claim to be prophets or Gods’ messenger when in reality they have ulterior motives. These are harsh realities that the Black Church has disregarded, which is why young people don’t put their faith in it. But more specifically the Black community has disregarded the claims and it must stop in order to save black boys and girls.

Black people, specifically millennials, are leaving the churches and ideologies of our slavemasters because the church isn’t edifying the congregation. In other words, the churches are claiming to provide a service in exchange for loyalty. The unfortunate reality is that most churches are in the business of making money and keeping that money close to the organization.

Some possible solutions to curb America’s rape culture would be to create safe spaces for individuals that have been sexually abused, either physically or mentally, and allow them to express themselves without being judged. Another practical answer would be to increase the penalties for such offenses.


 

Major Takeaways to Think About

  • individuals as early as the age of 4 can be sexually aware/active
  • the rate at which sexual harassment is reported in America is as slow as 2%
  • men, black men go through sexual abuse as well but if victims are only reporting at 2% then imagine how many black men have been taken advantage of
  • black men don’t like to talk about their feelings because “that’s what women do”, men who express their feelings are stigmatized as weak or less than a man
  • men and women get sexually harassed at nearly the same rate according to age as illustrated by the graph below

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GAC Endorses Willie Preston for 31st District Representative

The phrase “out with the old, in with the new” is a saying that we all have heard before and it usually relates to New Years Eve resolutions, making progress and bettering ones life. Even though New Years has long past this analogy applies to the race for the 31st District Representative. The 31st District encompasses portions of Chicago’s Englewood, West Englewood neighborhoods, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, Palos Hills, and other nearby communities.

I had a chance to catch up with Willie Preston, an organizer out of Englewood who has a passion for the people and is running against the incumbent. He’s very much in favor of a progressive income tax and understands the importance of having a STEM focused curriculum for our children. He’s just a regular family man that wants to see change in his community and has stepped up to the plate to do so.

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Candidate for 31st District State Rep Willie Preston and family (above)

QM: As 31st District State Representative what do you plan on doing differently in comparison to the incumbent?

WP: “Many things, my plan, unlike my opponent, I have a plan and it calls for bringing our back trade schools to Chicago. Everybody is not coming to college when I go down to Springfield I’m going to be down there fighting for vocational training inside our schools. We’re talking about plumbers, electricians, boiler makers, truck drivers. And this has to be done at the state legislature and that’s what we’re going down to Springfield to do. When my kids graduate high-school, south side of Chicago, I don’t want them lost or having to go to college and take out debt just to make a decent living. I want them to graduate with their diplomas in one hand and their union card in the other, if they decide their not going to college and that’s OK with us. My mother-in-law is a carpenter, she makes $100,000 annually, every year $100,000. She can raise a family, that’s head of household income, you can have you a home, a new car, your children can go to school, a good school that you can afford. You definitely won’t have to go to anybody’s aid office looking for food stamps. That’s the type of life changing politics that’s what this campaign is based on, we’re doing this to save people’s lives and change people’s lives. That’s one thing on the economic side, as far a property taxes go we plan on banning Mike Madigan and other law makers who practice property tax appeal law.”

QM: What is that exactly, property tax appeal law?

Preston: “So, when you get your property tax bill in the mail, lets say its $900. You think that’s too high for your little house so you go and say, “Hey, this is too high!” You need to hire an attorney because you don’t know the property tax law, property tax code, so you go and hire an attorney to get your property tax reduced. Mike Madigan, coincidentally, or not coincidentally who is one of the most powerful lawmakers in Illinois has the number one firm in Illinois. That’s not by coincidence so what we have is a situation that I have here is a situation where-“

QM: So you’re saying that he’s controlling what the law is-

Preston: “That’s right, he’s controlling it to make sure that he personally benefits and gets rich from it, and he does do it. Then what he does is re-funnel that money back into politics and make sure that he gets to come into the black community, Latino community and chooses who he wants to represent that community.

My campaign represents a stark contrast from that, he wont get to choose the leader over here anymore. We win this election we send a strong message that this community is an independent community and we’re going to choose our own leaders.

So right now we have two buildings that have been recently sold downtown. What we knew as the Sears Tower is now called the Willis Tower at 1 N. Clark, they got $50 million in property tax reduction. So the government doesn’t need $50 million laying around. We give somebody a reduction we increase some where else. So where’s the increase coming from? Its coming right here from my people, my people have a extra $200, $300, $500, $700 increase in their property tax, regular working class folk while rich folk downtown are getting under-assessed we’re getting ours over-assessed. There needs to be a property tax frieze or a serious reduction in property tax. And that’s what also is driving up the rent of people who are just getting started. 1500 dollars for a 1, 2 bedroom apartment? We’re gonna end that and how we’re going to stop it is by having people like me down there at Springfield that will say no, and fighting against that and winning.”

QM: In one interview you say, “Springfield politicians largely just go along to get along, and that’s what I’m seeing in my district right now and I want to work to change it.” What exactly do you see that needs to be changed that hasn’t in the past 30 years?

Preston: “Well a lot of things, but one thing I can site is this. We have somebody that’s been in office for nearly 50 years, Mike Madigan, he’s the Speaker of the House. Every last Democrat votes for him in the House, every last Democrat in Springfield votes for him to be Speaker of the House, “go along to get along”. That is so much centralization of power it’s unnatural, it’s un-American. We don’t have kingdoms, or supposedly we’re not supposed to be about that, this is supposed to be about democracy. And one thing I’m going to do is not vote for him as Speaker of the House that will be a stark difference. Throughout the years as Chicago and Illinois have gotten blacker and browner, the state funding to our education system has gotten lesser and lesser. We have more black politicians that most people inside this nation in terms of our state government, and they went along with that. That’s why today Illinois is last in state funding for public education. Last in America in the funding percentage allocated to public education. I got family in Mississippi, like most of us do down south, we used to laugh at them and call them country. But you know what, they’re ahead of us, they have a state government, a supposedly racist state government in Mississippi and they are racist. But they invest more in their education than we do. We’re going to end that, in Springfield that’s what Mike Madigan and other lawmakers who prioritize our state budget that went along with it. I was a victim of it, if you were a student of CPS you were a victim of it. Other people were surpassing us but we didn’t know it because we were children and they were getting invested in more than us. And so look around at 28, 29, 30, 33 years old they are executives, they’re in media, they’re in government. They’re in a host of things and enjoying the spoils of a global economy, we’re not because we were not trained, we were not invested in. Its nothing wrong with us, it was something wrong with those state  politicians who allowed it happen and I’m taking one of them out with the help of people from the movement.”

QM: So being more specific are you saying that in regards to CPS’ education or Illinois in its entirety?

Preston: “Illinois in general. CPS is obviously where the most black and brown children, more specifically black from a historical context. That is where the large share of black and brown children attend school in Illinois, which is CPS and we have been underfunded for decades, the last in America. We have to get billions more dollars in order to treat these kids fair so they can be ready for this global economy they’re going to inherit.”

QM: Whats your take on CPS as an entity and what do you plan on implementing to reverse the school-to-prison pipeline?

Preston: “Well one of the things that’s extremely important, something I’ve been working on prior to running for office, is focusing on de-centralizing power. What do I mean by that? Right now one person gets to appoint the entire school board, that’s the mayor of Chicago.  That is why we find corruption because its a billion dollar budget that these folks have with contracts galore. One person should not be appointing all these people, they have to be accountable to the people who vote for them as well as the taxpayers. The way that we do that is by making certain that we have an elected school board. We have to force these people to run in elections and I think if we do that it would have to happen again at the state level. At the state level if we run a bill and make sure that it happens now, an elected school board, we’re going to have elections. In fact many other school boards districts, except for CPS, does it so we’re going in that direction. By the way, my opponent, in the 90s voted to make this law by having the Mayor of Chicago appoint the entire school board.”

QM: Regarding education, what is going to be your main focus?

Preston: “Science. Technology. Engineering. And mathematics. We all know what the recipe for the future success is going to be, we all know. But it takes billions of dollars, school should look radically different from when I was in school. In fact schools should look radically different from when my grandmother was there, but they don’t. My grandmother went to Gillespie and if she walks into a school on the south side of Chicago it’ll look identical to when she was a child. And that is a serious problem. So we need billions more dollars-“

QM: That means the architecture is old, and perhaps unsafe-

Preston: “Yes, the architecture is old, the technology is old, we’re very clear on that. When we think about lead and all these other things we have to consider the lack of investment we’ve made into our capital funding inside of our buildings, including our schools. To your question with schools, we need billions more dollars to invest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Making certain that these are at the core of what our children are learning. So that when they’re eighteen they’re not wondering, “What am I going to do now?” No, they’re going to school to actually prepare them for a career inside the industries that are going to be dominating the economy over the next decades. So, how do we get there? We need a progressive income tax, which I support. We need to be able to fund our schools not based on the property tax, that is regressive, it never has worked and its failed folks in our generation. Lets say J. B. Pritzker is worth seven billion dollars lets say I’m worth seven thousand dollars. We’re paying the exact same income tax, that’s a problem. For me, this is not a new idea however we have Republican states surrounding us such as Wisconsin and Indiana who back this. As you make more and more in your income, you just pay a higher rate, its that simple. And if we do that, this progressive income tax, and scale up the tax revenue we’ll generate from this will be billions of dollars. Enough money to be able to pay for the schools that I just envisioned. Imagine when we walk in schools and they were technologically relevant. Imagine if we walked into a school and instead of a green chalkboard, that my mother and grandmother were writing on, there were interactive white boards. Where children can interact with professionals who have different occupations such as farming, folks inside business, etc. We need to make certain we’re giving our children the opportunity to thrive and be successful. This is what the progressive income tax will help us pay for. I’m calling all people from the movement to get involved right now because this is a serious campaign. This is the campaign for those of us that’s in the movement. This is the campaign that we should target, we should take out an old incumbent who’s been there for thirty three years unopposed and put in one of our own. Lets actually get some results for our people. We haven’t seen anything out of this government but just a handful of people we don’t know. We don’t know them because we’re too busy trying to survive but there are people who are receiving billions upon billions of state money. No one knows them or interacts with them or are benefiting from them. Its time for us to go in a different direction, we need a #NewBreedofLeadership that’s thinking totally different from that. One that understands government, appreciates its history and also has a vision for the future as to what things can be. Imagine what it would be like if we had 14% of the states procurement budget. And I say we meaning black firms, you’re talking billions and billions of dollars. Its not a hard lift either, 14% going to black firms in our community. The thing for me is that we’re going to go down to Springfield and fight for 14% procurement for black firms. That is a win for everybody, that’s a win for black business owners who will create jobs within the community. Especially the ones who have nothing to do who are standing on the corner and this will prevent them from either going to jail or winding up in a casket. We’re going to offer something different for this community, we’re going to offer something different for the south side of Chicago. I’m not interested in giving individuals with power more power, these same folks and old contracts that have been used again and again. We need to get new contracts for new entrepreneurs. If we lean in as much as we possibly can up until the 20th they won’t have a choice but to see some black power politics coming out of the south side. We’re going to make it happen.”

The HUD Hustle

Will you help us stop the hustle hurting the hood?

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HUD rental assistance and Section 8 pays on average:

  • $1,000.00-$1,500.00 a month, for a year. That is $12,000-$18,000 that HUD spends per voucher holder!
  • $12,000-$18,000 a year x 10 yrs equals $120,000-$180,000! This is what HUD spends per voucher for Renting.
  • $12,000-$18,000 x 20 years equals $240,000-$360,000 per voucher for Renting.
  • $12,000-$18,000 x 30 years equals $360,000-$540,000 per voucher for Renting.

We submitted a plan that would take a section 8 voucher holder, and put them in a low risk Homeownership Pilot Program, and have them OWNING in 10- 20 years, depending on the portion of rent they pay.

  • The house can be protected from foreclosure by putting it in a Community Land Trust.

  • The same thing can be applied to multi family HUD units, like the Parkways on Stony Island, and Parkways on King Drive, using a cooperative housing model.

  • Rehabilitation of vacant properties, and development of new ones on vacant lots that require Community Controlled Development, and hiring of those who have lacked labor force participation.

This Pilot Program would reduce blight and crime in our communities, turn renters into community caring homeowners, create small business opportunities, contracts, and jobs for the unemployed and unemployable youth.

sdg-2030-bannerWe have several times, presented this to multiple congressional members on both sides; republicans and democrats, and participated in discussions with HUD and FHFA.

Discussions included multiple private sector financial institutions, and addition, discussed efficient ways to create low credit score and low income loan products.

To make this happen ourselves, all we have to do is organize as a collective on effective policy and programs that serve a purpose for our people.

Will you Help us stop the Hustle that is hurting our Hoods?

(IF INTERESTED, send email to antieviction@gmail.com, or leave your info in the contact form below)

PayitFwd
BringBackOwnership
DisciplineYourDollar
PushOnThePolicy
DuSomething
#chiantieviction
#chicagoantieviction 

http://www.chicagoantieviction.org

 

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Safeguard: Are We Safe from Corporate Trespass and Burglary?

PETITION: SAFEGUARD PROPERTIES – Mortgage Field Services

SIGN!!! —> https://www.change.org/p/antieviction-gmail-com-stop-safeguard-properties-from-burglarizing-violating-homeowners-who-are-in-foreclosure?recruiter=78920878&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg

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  • Lawsuit

 

On June 2013, the Attorney General’s Office made public information regarding a pending lawsuit it has against the government contracted property management company, Safeguard Properties. In a period following our nation’s largest housing crisis, which was brought about by deceptive lending practices by US banks, the housing sector delivers another blow to the livelihood and dignity of American taxpayers, through the county’s largest mortgage field servicer.

While carrying out evictions for the multiple mortgage servicers, Safeguard and its contractors violated and horrified already victimized homeowners, by trespassing and blocking humans from their homes, changing the locks on the properties, sometimes shutting off utilities midway through the foreclosure processes and burglarizing the residents, and traumatizing victims while, at times, illegally evicting families during the dangerously cold winter months. In several instances, Safeguard’s employees laid in wait, while unsuspecting victims went about the daily routines, and as they unknowingly left their homes vulnerable, the criminals would break into these homes illegally, and in some cases remove all of the victim’s belongings from the residence. The Illinois Attorney General’s Office found Safeguard Properties to have operated in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, 815 ILCS 505/2, as well as the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, 12 U.S.C. 5220.

It has been noted in the lawsuit, that Safeguard engaged in deceptive and fraudulent business practices, by knowingly and with ill-intent, providing consumers with false information pertaining to their rights, as tenants and homeowners, to remain in their properties until the foreclosure process was complete, and sometime until the end of their bona fide lease. All court proceedings were conducted in the Cook County Circuit Court, and in June of 2016, Safeguard settled the lawsuit for $1,000,000 to be awarded to victims within Illinois who filed a complaint with the state or Safeguard itself. “We the People” encourage all victims of Safeguards fraudulent and criminal practices to either encourage their state’s attorney general to bring a class-action lawsuit, and for each victim to bring criminal charges against this fraudulent company as well. We are setting up this petition to encourage all reputable banks and government entities to seize contracting out work to this criminal organization, and to thereby divert those contracts to local businesses within the communities that are being serviced. Please sign our petition to support our efforts to prevent fraudulent and criminal behavior by companies such as Safeguard Properties.  

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  • Services & Labor

 

Services:

Safeguard enters into contract with mortgage lenders, and servicers to provide Property Preservation Services, such as:

  1. Boarding up doorways- $100
  2. Changing locks- $60
  3. Padlocking the entrance- $40
  4. Shutting off utilities- $75
  5. Winterizing the Home- $185
  6. Removing debris from unoccupied property- $35 per cubic feet
  7. Removing a car- $120
  8. Occupancy status determination – $12

***Presenting cash-for-keys or deed in lieu of foreclosure offers***

Labor:

  • Safeguards becomes responsible for property preservations services when a homeowner becomes delinquent or defaults on his/her mortgage.
  • Instructs Illinois subcontractor to inspect property in order to determine occupancy status.
  • Once Safeguard deems a property to be vacant, it instructs the subcontractor to secure the property by boarding up doorways, winterizing the property, changing locks and placing padlocks on the door, and shutting off utilities.
  • Inspect and preserve home throughout and after foreclosure process

 

Labor Complaints: https://www.complaintboard.com/safeguard-properties-l4970.html

http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/safeguard-properties/brooklyn-heights-ohio-44131/safeguard-properties-lies-to-its-workers-its-contractors-are-not-getting-paid-what-they-e-404228

SIGN!!! —> https://www.change.org/p/antieviction-gmail-com-stop-safeguard-properties-from-burglarizing-violating-homeowners-who-are-in-foreclosure?recruiter=78920878&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg

#14 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Safeguard Properties Internet Fraud

AUTHOR: Micontractor – (U.S.A.)

SUBMITTED: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

It appears that what Safeguard Properties is doing by not paying its contractors is Internet Fraud. All of the communications regarding pricing, invoicing, adjustments, work orders, ect. are done either through Safeguard Properties vendor web site or through e-mail. If you are a contractor who has been scammed by Safeguard Properties this apparently constitutes internet fraud by the FBI definition. I would encourage any contractors who have been shorted payments for services provided to Safeguard Properties to file a complaint on the FBI website under “Internet Fraud”, the link is:

 

http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/internetschemes.htm

 

Good luck, we all deserve our hard earned money.

 

Mommabear1202 Send email

Dec 27, 2016

Lost home in fire

My home was destroyed in fire i

and we had some belongings outside some of which were from home. A couple weeks went buy my boyfriend had went by the house to see if the garage was ok an what was left of the property there was a man there with a trailor and had loaded everything up outside (picnic table, grill, chairs photo albums, stroller and can’t forget to mention my flower pots that had plants in them but dumped all my flowers out, there was along t of other things as well as burnt things) also he was getting ready to change the locks on garage. He told him my our home was being forclosed an he had an order to come there an secure it. He had me come up there and don’t tiron he didn’t hear a mouth full. This guy working for safeguard was getting ready to take all my belongings to the dump. I made him take what things were still good off that @#$% trailor my home was not getting forclosed i mean we just lost everything an he was there taking the rest. The bastard still got away with my antique vases, propane tank to grill, & cast iron skillets . I’m so disgusted i conet even think straight. No one has evet appologized for any of it either.

 

czultowski Send email

Jul 13, 2016

non payment, consistant charge backs

I cannot believe we have lasted 17 grueling and arduous years with this company. They have literally sucked our entire savings dry with their consistent charge backs and non payment of invoices.
They send you to a property, APPROVE your bids, PAY you and then CHARGE YOU BACK! Just yesterday we got a charge back for $1099.99! That job is months old. They don’t care. We have got charge back that are 5 years old! What is wrong with these people?
They will have you drive 75+ miles one way to submit a bid at your cost.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, these people are crooks. They have no compassion for the loyalty of their contractors, and seniority certainly does not mean anything. 17 years!!! We started with them when we had to mail them photos, before digital even existed.
Why am i paying $421/month for a $1,000,000 E & O Insurance Policy with York-Jersey Underwriters? We do not make enough money to even cover it anymore!
There is so much more, they stick it to you every single chance they get. They are making a fortune!! If they take $1000 from each contractor per month, and they have A LOT of contractors, well, do the math. it is sickening.
Something needs to be done. We need a class action law suit!!

 

Firefighter Send email

Mar 26, 2016

Being told we have to fake photos

I worked for a large preservation company. A few of them actually. This is a very corupt industry. These companies are making millions of dollars ripping off banks and real estate companies. I have emails and live recordings of these poeple telling us to fake photos of work that is not needed to be done . I’m not sure what my next move should be and could use some advice. I do not even make enough to my bills or care for my kids, but yet they have us falsifying photos so they can collect tons of money while we struggle to get buy. Any advice on what I should do or who I should call. That do not deserve the contract or to be making tons of money by making there employees lie.

 

 

  • Legal

 

Safeguards headquarters is located at 7887 Safeguard Circle, Valley View, Ohio, but the company is incorporated in the State of Delaware.

In its contracts with its clients, Safeguard assumes responsibility for all work performed by employees, subcontractors, and any agents of the company.

  • Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law 735 ILCS 5/15-1504.5, 1508.5, and 1701
  • Forcible Entry and Detainer Act, 735 ILCS 5/9-101 and 102
  • Consumer Fraud Act, 815 ILCS 505/2
  • Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, 12 U.S.C. 5220

 

  • Proposal of Repercussion

jr-bank-3

 

Enact any and all consequences that can be imposed on a business that engages in unethical business practices in the state of Illinois:

  1. Injunction, revocation, forfeiture or suspension of any licenses, charter, franchise, certificate or other evidence of authority of any person to do business in this state
  2. $50,000 fine imposed by court for each individual, during each instance, where a Safeguard employee violated the rights granted to consumers under the Consumer Fraud Act without the intent to defraud; if the courts should find that Safeguard and/or its employees committed these acts with the intent to defraud, We the People pray the court to impose a civil penalty of an additional $50,000 per violation, and an extra $10,000 per violation if the crime was committed against a person 65 years of age or older.  
  3. Bar Safeguard from receiving any government contracts within the State of Illinois.  

Author: Eugene “Geno” Stanley

SIGN!!! —> https://www.change.org/p/antieviction-gmail-com-stop-safeguard-properties-from-burglarizing-violating-homeowners-who-are-in-foreclosure?recruiter=78920878&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg

A Letter to Trump: Divestment vs. Investment

kids3

Dear Mr. Trump,

Chicago is a global city, and if anyone knows that, it would most certainly be you; a man who owns prime real estate in one of the world’s most appealing locations for tourists, and business professionals. There is an elephant in the room though; there has been a stark contrast in the divestment versus investment when assessing the micro economies that clearly exist within this city. That could very well be a bit of the brush that was ignited when your campaign was disrupted in this very city. No apologies are in line for the actions of my brothers and sisters of this struggle that you can never understand; you can only learn to empathize with the plight of African descendants within this country. Though I don’t hold all the same values, and thought processes of my fellow activists, I do stand in solidarity with their dedication to fight injustice with proportionate force. With that said, I do believe in your claim to have an agenda to bring America into its full potential of being the greatest nation, not only on the planet, but the greatest nation that we can become. Enough small talk, as I’m sure you have a lot of work to do; Chicago’s Public School system is a bridge built on sand, and that sand is Rahm Emmanuel, City Counsel, Barbara Byrd-Bennet, our long-standing clergymen with political affiliation, and the perspective of the American people that this problem is isolated, or unable to be corrected.

In 2013, my elected officials closed a record breaking 48 schools at one time; the largest scale school closing ever in U.S. history. The decision to devastate 12,000 elementary school students was blamed on a $1 Billion deficit brought on by decades of misappropriated funds, and a scandal that placed an interesting criminal light on our prior mayor. We understand how a deficit could call for the need to bring expenses lower than income, but what we don’t comprehend is why every social and economic experiment in this country has to be conducted at the expense of the quality of life of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens; minorities specifically, and moderate-low to very-low income families. If you’re inquiring as to why I’m crying over spilled milk; well, because that now spoiled milk is being force fed to us as yogurt, and it smells bad.kids1

In May of this year, the city began a quest to acquire an old post office location, and they proposed plans to transform that location into a new middle school. The project in total will cost $55 Million, and $11 Million in Tax Increment Funding (TIF) has been allocated to this project, that will benefit families within close proximity to the southern outskirts of the downtown area; an area comprised of mostly middle income families, and high income families that were able to survive the gentrification efforts pushed following the demolition of Chicago’s public housing project buildings (i.e. Cabrini Green Housing Projects). This is a concern of the African American community, because we have continually been forced to watch the spoils of us being robbed, being redistributed to those who didn’t need the resources in the first place.kids4

Contrary to popular belief, the African American community has no desire to continue to exist as a welfare community; one dependent upon foreign businesses and investors. We have no desire to dwell on where blame for our economic enslavement should be placed; we are clear on how we got to this position, but more importantly aware and ready to take the steps to bring us out of our social and economic incarceration. We understand that you have no authority to intervene in locally approved plans for development, but we do have a request.

Please redirect 30% of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and ecenomic development dollars to grassroots organizations and small businesses within their respective communities, the very organizations and businesses that create the micro-economic changes that “We the People” desire to see.

We would like to see a national effort to redirect CRA and economic development monies into a community controlled mechanism. Our community is in dire need of small business investment plan that acknowledges the disparities in capital, credit, and collateral that has been created by a long-existing system of oppression (relative barriers of entry into business). What we are really requesting is a small business startup and stimulus package that will help create healthy and self-sustainable communities; a major and bold push towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

 

 

Works Cited

City of Chicago: Tax Increment Financing . (2016, September 14). Retrieved December 23, 2016, from City of Chicago: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/provdrs/tif/news/2016/july/tif-proposed-for-new-south-loop-elementary-school.html

Jr., J. P. (2015, January 22). Study looks at aftermath of Chicago school closings in 2013. Chicago Tribune.

Marisa de la Torre, M. F. (2015). Schools Closings in Chicago: Understanding Familie’s Choices and Constraints for New School Enrollment . Chicago: University of Chicago.

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, J. C. (2013, May 23). CPS approves largest school closure in Chicago’s history. Chicago Tribune.

 

 

The American 1%: Social Class Divide on Crack

Who Rules the United States?

The United States of America is supposed to be, by design, a representative democracy, but who really runs the United States? Two perspectives that hypothesize on who runs the United States is the functionalist and conflict perspectives.

 

140125121707-obama-sotu-2013-story-top
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama focused his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy. (Photo by Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty Images)

Crucial to this question, is a sound understanding of the fundamental reasoning that make up both perspectives; the demand and supply of authority. Also key, is an understanding of citizenship, democracy, and capitalism. Lastly, it is imperative to have a strong grasp on the U.S. Political Infrastructure, and how all these factors are waged into the arguments of the functionalist and conflict perspectives. The first step in this inquisition is to come to an agreed definition of authority, which is the common goal of any government; the monopoly over power and the use of violence.

 

Authority and You!

Authority, is the extension of power by one group, or government, over the larger population of people within a defined territory. Functionalists view states, or governments, as having arisen from the necessity of social groups, to protect the masses of people from anarchy, which is unrestrained disorder and crime. Conflict theorists would agree that an unrestrained government is detrimental, but they differ in that they believe the current government to be functioning in a way that doesn’t contribute to the welfare and longevity of its citizens. There are three types of authority that societies recognize: traditional authority, rational-legal authority, and charismatic authority. Traditional authority is the type of authority that is extended over a social group by way of culture and customs. Rational-legal authority is a type of authority that is recognized by the people as legitimate due to its establishment in the laws of the land. Charismatic authority is the type of power offered to individuals based on their outstanding traits, which prompt others to follow them. This brings us to the question of the natural forces that bring people within a defined territory together; citizenship.

Citizenship: Consented Violence

Citizenship is the concept that birth (residence or naturalization), is the basis upon which individuals are afforded basic rights. This is one of the great benefits of this country; this is the idolized land of opportunity. The place where anyone can become Steve Jobs. The part of the story they leave out is that during that struggle for opportunity, you will face unfathomable obstacles, and if you are a woman or a person of color, you will encounter far more pressing odds on your pursuit to the American dream. Poverty and social class divisions do exist in this country, which brings us to the concept of universal citizenship, which addresses discrimination with its emphasis on everyone having the same basic rights. Now, let’s focus in on the guiding principles of this country. Before we dive more into the country’s political infrastructure, let’s get an understanding of capitalism, and how it plays a role in our country’s social makeup.

corporate

Capitalism: The American Nightmare

Capitalism, is the concept around which the private ownership of the means of production, and the desire and pursuit of profit controls the supply and demand of economic markets. There are two types of capitalism that currently exist in societies: lassiez-faire capitalism, and welfare capitalism. Laissez-faire capitalism is unrestrained by government, and is commonly called hands-off capitalism. Welfare capitalism is a form of capitalism where government encourages the private ownership of land, but regulates capitalism to ensure the welfare of the masses of the nation’s population. Conflict theorists coined the name power elite, to refer to the 1% of Americans, made up of the super-rich, heads of military, top legislators, but most importantly, the heads of this country’s top corporations. They say that it is this small group of individuals who make the decisions that control the major functioning of the United States of America. This brings us to how both the functionalists and conflict perspectives view capitalism, as it relates to the U.S. political infrastructure.

The U.S. Political Infrastructure

The infrastructure of the United States political system is bipartisan, with several smaller roadways that we will collectively refer to as third parties. Minus the presence of these almost non-existent third parties, the U.S. political system is dominated by democrats and republicans. Democrats are associated publicly with advocating for the welfare of the masses of the population. Republicans are associated publicly with advocating for the interest of the wealthy. The supposed common denominator is that both parties adopt the philosophy of free education, a strong military, and the freedom of religion, speech, and assembly of the American people. Functionalists view this system of representative democracy, fused with the safe guard of this system’s checks and balances system, as sufficient and effective, as it grew directly from the need of the people to have a government. They also see capitalism as necessary, as both parties of this country’s bipartisan arrangement view capitalism as essential to the welfare of our economy. Conflict theorist, on the reverse, sees the influence of capitalism on policy, as an illegitimate form of control (coercion) of the people by corporations; the power elite, or ruling class. This power elite is comprised of the super-rich 1% of Americans, who head the country’s top corporations, are top ranking military officials, and are our country’s most influential elected officials. The conflict perspective also provides an analysis on the hierarchy of the power elite group. The three groups are not equal in power, but because all three segments of the group view capitalism as crucial to American economy, corporations wield more power in this group makeup.

power elite

In Context: Functionalist and Conflict Perspectives

There are two perspectives on who rules the United States of America; the functionalist and conflict perspectives. Authority is the extension of power over the people, fused with the exclusive monopoly on the use of violence. Key to answering this question, is the gaining of understanding around both the functionalist and conflict theories. Also important, is the understanding of authority, capitalism, and democracy. Lastly, you must have a sound understanding of capitalism, and how it is perceived to fit into the scheme of the United Stets political infrastructure. No one perspective covers each point that I believe is important and accurate, and no one party can represent all the ideals of every constituent, but understanding who makes the decisions in this country is key to understanding how to change the decisions that are being made to cause latent dysfunctions in our economy. Signing off, but never offline!

Written by: Eugene Stanley

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With 209 People Shot and 34 Killed in Chicago So Far This Year, Protestors Who Shut Down “Mag Mile” Seek to Shut Down Violence in Black Community

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Today, the same organizations that joined together to put launch the 2015 Black Friday protest on Chicago’s infamous “Mag Mile” held a demonstration to denounce police terror, as well as Black on Black violence. A brief press conference was held with “The Final Call”, then the freedom fighters traveled from 75th & Dorchester to 79th & Cottage Grove to raise awareness on the UN Conference to be held at Chicago State University on January 24th & 25th. The soldiers also took a firm stance against the ongoing plague of poverty induced violence that has led to 209 people being shot, and 34 of those victims dying from their sustained injuries, in just the first few weeks of the year. The current state of African’s in this country is sickening, but I can personally attest to the fact that immediate economic and social intervention is needed in Chicago. It is this truth that compels me to the front-line of this battle against an ancient and dying machine.

I left the south-side of Chicago for the first time when I went to the United States Navy. It was a huge culture shock for me. This was my first encounter with Europeans besides being victimized, profiled, and discriminated against by the police because my ancestors built pyramids, and lived on a resourced enriched land. When I stepped off the bus I was too shocked to focus on anybody’s behaviors besides my own, but when I was stationed aboard a Naval ship, I got to observe these people closer.

Up to this point, I had only read narratives, and brief descriptions about slavery; but my most accurate briefing came from watching tapes of the television show Roots, that aired in 1977. I wound up traveling through a season in my life in which I was heavily and constantly numbed by alcohol. I reached out to the Navy chaplain, and was receiving assistance. After getting into an alcohol related incident on base where I passed out and stopped breathing, I found myself standing in front of a group of white men in tan uniforms. There was one black man, but he didn’t do any talking; he just stared. For 10 minutes, these Naval chiefs attempted to tear pride and dignity from me through a form of verbal degradation only befitting for an animal. What they didn’t know was that my pride is in my heart, and that can never be taken; it can only be relinquished.

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It was this event, along with an overwhelmingly majority of my interactions with these people, that pushed me to make an informed decision not to trust them. I determined, through interaction with a few very great people that were European, that I couldn’t hate them, but I surely knew that I had to protect myself and my family from them by any means necessary. This is what compels me to speak and build rapport with the young African youth in my neighborhood. This is what made me go out to protest after being fired days before Christmas for telling a European at my workplace that I wouldn’t allow anyone from management to confiscate my phone, and what ultimately led me to assisting in this process of hosting this United Nations fact finding mission.

The United Nations has assigned a work group (Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent) to visit Chicago and take testimony on the Human Rights violations against people of African descent in the United States. The mission is to take testimony from civil society, and state and city representatives on the condition and plight of African Americans within the U.S. With the current climate of public disdain towards Chicago’s current Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Governor Rauner, and the Chicago Police Department, this investigation into the human rights violations that taken place throughout this nation’s history stands to be a monumental milestone in the African fight for fairness within the United States.

The United Nations Conference will be held at the Chicago State University Library Auditorium. On Sunday, the events will take place between the times of 50 pm and 7 pm; the public is urged to arrive early, as seats are claimed on a first come first serve basis. This is a major accomplishment for people of African Descent around the world, and we highly encourage families to come as units, showing a strong engagement and interest in the futures of all of our youth.

Written By: Eugene ‘Geno’ Stanley

 

https://twitter.com/genodagreat
https://facebook.com/theonlygeno

Website:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx
http://chicagoantieviction.org/

http://nationalblackagendaconsortium.org/

http://www.blackstarproject.org/

Special Thanks:

  • Willie ‘JR’ Flemming – Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign
  • Iva Carruthers
  • Pat Hill
  • Vicki Casanova
  • Stan Willis-Groups
  • Human Rights Network
  • The Black Star Project
  • National Black Agenda Consortium
  • N’COBRA – Chicago
  • African Development Plan
  • F.L.Y. Fearless Leading by the Youth
  • Justice or Else (NOI – The Final Call)
  • Paleo-Americans First Inc. & Tepiu-aui-Ra
  • Midwest Black Law Student Association
  • Attorney Stan-Willis
  • Shakira Brown