Press Releases and Public Relations

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Dana Nessel, President, Fair Michigan Foundation
4300 Penobscot Building
645 Griswold Street
Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: 313-556-2300, 877-4FAIRMI (877-432-4764)
Email: DanaNessel@FairMichigan.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Two Detroit Men Charged With Assault with Intent to Murder, Other Crimes, in Armed Robbery of Transgender Woman

DETROIT – November 19, 2017 – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, with the assistance of the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), charged two Detroit men, Charles Marion Brown, 21 (DOB: 6/9/96), and Jujuan Alexon Williams, 19 (DOB: 8/2/9/98), with assault with intent to commit murder and other crimes in connection with an armed robbery of a transgender woman on November 17, 2017.

It is alleged that Brown and Williams accosted their victim in the 17800 block of Woodward Avenue at about 1:50 a.m.  Brown, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, and Williams exited a red GMC Yukon and told the victim to drop everything and run.  The victim dropped her purse and ran.  Brown fired five shots, three of which stuck the victim as she ran away, while Williams picked up her purse.  Detroit police officers responded to the scene and received a description of the getaway vehicle.  The officers located the vehicle, gave chase, and apprehended Williams and the rifle after the Yukon jumped a curb and stopped.  Brown escaped on foot.  The police apprehended Brown on November 18, 2017. The victim has been hospitalized in stable condition.

Brown, the alleged shooter, has been charged with assault with intent to commit murder, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, armed robbery resulting in serious injury, armed robbery, fleeing and eluding, use of a firearm in connection with a felony, felon in possession of a firearm, and being a habitual offender – second offense.

Williams is charged with armed robbery resulting in serious injury, armed robbery, use of a firearm in connection with a felony, felon in possession of a firearm, and being a habitual offender – fourth offense.

The charged offenses for both defendants involve felonies which are punishable by up to life in prison.

The case was assigned to Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz of the FMJP, which is collaboration between the Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan.   FMJP is a program that assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.

Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel said, “On the eve of the national Transgender Day of Remembrance, this case illustrates the horrific acts of violence to which transgender persons are subject.  The Fair Michigan Justice Project, in association with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department, was established to provide LGBTQ individuals with an effective, focused, and tenacious team dedicated to investigating, prosecuting, and solving crimes against the community.  We applaud the Detroit Police officers whose quick response and investigation brought the defendants into custody.”

The defendants will be arraigned tomorrow in the 36th District Court in Detroit.

*The charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Dana Nessel
President, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.
DanaNessel@fairmichigan.org
(313) 556-2300

Maria Miller
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Director of Communications
mmiller@waynecounty.com
(313) 224-5817

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fair Michigan Justice Project Successfully Prosecutes LBGTQ Crimes

On July 12, 2016, Fair Michigan and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office (WCPO) formed the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP) partnership to focus on homicides and other capital offenses committed against members of the LGBTQ community. This effort is funded by Fair Michigan at no cost to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office; Fair Michigan is a 501(c)(3). This initiative is one of the first of its kind in the nation.   http://www.fairmichigan.org/fair-michigan-justice-project/

 

Fair Michigan and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office prosecute crimes against members of the LGBTQ community, especially those which are “cold” or those where witnesses or LGBTQ community members may be reluctant to come forward.  The networking ability and outreach of Fair Michigan assists in reaching potential witnesses to resolve difficult cases.

 

Fair Michigan Justice Project Case Summaries

In the past year FMJP has advance the cause of criminal justice and public safety in Metro Detroit by prosecuting the following cases.

 

Steven Edwards – The defendant assaulted the victim with a firearm while filming it, stating that he hated black gays. The defendant went on an hours-long rant about hating gay people and posted it on social media.

Convicted:  Felonious Assault, Felony Firearm

Sentence:  Two years in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), three years probation on Felonious Assault

 

Iyesha Porter – The defendant discovered her teenage daughter was seeing another girl, picked her up from school and beat her while calling her anti-gay names.

Convicted:  Child Abuse – Third Degree

Sentence:  Two years Probation / Parenting Classes / Anger Management

 

Anthony Thornton – The defendant held a transgender man against his will and raped him.

Convicted:  Two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct – First Degree, Unlawful Imprisonment

Sentence: 15 years to 30 years in MDOC.

 

Devin Higgins – The defendant targeted gay men on-line, lured them into sexual banter, then claimed his young child had seen pictures of their genitals. He said would contact police if he did not receive the money.  The defendant did not have a child. The victim turned over $1500 before going to police.  Defendant was  also prosecuted federally for the same contact and extorting over $70,000 from another victim.

Convicted:  Extortion

Sentence:  Three and a half years – 20 years in MDOC

 

Byron Wade – The defendant threatened a gay man with a knife for no other reason than being gay.

Convicted:  Felonious Assault

Sentence: Three years probation, one year in Wayne County Jail

 

Jason Hogan – The defendant shot a transgender prostitute in the face after paying for sex acts.

Convicted:  Assault With Intent to Murder, Felony Firearm

Sentence:  Eighty-one months – 20 years in MDOC plus two years for Felony firearm

 

Kaleel Williams – The defendant met victim online; victim told Williams he was male and not female, Williams agreed to meet.    At the meeting spot, the defendant arrived with latex gloves.   When victim refused to get in the car, defendant called him a gay ass bitch and shot him twice in the back as he ran away.

Convicted:  Assault With Intent to Murder, Felony Firearm

Sentence:   Four and ½ years – 20 years plus two years for Felony Firearm

Sean Nathan – The defendant brother’s boyfriend had a fight over household responsibilities while calling the victim anti-gay names. The defendant stabbed the victim during the fight.

Convicted:  Felonious Assault

Sentence:  One year WCJ, three years Probation, Drug Treatment, Psych Eval and treatment, 180 days on tether upon release

The defendant was also convicted of Felonious Assault  on a separate case and received a  sentence concurrent with the case  above.

Pending cases

People v. Joshua Amos – Armed Robbery

People v. Andrew Czarnecki & Hameer Alkotait – Murder – First Degree, Mutilation of a Dead Body

People v. Anthony Thornton – Criminal Sexual Conduct – First Degree – (second victim)

*The charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Statement of FM President Dana Nessel

President of Fair Michigan Justice Project Dana Nessel said, “During a time when we commemorate the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, and when hate crimes against the LGBTQ community have risen exponentially across the nation, I am comforted to know that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the law enforcement agencies in Wayne County have made such extraordinary efforts to partner with Fair Michigan in finding new and innovative ways to combat these brutal offenses. I am especially grateful to Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who recognized the need to take action to combat vicious acts against a class of people who were falling through the cracks of the criminal justice system. Thanks to the Fair Michigan Justice Project, the LGBTQ community in Wayne County can be assured that their lives and their safety truly matter and that the criminal justice system in our county will treat them with the respect and dignity deserved by all people.”

Statement of Prosecutor Kym Worthy

Prosecutor Kym Worthy said, “I am very proud of our work here. This collaboration has been even more successful than imagined. The cases that we have prosecuted would most likely have been ignored and certainly justice is now slowly being afforded. Our work has been so fruitful that we are seeking funding for another prosecutor and investigator. Clearly, members of the LGBTQ community are safer and more engaged since the WCPO and Fair Michigan partnered on this Project.”

 

Dana Nessel
President, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.
DanaNessel@fairmichigan.org
877-4FAIR-MI

Maria Miller
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Director of Communications
mmiller@waynecounty.com
(313) 224-5817

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Port Huron Man Charged With Kidnapping, Multiple Rapes and Unlawful Imprisonment After Old Rape Kits are Processed

DETROIT – January 25, 2017 – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, with the assistance of the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), charged Anthony Thornton, 46 (DOB: 7/15/70), of Port Huron, with kidnapping, multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct and unlawful imprisonment.

It is alleged that, on April 20, 2010, Thornton met his first victim, a lesbian, at the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) homeless shelter in Detroit.  The victim accompanied Thornton and two other men to an abandoned house to drink and smoke.   When victim attempted to leave, Thornton and the other men held her down and took turns raping her.

It is also alleged that, on March 8, 2011, Thornton’s second victim was invited to a home in Detroit by a friend.  When the victim arrived, the friend was not there but Thornton was.   Thornton overpowered the victim and raped her.  Thornton only stopped his attack when he heard someone at the door.   The victim was able to escape through a back window and immediately reported the crime.

For these two cases, Thornton has been charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of kidnapping, and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.  First-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping are felonies punishable by up to life in prison.  Second-degree criminal sexual conduct and unlawful imprisonment are felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The cases were assigned to Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz of the FMJP, which is collaboration between the Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.   FMJP is a program that assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.

Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel said, “These cases illustrate the tragedy of Michigan’s failure to quickly process thousands of rape kits in Detroit and the importance of Prosecutor Worthy’s longtime crusade to bring the perpetrators of sex crimes to justice. An accused serial rapist evaded justice for years, and the victims’ demands for justice were unaddressed. The Fair Michigan Justice Project, in association with the Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police, is proud to take up these cold cases and finally deliver justice to the women and LGBT individuals who were victimized.”

Thornton was arraigned on January 24, 2017, and was given a $100,000 cash bond.  The probable cause conference will be held on January 31, 2017. The preliminary examination is scheduled for February 7, 2017, in front of Judge Shannon A. Holmes of the 36th District Court.

About Fair Michigan

Fair Michigan is a 501(c)(3) corporation that actively solicits funding for its programs aimed at ending discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. For more details, visit www.fairmichigan.org.

Dana Nessel
President, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.
DanaNessel@fairmichigan.org
877-4FAIR-MI

Maria Miller
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Director of Communications
mmiller@waynecounty.com
(313) 224-5817

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Detroit Man Charged With Assault with Intent to Commit Murder and Felony Firearm After Shooting Transgender Woman

DETROIT – January 25, 2017 –  Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, with the assistance of the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), charged Jason L. Hogan, 26 (DOB: 3/1/90), of Detroit, with assault with intent to commit murder, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

It is alleged that, on January 13, 2017, Hogan met the victim, a transgender woman, and arranged to pay for sexual activity in the back of his car.  After performing a sex act, Hogan shot the victim in the face with a 9mm Ruger handgun.  The victim escaped from Hogan, and sought treatment for her injury at Grace Hospital.

From January 13 to January 22, 2017, an investigation by Detroit Police officers led to Hogan’s arrest.  Hogan has been charged with assault with intent to commit murder, a felony punishable by up to life in prison, along with possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony, which is punishable by two years in prison.

The case was assigned to Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz of the FMJP, which is a collaboration between the Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.   FMJP is a program that assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.

Fair Michigan Director of Transgender Outreach Julisa Abad said, “This case highlights the mortal danger faced by transgender individuals in Michigan.  Since Michigan law permits employment discrimination against LGBTQ residents, trans people sometimes must resort to sex work in order to survive, which puts them at extreme risk of criminal violence.  It is incredibly encouraging to know that The Fair Michigan Justice Project, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department have stated, in no uncertain terms, that violence against the Trans community is unacceptable under any circumstances and that these agencies stand ready to aggressively prosecute these brutal crimes committed.”

Hogan was arraigned on January 24, 2017, and was given a $250,000 cash bond.  The probable cause conference will be held on January 31, 2017. The preliminary examination is scheduled for February 6, 2017, in front of Judge Kenneth J. King of the 36th District Court.

Dana Nessel
President, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.
DanaNessel@fairmichigan.org
877-4FAIR-MI

Maria Miller
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Director of Communications
mmiller@waynecounty.com
(313) 224-5817

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Detroit Mother Charged With Assault and Felony Child Abuse After Attacking Her Daughter for Lesbian Love Letter

DETROIT – November 28, 2016 – Prosecutor Kym Worthy, with the assistance of the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), charged Iyesha K. Porter, 34, of Detroit, with felony child abuse, and assault and battery.

It is alleged that, on November 11, 2016, Porter found a love letter between her 15 year-old daughter and another girl. Porter signed her daughter out of school, brought her home, confronted her and then began to hit her, kick her, and pushed her into a wall while calling her gay slurs.

On November 11, 2016, an investigation led by Detroit Police Department officers led to Porter’s arrest. The daughter was placed in her father’s custody. Porter has been charged with third-degree Child Abuse, a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, along with misdemeanor child abuse, and assault and battery.

The case was assigned to Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell-Horowitz of the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), which is a collaboration between the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.  FMJP is a program that assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.

Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel said, “This case is an unfortunate example of the physical and mental harm that LGBTQ youths suffer when their sexual orientation is discovered by hostile family members. The Fair Michigan Justice Project, in association with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department, stands ready to aggressively prosecute these brutal crimes committed against members of the LGBTQ community.”

The defendant was arraigned on November 17, 2016, and was given a $5,000 bond. The probable cause conference was held on November 21, 2016. The preliminary examination is scheduled for November 29, 2016 before Judge Kenneth King of the 36th District Court.

Dana Nessel
President, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.
DanaNessel@fairmichigan.org
877-4FAIR-MI
 

Maria Miller
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Director of Communications
mmiller@waynecounty.com
(313) 224-5817

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Detroit Man Convicted of Felonious Assault, Weapons Charges in July Assault on a Gay Man

DETROIT – November 28, 2016 – The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, with the assistance of the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), announced the conviction of a Detroit man who threatened a gay man with a gun last July.

On July 17, 2016, Stephen Drake Edwards, 20, of Detroit, pulled gun on a 23-year-old Detroit man, while yelling homophobic slurs and recording the incident with his cell phone camera. Edwards later posted the video of the incident on his Twitter account and taunted the police via appearances on Periscope.  Edwards was convicted of felonious assault and felony firearm. The victim contacted FMJP, and FMJP’s Special Prosecutor Jamie Powell Horowitz sought and was authorized to bring maximum charges against Edwards.

On November 22, 2016, Edwards pled guilty shortly before his scheduled trial date. Edwards will appear before Judge Talon on December 14, 2016, to be sentenced.  He faces a two-year sentence for the firearm conviction, and up to four years for the felony assault.

The FMJP is a collaboration between the Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.  FMJP is a program that assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving and prosecuting serious crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.

Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel said, “Stephen Edwards targeted the victim in this case for no other reason than that he is a gay man. This incident took place only hours following the formation of our task force and this case perfectly illustrates the dangers LGBTQ people face every day in our community, and the desperate need for this project.” Nessel further stated, “We established the Fair Michigan Justice Project to provide targeted resources to the Prosecutor’s Office and community police departments to address crimes against the LGBTQ community.  We are grateful for the dedication of our staff, the Prosecutor’s Office, and the Detroit Police Department in bringing Mr. Edwards to justice. We hope this conviction serves as a warning to all persons who commit crimes against LGBTQ people.”

Powell Horowitz added, “Gun violence is an epidemic in our community and, unfortunately, LGBTQ persons are disproportionately affected due to the high level of hate crimes committed against them. I am relieved that Mr. Edwards faces a mandatory prison sentence so that others will not be subjected to the fear and violence this defendant utilized social media to disseminate. I am proud to be part of this innovative project which I believe is having a significant impact on the safety of the community, and I am grateful to Prosecutor Worthy for her support of this important work.”

About Fair Michigan

Fair Michigan is a 501(c)(3) corporation that actively solicits funding for its programs aimed at ending discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. For more details, visit www.fairmichigan.org.

Dana Nessel
President, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.
DanaNessel@fairmichigan.org
877-4FAIR-MI
 

Maria Miller
Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Director of Communications
mmiller@waynecounty.com
(313) 224-5817

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WAYNE COUNTY PROSECUTOR AND FAIR MICHIGAN COLLABORATE TO ISSUE MICHIGAN’S FIRST-EVER TRANSGENDER INTERACTION POLICY

Policy Requires Prosecutors to treat Transgender, Intersex, and Gender-Nonconforming Individuals in a Manner Appropriate to the Individual’s Gender Identity

DETROIT – November 3, 2016 – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, in association with Fair Michigan, a Michigan non-profit corporation seeking to end discrimination against persons based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity, has announced the issuance of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Policy on Transgender Interaction. The policy requires employees in the Prosecutor’s Office to treat transgender, intersex, and gender-nonconforming individuals in a manner appropriate to the individual’s gender identity, which may be different from the sex the individual was assigned at birth or listed on official identification documents.

Regardless of the individual’s appearance, Prosecutor’s Office employees should classify an individual’s gender identity in accordance with statements or requests made by the individual, such as if the individual asks the employee to use different pronouns. In addition, employees should address transgender individuals by their chosen name, which might differ from the name that is on their government-issued identification.  Employees shall not refer to any person in a derogatory manner because of their gender identity or gender expression.

“We strive at ‎this office to treat everyone that walks through our doors with dignity and respect. This is a great tool to facilitate this,” stated Prosecutor Worthy.  “We want to make sure that we do not unknowingly offend anyone that we are trying to help.  No one is immune from the guidance that this policy provides.‎ Hopefully this can be adopted widely.”

“The Transgender Interaction policy marks a significant step forward for the rights of Michigan residents,” said civil rights attorney Dana Nessel, president of Fair Michigan and a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor.  “This policy is the first in the state to require prosecutors and staff to recognize a basic human right for transgender individuals: recognition of, and respect for, a core aspect of their identity.  Fair Michigan is proud to have assisted the Prosecutor’s Office in developing this essential and transformative policy.”

Fair Michigan Justice Project staff attorney, Jaimie Powell Horowitz worked closely with the Prosecutor’s Office to develop the policy, which promises to enhance productive interactions between prosecutors and crime victims and witnesses who are transgender.  In July, Prosecutor Worthy appointed Ms. Powell Horowitz as Special Prosecutor for the Fair Michigan Justice Project, which investigates and prosecutes cases of serious criminal conduct involving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) victims targeted based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of this action,” said Julisa Abad, Fair Michigan’s Transgender Outreach Coordinator.  “A person’s gender identity involves one’s innermost concept of how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.  This policy requires that each person’s gender identity be recognized and respected.”

Ms. Nessel predicted that the Transgender Interaction policy will serve as a model for law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices throughout the state.  “By implementing the Transgender Interaction Policy, Wayne County is demonstrating to the rest of Michigan how to ensure that gender identity is never again ignored or misconstrued when gender-nonconforming people interact with criminal justice officials.”

About Fair Michigan

Fair Michigan is a 501(c)(3) corporation that actively solicits funding for its programs aimed at ending discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. For more details, visit www.fairmichigan.org.

###

Contact:

Dana Nessel

President, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.

DanaNessel@fairmichigan.org

(313) 556-2300

 

Maria  Miller

Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

Director of Communications

mmiller@waynecounty.com

(313) 224-5817

 

Fair Michigan Justice Project Assigned New WCPO LGBTQ Hate Crime Case in Detroit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: September 12, 2016

DETROIT- Fair Michigan, a Detroit-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced today that its recently formed ‘Justice Project’. The Fair Michigan Justice Project is in conjunction with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.  Ms. Jaimie Powell Horowitz, has been designated a special prosecutor by Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy.   She will handle both new and “cold” cases in Wayne County for this project.

On September 9, 2016, Kaleel Williams, age 19 (DOB: 3/30/97), of Detroit, was charged with Assault With Intent to Murder, Assault With Intent Great Bodily Harm, Felonious Assault and Felony Firearm for having attacked a 30 year-old gay man in Detroit.  He was also arraigned on September 9, 2016, and is being held on a $500,000 cash/surety bond. Williams will appear before the 36th District Court in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on September 16, 2016 for a Probable Cause Conference. Ms. Powell and has been assigned to prosecute  the Williams case.

The President of Fair Michigan, Dana Nessel, said, “This is the third serious assault against a gay person that the Project has charged since its inception on July 12, 2016. We knew assaults against the LGBTQ community were a problem, but even our staff has been alarmed at just how many incidents of hate crime there actually are. It’s terrifying.”

On August 24, 2016, the complainant and the defendant met on Facebook and agreed to meet at a secluded park at Appoline and Grove Street. It is alleged that when the complainant opened the passenger door of his car, he observed the defendant wearing white latex gloves and decided not to get into the vehicle.  It is further alleged that as the complainant was walking away, he observed the defendant getting out of the car and yelling ‘you gay bitch’, when the defendant fire three shots from a handgun, striking the complainant two times in his side.  The complainant managed to get back to a nearby home before collapsing.  He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

This latest case comes just 7 weeks following the announcement of the formation of the Fair Michigan Justice Project, a first of its kind collaboration between Fair Michigan and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.  The goal of the project is to create a vehicle to deliver justice to a community which has been historically underserved. The Fair Michigan Justice Project though t is investigating and prosecuting both new and “cold” cases in Wayne County.

Fair Michigan is a 501(c)(3) corporation that actively solicits funding for the Fair Michigan Justice Project and other programs aimed at ending discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. For more details, visit www.fairmichigan.org.

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For additional inquiries please contact Dana Nessel as given above or:

Maria  Miller
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor
Director of Communications
1441 St. Antoine 12th Floor
Detroit,MI 48226

tel:313-224-5817″>313-224-5817 (Office)
tel:313-213-0457″>313-213-0457 (Mobile)
mmiller@waynecounty.com

Fair Michigan ‘Justice Project’ Celebrates First Anti-Gay Hate Crime Conviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release Date: Sep. 2, 2016

DETROIT- Fair Michigan, a Detroit-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced today that its recently formed ‘Justice Project’ secured its first conviction for a hate crime against a member of the LGBTQ community.

Byron Wade, age 54, was convicted of felonious assault for having attacked a 22 year-old gay, black man with a knife in the City of Inkster on August 12, 2016.

The president of Fair Michigan, Dana Nessel, said, “This case represents the many reasons this project is so important: LGBTQ people are far more likely to be targeted for hate crimes than any other minority group. Despite this, LGBTQ victims are less likely to feel safe reporting these incidents. The Fair Michigan Justice Project provides a resource for hate crime victims to ensure their cases will be handled with respect and that the assailants will be prosecuted.”

According to police reports, the victim was walking home from work when Wade began verbally threatening him with anti-gay slurs. The victim began running away, at which point Wade pulled out a knife and attempted to stab the victim while calling the victim a “fag”, “bitch” and “queer.” The victim escaped and was able to call 911.

Vicki Yost, the Fair Michigan Justice Project special investigator, said, “Our networking and outreach is proving to be incredibly successful in reaching victims and witnesses, and working to resolve difficult cases.”

Byron Wade was soon identified as the perpetrator. Wade was convicted as charged and will be sentenced on September 20, 2016 before the Wayne county circuit court. The Fair Michigan Justice Project’s special prosecutor, Jaimie Powell Horowitz, prosecuted the case.

“Criminals like Byron Wade who prey on the LGBTQ community represent a serious threat to law abiding citizens” said Horowitz. “I am gratified that Mr. Wade has been brought to justice, and I am proud to be a part of this important project in the fight against hate crimes in our state.”

The conviction comes just 6 weeks following the announcement of the formation of the Fair Michigan Justice Project, a first of its kind collaboration between Fair Michigan and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.  The goal of the project is to create a vehicle to deliver justice to a community which has been historically underserved. The Fair Michigan Justice Project is investigating and prosecuting both new and “cold” cases in Wayne County.

Fair Michigan is a 501(c)(3) corporation that actively solicits funding for the Fair Michigan Justice Project and other programs aimed at ending discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. For more details, visit www.fairmichigan.org.

 

Press Release August 17, 2016

FAIR MICHIGAN FUNDRAISER TO HIGHLIGHT FIGHT AGAINST LGBTQ CRIMES

DETROIT – Fair Michigan is shining a light on hate crimes against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community alongside keynote speaker Kym Worthy during the “Justice Dinner” this Thursday 7 pm at the Burton Manor banquet and conference center in Livonia, Michigan.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to Fair Michigan’s recently-launched “Justice Project,” a pilot program that seeks to combat hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.

Dana Nessel, president of Fair Michigan, said that the project is already producing results and encouraging people to step forward. The fundraiser is necessary, she said, because they’ve been flooded with requests and need more resources to address the problem.

Nessel said, “So many people who have been victimized are finally feeling comfortable in coming forward to work with law enforcement. The Fair Michigan Justice Project is filling a vital need in our community.”

Wayne county prosecutor Kym Worthy appointed a Special Prosecutor and a Special Investigator from the staff of Fair Michigan, which is what formed the new “Justice Project.” The Fair Michigan appointees have extensive training in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes against LGBTQ persons. Worthy made the announcement in a joint press conference with officials from Fair Michigan on July 12th in Detroit. Worthy assigned new and cold cases of homicides, criminal sexual conduct and serious felony assaults.

Nessel said that the project’s intent is to make all of Metro Detroit safer, “We’re not just providing closure to victims and their families; this is about saving lives and ensuring that justice is served.”

The Justice Project is preparing and prosecuting the assigned cases involving LGBTQ victims who have been targeted based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This roster of cases include a number of unsolved homicides of transgender women in the Palmer Park area of Detroit.

Julisa Abad, director of transgender outreach and advocacy for Fair Michigan, said, “Fair Michigan’s dedication towards providing visibility for a traditionally marginalized and largely invisible population is long overdue.”

One of the other high-profile cases Fair Michigan’s Justice Project recently took up involved a gay man threatened with a firearm in Detroit, which the alleged harasser then posted a video of online.

“Recent legal victories in the Supreme Court have not necessarily translated into more safety for members of the LGBTQ community,” said Erica Moise, the vice president of Fair Michigan. “Fair Michigan is finally giving a voice to those in the community who have felt powerless for far too long.”

Fair Michigan is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose chief goal is to create a Michigan where the presence and contributions of everyone are welcomed and celebrated regardless of their gender, gender identity, sex, or sexual orientation; where intolerance is challenged and defeated; where justice prevails and where the civil rights of all people are valued and respected.

Press Release July 12, 2016

FAIR MICHIGAN JUSTICE PROJECT LAUNCHES TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE CRIMES AGAINST MICHIGAN LGBTQ COMMUNITY

Fair Michigan, Wayne County Prosecutor, and Detroit Police Chief announce historic program; cases include Amber Monroe transgender homicide, assaults on gays

DETROIT – July 12, 2016 – Fair Michigan, a Michigan non-profit corporation seeking to end discrimination against persons based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity, today launched the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), a program to assist Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons.

An historic and truly transformational initiative, FMJP will enhance the delivery of justice to the LGBTQ community, where victims and witnesses are often reluctant to come forward. FMJP will investigate and prosecute new and cold cases of serious criminal conduct, including homicide, criminal sexual conduct, carjacking, armed robbery, assault with intent to murder, and others involving LGBTQ victims targeted based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. One of FMJP’s first cases involves the murder of Amber Monroe, a well-known LGBTQ activist who was shot and killed on August 8, 2015, in Detroit.

Fair Michigan, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and Detroit Police Chief James Craig will release more details about FMJP at a news conference this morning:

 

DATE: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

TIME: 11:00 a.m.

LOCATION: Penobscot Building, 645 Griswold St., Detroit (Smart Detroit Seminar Room, 13th floor)

 

FMJP addresses a problem common to LGBTQ communities nationwide: victims and witnesses often know enough to aid police in a criminal investigation, but they rarely come forward for fear that they won’t be taken seriously or, worse, that they must endure discriminatory treatment from the investigators. FMJP allows victims and witnesses to be interviewed in a “safe space” and allows for reasonable witness relocation when necessary.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig praised the inauguration of FMJP, and noted that it can provide an important means to investigate, prosecute, and imprison violent criminals who prey on the LGBTQ community. Craig has pledged to have the Detroit Police Department work in concert with Fair Michigan staff in investigating and prosecuting crimes which occur in the City of Detroit.

“Making certain that LGBTQ crime victims receive the highest quality of assistance and protection has always been a priority in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office,” said Worthy. “The Fair Michigan Justice Project provides the strongest vehicle to date possible to ensure that those who target victims based on their sexual orientation or gender identity will be investigated, prosecuted, and brought to justice. My office intends to prosecute these criminal acts as vigorously as any office in the nation.”

Worthy has appointed the first special prosecutor and special investigator from the staff of Fair Michigan. Former Wayne County assistant prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz has been named special prosecutor for FMJP. Vicki Yost, former chief of police in Inkster, Michigan, and former deputy chief of the Detroit Police Department, has been named special investigator. Both have received extensive training by national experts in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes against LGBTQ persons.  They will maintain contact with victims, victims’ families in homicide cases, and will work to keep all parties informed through every stage of the proceedings. They will perform community outreach and informational campaigns when necessary to help identify witnesses and seek their cooperation.

“The Fair Michigan Justice Project is a truly groundbreaking, model program for the delivery of justice to the LGBTQ community,” said civil rights attorney Dana Nessel, president of Fair Michigan and a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor. “LGBTQ people are far more likely to be the target of hate crimes than any other minority group, and as we so recently saw with the tragedy in Orlando, this nationally significant step is sorely needed not just in Detroit but around the country.”

Fair Michigan will fund FMJP, with little to no cost to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Fair Michigan received a generous grant to begin FMJP from Hertz Schram, P.C., and the project may be expanded and extended if further fundraising efforts are successful.

A fundraiser for FMJP will be held at Burton Manor in Livonia, Mich., on Thursday, August 18 at 7:00 p.m. For more information please visit www.fairmichigan.org.

About Fair Michigan

Fair Michigan is a 501(c)(3) corporation that actively solicits funding for FMJP and other programs aimed at ending discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. For more details, visit www.fairmichigan.org.

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Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc.

P.O. Box 6136 – Plymouth, MI  48170

645 Griswold, Suite 4300 – Detroit, MI 48226

877-4FAIRMI (877-432-4764) | 313-556-2300