Janice Green (Courtesy Photo)
By Brian E. Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from The Final Call
The state of Alabama sentenced a Black community organizer to 30 years in prison for attempted murder of a state police officer serving her a search warrant. She was also sentenced to 6.5 years for handling the 7mm magnum rifle used during the incident as a former convicted felon. But members of Janice Green’s family and supporters say her arrest, conviction and sentence was politically motivated.
Her defenders are convinced Ms. Green’s plight is an example of how old-style Southern justice can still be dispensed by s when a Black person is a perceived threat or challenges their political power. Ms. Green was active in local politics and began to ruffle some influential people, according to her sister Tamara Mayo. “She was dedicated to her community,” said Mayo.
She said her sister regularly advocated and did small, but helpful deeds for community residents, from driving people to voting polls to organizing an annual dinner at her church honoring law enforcement. Mayo believes her sister’s efforts to support a Black candidate against the longtime mayor to be the cause of Ms. Green being targeted allegedly by certain members of the power elite.
“She was well known through the community and she believed in her people—the Black people, getting them in office … she made enemies,” Mayo explained.
Ms. Green’s family said, in mid-April, 2013 at six o’clock in the morning, Green was alone in bed and suddenly awakened out of her sleep by a commotion around and in her home. Frightened and not knowing who it was or what they wanted and thinking it was a home intrusion, Green grabbed her husband’s shot gun and barricaded herself in the bathroom.
According to a statement circulated by her family, she yelled out “Who is it? Who is it?” and fired one shot from the gun into the air. The bullet hit a ceiling fan and exited through the roof.
Ms. Green heard someone shouting ‘Drop the weapon, state trooper!’ She complied, raised her hands up and came out undressed and pleading to “Please let me put some clothes on; no one can see me but my husband.” The State Trooper allegedly responded, “We all grown”.
Family and supporters say Green had no way of knowing it was law enforcement because they converged on the home with what they said was a “no knock” warrant. Police threw loud flash bangs on both sides of the home and officers entered without warning or prior notification.
Ms. Green’s family contends she had no way of knowing about a warrant or who exactly was in her home. Supporters say she was targeted and had legitimate reasons to be afraid of the unannounced visit that resulted in her arrest. There were threats and tension with Christopher Cannon, a cousin who became irate at her ad-dressing his alleged criminal activities. In their feud, the intimidation from Cannon was so volatile that Al Green—Janice’s husband—rigged the doors of the home and placed security cameras on the property.
Subsequently Cannon was arrested for threatening Ms. Green’s life. “The day he made bond, he called the Attorney General’s office of Montgomery, Alabama,” said Mayo. Cannon leveled an accusation with the authorities against Ms. Green claiming he overheard her discussing a plot to murder Fourth Judicial Circuit Judge Jack Meigs and Susan Smith, an Investigator with the Attorney General office and a political adversary.
Latisha Colvin, an attorney who successfully defended Ms. Green in federal charges related to the case, said the State out-come was a travesty. Although she wasn’t on the legal team in this current case, she called the outcome more than unjust.
“We’re still trying to help with a State appeal; with trying to see what in the world we can do because this is an injustice—that’s not even strong enough,” said Attorney Colvin.
“We’re not saying Janice is a saint and has never done anything wrong, but she didn’t do this and now she’s serving 6 1/2 years for the feds and 30 years for the State all based on a lie and it just seems that nobody cares and when I say no-body I mean the system, be-cause they did it,” she added.
Ms. Green was indicted on several federal charges including, possession of a firearm by a felon, assault with a deadly weapon on a federal officer, discharging a firearm and attempted murder of a federal officer. She was found not guilty on all charges except the possession charge.
The Attorney General then charged her on the State level and she was found guilty of conspiracy to murder the trooper. Subsequently she was found not guilty on the conspiracy to murder the judge and investigator on the State level.
A June 15 press statement released by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announcing the sentencing said the search warrant arose from an investigation into the allegations of Ms. Green’s involvement in the alleged plot. Ms. Green was found not guilty on the conspiracy for murder charge after Cannon changed his testimony, but she was convicted and sentenced on charges that she intended to shoot and harm the law enforcement agents during the raid on her home.
Inquiries about the warrant and other questions with the state prosecutors’ office went unanswered by Final Call press time. Ms. Green is currently incarcerated in the Bibb County Jail.
Mr. Cannon admitted he lied and recanted his story which the authorities have refused to acknowledge in their efforts to prosecute Ms. Green. During the federal trial that Ms. Green won, evidence was presented that proved Mr. Cannon was in another state at the time the threats were allegedly made and could not have heard them when he first claimed.
Human Rights and justice activists say cases like this are typical of the systemic racism and Supremacy that permeates Southern politics in states like Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina, even in places that are predominately Black.
Perry County is in the middle of Alabama’s Black Belt region and is the poorest County in the state. Archive and census records show a population of just over 10,500 people, 68.7 percent Black and 30.3 percent. The county was the place where the 1965 murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson, an unarmed Black man—in the city of Marion—by Bonard Fowler, a state trooper that ignited the Selma to Montgomery marches which was a pivotal point in the civil rights struggle.
Although it’s a majority Black population, s control the economy and set the political tone for how Black activists and community leaders are handled opined Clarence Muhammad, the Student Study Group Coordinator for the Nation of Islam in Selma, Alabama.
“Unfortunately it’s still the people behind the hidden veil, mostly Caucasian people,” Mr. Muhammad said explaining power equation in the County.
He said in Selma for example, the majority of the politicians are Black, but they don’t do anything for the community. “It’s hardly any resources there … basically they serve the interests of people and not Black people.” The injustice applied to Ms. Greene for engaging active change in the power equation reflects the acute racism in Alabama and throughout the South.
“What’s so sad is, our people don’t see the connection,” lamented Faya Toure, a Selma-based Human Rights Activist and Lawyer with the S.O.S. Movement for Justice and Democracy. “Our eyes are open but our minds are closed.” Ms. Toure is also working to get exposure for Ms. Green’s case.
With symbols like the Confederate Battle Flag being removed from state capitols like South Carolina and debates raging in other southern states including Alabama, cases like Ms. Green’s highlights the substantive problems that exists. They prove race relations are worse now than during slavery in some ways.
“To me this time is the most dangerous time in our lives; when we were slaves, they knew we were slaves, when we were segregated, we knew,” Ms. Toure reasoned. “You got police officers that are Black (and) elected officials who are still carrying forth the mandates of supremacy; the policy and practices of supremacy that devalues Black life by the way they arrest and incarcerate us … for the first time we don’t see it,” she points out.
Even with the Black police officers and judges in seats of power, because they have become part of a system designed from the beginning to oppress Black people. They end up oppressing their own people and not being empowered to aid one of their own people being targeted. How Ms. Green’s case was handled is an example of this condition say supporters.
“That area in the Black Belt is still very deeply rooted with racism … it’s much more intense down there,” added Mr. Muhammad.
The climate is very reminiscent of what people had to endure after slavery ended because the whole idea was to keep supremacy alive and well in America, explained Ms. Toure.
“So therefore we still have no rights that people are bound t