Race Riots in Benton Harbor:
Blacks Burn Their Town

Last updated Sunday, July 13, 2003
For Victims of Reverse Discrimination
Benton Harbor, Michigan
Benton Harbor, Michigan is 92.4% black.  It is a poor city beset by high unemployment.  The major employer in the area is Whirlpool Corporation.

Benton Harbor Race Riots

           Early on the morning of Monday, June 16, 2003 black Benton Harbor resident Terrance Shurn died when he crashed his motorcycle into a house at a high rate of speed while fleeing the police.

          The apparent problem is that Terrance Shurn was black and the officer in pursuit of Mr. Shurn at the time of his fatal crash was a white Benton Township police officer, Wes Koza.   See
Down: July 13, 2003 Update

But the Pursuing Officer Was Not White!

          Adversity.Net has learned that officer Wes Koza is only half-white; officer Koza is also half-black by parentage.  This fact has been ignored by all the media as well as by the black rioters who have been burning Benton Harbor.  Apparently the rioters haven't heard of the U.S. Census Bureau's "one drop" rule which dictates that anyone with at least one drop of black blood is black.

          Adversity.Net also has learned that the black "victim", the late Mr. Terrance Shurn, had an extensive arrest record, including arrests for drug dealing.  This has also not been reported by the mainstream press.

          Also absent from mainstream media reports is the fact that a different white police officer from a different department first initiated the pursuit of the late Mr. Shurn and broke off the pursuit because it was too dangerous.  That white officer, Mark Lundin, had personally arrested Shurn on at least one previous occasion and is with the Berrien County Sheriff's Department.  (Benton Harbor is located in Berrien County.)

          So at least one white police officer (Mark Lundin) -- who had first-hand knowledge of the decedent's criminal history -- did not choose to pursue Mr. Shurn at a high rate of speed.  The rioters also have chosen to ignore that fact.  [See Also: July 13, 2003 Update, below.]

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          By all accounts, Wes Koza, the Benton Township police officer who was pursuing Mr. Shurn at the time of Shurn's untimely demise is a respected officer with a very good record.  The department has cleared him of any wrong doing.

          The citizens of Benton Harbor, over 90% of whom are black, responded to the death of a black, speeding, drug dealing, dangerous, fleeing-to-elude criminal by burning down homes and businesses, vandalizing cars, stabbing and shooting innocent white people, and attacking firefighters who tried to put the fires out.   

Should the pursuit have taken place at all?

"[W]hat are you supposed to do when you are trained as a police officer and a guy on a motorcycle passes by you at 120 miles an hour?"  -- black former police officer Paul Harvey, who is also a Benton Harbor township supervisor [as quoted in the South Bend Tribune].

          The mainstream media have also failed to report that the black rioters specifically targeted white drivers in the area and let blacks pass through unharmed.  Adversity.Net has learned that the black rioters would shout "White!   White!" and point to the offending vehicle, whereupon the black mob would trash the car, or the fire truck, or the police vehicle, which happened to have white occupants.

          One white couple driving through the area, unaware of the riots, had their windows smashed and the husband required emergency plastic surgery to repair his ear.  He may lose his hearing in that ear.  They had been driving to the beach to enjoy a quiet moment. Site
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          Benton Harbor is located on Lake Michigan in the southwest corner of Michigan.  The tiny city of 12,000 is known for its scenic Lake Michigan beaches.  It is plagued with high unemployment, poverty and endless financial troubles.  There is little money for youth programs and schools.  33% of the residents have incomes below $10,000.  Whirlpool Corporation has its world headquarters nearby.

          Some maintstream press have offered these facts as a rationalization for the burning, looting, and violence this week.

Benton Harbor is near Chicago, Ohio, Indiana
Residents of Chicago, IL, Gary, IN and other locations travel to Benton Harbor to enjoy their scenic Lake Michigan beaches.

         The mainstream press has been careful so far to avoid using the term racial profiling but they have bent over backwards to portray Mr. Shurn's death as a fight between blacks and whites.

          Jesse Jackson visited the town Friday, allegedly to help restore peace.  According to the Associated Press, Jackson told a gathering of 200 that they should "turn tragedy into triumph" and stated "we'll turn this crisis into an opportunity."  

        The type of opportunities for which Mr. Jackson is most famous are racial shakedowns which result in large donations to his organization and/or the award of lucrative business opportunities to his family and friends. 

          Following one "peace keeping opportunity" Mr. Jackson's family ended up with a very lucrative beer distributorship in Chicago. 

          God help Benton Harbor.

          One police officer told Adversity.Net that Jackson's remarks were remarkably muted and non-confrontational.   The officer also told us that the police are very grateful that so far Al Sharpton has not made a threatened appearance in Benton Harbor.

          Terrance Shurns' funeral is scheduled for Monday, June 23.  Police officials have told Adversity.Net that they expect no trouble at the service, but they are anticipating protests and the possibility of violence after the service.

Mayor Charles Yarbrough
The Mayor of Benton Harbor is black.  So is the Chief of Police.
          Benton Harbor's mayor, Charles Yarbrough, is black.  The police chief, Sam Harris, is black.  The "white" police officer who was pursuing Mr. Shurn when he died (officer Wes Koza) was with the Benton Township police, not the Benton Harbor police department.

          Black rioters claim that prior "unanswered" deaths of black citizens at the hands of police helped to feed their burning and looting this week.

          To wit:  In September 2000 an 11 year old black child, Trenton Patterson, was struck and killed by a car driven by another Benton Harbor resident who was fleeing the police.  The driver, Kenneth Flowers, is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for second degree murder in the death of Trenton Patterson.   Yet the black activists in Benton Harbor think the child's death is the fault of the police.  The police were ruled to have behaved properly in pursuing Mr. Flowers.

          This past April a black man, Arthur Partee, died while resisting arrest.  Black activists say police used undue force.

          Reaching back to 1991, black activists also cite as suspicious the drowning death of a 16 year old black boy, Eric McGinnis.  Police say he drowned while fleeing from police who were trying to apprehend him for breaking into a car.  The Benton Harbor black activists say he was murdered for dating a white girl.

National Media Blackout on Race Riots?
A personal observation from the editor

          My wife and I live in the Washington, DC area.  If there is any part of the U.S. which is counterproductively "racially sensitive" and politically correct, it is here.

          My wife and I first picked up the story of the Benton Harbor race riots on the morning of Tuesday, June 17 -- only a few hours from the onset of racial violence in Benton Harbor.  We both observed that the video footage shown by CBS, FoxNews, ABC, NBC and CNN seemed to deliberately obscure the race of the rioters. This made us suspicious.

          Footage of the rioting shown by the networks seemed to have been deliberately edited to show only wide shots in which the rioters were back-lit by fires and whose skin color was therefore difficult to determine.   Indeed, the spoken narrative supplied by our local and national newscasters never once mentioned the fact that the rioters were black and that the Benton Harbor situation was in any way concerned with black vs. white issues.

          At this writing [6-19-03], not a one of our televised media outlets (CNN, NBC, ABC, FoxNews, CBS) has acknowledged in any way that there is a racial component to this story.

          Similarly, our "local" Washington papers, the Washington Post and the Washington Times, did not in any way acknowledge the race of the rioters or the race of the involved police officers until Thursday, June 19, and then only very briefly and in passing -- almost three days after the racial riots and destruction began.

-- Tim Fay, Editor (editor@adversity.net)

Outside Protesters March in Benton Harbor

Saturday, July 12, 2003

[Benton Harbor Sat., Jul. 12, 2003] -- Today approximately 250 protesters marched from City Hall in Benton Harbor to the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph.  Benton Harbor is mostly black and poor while nearby St. Joseph has more white residents and a higher standard of living.  The marchers were protesting what they called the racist conditions which led to the death of convicted drug dealer Terrance Shurn during a high speed chase in which he exceeded 100 mph while trying to elude police on his motorcycle before he lost control of the bike and died in a fatal crash. Top
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          The St. Joseph-Benton Harbor Herald-Palladium reported that only about 30 of the 250 protesters were actually from Benton Harbor.   The majority of the protesters arrived on buses from other Michigan cities including Lansing, Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Detroit, as well as from other states including Illinois and Ohio as well as from Toronto, Canada.

          The Herald-Palladium reported there was no violence during the march, and the protesters carried signs condeming racism, the war in Iraq and police brutality.

          According to the Herald-Palladium, Berrien County Prosecutor James Cherry issued a report last week clearing the officers involved of any wrongdoing.  

          Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, the self-appointed spokesperson for a black separatist group which calls itself the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations (BANCO) helped to organize the rally.   Mr. Lorenzo Komboa Ervin said:  "We are here today to serve notice on the officials of Berrien County that they will not run business as usual.  Benton Harbor has become a symptom, a symbol of the terrorism people face on a daily basis.  We call for an end to the racial injustices of the black population of Benton Harbor by the officials of Berrien County."  [Herald-Palladium 7-13-03]

          Predictably, Mr. Lorenzo Komboa Ervin announced that Berrien County Prosecutor James Cherry is on BANCO's "most wanted list" -- apparently because the prosecutor correctly found the police not guilty of any civil rights violations.  The self-described black revolutionary also inexplicably announced that black Benton Harbor Police Chief Sam Harris and black Benton Harbor City Manager Joel Patterson were on his "most wanted" list, apparently because these officials did not automatically call the death of Mr. Shurn a racist act.

Black Separatist Anarchist Group Organized Benton Harbor Protests

The Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations describes itself as "a Black revolutionary Anarchist movement, an organization of organizers, who fight around issues of police brutality, racism, poverty and other forms of oppression in our communities." 

Mr. Lorenzo Komboa Ervin is the self-appointed leader of this fringe group. 

Mr. Ervin has written that "black people in the anarchist movement must build their own autonomous organizations of struggle ... It's clear that the Anarchist movement cannot racially integrate or adopt a Black political line, that's a waste of time and effort." 

Adversity.Net notes that Mr. Lorenzo Komboa Ervin joined the Black Panther Party in the 1960's.  He was indicted for firearm offenses during that time and also allegedly hijacked a plane to Cuba. -- Editor.

          Lorenzo Komboa Ervin also demanded that several judges with whose decisions he disagrees be removed from the bench due to what he claimed were racist attitudes and actions.  He also insisted all those arrested during the rioting in Benton Harbor be released and cleared of all charges.

          An organizer for BANCO, Mr. Tony Sanders, estimated that only 15 percent of the demonstrators were from Benton Harbor.

          Interestingly, and counterproductively, the BANCO group is calling for a boycott of Whirlpool Corporation until productive jobs are brought into Benton Harbor by the company.  Whirlpool is known among many of its white employees as "Mr. Diversity" for its staunch racial preference and quota policies in employment, contracting and for its charitable contributions to race-based organizations. Top
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          The Herald-Palladium reported that "Whirlpool announced on Friday it planned to move 100 workers into the Kay building in Benton Harbor next year after it is renovated. Company officials were not available for comment on Saturday."

Based in part upon the Herald-Palladium story published Sun., 7-13-03.  The online link to this story has expired.

Additional Links and Resources

          Below are a few of the news sources Adversity.Net used in compiling this report. 

          Adversity.Net would like to acknowledge the Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press, Mlive.Com, the Washington Post, the Herald-Palladium, the Washington Times, the South Bend Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, and Michigan police officers who have participated in making this report possible.

          This story is under development.   Additional information and links may be provided at a future date.

Last Known Links to the Original News Stories
(News links expire quickly; you may have to explore the archives of the sites listed below):








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