For those who thought the residential schools nightmare was over, I present you Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo. Don’t read any further without preparing yourself for the horror you know is coming.
16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks [sic – actually “Frederick”] died on May 1 after suffering a heart attack on April 29.
Why did his heart stop on April 29th? I will never GEORGE FLOYD guess, will I?
[S]taff sat on his chest as he lost consciousness. …Employees waited 12 minutes to call 911, even though Fredericks was limp and unresponsive.” …[V]ideo from Lakeside Academy shows a staff member placing his/her weight directly on Fredericks’ chest for nearly ten minutes as the victim lost consciousness.
But wait, if he was in a residential school, well that’s practically a synonym for prison, right? He must have done something pretty awful to be there, right?
[Frederick] was in foster care due to his mother dying at the age of 32 and his father being unable to provide care.
Oh, so he’s not an inhuman monster whose life we can throw away? Well did he do something dangerous? Like really dangerous? Like as dangerous as an unarmed 16-year old can be?
[Frederick] was being restrained for throwing a sandwich on the floor.
Shit. Was he at least black?
Okay, okay, stupid question. But the people who killed him are up for Murder 1, right? Killing a child to whom they owed a duty of care over a dirty sandwich? That’s gotta be Murder 1, right? Tell me that under Michigan law it’s Murder 1!
Following an investigation into Frederick’s death, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services terminated its contract with Lakeside Academy in June 2020. The academy had at least 30 other violations over the past five years. …”[T]he staff at Lakeside Academy had previously used wrongful and improper restraints. … The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has a laundry list of complaints that it has investigated and addressed regarding employees of Lakeside Academy improperly managing situations with residents.”
Wait, what? Michigan didn’t even directly provide any care for this kid? They farmed him out as a profitable commodity, then did nothing when the profiteers used dangerously unsafe holds and restraints to punish and control kids who didn’t want to be there, kids who had done nothing wrong to get sent there, but committed petty acts of teenage defiance like a common teenager?
And I don’t see any murder charges in that paragraph.
Well, no. The only legal action is a private lawsuit, brought by the family.
Holy shit, the state is doing NOTHING?
Well, they did terminate that contract, so Lakeview Academy and its parent company Sequel Youth Services of Michigan get to keep all the money they made from killing Cornelius, but they won’t make any more. I mean, not off Lakeview Academy. They still get to keep their contracts with the state for other facilities. [UPDATE: Probably not for much longer. The state is making very strong noises like those contracts will be ended soon.]
Jesus fucking Inana with the Holy Strapon of Justice, there was NO PUNISHMENT AT ALL?
Well, no. That’s not true. You can read all about the punishment in Sequel’s PR statement to the press about all this:
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Cornelius and acted quickly to terminate all staff involved,” Sequel said Monday. “Additionally, we have removed the former executive director of Lakeside from the organization.
Wait, wait, wait. I know it’s petty, but additionally? So, they thought they were going the extra mile here by firing the ED? Like the ED wasn’t “involved”? Like the ED isn’t “involved” in everything that happens in an institution like that?
With no state contract for the facility, why would they even need to fire the ED? Holy shitballs! You’re not trying to imply that Lakeview is actually still open and still operating and still holding kids in its walls with almost but not quite entirely the same staff as they had on April 29th?
Well, not exactly, but you don’t actually want me to tell the truth here, do you? I mean, do you want to know that they kept kids in the facility for 3 weeks after the murder? I mean, oops.
So … they snuff out a Black life over a sandwich, just because they could, just because the poor kid’s mom died and dad wasn’t there for him, and all the consequences, like the only consequences at all, are economic? And not even like, “Give back that money because you obviously didn’t earn it by caring for the kids because you obviously don’t care at all about the kids,” kinds of economic consequences, but just the, “I don’t think the State of Michigan is going to shop at this Kroger again, we’re going to go to that nicer Kroger twelve blocks away?” kind of economic consequences?
Well, and there are a number of people who have the consequence of looking for new jobs. Some of them might not even have been “involved”.
And that’s IT?
Well, that’s it so far. I did mention that the family is filing a lawsuit. Oh, and other states that had contracts with Lakeview might also pull their contracts. Hell, Michigan might even pull the Lakeview Academy license. [UPDATE: The state had pulled their license as of Jun 22.]
Wait, they didn’t immediately pull the license?
Well, no. But the fact that kids were pulling fire alarms and trying to get the attention of authorities for months before Cornelius was killed, and then they started running away en masse after the murder, with the facility then calling the cops on the poor kids, as if taking care of foster kids was a police matter, probably doesn’t bode well.
Holy fuck. They better be suing those asshats for a BILLION dollars.
Eh. A hundred million. But it’s at least possible that all the kids that had to witness staff kill a kid and then go to bed with the same staff patrolling their halls might have their own torts to file. That’s a question for Michigan law, but the mass runaway events clearly show that the kids were traumatized at the time.
I fucking bet they were traumatized. Shit, I would have torn down the walls!
Oh, it’s okay. There was a LOT of acting up after the murder, but either Lakeview Academy or someone acting on their behalf used tear gas on the kids to get things back under control.
Wait, they TEAR GASSED THE FOSTER KIDS for being so upset at witnessing their captors murder one of their own that they refused to follow orders? Wouldn’t TEAR GASSING THE FOSTER KIDS maybe be a little bit of a basis for a suit on behalf of all those poor kids NOT actually murdered?
Oh, sure. There’s probably a decent case to be made. At the very, very least they can get some sort of settlement.
Okay, so let’s get each of those 124 other kids who were there on April 29th ten million and we can get it up over a billion total.
I mean L. O. Fucking. L. This is a business, they’re not going to fork over money to this kid’s estate or to the kids that they harmed in other ways. They’re going to fight this tooth and nail with more and better lawyers than the estate of a foster kid can muster. And they’re certainly not going to fork over money to the kids they **didn’t** kill. You really think the Catholic Church is the only institution that mouths off about caring for people then screws them (again) when money is at stake? They can actually argue that because he was treated badly at their own facility by other residents (because you know there are at least a couple incidents like this) and because his mom died and his dad was gone and he ended up in the foster system…well, all that made him unlikely to earn a high income, and that if he was unlikely to earn a high income, then they don’t need to pay as much for murdering him.
Wait, you’re saying that because he was a kid that faced incredible disadvantages, because he was so vulnerable, because he needed so much help, that that makes it less legally heinous that he was murdered by the people responsible for providing that help?
The law doesn’t deal much with “heinous”. They’re just saying it makes Cornelius less legally valuable, as a person, when he’s killed.
Well, what the fuck can we do about this?
Well, you could contact Sequel and tell them what you think. You can call the office of the Michigan AG – probably best to leave that for residents of Michigan – and ask them why the hell Lakeview Academy hasn’t been nuked from orbit and the staff under arrest, or at the very least ask them why the State hasn’t taken jurisdiction over the criminal investigation into the death of a child under State care and instead appears to be leaving that to local police and prosecutors who have done, to this point, nothing identifiable at all.
I mean, the local prosecutor says that ”he is reviewing investigations” but the entire, excruciating, slow-motion murder was filmed by the school’s own security cameras, and the cops and DS have had the video evidence at least since May 2nd, and probably since April 29th. And of course sitting on the chest of a kid so that he couldn’t breathe and waiting 10 minutes to get off and a bit more to bother to call EMTs is so perfectly parallel to the murder of George Floyd it’s hard to imagine that the prosecutor isn’t aware that the public expects video-taped, slow-motion murders prosecuted. So …?
But of course to contact those people and make those complaints, you’d need to know that
Sequel’s Integrity & Ethics Help Line is reached at 888.458.3357
The Michigan AG’s Criminal Justice Bureau and its chief Veneshia Cezil can be reached at 517-335-7650.
If I make those calls, can I still swear at this murderous fuckery on the internet?
Swearing at murderous fuckery is always appropriate. Be aware, however, that Michigan does have a law banning swearing in the presence of a woman or a child. Because women and children matter.
Of course they do.