Written by John Face
January 15, 2023
City Watch NEWS
Below you will see an email sent to Lenn Reid from Ashley Woodson asking her to move forward a resolution set forth by the Albion Chapter of NAACP. City Watch was sent this from a concerned citizen. The email and resolution are fairly easy to follow so there really is no need for me to tell you what it’s about, just read them. I have not transferred over all the links associated to the documents, if you want them email Woodson (email@example.com) and get them. They link to stories, and I am not going to waste my time doing something she can do. Again, email Woodson.
City Watch has several issues with all of this, and according to this document Woodson has never been asked for an interview by me. Well though technically true City Watch sought to interview her, but the college administration said no and within days of that sent an email out to all staff telling them they could not allow themselves to be interviewed by media. So, I didn’t attempt any further.
The NAACP has some questions to answer. Your organization is supposed to be dedicated to free speech, due process, civil rights of not just people of color, but all people. Which is one reason the Albion NAACP has always had all races on their board. So where was the due process here?
At no time was this writer asked to respond to the accusations regarding this document. What kind of investigation is it when someone who is being accused of everything from journalistic terrorism, causing people not wanting to move to Albion and so on unable to defend themselves? Does the Albion NAACP feel proud of their decision to publicly attack, and slander City Watch with NO investigation? Did you talk to your whole Board or members before making these accusations?
I would ask this question, if I submitted a complaint against Ashley Woodson would you go to her and ask her to explain her side? I am pretty sure you would, and you should, and thank you for grossly failing to extend the same consideration to me, the Board should be ashamed of themselves and certainly not proud. You are making serious accusations, slanderous accusations. I hold many of you in high regards, well I used to. So not allowing me or anyone the opportunity to defend themselves kind of goes against what the NAACP is supposed to be about.
Now Albion College, why is your employee using her college email account to put forth this? Why is your employee using her official title in making these accusations? Does Albion College support this? If so, why did they fail to verify the truthfulness of the so-called facts? Isn’t it time that Albion College stop sticking its nose into local politics? Look what happened when Mat Johnson attempted to control city politics. Nothing good came from that. The fact that Woodson used her title implies the College is involved. If that is true, why?
City of Albion, is this resolution even legal? I am very aware that the votes exist to pass this resolution. But why in hell would you take this up? The Albion NAACP is asking you to attack an individual in our city. I would hope that city officers would tell the council this can’t be done.
City Watch NEWS Blog is a local news service. According to Sonya Brown, former city council member who was recalled and is asking for millions from the City of Albion and employees, she said in her lawsuit, “John Face was a local blogger and owner of the City News Watch Blog, which frequently published articles on topics and subjects relevant to the City of Albion”. Thanks, Sonya, for acknowledging City Watch is relevant.
Former Albion Mayor Garrett Brown is often vocal as well claiming City Watch is not a news service, yet he sat down for an interview. During this interview we went off the record for well over an hour and at no time have I repeated anything he shared with me and trust me I wish I could. Mat Johnson the disgraced former President at Albion College sat down for an interview as well and he too went off the record with me. Now these two men are vocal critics of City Watch mostly due to the fact that I wrote about what they were doing. They know that I have never shared the off the record comments they made, never, and never will, because that’s what a journalist does.
Finally, I will not stop. I will continue to report. I will not allow this to scare me.
I redacted personal email addresses below but not the names of those who received it.
From: Ashley Woodson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Donivan Williams <email@example.com>; “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>; “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>; Andy French <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Jill Domingo <email@example.com>; Linda LaNoue
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 08:57:52 PM EST
Subject: NAACP submission to Council
Good evening Councilwoman Reid,
I am writing to you as my Councilwoman and as a member of the Albion Chapter of the NAACP.
On December 8, 2022 our Executive Board voted to submit the attached resolution to Council, expressing disapproval and continued concern about City Watch NEWS disseminating misinformation, inciting public distrust and contributing to divisiveness in the city of Albion.
We are asking that Council review and adopt the resolution during the next meeting. Please let us know if you have any questions, President Dunklin, Secretary Arnett and past Communications Chair Kolmodin are cc’d on this email.
Also: please mark your calendars for our February 16, 2023 Founders Day celebration at 6:30 pm. A formal invitation will follow.
Toward what matters,
Associate Vice President for Academic Outreach & Strategic Development
611 E. Porter St.
Albion, MI 49224
In 1910, W.E.B. DuBois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) newspaper The Crisis. The Crisis would soon become the most influential periodical about race and the struggle against racism. The newspaper’s mission was an extension of the NAACP mission: “to pursue “the world-old dream of human brotherhood” by bearing witness to “the danger of race prejudice” and reporting on “the great problem of inter-racial relations,” both at home and abroad”1 .
We are the Albion Chapter of the NAACP. Our membership in this pioneering organization compels us to speak out against the kinds of lies and distortions that undermine the Black condition, and that undermine the continued pursuit of democracy. As an organization and as individual members, we hold symbolic, earned, elected and appointed leadership positions throughout Albion. We have directly observed City Watch News create suspicion, estrangement and tell outright lies about Albion residents. We are deeply invested in the future of our city and cannot be silent as our neighbors are degraded and misrepresented.
● On November 2 and November 4 of this year, unsubstantiated attacks against Black woman mayoral candidate Keena Williams, including reference to information that could only be obtained unethically.
● On December 15 of last year, a lie about violence against a Black woman that resulted in death threats against Albion residents and threats of violence against Albion College. While one specific claim was retracted, City Watch News persisted in the reckless disregard for the truth and accuracy when reporting on other people, including other Black women, who were involved (screenshot below).
● City Watch News has published baseless and unreasonable claims about Dr. Ashley Woodson. The behvior borders on harassment: the paper has referenced her name at least six times in one year (1,2,3,4,5,6), but has never requested an interview or fact-checked claims.
● On multiple occasions, City Watch News published targeted, rambling, conspiracy theory laden attacks on other women in leadership, including Councilwoman Lenn Reid, Councilwoman Marcola Lawler, and former Councilwoman Linda Lanoue.
Some have insinuated that if the NAACP publicly names this as a form of journalistic terrorism, we give City Watch News undue attention. We choose to join the conversation now because we
1 Benjamin L. Hooks, “Publisher’s Foreward,” The Crisis 92, no. 10 (1985): 6; Brown University and The University of Tulsa. “The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races,” The Modernist Journals Project: “Modernism Began in the Magazines”.
are appalled by the influence of City Watch News: it has been cited in City Council meetings and by City Council members, at Albion College faculty meetings and in casual conversations at the Bohm Theatre. Some share these lies because they want to discredit individuals who hold different opinions than they do, so they derive personal benefit from a culture that bullies and silences advocates for change. Even more concerning are the ways that City Watch News exploits the most vulnerable in our community, particularly those with limited literacy and limited access to alternative sources of information.
These campaigns of cowardice and deceit make it difficult to recruit workers and families to Albion. It makes a mockery of our city’s historic aspirations toward integrity, excellence and cooperation. It tarnishes our city’s reputation and terrorizes potential civic leaders. We believe this is by intention. It is harmful, it is wrong. It is was The Crisis sought to fix, and it is our moral obligation to take a stance against it.
December 8, 2022 NAACP Executive Board Meeting
The Albion Chapter of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People submits the following resolution to Albion’s City Council for a public vote: Council hereby expresses disapproval and continued concern about City Watch NEWS disseminating misinformation, inciting public distrust and contributing to divisiveness in the city of Albion:
WHEREAS: Albion, MI meets the criteria for a news desert as defined by the Center for Innovation & Sustainability in Local Media as “a community, either rural or urban, with limited access to the sort of credible and comprehensive news and information that feeds democracy at the grassroots level,” and WHEREAS: News deserts create democratic vulnerabilities, since information vacuums diminish citizens’ ability to hold elected officials and civic leaders accountable; and
WHEREAS: The Society of Professional Journalists states that ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.
WHEREAS: the Society further outlines four principles of ethical journalism, which are to seek truth and report it; minimize harm; act independently and be accountable and transparent; and
WHEREAS: City Watch NEWS relies on unnamed, unspecified sources in ways that prevents readers from assessing the motivations, possible biases and possible conflicts of interest those sources may have; and
WHEREAS: City Watch NEWS fails to verify reports and as such contributes to gossip, slander, and ad hominem attacks that cause frustration and fear in our community; and
WHEREAS: the language used by City Watch NEWS to describe individual Albion citizens and the broader public does not meet standards of ethical journalism or the minimum standards expected of responsible civic agents; and
WHEREAS: Council considers the expressed position of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People and other diverse organizations who recognize that ethical journalism is a necessary feature of a more just community; and
WHEREAS: it is Council’s collective judgment and hope that City Watch NEWS and individuals who identify as journalists aim to protect and promote democratic wellness, integrity, transparency, civility and accountability in Albion; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That this Council does formally express its disapproval of City Watch NEWS’