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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Uncovering the Naked Truth About Woodfin’s Deal With Sherman Industries

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on May 16, 2019

Very few things in life shock me. The complicity of a millennial black mayor and predominantly black council in Alabama's largest city in the controversial relocation of a Sherman Industries concrete manufacturing plant that spews particle pollution in the air every day that will slowly cause premature death and disease among the 39,340 mostly black residents in Birmingham’s Five Points West community has floored me.

The power players in this “death and disease by air pollution” drama are hiding among us in plain sight. Nobody has ever connected the dots or exposed them -- until now.

I am almost done sifting through the thousands of pages of documents that tell the true story of why the residents in the Five Points West community must suffer and die from a new wave of air pollution. Because the culprits in this saga are masters of deceit and have an endless ability to peddle false narratives to the black community, I am meticulously documenting this unprecedented betrayal of an entire black community in 2019 by city officials who were elected to advance and protect the political interests of these residents.

This betrayal of trust occurred long before these city officials were sworn into office. And, it is rooted in the death and betrayal that occurred decades ago in a country that made the extermination of human beings a household word.

The Sonderkommando in Nazi Germany

In Nazi Germany, the Jewish men who led their fellow men, women, and children to the gas chambers in Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps were called the Sonderkommando. These men were also tasked with taking the Nazis’ victims from the gas chambers and disposing of the bodies.

According to, the work of the Sonderkommando was shrouded in mystery and often performed under the threat of death. The word Sonderkommando means “special unit” in German, and from the start, the men tasked with helping the Nazis lived lives that were very different from those of other prisoners in the concentration camps.

Young prisoners -- all able-bodied men -- were selected for the Sonderkommando unit when they arrived at camp and were forced to serve without being given a briefing on what their tasks would be. Since the men were required to lift corpses, they were given better rations than other prisoners. They were also kept in isolation; most never interacted with other prisoners at the camp aside from other members of the unit and those who were about to be murdered.

The duties of Sonderkommando varied, but all entailed helping the Nazis move along their extermination of Jews. The Nazis did the actual killing, dropping Zyklon B pellets into gas chambers, but the Sonderkommando were forced to do nearly everything else. They helped maintain order among prisoners who were about to be killed, lying and telling them that they needed to take showers before rejoining their families. They removed the naked bodies from the gas chamber, picked them over for gold teeth and hidden valuables, and cut their hair off to sell to German companies to be used for cloth, ammunition packaging and other purposes. They also sorted the clothing and personal effects the murder victims had left behind. They carried the bodies to the crematoria and stuffed them into the ovens. Then they ground the remaining bones and took the ashes to various dumping sites to hide the evidence.

Today's Sonderkommando in Birmingham

Today, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and the predominantly black city council are prepared to serve in a modern-day version of the Sonderkommando. They know that air pollution is the world's #1 environmental risk factor for premature death and disease, but they do not care enough about this adverse impact on the Five Points West community to stop it. In fact, this City Hall crowd is ready, willing, and able to surrender the residents in this community to certain death and disease from Sherman Industries’ steady flow of dangerous air pollution.

I was not surprised about Sherman Industries's cavalier attitude towards the health, safety, and lives of the residents in the Five Points West community. After all, Sherman Industries is an affiliate of the HeidelbergCement Group, which was a known Nazi collaborator during World War II.

I was very surprised at the willingness of Mayor Woodfin and the city council to serve as the Sonderkommando for Sherman Industries. Unlike the Sonderkommando in Nazi Germany, Mayor Woodfin’s and the city council's betrayal of the residents in Five Points West is not made under any threat of death to him or the council. Instead, this sellout is based entirely upon the exchange of money and influence peddling. It is unprecedented in scale and scope in the history of politics for the intended beneficiaries of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

All of the dots have been connected, and all of the players will be exposed in Sunday’s exclusive blockbuster investigative report.

Stay tuned!

PHOTO: Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin is serving in a modern-day Sonderkommando role for Sherman Industries. Coming Sunday, we will tell you why.

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