BlackBox Radio

June 20, 2006

BlackBox Radio for June 20, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 6:40 pm

On this week’s show: we explore the details of the ACLU case against the government’s wiretapping program (producer: Kris Kaul), and a report about the human rights disaster that is the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center (producers: Kate McCabe & Talia Salitsky). Plus local, national, and international headlines (click the ‘more’ link).

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

Local Headlines:
Ypsilanti Man Dies During Police Incident
Several Men Accuse Two Detroit Police Officers of Sexual Assault
Sex Segregated Public Schools Considered by MI Legislature
National and International Headlines:
Florida Bans Academic Travel to Cuba , Other ‘Sponsors of Terror’
South Central Farm Destroyed by City of LA, Big Business Interests
Public Housing Razed in New Orleans

Local Headlines

On June 1st, Clifton Lee Jr., a Ypsilanti resident died during an incident with police. Around 1:30 a.m., two Washtenaw County sheriff°¶s deputies pulled over a car for running a stop sign and realized both men in the car had outstanding warrants for their arrest.

As the two men were taken into custody and put into the patrol car,
investigators said, several family members of the men came out of their house and approached the squad car. One of them was Clifton Lee Jr., the brother of one of the men being taken into custody. It is unclear exactly what happened next, but Clifton Lee Jr. died shortly thereafter, while struggling with police.

The official statement of Sheriff Daniel Minzey said, “It progressed to a point where they felt the need to take him into custody. They did ensue with a struggle. Some pepper spray was deployed. He was handcuffed and then at some point it was determined that he wasn°¶t moving.” Clifton Lee Jr. was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

All 8 deputies involved in the altercation were put on administrative
leave, not as disciplinary action, but to make them available to answer questions and help with the investigation.


In a related story, The Michigan Citizen reports that two white Detroit police officers in Southwest Detroit have been accused of physically and sexually assaulting several black men and planting incriminating evidence on their victims.

According to testimony from several residents before the Detroit City Council, the officers assaulted a man named Byron Ogletree in front of a Sav-A-Lot store on May 31st. They pulled Ogletree out of his car, peppersprayed him, and beat him with a blackjack. Witnesses who testified about the incident also described how officers Osman and Parish publicly stripped Ogletree from the waist down and anally searched him in front of a crowd of onlookers.

One witness that was interviewed by The Michigan Citizen, stated that she saw one of the officers remove a sack that appeared to be drugs from under the squad car before patting Ogletree down, and take a gun from the back seat of the squad car to use as the weapon supposedly possessed by Ogletree.

Ogletree was arraigned June 5 on charges several charges, including “assaulting, resisting and obstructing” the officers. The charges carry a total of 37 years in prison as possible penalties.

Three other men have come forward to file complaints against officers Osman and Parish, stating that they were sexually assaulted or molested by the officers. At least two other residents of Southwest Detroit also told the Michigan Citizen that they had been molested and publicly humiliated by the officers in question.

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who sponsored the men’s testimony, was joined by other council members in calling for an immediate investigation of Osman and Parish.


A movement to allow all-boy or all-girl public schools in Michigan is gaining momentum in the Legislature.

The House Education Committee has scheduled a hearing on a proposal that would change state law to allow single-sex public schools in Detroit.
Advocates say single-sex schools would give families more educational options, improve classroom discipline and create a better learning environment for both boys and girls.

But critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union say the plan would violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU says it might sue if the legislation were to become law.

An ACLU spokesperson said the underlying problem could be a tendency to put more resources into one gender-based program than another, which results in inequality.


National and International Headlines:

The New Standard reports that the state of Florida has banned public funding for educational travel to five countries that the US State Department deems “state sponsors of terrorism” – most notably Cuba.

The academic community in Florida says the loss of Cuba as an educational partner will be devastating, and dozens of researchers have filed a lawsuit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming that the restrictions imposed by the law are unconstitutional.

The other four countries to which public university funding for travel will be banned are Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Libya is also on the list, but on May 15, President Bush restored diplomatic ties with the country and requested the removal of its terrorism-sponsor designation.

The ACLU has stated that fighting terrorism is not the true intention of the bill. “The primary effect of this legislation is to deny Americans information about other parts of the world,” said a spokesperson for the Florida ACLU. He went on to say that the travel ban is “an attempt by Florida to conduct foreign policy at the state level.”


Despite widespread popular resistance, the largest urban farm in the United States was evicted on the morning of June 13th. Its rows of vegetables and fruits were destroyed by bulldozers to make way for the construction of commercial warehouses.

Los Angeles Indymedia is reporting that at least 45 people were arrested, in many cases violently, while defending the farm from re-enclosure and destruction. There are also reports of injuries, witnesses reported seeing two people taken away in stretchers and an ambulance was called to the scene.

The destruction of the farm ends a three year struggle of the South Central Farmers against the interests of big business. Farmers and their supporters used many tactics to try to retain control of their land, including a successful effort to raise millions of dollars in order to try to buy the land on which the farm stood – a bid which was ultimately rejected. Farmers also engaged in a three-week occupation and treesit, lockdowns and blockades of the area, but ultimately were forced to watch as their plots were bulldozed by the city of Los Angeles.

The South Central Farm had been started on property taken from developers under eminent domain laws after the 1992 so-called ‘LA riots.” The land was divided into smaller plots for families to cultivate. In total, it provided healthy food for over three hundred and fifty families, most of whom lived at or below the poverty line. Supporters of the unique, urban farm have called it “an ecologically sustainable model for building urban economy and community with dignity in the midst of poverty.”


The New York Times reports that 5,000 public housing units will be destroyed in the city of New Orleans and replaced with developments that cater to a wider range of incomes. The move criticized by advocates of low-income residents and those displaced by Hurricane Katrina who have not been able to return to their homes.

Previous reports have criticized rebuilding efforts which prioritized wealthy districts while leaving low-income neighborhoods untouched. In other cases, residents returned to rent-gouging or to find their belongings thrown onto the street nd their locks changed. Rebuilding plans have specifically called for reducing the concentration of low-income residences which many have read as code for destroying the city’s African-American majority.

Housing and Urban Development Director Alphonso Jackson acknowledged the need for affordable housing and noted that 1000 apartments in complexes which survived the storm with little damage would become available in the next 60 days. This would do little to address the need for housing for displaced residents, however.

The demolition will be the largest in the city’s history and will completely obliterate the St. Bernard, C.J. Peete, B.W. Cooper, and Lafitte housing developments.




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