On this week's show...
* Leaders of the black community respond to a new report showing Pennsylvania has the highest rate of black homicide victims in the nation
* We take a look at the case of Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier on the 31st anniversary of his arrest
* A New York City council member discusses racial profiling
* The Coalition of Immokalee workers speak on the connections between Fast Food Corporations and Farmworkers wages
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
Leaders of the black community respond to a new report showing Pennsylvania has the highest rate of black homicide victims in the nation
We take a look at the case of Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier on the 31st anniversary of his arrest
A New York City council member discusses racial profiling
The Coalition of Immokalee workers speak on the connections between Fast Food Corporations and Farmworkers wages
Rustbelt Radio airs live every Monday from 6-7 PM on WRCT 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, PA, and again on Tuesday mornings 9-10 AM. We're also on Pacifica affiliate WVJW Benwood, 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area, on Thursdays from 6-7 PM. And we're on at a new time on WPTS - 10-11AM on Wednesday mornings on 92.1 FM from the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local headlines.
[2:45] Onorato Picket
On Janurary 3rd, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland announced their intention to cut over half of the county's bus routes and to leave over four hundred transit workers jobless beginning June 25, 2007. Dan Onorato is quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying, "This is to save the Port Authority, to remain a strong urban center...it's long overdue."
Onorato and Bland have held 8 public hearings in which there has been overwhelming opposition to these transit cuts. Disabled people, working families, and students alike rely on many of the bus routes that may be terminated with these cuts.
Save our Transit, a group at the forefront of this opposition, held a small picket outside of Dan Onorato's re-election party on the South Side, on Saturday February 10th. Amanda Zeiders of Save Our Transit, said they wanted Dan Onorato to know there is a strong presence of people dedicated to Public Transit.
Steve Donahue, one of the picketers, spoke with Blast Furnace Radio:
Zeiders handed out 60 "I vote for public transit" stickers and said she and the picket in general received an overwhelming positive response. For more information on upcoming Save Our Transit events call 412 361-3022.
[1:30] Ohio Prisons
The Ohio State Penitentiary is a 502-inmate capacity supermax prison in Youngstown, Ohio, just across the state line from New Castle, Pennsylvania. Prisoners are locked in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day in concrete cells measuring 7½ x 11 feet. Each cell has a sink and toilet, small desk, concrete stool and concrete slab with a thin mattress. Prisoners in OSP are complaining that the prison is unsanitary and in need of repair.
Abigail of Community Matters, a program on WRUW-Cleveland, has more:
ohio prison (1:05)
That was Abigail of Cleveland Indymedia's radio program Community Matters.
[2:00] Word on the Street
For this week's edition of 'Word on the Street' Rustbelt Radio asked the question 'what do you think of Valentine's Day?'
Word on the street in Bloomfield...
That was Scott and Darla, two Bloomfield residents. Another Bloomfield resident, Sandy, agreed:
Manny had a different point of view:
David, of Squirrel Hill, another Valentine's Day detractor:
Christian, of Friendship, had a more cynical point of view:
Others, like Polish Hill resident Mark, had a more favorable outlook on the holiday:
Marilyn had this to say:
Other Bloomfield residents also focused on the love. James:
That was this week's 'Word on the Street'.
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
[ HMB BREAK RUSTBELT - 0:20 (fades down 0:10 in to start global intro) ]
You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.
[4:00] Burger King and CIW
On February 5, 2007, Burger King Corporation released a statement notifying the Coalition of Immokalee Workers of their decision not to meet the Coalition’s demands. The Coalition is an organization of farmworkers based in Immokalee, Florida. They have been meeting with fast food corporations like Burger King and McDonald’s in the past year, asking them to follow the steps of Taco Bell and pay a penny more per pound for the tomatoes they buy.
Gerardo Reyes Chaves of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers spoke with Rustbelt Radio about the connection between fast-food corporations and the Immokalee workers:
Gerardo, on the CIW’s response to Burger King’s statement:
To learn more about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, visit their website at www.ciw-online. org. On Tuesday, February 27, Celeste Escobar of the Student-Farmworker Alliance will speak at CMU about the Coalition. Contact pgh @sfalliance.org for more information.
[4:00 or 6:00] NYC Racial Profiling
A widespread system of racial profiling was recently revealed when the New York Police Department made thousands of pages of data, pertaining to police stops and frisks, publicly available. The data showed that in 2006, Police stopped over a half a million people on the streets of New York City, a number that increased five fold from the number of police stops that occured four years earlier. Fifty-five percent of those stopped were black and 30% were Latino, although the population of NYC is less than 27% black and 27% Latino
This data was released for the first time in 4 years even though Police are required to release this data quarterly.
The study contained data about each Police Precinct and showed that in East New York, a low income mostly people of color area of Brooklyn, police stop a person on average every 24 minutes. This is in sharp contrast to the mostly white, relatively affluent, First Precinct that encompasses Battery Park, Wall Street, TriBeCa and SoHo, where one person was stopped about every 16 hours.
Citizens, Activists, and City Council people alike are outraged over the data released in this report. Council Member Charles Barron, who represents East New York, Brooklyn was interviewed on Wake Up Call about this systematic racial profiling.
Councilman Barron had additional recommendations:
* charles3optional.ogg: 2:00
That was City Council Member Charles Barron, representing East New York, speaking on WBAI's program Wake Up Call.
[4:00] Marcha Migrante
Last week, Rustbelt Radio reported on proposed immigration fee hikes that would more than double the cost of applying for US citizenship. This week, a caravan of immigrant rights activists is making its way across the southern border of the US, to gather stories about immigrant life and struggle, to pay tribute to those who have died crossing the border, and to get the word out about the need for humane and comprehensive immigration reform. The second ever Marcha Migrante began in San Diego on February 2nd and will continue onto Brownsville Texas, and back to San Diego. Today, the march is scheduled to stop at Hutto and San Antonio Texas. On February 17th, it will culminate in an all people’s immigration hearing in San Diego.
On January 31, Uprising Radio from KPFK Los Angeles spoke to Enrique Morones, founder of Marcha Migrante. An excerpt from the interview:
* Marcha_Migrante_Dos.wav: Marcha Migrante Dos (3:15)
For more information on Marcha Migrante Dos, visit www.border angels.org.
[1:30] Bus Buyout
FirstGroup, the largest bus company in the UK acquired the Greyhound bus fleet last week, in a 3.6 billion dollar deal. This deal also turned FirstGroup into the largest operator of yellow school buses. The CEO said that [quote] "The Americans have bought up two of our football clubs in Manchester United and Liverpool, so we are going after their school buses."
FirstGroup has been providing some school busing in the US since 1999, with a checkered history. Last January, schools in Columbus, Ohio had to be closed for a day because FirstGroup did not complete background checks on their drivers. Subsequent investigation found that one driver had three driving-under-the-influence violations. In St. Paul, Minnesota, a FirstGroup driver, who had killed a man while driving a school bus, was found to have been driving with a suspended license at the time of the accident.
In the UK, activist groups are organizing around the poor service provided by FirstGroup. The group “We Want Our Buses Back” contends that it was privatization of the bus and rail system 20 years ago that has led to the fare hikes and service cuts. Since that time bus journeys have fallen from 350 million to 112 million. This month began a campaign entitled 'Worst Bus' at the University of Leeds to fight against the continually poor service and rising prices of First Buses in the Leeds and Headingley area.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
[16:00] Community Forum on Violence
On February 8th, the Black Political Empowerment Project and One Hood held a press conference to address a recent report by the Violence Policy Center showing that Pennsylvania has the highest rate of black homicide victims in the nation. In 2006, 79% of Allegheny County’s homicide victims were black, while only 13% of the population is black. That rate is more than one and a half times the national average. Handguns were used in 81% of Pennsylvania’s homicides. In attendance at the press conference were about fifty representatives of churches, mosques, community organizations, political organizations, and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Today we’ll hear excerpts from those who spoke. There will be a follow-up work session on Tuesday, Feb. 20th to identify implementation strategies.
Tim Stevens of BPEP introduced the event:
Paradise Grey of One Hood, a group working to resolve gang violence:
Michael Turner, a 14 year old youth from Homewood:
Jasiri X, a representative of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, gave a personal perspective and also a message from Farrakhan.
Valerie Dixon lost her son to gun violence in 2001: now she works with the Center for Victims of Violence & Crime, and with Divine Intervention Ministries:
Some time was allotted for elected officials and candidates for office to respond to the black community’s concerns.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:
City Council president Doug Shields:
City Council member & mayoral candidate Bill Peduto:
School board member Randall Taylor:
Several speakers advocated spiritual solutions:
Finally, Tim Stevens introduced Khalid Rahim:
BPEP and One Hood’s follow-up work session will be held on Tuesday February 20th at the Hill house. It is open to all who are willing to work to solve the problem of violence in Pittsburgh’s communities.
[3:00] Musical Break
That was Talib Kweli with Gun Music
[15:00] Leonard Peltier
February 6th marked the 31st anniversary of the FBI's arrest of Leonard Peltier, an indigenous rights organizer and member of the Anishanabe and Dakota/Lakota nations. Peltier worked actively in the American Indian Movement, or AIM, in solidarity with the Oglala/Lakota people at Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. At the time of Peltier's arrest, AIM activists at Pine Ridge reservation had been facing violence and intimidation from law enforcement officials.
Following a shoot-out on June 26, 1975 at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Peltier was accused of the murder of FBI Special agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, and arrested the following February. According to FBI documents, more than 40 people participated in the gunfight, but only AIM members Bob Robideau, Darrell Butler, and Leonard Peltier were brought to trial. Three teenage witnesses who testified against Leonard Peltier all admitted later that the FBI terrorized them and forced them to testify. Still, not one witness identified Peltier as the shooter responsible for the deaths of Williams and Coler.
Today, Leonard Peltier remains imprisoned in Lewisburg Prison in Pennsylvania, on two consecutive life sentences. During his imprisonment, he has fought tirelessly for non-violent resolution of conflict among Native American tribes, prison abolition, and human rights. A visual artist, Peltier produces pastel and oil works reflecting indigenous traditions and experiences.
Among the many supporters of Peltier who demand his release are Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Amnesty International, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. To date, over 6000 FBI documents on Leonard Peltier's case remain undisclosed. Under the Executive Order 12958, FBI documents should be automatically declassified after 25 years.
Rustbelt Radio brings you an excerpt of a tribute to the political prisoner Leonard Peltier on Sprouts Radio Santa Cruz, from their August 2, 2005 show:
For updates on Leonard Peltier's case, visit the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee at www.leonardpeltier.net.
Calendar of Events
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
Tuesday the 13th, the University of Pittsburgh will sponsor a lecture entitled "Immigration and Racism in Europe: Old Prejudices, New Challenges". The event will be held at room 2017 of the Cathedral of Learning from 12-1:30 pm.
On Wednesday, February 14th, Planned Parenthood will be giving out free Emergency Contraceptive to people ages 18 and up. Visit the health center at 933 Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh beginning at 8AM to receive a free supply.
On Thursday the 15th, there will be a screening in Braddock of the film "Bombies", which highlights the use of cluster bombs during the Vietnam War. The movie will begin at 7pm at the Braddock Library Music Hall, 419 Library Street.
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WVJW Benwood and WPTS Pittsburgh.
Our hosts this week are Carlin Christy and Tracy Braswell with contributions from Vani Natarajan, Jessica McPherson, Andalusia Knoll, Diane Amdor, and Abraham Flaxman. This week's show was produced by Donald Deeley and Matt Toups. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available for download or podcast on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.