community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show... * Charges are dropped against the men arrested for twittering during the G20. * Economic Awareness Day addresses the economic realities and historical legacy of the Homewood-Brushton area * An interview with Michelle Gross of the Twin Cities Copwatch program * The Other Men photo exhibit gives another face to transgender issues * And more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for November 9, 2009
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...
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.
We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:
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 from our website at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local stories.
The Allegheny County District Attorney dropped all charges against Elliot Madison and Michael Wallschlaeger, the famed G20 Twitterers who were arrested during the Pittsburgh Summit in late September of this year. The two activists were arrested and charged with numerous felonies for setting up a communications network that allowed people to tweet about the activities of protestors and police during the G20 Summit. Madison says he was surprised that their charges were dropped before they even had a preliminary hearing, even though he thought their charges were ridiculous
* ElliotTwitter1.ogg: ElliotTwitter1.ogg :37
This case had gained worldwide recognition as the United States government had publicly applauded protestors use of Twitter in Iran following the recent election, yet had criminalized similar behavior in the U.S. Madison believes the government dropped the charges partially because of this bad publicity.
* ElliotTwitter2.ogg: ElliotTwitter2.ogg :46
Madison says the news is only a partial victory, because the court overturned an injunction that prevented the FBI from going through their belongings, which were seized in a 16 hour raid of their New York city home in early October. A federal grand jury is currently investigating Madison and possibly his wife and roommates.
* ElliotTwitter3.ogg: ElliotTwitter3.ogg :30 seconds
Madison and his lawyer Marty Stolar are now filing an appeal challenging the warrant that authorized the FBI to raid his home on the grounds that the warrant is too broad and that by keeping the warrant sealed the FBI is violating their first amendment rights.
As reported by the New Pittsburgh Courier, there have been 71 homicides in Allegheny County as of Thursday November 5th. The victims range in age from 5 to 67 years old.
The figures are down from the 2008 total of 120 murders in the county. The year 2007 saw 98 homicides. What continues to trouble Allegheny County residents and particularly the black community, is not only the senseless violence, but also the disproportionate numbers of black men representing the deaths.
Out of the 71 homicides thus far, 49 are African Americans and 43 of the 49 are black men. African Americans account for 69% of the homicide victims in the county, however they make up just 13% of the total county population.
Several anti-violence rallies and vigils have been held in honor of the victims. In late October, over 500 people gathered at Epiphany Catholic Church to network and share community improvement strategies. Representatives of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network discussed issues including economic development, immigration, racial profiling, health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, drug activity, and blight. They pointed to their campaign to reduce illegal activities on church grounds as one effective measure to reducing social problems in Pittsburgh's poorest communities.
That was a performance by students from Helen S. Faison Arts Academy in Homewood at the opening of the Economic Awareness Day on October 31st, 2009. The residents in Homewood area organized a community event with food, music, vendors, and speakers to talk about the economic realities and historical legacy of the Homewood-Brushton area. Homewood is a predominantly African American neighborhood in Pittsburgh and has the reputation of one of the most dangerous places to live in the city. However, John Brewer, owner of the Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum and a resident who grew up in Homewood, spoke about the important historical legacy of Homewood and the community atmosphere he enjoyed while growing up in the area. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Brewer's talk about Homewood's own Black Millionaire district.
Residents like Shirley Fuller of Operation Better Block, a non-profit community revitalization organization in Homewood, talks about returning to her community to revitalize residences and prevent them from falling into decay.
Ms. Fuller continues by talking about the revitalization efforts and how the residents need to get involved or risk the gentrification of their community.
Finally, Rustbelt spoke to one of the vendors about his thoughts on the importance of such events.
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
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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.
On November 7, hundreds marched in the Black is Back rally and march, which was organized by a coalition of African American activists. The rally touched on a broad range of issues from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, granting of freedom to political prisoners, and police brutality. DC Indymedia brings us this report:
* black_is_back_nov7_mix.ogg: black is back rally 2:30
Columbus Community Radio Foundation brings us "On this day in History " for November 10th:
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
In the wake of the police abuses that took place during the G20, many in Pittsburgh are seeking accountability from the police and elected officials. Furthermore, police in Pittsburgh and other Allegheny County jurisdictions have a long history of brutality cases, particularly in communities of color, including the deaths of Johnny Gammage and Andre Thomas, the harassment of Pamela Lawton, and many incidents of tazer abuse. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota also have a long history of police brutality, and in response an active citizen cop watch program has formed. The Twin Cities Copwatch program is an all-volulnteer organization that has existed for nine years. It is well known nationally for its political work and its unique constituent-led organizing model. Today we’ll hear from Michelle Gross, one of the founders of the Twin Cities Copwatch program.
The Twin Cities Copwatch program has four levels of work: advocacy for people experiencing police brutality, political work to change public policy around police brutality, bringing survivors together for personal healing and empowerment through demanding accountability, and public education around police brutality.
The most basic function of the Copwatch program is for ordinary citizens to go out on the streets with cameras in situations where cops are frequently abusive, to prevent the abuse from occurring through their presence.
Michelle describes the nuts and bolts of advocating with people who have experienced police brutality:
A recent example of the group’s political work is their effort to hold the current county sheriff accountable for refusing to follow any of the disciplinary recommendations of the Civilian Review Authority. The Civilian Review Authority is a board that reviews allegations of police misconduct, similar to Pittsburgh’s Citizens Police Review Board. She recounts the message Copwatch gave to the CRA:
Michelle on the relationship of the Copwatch program to the Civilian Review Authority:
Michelle describes another example of grassroots political work during the lead up to the Republican National Convention in 2008.
When the ordinance was brought to the city council, Copwatch members disrupted a council meeting by serving each council member with a paper listing their demands, then taking the podium to tell the council and the mayor how they felt.
Twin Cities’ Copwatch also does public education:
Michelle describes the group’s structure:
Most of the volunteers are not lawyers or legal professionals, but over time they have gained the skills and experience to help others navigate the process of holding individual cops accountable, and to pressure the political system. They work with lawyers to pursue litigation and civil suits against cops.
To learn more about the Twin Cities Copwatch program, Communities United Against Police Brutality, you can visit their website at: CUAPB.org
We'll be back after this musical break...
That was KRS-1 with Sound of Da Police
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WPTS Pittsburgh, WNJR Washington, WIUP Indiana and WOBC Oberlin.
Our hosts and contributors this week are Jessica McPherson and Carlin Christy with additional contributions from Andalusia Knoll, Kara Holsopple, Seth Bearden, Khalid Harun, and Juliana Stricklen. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson and Phill Cresswell. 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.