Riverwise Podcast, episode 11, “Detroiters Bill of Rights with Renard Monczunski”

As we end the year 2020, Detroit People’s Platform Transit Justice team member Renard Monczunski gives Riverwise Podcast listeners reason to be optimistic about 2021. Renard is part of a broad, community-based coalition brought together by Detroit councilmembers Mary Sheffield and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez in order to radically reform the city government. Together the group has introduced a ‘Detroiters’ Bill of Rights’, which reflects decades of work by grassroots organizations to provide affordable water, guarantee a healthy environment, and provide increased mobility and disability justice. The ‘Detroiters’ Bill of Rights’ increases community control of policing, putting into practice efforts to dismantle racist systems. We will have the opportunity to approve the Detroiters’ Bill of Rights— among other City Charter revisions submitted by community members— in the November 2021 election. Renard explains why We should celebrate this opportunity to enshrine what could be the most progressive city charter in the nation.

Riverwise Podcast, episode 10, “The Amazon Deal: a Critical Look”

Sugar Law Center Attorney Tonya Myers-Phillips,

State Fairgrounds Development Coalition members, Frank and Karen Hammer

In this tenth episode of the Riverwise Podcast, we hear from three Detroiters fighting for public involvement as the Mayor looks to fast-track the sale of Detroit’s State Fairgrounds property to one of the world’s richest corporations.

What does the Amazon deal offer besides unskilled jobs— jobs that aren’t even promised to Detroiters? What broader economic and social opportunities do we miss out on when we continue to talk only in terms of the ‘job system’? What about the environmental impact for thousands of eastsiders? Should the Detroit City Council have insisted on more from Amazon in terms of community benefits?

Frank and Karen Hammer from the State Fairgrounds Development Coalition, which conceived the community-driven METAExpo plan, and Sugar Law Center attorney Tonya Myers-Phillips divulge how Mayor Duggan is avoiding the truth about Amazon job creation and bypassing Detroit’s recently established Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO).

Riverwise Podcast, episode 9: Author and Poet Roohee Marshall

In this ninth episode of the Riverwise Podcast, we’re joined by poet and author Roohee Marshall. Marshall has collected the insights and wisdom of 40 African-American elders through a series of comprehensive interviews. The volume, entitled A Generation Found: Precious Pearls of Wisdom, is a labor of love, inspired partly by a roadside conversation with 93-year old Ionia Woods, and partly by Roohee’s own upbringing in Natchez, Mississippi. Marshall shares with us her own childhood memories and the process that led to curating this profound collection.

In the midst of a year of collective emotional and physical health well beyond our expectations, Generation Found is needed therapy, healing through powerful, yet plainspoken, ancestral narratives.

For more information, or to purchase online, visit: https://www.rooheemarshall.com

Riverwise Podcast, episode 8: Nakia Wallace of Detroit Will Breathe

Detroit Will Breathe continues to play a critical role in nationwide protests against police brutality– actions that have endured for over 100 days. In our ninth episode of the Riverwise Podcast, leading Detroit Will Breathe activist Nakia Wallace takes us inside the struggle to maintain a resistance that is being waged on both a local and national front.

During the August 22 Detroit Will Breathe protest in downtown Detroit, we witnessed perhaps the Detroit Police Department’s most brutal response to peaceful protests yet, during which medics, journalists and legal observers, in addition to protestors, continued being physically assaulted and injured, tear-gassed, and having masks pulled off their faces before being with pepper-sprayed and maced. Detroit Will Breathe has since filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Detroit for “unnecessary, unreasonable and excessive violence” during that protest and the dozens of others that have been held since the May 25 murder of George Floyd.

As federal agents sent by the Trump regime enter the streets of Detroit, Wallace incorporates a historical perspective on resistance to government oppression against Black voices and asks why Detroit political leaders accept federal aid to increase law enforcement but refuse to demand the critical aid we need in the form of basic health services?

Riverwise Podcast, episode 7, Detroit Will Breathe and Protesting with Tristan Taylor

The coalition Detroit Will Breathe has been leading protests through the boulevards and side streets of Detroit for almost two months. The direct action campaign for the end of racist police violence and systemic violation of black lives is keeping the broader movement for social justice energized and on the offensive. Organizers associated with Detroit Will Breathe have drafted a comprehensive list of demands that includes the release of detained protesters, the defunding and demilitarization of the police department, the end of Project Greenlight and facial recognition technology, and several others.

In this latest episode of the Riverwise Podcast, Tristan Taylor, one of Detroit Will Breathe’s organizers speaks on the formation of the coalition, and how developing key relationships will further empower this fight to fund basic services and community resources, alleviating our dependence on punitive justice and over-policing.

Interview recorded on July 8, 2020

Riverwise Podcast, episode 6, Chris White director of Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality

Ongoing police brutality leading to the death of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, and countless others has sparked street-level action nationwide. In our sixth episode of the Riverwise podcast, Amas and Eric speak with Chris White, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality (DCAPB) as he addresses the challenges of reimagining policing in Detroit.
Working in Detroit neighborhoods since the mid-1990s, the DCAPB has focused on conflict mediation and restorative justice to address police misconduct and police brutality. The DCAPB has been instrumental in advocating for victims’ rights in and out of court, and provides material and spiritual support for victims of gun violence and police brutality throughout the city.

Recent national organizing around the Movement for Black Lives reflects new thinking about policing and racial justice. Detroit protests have included demands for the City to go beyond mere reform and straight to transforming policing entirely. White has been clear about his personal support for ongoing mass street protests for racial justice in Detroit and across the nation. But he remains cautious regarding the possible disconnects between more radical positions taken by many protesters, and residents in the city who are the most impacted by police policy. Will that ideological divide provide the Mayor and Police Chief ample public support for maintaining the status quo?
Join us in what we hope will be part one of a vital dialogue with Chris White, recorded on June 23, 2020.

For more on the DPACB, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/dcapb/

Here in Detroit and across the country, people are self-organizing around the American legacy of police brutality. The call to defund police is being made and people around the world are responding.

Rallies and community meetings are occurring outside of the Detroit Police Headquarters prior to sustained protest actions. The democratic process emerging in these spaces has led to a list of vital demands from the City and Police Chief. Behind the scenes, organizers are holding the Mayor and City Council accountable for allocating city funds according to basic needs— according to a ‘people’s budget.’

The questions that have surfaced in the streets of America are bringing together young emerging activists and longtime radical thinkers to collectively reassess the oppressive role of police in Black communities.

In this latest episode of the Riverwise podcast, recorded on day thirteen of worldwide protests, PG Watkins of Green Light Black Futures helps us understand that abolition, for entrenched oppressive systems, is both “a long-term stretegy and a daily practice.” We are seeing a radical shift in that greater numbers of people seem prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.

Thanks for joining us.

To follow up on PG Watkins’s commentary, visit: https://greenlightblackfutures.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/DetPeopleBudget/

In this fourth installment of the Riverwise podcast, Yolanda Jackson of the Coalition for Property Tax Justice reminds us that, leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, Detroiters were already in crisis. Due to inflated property assessments made by the City of Detroit during the years 2013-2019, property owners were overtaxed by an estimated $600 million. As a result, thousands of homes were unconstitutionally and illegally foreclosed due to nonpayment of property taxes.

Prior to the onset of COVID-19, academic studies had uncovered the depths of a foreclosure epidemic that also preys on the most vulnerable. Jackson joins hosts Amas Muhammed and Riverwise Editor Eric Campbell to discuss how community organizing is working to repair the overwhelming damage.

In this third installment of the Riverwise Podcast, Eric and Amas talk with Reverend Joan Ross from the North End Woodward Community Coalition, WNUC community radio, and the radio show, ‘My Block, My Hood, My City’.

Ross shares with us the vital work being done in the North End— providing aid services during the COVID-19 health crisis; battling the disproportionate effects of the pandemic in a majority-black neighborhood; and showing how community media is a resource for mutual well-being.

Self-determination is at the root of all the initiatives Ross has pursued, and through her accomplishments, we begin to see how divergent initiatives form a holistic approach to uplifting the community.

(Recorded on April 28, 2020 on Ringr)

In Riverwise podcast number two, Amas and Eric converse with longtime activist Maureen Taylor around her family-support role at Detroit Community High and the potential of their makerspace to build a community around the ongoing water crisis affecting Brightmoor residents. Taylor’s up-close perspective helps us understand the transformation taking place in DCH students as they realize their skills in a setting that promotes real problem-solving. Recorded on February 5, 2020 at the Detroit Is Different podcast studio.

Thank you to Maureen and all the Detroiters fighting for universal access to clean water.

While city leaders are trying to sell us on surveillance technology that is costly and ineffective, are we missing the greater opportunity to openly discuss the economic factors that lead to so-called criminal activity in the first place? Join hosts Amas Muhammed, Deangelus Garcia and Riverwise Managing Editor Eric T. Campbell as they talk to guests, Whitley Granberry (Detroit Justice Center), PG Watkins (BYP100 Detroit) and Rodd Monts (ACLU Michigan) about where more cameras put us as already over-policed, yet emerging communities.