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Thu, 10 Apr 1997 00:55:55 GMT

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**************************************************************************** ******************************* BLACK LIBERATION RADIO IN DECATUR RAIDED AGAIN (April 8, 1997)

Black Liberation Radio in Decatur, Illinois has been raided once again by state and local authorities.

On the morning of Tuesday, April 8, several uniformed Decatur police officers and representatives of the Illinois state attorney general's office came to the home of Napoleon Williams and Mildred Jones, the founders of Black Liberation Radio.

The officials produced no warrant, but they told Mildred Jones that her husband Napoleon Williams had been indicted by a grand jury for "felony eavesdropping." In the course of a conversation with Jones, the officials threatened that the couple's five-month-old son, Miracle, might be taken away from them. The officials stayed for several minutes, checking the basement of the couple's home on Center Street in Decatur to make sure that Williams was not there. They then watched the house for an hour. When Mildred Jones left the residence later in the day, they followed her.

This is the latest of many acts of official harassment. For six years, Black Liberation Radio, a small, unlicensed FM station, has courageously exposed police brutality and official misconduct. It played a particularly important role in helping to build ties between the African American poor of central Illinois and the largely white work force at the local Caterpillar Tractor plant during the bitter strike at that company during the early 1990s.

The April 8 raid follows a similar raid by state and local police officers which took place on January 9, 1997. In the January raid, officers seized broadcasting equipment. A search warrant for the January 9 raid authorized the police to look for evidence of "eavesdropping," a felony under Illinois law. However, many of the items seized in the January 9 raid had nothing to do with eavesdropping: compact discs, personal files, and a personal computer, for instance.

The threat made by the officers on April 8 -- that the state might take custody of the couple's five-month-old child, Miracle -- is particularly ominous. An Illinois state agency took custody of the couple's older daughter, Unique Dream, in 1992 and of the younger daughter, Atrue Dream, in 1994. The couple is still fighting to regain custody of those two children.

I spoke by phone with Mildred Jones on the evening of April 8. She stressed that Black Liberation Radio needs three things: donations, legal help, and media coverage. An out-of-town attorney may have to be hired for Napoleon Williams, and this could prove to be expensive.

Please spread the word about this incident. Donations and messages of support can be sent to: Mildred Jones, 629 E. Center Street, Decatur, Illinois 62526. [The phone number for Black Liberation Radio is (217) 423-9997.]

--- Chris Mahin, People's Tribune Editorial Board P.O. Box 3524 Chicago, IL 60654 phone: 773-486-3551 fax: 773-486-1728 e-mail: chris@noc.org


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