(en) Update On BlacK Liberation Radio's Harassment by Police

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Thu, 21 Aug 1997 19:41:40 +0000


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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 16:14:27 +0000 From: Sue Supriano <sues@ricochet.net> Reply-to: sues@ricochet.net

PRESS RELEASE, AUGUST 21, 1997

FREE MILDRED JONES!!! KEEP NAPOLEON WILLIAMS OUT OF PRISON SUPPORT BLACK LIBERATION RADIO, DECATUR, ILLINOIS-

Black Liberation Radio, run out of the house of Napoleon Williams and Mildred Jones, is an unlicensed micropower radio station in Decatur,IL.,-- a city of 100,000 with four major multinational corporations: Catepillar, Firestone, Archer Daniels Midland and Staleys. Black Liberation Radio has been on the air since 1990 addressing such issues as poverty, unemployment and police brutality. Macon County, the county where Decatur is located is Klan country and generally extremely racist. Though 16% of Decatur is African American, Black Liberation Radio is the only radio station where music with black artists and black perspectives can be heard. The radio station has consistently been a voice for working people and as more and more people listened the more the station was seen as a threat to the power structure. Napoleon Williams and Mildred Jones have endured a long history of harassment by local and state authorities, including arrests on dubious charges, raids, the removal of their children into foster care, etc.. They have both served time already for the dubious charges and thus it could be said that they have already been "political prisoners". The station was raided by the police (Notice, it's not even the FCC, but the police.) in Jan. at which time the broadcasting equipment was taken. A new transmitter was obtained with help from Free Radio Berkeley and the station was back on the air within two weeks. The second and last raid this year on Napoleon & Mildred's house took place on May 10 when, at the order of the Illinois Attorney General, a SWAT team broke down the front door and took Napoleon and Mildred to jail. Miraculously, the station remains on the air today, but with one founder in prison and the other facing prosecution.

On June 13 Mildred went to the Dwight Correctional Facility for Women, a maximum security facility and the only one in the state of Illinois that houses pregnant women. Mildred herself is over seven months pregnant and is extremely worried about how the conditions have and are presently affecting her unborn child. The nearest hospital is over twenty miles away from the facility and there is not even a full-time staffed hospital or medical facilities on the premises. Rumor has it that the facility has a horrible birth rate and also has a horrible rate for pregnant women having complications to the pregnancy. Her sentence is 3 years forprobation violation. The sentence stems from a Dec.1995 arrest on a shoplifting charge with state authorities alleging she stole a purse from Walmart. According to Napoleon the purse in question was Mildred's own purse. She was accused of stealing by store security after they did not see her enter the store carrying her purse. The reason she didn't have it was because Napoleon had already carried it inside earlier. The video of Napoleon carrying the purse inside myseriously disappeared and therefore could not be presented as evidence in court. Mildred has already served time for this charge. The probation officer alleges she violated her probation by missing or being late for several meetings and by not having completed her GED. Napoleon said that the missed meetings were explained and excused (one was coming from church a half hour late because of car trouble) and another probation violation was that Mildred was charged with not having gotten her GED when only 6 months had passed and she had been given 9. There were written excuses and letters of support for Mildrd which were never presented in court. Mildred and Napoleon's 2 daughters were already taken from them in1992 and 1993 and are in foster care. The taking of their children by the Department of Child and Family Services seems to be punishment for operating the radio station since, according to them, there have never been any accusations of maltreatment of the children. Napoleon refers to their two daughters as "the youngest political prisoners in the U.S.". They have another young son who is living somewhere else so he won't be taken into custody by DCFS also. It is certain that the child Mildred is expecting the end of September will be taken from Mildred if it is born in prison which it will be unless Mildred is released. Napoleon says Mildred could be put under house arrest, if necessary, rather than in prison, which, of course, would be a great improvement.

Napoleon is charged with eavesdropping-- a felony. He recorded conversations he had with workers in the Dept. of Child and Family Services about having their children returned to them. Due to his history with DCFS Napoleon was trying to protect himself by recording the phone converstations. His attorney, Scott Ealy (generously donating his time) is building his case on, what he considers to be, the weakness of the eavesdropping law and asking for the charges to be dropped. Ealy has excellent arguments for dropping the charges (You can read for yourself his arguments by tuning into his web page at http://www.effingham.net/medgar/page13.htm)but justice has been hard to find in Macon County. Public pressure might be helpful. We need to put a spotlight on their situation nationally so they know in Macon Couty that here's a support system for Napoleon Williams and Mildred Jones and we're watching. Napoleon Williams is out on bail now. On August 12 he went to court at which time the judge postponed the hearing. He has not at this time been assigned another court date.

Clearly these folks are victims of the legal and political system of Decatur that is trying to protect the interests of the corporations and institutions that Black Liberation Radio has been speaking out against. Mildred does not have an attorney. Given Mildred's experience with the Macon county court system she is trying to find independent legal representation and money to pay the court costs-- even with a public defender court there are certain court costs that must be paid. We must support these courageous folks in their battle to continue their free speech!!! And, of course, it's also in the wider interest of all of us who could be next. Word needs to get out that these two people's family has been broken up, their children have been taken away and they have become political prisoners for operating Black Liberation Radio. Cover the story, spread the word however you can-- the internet, contact your local television, radio stations and newspapers about their story. There has been virtually NO coverage of this injustice in the mainstream or alternative media. Even Pacifica Radio stations haven't covered it so far even though Democracy Now and several KPFA programmers have specifically been contacted. Haq at InterPress Service has written a very nice article which is much appreciated and the Tadctical Media Crew out of Italy have radio shows and spread the word there. If we put the national spotlight on them, get them some funds and an attorney to fight for Mildred Jones as soon as possible-- before Napoleon is sentenced and before their child is born-- we can make a difference. Flood the Illinois Governor, Jim Edgar and the Department of Corrections Transfer Coordinator, Diane Jockisch with letters asking for an independent (outside of Macon County) investigation of Mildred's and Napoleon's cases and ask that she AT LEAST be put under electronic monitoring or home detention) while the case is being investigated. Please let Napoleon or Mildred know that you sent a letter to the Governor and Ms. Jodkisch by sending them a note or a copy so they will have a sense of what kind of pressure is being exerted. They very much appreciate it!!

The Gov. is Jim Edgar, 207 Statehouse, Springfield, IL 62706. Be sure to mention Mildred's number, B49044 and that she is in the Dwight, Il. women's prison when writing to the Gov.

The Department of Corrections Transfer Coordinator, Diane Jockisch, 1301 Concordia Court, Box 19277-Administration Building, Springfield, Il. 62706

Mildred's address is Mildred Jones, B49044, P.O.Box 5001, Dwight, IL 60420. I'm sure she would appreciate any gestures of support. Even a postcard with one sentence would be helpful so their names become known. Napoleon Williams can be reached at 629 E. Center St., Decatur, IL 62526. His tel. numbers are (217) 423-2737 or (217) 9997. Funds for expenses should be sent to Napoleon with checks made out to him with a note on the check that its for BLR. TIME IS PRESSING! We must let the Governor and the judge know there's a support movement and we're watching! !

For much more detailed information Tracy Siska has a web page with lots of information about Black Liberation Radio. Check it out at http://burn.ucsd.edu/~blr

Thanks for your attention--

Sue Supriano Free Radio Berkeley, etc. (510) 540-8850 sues@ricochet.net

http://www.radio4all.org http://www.radio4all.org/freepacifica

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