Law and Disorder Radio – Mike Hamlin on Black Workers in Detroit – Remembering Journalist and Author Henri Alleg – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

Ex-CIA Station Chief Robert Seldon Lady Arrested in Panama But Released

Warrants are Likely for CIA Station Chiefs or Officials Whose Names are Known When Leaving U.S.

Law and Disorder Interview – A Kidnapping in Milan









Dick-Gregory-at-BOP1-938x1024 Lynne Stewart: Continued Support for Compassionate Release from Prison

Political prisoner, attorney, activist and friend Lynne Stewart was recently denied compassionate release on the grounds that her health is improving. Not only is that untrue, it’s cynical. Cancer has spread to her lungs as Lynne is held in isolation. Her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk of generalized infection. Lynne was convicted on charges related to materially aiding terrorism, related to her representation of Omar Abdel Rahman. Her original 2-year sentence was increased to 10 years after the government pressured the trial judge to reconsider his sentencing decision.

Please call to push for Lynne’s release from prison.

  • U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels – 202-307-3198 ext. 3
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-514-2001
  • President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111

Guest – Ralph Poynter, Lynne’s husband and an activist.


Black Workers in Detroit

Last month, our guest, retired auto worker and activist Dianne Feeley discussed the plans of the emergency manager of Detroit, Kevyn Orr, that would wipe out the pensions and health benefits of all current and retired city workers. Nine billion dollars in worker benefits are in the crosshairs of this plan that would impoverish 20,000 retirees on fixed incomes. There are only 10,000 city employees left in Detroit, who’ve had their pay cut by 10 percent, and now their medical care as well. This has made international news. Today we look at the history of Detroit from the perspective of black workers and how what’s happening now can fit into the broader pattern of oppression.

Mike Hamlin:

  • I came to Detroit from sharecropping country in Mississippi. We landed in a suburb of Detroit that was segregated.
  • My father was run out of Mississippi, just ahead of the sheriff. His sister lived out here. We lived in a housing project, a 2-bedroom apartment. There were 8 of us in this 2-bedroom apartment. The people looked out for and cared for each other. My mother was only 15 years older than me, so we grew up together.
  • It was a peaceful community, sometimes interrupted by weekend drinking, arguing and spousal abuse.
  • At that time we were so completely repressed and segregated. Those of us in the South were prepared for that because in the South you had to learn to keep your place.
  • We’d submit and we played the game. Go to school or go to the factory.
  • Most of my friends quit school and went into the factory. My father advised me to do the same but I wouldn’t.
  • The factories at that time were hiring and he eventually got into Ford.
  • Most of the black workers there either worked at Ford or Great Lakes Steel.
  • The typical pattern was they moved to the, north got a job in the plant, bought a new car.
  • He used to be quite a cotton picker. The Ford job was like play to him. He worked a lot of overtime–kind of typical.
  • The situation with the bankruptcy of Detroit is kind of a culmination.
  • If you know black history, there’s a history of destroying black communities that are prosperous.
  • You look at Tulsa, Rosewood.
  • There has always been bitter racial hatred in Michigan.
  • The racial aspect of this bankruptcy should not underplayed or underestimated.
  • People outside of Detroit have been tearing it down since the ’50s.
  • There’s joy in Mudville now that Detroit is bankrupt.
  • Quicken Loans gives its employees incentives to move into downtown lofts and apartment complexes.
  • Detroit is going to prosper again.
  • The population is changing. It was 85 percent black. It hasn’t been counted recently.

Guest – Mike Hamlin, co-founder of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. For 35 years, Hamlin worked as a social worker and addiction therapist. He is currently a professor of Africana Studies at Wayne State University.


Remembering Journalist and Author Henri Alleg

In November of 2007, we were fortunate to interview French-Algerian journalist Henri Alleg. Henri passed away last week. He was 91. We talked with him about his book, The Question, a moving account of his arrest and torture at the hands of French paratroopers during the Algerian War of Independence. The book became a bestseller and created major public debate in France. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the preface that remains a relevant commentary on the moral and political effects of torture on the both the victim and perpetrator. The book was eventually banned by the authorities.

Professor Marnia Lazreg:

  • I had worked on the issue of torture during the Algerian War of 1954-62.
  • I read Henri Alleg’s The Question. It really struck a chord with me.
  • There were times in my research and writing where I lost complete faith in humanity or the notion of humanism.
  • I lived in the Arab area of Algiers where I was going to high school and in the mornings I would see hundreds of men in line at the unemployment office.
  • I read The Question and I realized he was speaking to me.
  • He was tortured mercilessly, and he didn’t talk, he didn’t crack.
  • He was the also the first French intellectual who blew the whistle on the hypocrisy of the colonial military establishment, which was spreading this news that they were in Algeria to save this country.
  • What Alleg wanted to do was show in a very powerful manner that France had not changed from the Middle Ages.
  • In fact, France was engaging in the same practices 9 years after it fought fascism, Nazism in Europe.
  • He was writing about what happened to him while it was still fresh in his mind. Memories become jumbled, the suffering is so intense.
  • He was writing on cigarette paper and he had it smuggled out of the prison. It showed something about Alleg’s personality. He was not going to be muzzled, or silenced. He was going to continue to resist.
  • What he said couldn’t be denied because he bore the signs of torture in his own flesh.
  • Sartre asked how could such young men exhibit this kind of hatred toward the Algerians and those that supported the Algerians.
  • Alleg asked me to have dinner at his home. We had a marvelous dinner. With him I did not have to explain the premises of my views or my opinion.
  • We never met before but I could talk to him and he could understand what I was talking about.
  • We live in an age where humanism is a bad word. Anti-humanism is very well established in academic institutions.
  • To me, Alleg represented perhaps one of the last figures of the humanist era. It was an era also when you had people who fought for what is human, what is worth dying for–preserving that basic fundamental human dignity which characterizes all human beings regardless of their race, nationality.

Guest –  Marnia Lazreg is a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her books include Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad and The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question.

Past Law and Disorder interview with Henri Alleg

Past Law and Disorder interview with Marnia Lazreg