Abayomi Azikiwe, Pan-African News Wire editor, and Ann at Camp Casey Detroit on August 31, 2005 (Photo by Patricia Lay-Dorsey).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
Tenth Anniversary of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Since October of 2006, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality (DCAPB) has commemorated the tenth anniversary of a consistent effort to organize a movement in defense of the people in their struggle to end misconduct by law-enforcement. The last decade has not only exposed the fact that police violence is still alive and well in the city of Detroit, but that there is a lack of willingness to tackle this persistent problem within two successive administrations.
Since 1996, the Coalition has worked on behalf of many individuals, families and organizations in their efforts aimed at winning justice from a legal and judicial system that often supports the interests of the abusers as opposed to those of the victims. In a recent act of brutal treatment resulting in death of a juvenile, the DCAPB has worked with the family of Maurice McClain, who was found dead in a cell at the Wayne County Jail. Despite the fact McClain was only 17 years old when he met his fate, he ended his life in a lock-up built for adults, not minors.
On Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at the DCAPB hosted a press conference in support of Maurice McClain’s mother and family. At this event the family and their attorney announced the filing of a $25 million lawsuit for what they call the wrongful death of their loved one.
A press release issued by the DCAPB summed up the issues surrounding the tragic death of Maurice McClain:
“The family of 17-year-old Maurice McClain, who died in the Wayne County Jail on April 29th, 2006 of an alleged hanging, has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. According to the complaint, the teen was allegedly beaten by sheriff’s deputies, transferred to the old Wayne County Jail from a psychiatric unit, and deprived of attention usually accorded juveniles who are incarcerated at the facility.
“The complaint cites three counts: deprivation of Michigan state constitutional rights; murder; and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“‘Had Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies done their job, Maurice McClain would be alive today,’ said Attorney Carrie Mitchell. Helen McClain, the deceased’s mother, said ‘I am just seeking justice for my son. His death has deeply distressed me and my entire family. He was more than my son; he was my best friend. I simply do not believe that he committed suicide.’
“The Coalition, which has worked on this case from the beginning, is seeking criminal prosecution for those who may have been involved in McClain’s death. ‘Hopefully these matters can be handled here in Wayne County,’ said Coalition spokesperson Ron Scott, ‘but at whatever level or jurisdiction that this death is handled, we will fight for justice for this young man who was too young to die in such a horrible manner.’
“While the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department said in a recent Freedom of Information Act request that the investigation in McClain’s death was still ongoing, the Wayne County Medical Examiner and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office have ruled the death a suicide.”
The McClain case and others are discussed every Sunday morning on a DCAPB-sponsored radio program called “Fighting for Justice,” broadcast from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on 1310 AM, WDTW, the Detroit affiliate of Air America Radio. Guests for the “Fighting for Justice” radio program represent a broad array of social and political life, including attorneys, judges, community activists, educators and artists.
This weekly program is co-hosted by Ron Scott, spokesperson of the Coalition; Sandra Hines, artist and community leader; and Abayomi Azikiwe, who has worked with the Coalition since its inception. Listeners are encouraged to call in and join the dialogue at 248-848-1310.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the Editor of the Pan-African News Wire. Azikiwe has worked for the last seven years as a broadcast journalist on five different radio stations in Detroit and Toronto. He has contributed several articles to Critical Moment and has been published in a host of periodicals and websites throughout the United States, Canada and the world.