civil rights

Law
7:50 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Lawsuit accuses Dearborn Police of assaulting mentally handicapped man

Ali Beydoun said he was assaulted by Dearborn police

A mentally handicapped Dearborn man plans to sue the city for alleged police brutality.

28-year-old Ali Beydoun was stopped by police while riding his bike home from his job as a dishwasher in December.

A dashcam video shows that an officer approaches him, and asks a few questions.

But when the officer tries to pat him down for weapons, Beydoun resists. He’s then wrestled to the ground and kicked by officers.

Beydoun’s lawyers say that same video shows officers used excessive force.

Attorney Amir Makled says it also should have been obvious to officers that his client is mentally disabled.

Makled says the situation was complicated by the fact that Beydoun only speaks limited English. His family emigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon six years ago.

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Investigative
11:07 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Detroit family inches toward answers in mystery of civil rights activist’s disappearance

Tamara Kamara, Robinson's youngest child, and widow, Cheryl Buswell-Robinson.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Click on the link to hear the on-air version of the story.

In the spring of 1973, Ray Robinson left his wife and three young children in Bogue Chitto, Alabama to support the occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

He never came home.

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It's Just Politics
5:43 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Michigan's same-sex marriage trial has political implications for state's GOP

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

We are one week, halfway through, the trial in federal court in Detroit centering on the challenge to Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The arguments are supposed to go on for another week, and then we’ll wait for the judge’s decision. But the case’s mere existence, the fact that it’s occurring, is having an effect on the political landscape in Michigan.

And, it should be noted that these hearings are not taking place within a vacuum. Just this week we saw two more gay marriage rulings. Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage was struck down and Kentucky was ordered to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

There is also another federal case underway here in Michigan that is challenging the state’s refusal to allow live-in partner benefits for public employees. It’s the mechanism that was created to allow same-sex couples to use their benefits to cover partners and children who would otherwise be denied coverage under Michigan’s marriage amendment, approved by voters in a statewide election 10 years ago.

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Stateside
4:45 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Protecting people's civil rights in Michigan

Matt Wesaw, executive board director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Casino Connection Flickr

In 1963, Michigan voters approved a new state constitution which set up the first Civil Rights Commission in U.S. history.

The Commission works to ensure each citizen receives equal protection without discrimination

Today, fifty years after the creation of the Commission, Matt Wesaw runs the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. A former state trooper, Wesaw is the first Native American to lead the Civil Rights Department.

Wesaw met with us in the studio to discuss the future of civil rights in Michigan.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
10:22 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights celebrates 50 years

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights was created as part of the state constitution drafted in 1963. It’s charged with enforcing civil rights laws and preventing discrimination.

Leslee Fritz is the department’s interim director. She told a group in Grand Rapids Tuesday night the state has come a long way to ensure civil rights in the last five decades.

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Law
7:08 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Clergy, civil rights groups in Detroit say they're not done fighting for Trayvon Martin

This undated photo of Trayvon Martin has become an iconic image.
Credit wikimedia commons

Civil rights activists say they’re not done trying to get justice for Trayvon Martin.

They have actions planned in Detroit and around the country to push for federal intervention in the Florida teen’s case.

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, a black, unarmed teenager, in 2012.

Zimmerman’s acquittal this past weekend has sparked national outrage—and questions about persistent racial inequities in the justice system.

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Law
3:04 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Michigan case could be the next affirmative action test for US Supreme Court

Affirmative Action protest on the Univesity of Michigan campus (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s state constitutional amendment barring racial preferences in university admissions and other public institutions might be the next major case dealing with affirmative action laws in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided today not to decide a Texas affirmative action case where a white student challenged the University of Texas’s admission policy that includes race as one of its deciding factors. 

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Politics & Government
2:58 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Bolger considers adding sexual orientation to civil rights law

Gays and lesbians in Michigan could be protected from discrimination if sexual orientation is added to the state's civil rights law.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) could be opening the door to extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. That would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in areas such as employment and housing.

The state's civil rights act protects a variety of groups from discrimination. It includes protections for categories like race and age, but sexual orientation has yet to be included.

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Arts & Culture
3:15 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Commemorative Freedom Walk celebrates 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. speech

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Cobo Hall in Detroit, June 22, 1963.
Credit 50th Anniversary Freedom Walk Facebook Page

Just as his father did fifty years ago, Martin Luther King III will address an expected march of thousands in Detroit.

This year Detroit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the day Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood before 25,000 people at Cobo Hall in Detroit and declared, "I have a dream this afternoon." This was just two months before the historic March on Washington.

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Politics & Government
9:49 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Commentary: Politics and human rights

Lessenberry commentary for 4/8/13

If you were looking for a quintessential solidly middle-class Michigan suburb, Royal Oak, Michigan might be it. Its 57,000 people are mainly white and solidly middle-class.

The downtown became somewhat of a magnet for the young, and trendy a decade or so ago, and hip twenty-somethings still mingle there with motorcycle bikers and teenage skateboarders on warm summer evenings. But by and large, Royal Oak is average middle-sized suburban homes, built around the baby boom era.

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Politics & Government
8:48 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Sharpton jumps into federal lawsuit, fight over emergency managers

Credit via wikipedia

The Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network are the latest activists to jump behind the fight to Michigan’s emergency manager law.

Sharpton was in Detroit as opponents filed a federal lawsuit today.

Critics maintain that Michigan’s emergency manager law violates both state and federal law by stripping local voting rights in cities and school districts with emergency managers.

And they also argue it’s a racial issue, with black voters disproportionately affected.

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Politics & Government
7:00 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

US Department of Education investigating state over emergency managers

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The US Department of Education is now investigating the state of Michigan over alleged civil rights violations.

The department’s civil rights office was already investigating two civil rights cases against the Detroit Public Schools.

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Politics & Government
7:15 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Are banks targeting Arab American accounts for closure?

ACRL attorneys Nabih Ayad, right, and Rana Abbas, center.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An Arab American civil rights group says it’s hearing from a surge of people in southeast Michigan whose bank accounts were closed down without explanation.

The Arab American Civil Rights League says it’s received about a dozen complaints in the past month.

In each case, the bank notified the client that their account would be shut down. But they refused to provide an explanation.

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Investigative
10:23 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Discrimination against LGBT bad for Michigan economy

A new draft report finds allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians hurts Michigan’s economy. The state’s Civil Rights Commission is reviewing the report and might take action.

In Michigan it’s legal to discriminate against people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender. Housing and job discrimination are a couple of the examples that are allowed by law.

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Education
1:33 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Detroit students say education policies violate their civil rights

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Some students, parents, and education advocates from Detroit and Highland Park will testify at a federal hearing in Washington this week.

They are part of a nationwide group speaking out against changes in Detroit and other poor school districts.

The group alleges that some of the measures, particularly closing neighborhood schools, have “sabotaged and destabilized” education for many children.

Helen Moore is with the Detroit-based group Keep the Vote-No Takeover.

She said the group wasn’t getting far fighting these measures at the local level.

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Politics & Government
11:38 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Royal Oak moves to join other Michigan cities protecting gay rights

Royal Oak City Commissioners unanimously approved a measure to start drafting a human rights ordinance Monday.

Such an ordinance would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other characteristics not covered under state or federal law. A number of Michigan cities have similar laws on the books.

Royal Oak voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed human rights ordinance in 2001.

But City Commissioner Jim Rasor is convinced public opinion on gay rights has shifted drastically since then.

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Law
1:01 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

ACLU sues Isabella County for overcrowding in jail

Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski
isabellacounty.org

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class action lawsuit against Isabella County.

It says the county jail violates the constitutional rights of inmates with cells that are too crowded, and too few opportunities to exercise.

The federal lawsuit also says the jail discriminates against female inmates because they can’t participate in work assignments that could reduce their sentences.   

ACLU attorney Sarah Mehta filed the lawsuit.

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Politics & Government
4:36 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Civil rights law author: It’s time to debate adding gay rights

State Reps. Daisy Elliott (D-Detroit) and Mel Larsen (R-Oxford) jointly sponsored the landmark Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976. The law has been declared a Michigan Legal Milestone.
State Bar of Michigan

Michigan’s landmark civil rights law was celebrated today as a legal milestone in a ceremony at the state Capitol that re-united the two main sponsors of the legislation.

State Representative Daisy Elliott was a Democrat from Detroit. State Representative Mel Larsen was a Republican from Oakland County.

The 36-year-old Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination based on race, religion, gender; national origin, or marital status.

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Politics & Government
6:19 pm
Sun June 24, 2012

30 years later, remembering Vincent Chin

Vincent Chin

Asian-American and civil rights activists commemorated the 30-year anniversary of Vincent Chin’s death this weekend.

Chin’s murder outside a Highland Park strip club in 1982—just days before his wedding--is widely credited with galvanizing a national Asian-American civil rights movement.

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Politics
3:49 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Lawsuit alleges "invasive religious questioning" of Muslims at border

A Muslim civil rights group says federal agents are wrongly detaining and questioning Muslim-Americans coming into the U-S.

The Michigan Council on American-Islamic Relations lays out those accusations in a federal lawsuit filed this week.

They’re suing on behalf of four Muslim U-S citizens. All say they were subject to “invasive religious questioning” when they tried to re-enter the country from Canada.

Shareef Akeel is a lawyer for the plaintiffs. He says Muslims are clearly being singled out for this type of "persecution," and that’s illegal.

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