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Sarah Cwiek

Sarah Cwiek - Detroit Reporter/Producer

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October, 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit. Before her arrival at Michigan Radio, Sarah worked at WDET-FM as a reporter and producer.

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Protesters kneel while singing the national anthem in front of Little Caesar's Arena.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s new Little Caesar’s Arena opened with controversial first act Kid Rock Tuesday night, and there were some protesters mixed in with the larger concert-going crowd.

Protesters took a knee as they sang the “Star Spangled Banner” in the middle of Woodward Avenue outside the arena just before the concert got underway.

That echoed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s on-field protests of recent police violence against black people.

Crosses placed outside the Macomb County jail to remember inmates who have died there. Friends and relatives of the deceased inmates hold regular protests on the site.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Macomb County is being sued yet again over a death in the county jail.

Alverez Milline died in March 2016. He was serving a year-long sentence on drug charges.

The federal lawsuit claims that as far back as May 2015, Milline complained of chest and lung pain, and shortness of breath.

He sought medical care 12 times over nine months, and allegedly told the jail’s medical staff about his history of pulmonary embolisms.

Protesters in Detroit supporting DACA recipients.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

People across the country and across Michigan protested President Trump’s plan to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

That’s President Obama’s program that offers protections to some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

People protested and marched in several Michigan communities, including Detroit.

Juan Gonzalez is 24-year-old DACA recipient. He came to the U.S. as a toddler, and grew up in Detroit.

An aerial view of Little Caesar's Arena.
Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and others joined the Ilitch family to cut the ribbon on the new Little Caesar’s Arena complex on Tuesday.

Both the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons will play home games there within weeks.

The arena is touted as the anchor of the new “District Detroit,” a 50-block redevelopment project just north of downtown Detroit that also includes new housing and retail.

Former Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer was just one of a number of Democrats at Detroit's annual Labor Day parade.
Whitmer for Governor

Detroit’s annual Labor Day parade attracted the usual mix of union members, activists and political candidates this year.

Those candidates included three of the Democrats running for governor.

Former state Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer has lined up most of the big labor support statewide. She met and marched with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others.

Tax Foreclosures in Detroit
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Wayne County will put more than 6,000 properties up for auction online starting this week.

Tuesday kicks off the first round of bidding in the annual sale for the county’s property tax-foreclosed properties. It’s become something of a real estate bonanza in recent years, as the county has foreclosed on tens of thousands of homes since 2009 — and by one count, as many as one in four properties in the entire city of Detroit.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti
Detroit Public Schools Community District

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is starting the new school year with an old problem: teacher vacancies.

But new DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the district has “momentum” on fixing the problem.

The district still has about 200 classroom spots to fill before school starts Tuesday.

Anti-foreclosure activists in front of Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree's home.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Anti-foreclosure protesters targeted Wayne County treasurer Eric Sabree where he lives—outside his Detroit home—on Thursday, calling for an end to “illegal” property tax foreclosures.

A report and lawsuit claims that Detroit over-assessed up to 85% of homes in the city from 2009-2015. That violates the Michigan state constitution, which caps local tax assessments at 50% of a property’s market value.

Joe Ross / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan State Police is “reassessing its pursuit policy” after a chase resulted in the death of a Detroit teen.

Fifteen-year-old Damon Grimes died after crashing his all-terrain vehicle on Detroit’s east side last Saturday.

Grimes was being chased by state troopers at the time. One trooper, while still in his patrol car, deployed a Taser on the teen prior to the crash.

Anita Belle, left, and Jennifer Kurland are seeking the Michigan Green Party's nomination for Governor and U.S. Senator.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two members of the Michigan Green Party have announced they’re running for statewide office in 2018.

Anita Belle is seeking the Green Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate. She would challenge incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow.

Belle is an elections-integrity and reparations activist from Detroit. She says the government needs to make majority-black cities like Detroit and Flint “whole” for their water crises.

The Ambassador Bridge
Mike Russell / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Court of Claims has thrown out yet another attempt to stop the Gordie Howe International Bridge from ever getting built.

The lawsuit came from a suite of companies owned by the Moroun family, which also owns the competing Ambassador Bridge.

The family has tried all kinds of legal maneuvers over the past few years to stop the Howe Bridge in its tracks.

Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Problems continue to plague Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds Karen Spranger’s office.

Spranger was unable to present a proposed budget to Macomb County Commissioners as scheduled on Monday.

The County Executive’s office say that’s because she submitted an incomplete proposal weeks late.

Southeast Michgian's Congressional districts post-2010 redistricting.
Michigan House of Representatives

Democrats in Michigan and a handful of other states need to win some statewide races by 2020. Otherwise, they risk ensuring Republican majorities for another decade--even if Democrats get more votes at election time.

After just a few months in office, Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger has found herself in conflict with nearly every other branch of county government.

So she’s suing to clarify that she’s “the boss” of her office.

But Spranger now wants the entire Macomb Circuit Court to disqualify itself from deciding that case because of conflicts of interest.

Judge Kathryn Viviano today declined to do that. She disqualified herself, citing the “high and escalating” level of dispute between the clerk’s office and other county officials.

Macomb County Circuit Court
Macomb County

A Macomb County Circuit Court judge could decide Monday whether a case against embattled county clerk Karen Spranger will move forward.

County officials have accused Spranger of lying about her address when she filed to run for office last year. If the case proceeds, a judge will decide whether there's enough evidence to legally disqualify Spranger from office.

"If the courts come back and say 'Nope, everything's fine,' then so be it -- she's the clerk, and we'll have to deal with the challenges we face or have been facing," Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said.

Robert Bobb was the first in a series of emergency managers who ran the Detroit Public Schools from 2009-2016.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Does the state have to ensure that all Michigan students get at least a “basic education?”

That’s the question at the heart of a lawsuit filed on behalf of students at five Detroit schools, and that lawyers battled over in federal court on Thursday.

This “right-to-read” lawsuit argues that conditions at those five schools are so bad, they are unconstitutional. Those conditions include lacking sufficient numbers of qualified teachers, books, labs and computers; and where classroom temperatures range from freezing to over 100 degrees,” the plaintiffs say in their complaint.

duggan with tapscott posing for cameras
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In a ceremony at Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center on Wednesday, a small handful of Detroiters regained homes lost to property tax foreclosure.

The group of 60 was the second to complete the Detroit Land Bank’s “occupied buy-back” program. About 80 people completed the program last month.

The Detroit Land Bank now has close to 100,000 properties in its inventory, making it the largest property owner in the city. Around 4,000 of them are thought to be occupied.

detroit vs everbody t shirt with i voted sticker
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A race that usually flies under the radar is shaping up as one of the more interesting contests in Tuesday’s primary elections.

The race for city clerk in Detroit has drawn more attention, and candidates, than usual this election cycle.

Six candidates are looking to unseat three-term city clerk Janice Winfrey. The top two vote-getters in the primary will advance to the general election this November.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

We should know by Tuesday night which candidates will vie for Detroit mayor in this November's election.

The top two vote-getters will move on from tomorrow’s primary.

First-term incumbent Mike Duggan is seen as the heavy favorite right now. He’s running for re-election on a kind of “good start” platform.

Aubrey Pollard about a year before his death.
Courtesy Thelma Pollard Gardner / via Bridge Magazine

This Friday, the movie simply titled “Detroit” debuts nationwide.

It depicts the most notorious single incident of the 1967 Detroit rebellion — the brutal police killings of three black teens at the Algiers Motel.

The still-contested events of that night at the Algiers Motel have already been written about extensively. A surviving witness called it “a night of horror and murder” worse than anything he had experienced as a soldier in Vietnam.

But after multiple trials, none of the officers involved were ever convicted of any crime.


Detroit precincts will have new vote tabulators for the primary.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Despite receiving unfavorable national attention for some serious problems in last November’s general election, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey pledges that Tuesday’s primary election should run smoothly.

Winfrey says a combination of new voting equipment and improved poll-worker training should help avoid the problems that plagued Detroit precincts in November.

An aborted presidential recount found that votes couldn’t be “reconciled” in more than half of all Detroit precincts, meaning that voter poll books didn’t match the number of ballots cast. 

Picture of Collin Rose
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Charges have now been filed in the shooting death of a Wayne State University police officer.

Raymond Durham, 61, faces first-degree murder and three other charges in the fatal shooting of Sergeant Collin Rose last November. Rose was shot in the head while conducting a bicycle traffic stop near midtown Detroit.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office had to drop charges against another man accused of Rose’s murder last year. But Worthy says the case against Durham is different.

Karen Spranger
Screen grab taken from Karen Spranger's Facebook page

Macomb County leaders want a judge to legally disqualify its embattled county clerk from holding office.

The request is actually a legal counter-move on the county’s part, part of a lawsuit County Clerk/Register of Deeds Karen Spranger filed against it earlier this summer.

But County Executive Mark Hackel says as part of the county’s due diligence in that case, it has uncovered evidence Spranger lied about her address when she filed to run for office last year. He says that “false statement” is grounds for removal from office.

Students from Detroit's Neighborhood Educational Center Program in 1970.
American Library Association

In the wake of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion, and similar unrest nationwide, a group called the Kerner Commission dug into the underlying causes.

Their main finding was that America was heading toward two separate, unequal societies: one white, one black. One of the deepest inequalities was in education.

gordon park sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and there’s a party of sorts going on at 12th Street and Clairmount on Detroit's west side.

Exactly 50 years ago, the police raid that sparked the city's massive, deadly riots started right here. Now there’s a newly-refurbished park on that corner and a marker designating it a state historic site.

Walter P. Reuther Library: Wayne State University.

The 1967 Detroit uprising was a time of confusion and upheaval. Countless rumors and false narratives spread through the country, and some facts remain unclear to this day.

Luckily, many Detroiters have come forward to tell their personal accounts of the rebellion.

The historic marker in Gordon Park at 12th St. and Clairmount.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Fifty years ago this week, Detroit exploded in violent unrest that still marks the city to this day.

Now, the place where it all began is also marked as an official state historic site.

Jim Atkin
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

More than 7,000 people were swept up in mass arrests during the 1967 Detroit uprising.

Jails and police stations were overflowing, so many people were held in makeshift detention centers, often in squalid conditions.

Jim Atkin was a member of the Michigan Air National Guard at that time. His unit was called up to try and contain the situation in Detroit, and his first assignment was guarding people taken into custody during the initial days of the chaos.

A house for sale on the Detroit Land Bank's online auction site.
Detroit Land Bank Authority

A new incentive program hopes to entice more Detroit educators to live in the city.

The Detroit Land Bank sells former city-owned properties through an online auction.

Now, Detroit school employees who bid on those homes can receive a 50% discount on the final sale price.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, wants more teachers who work in Detroit to live there too.

Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

On Thursday night, a federal judge in Detroit extended an order that puts a temporary hold on the U.S. government’s threat to deport some Iraqi nationals.

The Trump administration struck a deal with Iraq’s government earlier this year.

Since then, it’s moved quickly to start deporting up to 1,400 Iraqi nationals with criminal records.

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