More than 300 Police Officers Take to the Streets in Benton Harbor Michigan to Control Rioting; The Rosenberg Execution 50 Years Later
8:00-8:01 Billboard 8:01-8:06 Headlines In Benton Harbor Michigan yesterday more than 300 police officers took to the streets following two nights of riots. A state of emergency and curfew has been declared in the city after violence erupted following the death of 27 year-old African American, Terrence Sturm, who was killed in a police chase. Officers -- who came from Benton Harbor, neighboring communities and the Michigan State Police -- were in riot gear, armed with semi-automatic weapons and tear-gas launchers. Hundreds of residents took to the streets, smashing windows, overturning cars and setting buildings ablaze. One person was shot and fifteen injured in the melee as police tried to control the crowds. Benton Harbor and it s neighbor across the river, St. Joseph are a study in contrast. Where Benton Harbor is predominantly black and poor, St. Joseph across the river is 95 percent white and mostly middle class. Earlier today we spoke with Alex Kotlowitz. In 1992, Alex Kotlowitz went to Benton Harbor as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. He wound up writing about the death of Eric McGinnis, a 16-year-old African American from Benton who dated a white girl and used to frequent a nightclub on the St. Joseph side of the river. Eric disappeared while fleeing police and five days later his body was found floating in the river. The boys death formed the basis of Kotlowitz book The Other Side of the River, which looked at the case from the perspective of these racially divided communities. * Alex Kotlowitz, author of The Other Side of The River 8:06-8:07 One Minute Music Break 8:07-8:58: It was 50 years ago today. June 19, 1953. At around 8 p.m. the U.S. government sent Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair at Sing Sing prison. Thousands demonstrated around the world demanding a last minute stay. It would become the most controversial death sentence in U.S. history. They are the only U.S. citizens to be executed for conspiracy to commit espionage. The government alleged the couple along with Morton Sobell helped the Soviet Union acquire the secret of the atomic bomb. They were survived by two sons. Robert Meeropol was six-years-old at the time. His brother, Michael was 10. They were adopted by the Meeropol family, friends of their parents. One of their son s Robert Meeropol's book, An Execution in the Family, has just been published an autobiography by St. Martin's Press. Tonight there will be a commemoration titled "Celebrate the Children of Resistance" at the City Center in New York City. Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger and others. On the anniversary of the execution of Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg, Democracy Now! talks with their children Robert and Michael Meeropol, their granddaughter Rachel and their co-defendant Morton Sobell. * Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. He was six years old when his parents were executed on June 19, 1953. He recently published an autobiography An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey. He now heads the Rosenberg Fund for Children. * Michael Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Economics professor at Western New England College and author of Surrender : How The Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution. * Morton Sobell, friend of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. He was also tried and convicted in a case related to spying. He spent 18 years in prison and including five at Alcatraz. * Rachel Meeropol, granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. She is a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Links: http://www.rfc.org Rosenberg Fund for Children http://www.ccr-ny.org Center for Constitutional Rights 8:58-8:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Ana Nogueira, Elizabeth Press, Noah Reibel and Vilka Tzouras. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer. Thanks also to Uri Galed, Angela Alston, Emily Kunstler, Orlando Richards, Simba Rousseau, Rafael delaUz, Gabriel Weiss, Johnny Sender, Rich Kim, Karen Ranucci, Denis Moynihan and Jenny Filipazzo.