12/07/14 Ray Hill

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Ray Hill, KPFT patriarch joins us in studio + NBC report on our interview of Police Chief McClellan, former Deputy Policy Chief of Los Angeles Steven Downing, Protest against US racism in Nigeria, Mathew Fogg unveils corruption that enables cops to avoid indictment

Audio file


DECEMBER 7, 2014


DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: It is not only inhumane, it is fundamentally un-American.

CROWD: No more! Drug war! No More! Drug War! No More! Drug War!

DEAN BECKER: My name is Dean Becker, I don't condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison, and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. I'm your host, Dean Becker. It seems our show a couple of days ago with Charles A. McLelland, the police chief of Houston, is causing quite a stir. We'll talk more about that a bit later with the patriarch of KPFT, Mr. Ray Hill. But first, the following segment courtesy of KPRC-TV NBC Houston.

BILL BALLEZA: But first at 10, Houston's chief of police making national headlines tonight, over what he has to say about the use of marijuana. Good evening and thank you for joining us, I'm Bill Balleza.

LAUREN FREEMAN: And I'm Lauren Freeman, Dominique is off tonight. In a radio interview tonight, Houston police chief Charles McLelland says that he supports the decriminalization of weed.

BILL BALLEZA: Keith Garvin is joining us live tonight with this developing story, all new at 10. Keith?

KEITH GARVIN: Well Bill, Lauren, some were surprised to hear Chief McLelland's comments today, others though, they welcome them, saying that the time to legalize marijuana use in Texas is now. Some would say that the chief's comments would lead them to believe that he agrees.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: We cannot criminalize such a large population of society that engage in casual marijuana use.

KEITH GARVIN: Words clear and to the point from a candid interview Houston Police Chief Charles McLelland gave Friday on a Houston radio station. The topics were wide-ranging, but the chief was largely asked about marijuana use. McLelland made it clear he believes enforcing marijuana laws is wasting time, and other valuable resources.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: The taxpayers can't afford to build jails and prisons to lock up everyone that commits a crime. We must put more money into crime prevention, treatment, education, job training.

KEITH GARVIN: The chief also took aim at the decades-long war on drugs, saying mandatory sentencing policies have had a disproportionate impact on young minorities.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: A lot of young men who are minorities, in their early 20s, have a felony conviction on their resume and now they're unemployable. And, you know, we wonder why they don't have jobs.

KEITH GARVIN: Many smoke shop owners like John Sroujr are welcoming the chief's comments, believing they could greatly increase profits if marijuana was ever legalized in Texas.

JOHN SROUJR: I mean we can look in Colorado for that answer, you know, it's a billion dollar industry, multi-billion dollar industry, so financially we definitely could do a lot of things for society.

KEITH GARVIN: The chief didn't call for outright legalization but says he and other local leaders plan to soon reveal the results of a pilot program for first-time offenders.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: I think we're going to be able to make some good recommendations to our state lawmakers and other elected officials on where we need to go in the state of Texas.

KEITH GARVIN: Chief McLelland also said that the federal government is the one that should take the lead in defining this issue. He also said that the country's attitudes on this issue in his estimation have changed, and he believes that the government should follow suit. Reporting live from West Chase, Keith Garvin, KPRC Local Two.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you heard what NBC had to say about it, that this is the type of story that could go national. Here to give his thoughts in this regard is the former deputy police chief of Los Angeles, Mr. Stephen Downing. How are you, sir?

STEPHEN DOWNING: I'm good, Dean, how are you?

DEAN BECKER: I'm good. Now Steve, we're in Texas, nothing much has happened in the last, well, decades in so far as improving the drug war situation, but our police chief had some rather profound things to say. What's your take, sir?

STEPHEN DOWNING: My take is that you have a very bright, modern-day chief who sees, uh, what the real needs of public safety are. It's clear to me that he's recognized that when we have laws that result in the arrest of an American every 51 seconds in this nation, there has to be something wrong with the law, and Chief McLelland has seen that, he's seen that we're putting too many people in jail, we're building too many prisons, and we're squandering police resources that can be better served toward real public safety needs.

And God bless him for his brilliance and his progressive attitude and his willingness to speak out against the culture that pervades law enforcement, the culture that wants to keep that federal money coming, the culture that wants to keep the status quo and not recognize that the drug war is harming our society, seriously harming our society, and so I say bless him and we need more chiefs like Chief McLelland across the United States.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects. Responsible for countless overdose deaths, uncounted diseases, international graft, greed, and corruption, stilted science, and immense, unchristian moral postulations as fiction as fact. And this drug is: the United States' immoral, improper, bigoted, unscientific, and plain f-ing evil addiction to drug war – all approved by the FDA, absolved by the American Medical Association, and persecuted by Congress, the cops, and in obeyance to the needs of the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses, and the international drug cartels. Five hundred fifty billion dollars a year can be very addicting.

Now this report from Port Harcourt, Rivers, in Nigeria.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: August ninth, two thousand and fourteen, a black American named Mike Brown was shot down by the American police and a new black movement is coming out to say No against wickedness against blacks, and they are saying, if the American whites are no longer interested in living with their black counterparts, that you make a categorical statement.

SECOND UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Ferguson. A suburb of St. Louis in the United States of America, witnessed another police brutality against a black, when a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot Mike Brown, a 18-year-old black American. The event, which sparked off violence in the suburb, as a majority blacks who live in the town considered it an act of racism. Since the victim was not armed, the new black movement in solidarity staged protests to ask for justice for Mike Brown.

FIRST UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: You don't just shoot a black teenager that is harmless, and you shoot him because he's black. No, that is wrong! And if today, they don't try to solve this issue, they might begin to make the blacks in America and other parts of the world to feel that their life is worthless.

THIRD UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Mike Brown died and many others feel [unintelligible] in the United States. We don't want this to happen in other parts of Europe and other parts of America. Please Americans, British, everybody that has racial profiling, should stop it.

SECOND UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: In Port Harcourt, [unintelligible] NTA News.

DEAN BECKER: The following segmetn courtesy of C-SPAN, it features my brother in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Mr. Matthew Fogg, who has more than 32 years of service to our nation working as a US Marshall.

MATTHEW FOGG: Now we look and we see what happened in, uh, in Ferguson, we see what happened in New York with the chokehold, we see this stuff now right on television, we saw this man being choked to death while he was saying I can't breathe, and he was ultimately killed. We saw Rodney King get beaten how many times with a stick, watching this right on television, everybody saying that is awful, that is crazy. But what happens? The officers don't get convicted.

Because what happens is that network behind you says, this is how we do it here. When you're sitting in front of a jury and that officer is allowed to go back and rethink everything because as you know the law is different when an officer is involved. They don't have to give a statement right away. All the protections that they have, but once they get back, people will tell them – I know, I've been involved in shootings, I know what this is – look, you want to change this, you don't want to say this, you want to be careful how you put this forward. All of this is real, ladies and gentlement.

And what I'm saying to you is once that begins to happen, you take a year or two years for a trial to come up, that jury is sitting there and that jury is hearing the officer saying, Oh, well I believed I thought he had a gun, and I was dreading for my life, and I remember one of my partners was killed six months ago or so and so was killed, so I felt a threat when he turned around and he looked at me with his hands and saying Don't shoot. I still felt a threat.

And you want to get people that are going to sit on that jury and are going to say, You know what? I wasn't out there and I know police officers have a lot that they've got to go through every day, and so therefore I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. What I'm simply saying here is, there is a lot in law enforcement that is wrong, but we need protection. I dare say to you this, when I won my case, everybody said to me first, Fogg, don't take on the Justice Department. Don't go forward, you know what happens to cops when they blow the whistle and they speak out. Your career will be destroyed and not only that but they will probably kill you or set you up in a sting.

And believe it or not that happened. My backup actually left me in a stakeout. My black partner, who also raised these discrimination complaints about the internal improprieties, wound up dead, somebody ran his car off the road, they don't know who killed him. Bill Scott did his thing. The white marshall that spoke up, he lost his job. He went to Congress and testified how they gave him a black rubber rat, he's holding that up before Congress. That's what they gave him in the squad bay.

So what I'm saying to you is, we've got these situations out here that we're looking at that are going on in Ferguson and down in Sanford, Florida, but this stuff has been going on, ladies and gentlemen, forever. It has been out there, trust me, with my thirty two years of law enforcement I saw a lot of questionable incidents that I had to tell officers right then and there, you're not going to do that in front of me right here. When I'm working with other departments because see as US Marshals I would work with Seattle, Miami, LAPD, New York PD, and I'm going to tell you I saw some of the most egregious violations of your rights.

And let me tell you something, you pull a vehicle over and a young man says to him, to that officer, do I have some rights here or no you can't search my car, then they'll just bring a dog and the dog's nickname is Alert. That's his nickname. He'll alert, he will alert on a deodorizer. What I'm saying to you is there are all kind of ways to get around your first and your fourth amendment rights if that's what I want to do. And see most African-Americans out there in the street they know that so they don't even want to challenge it a lot of times, because if you get pulled over and you're on your way to work or you're on your way to going somewhere, you know right there that officer could put you in a situation where, he can either create a problem for you, so you just give him consent.

You don't want to be held up from work, you don't want to go through these changes, so you give him the consent and you say go ahead. Now, it's easy to stand back and say No, I don't want you to search my vehicle. Go on all the other rights that you have. But there's so many things that come into play out there on that street, and what I'm saying is until we start to address those issues, until we start to really say to people, Why are these disparities, when we look at like that man told me when I was working with DEA, he said to me, I said look, we got all of our drug and gun interdiction task forces in all the urban areas. Miami, Seattle, Washington, but they're all urban areas we're focusing on.

I said, Don't people use drugs in Potomac, Maryland? Don't they use them in Silver Spring, or other maybe more affluent locations? He says yes, Fogg, matter of fact they use them probably more, they got the better stuff. He says but if we go out there and start to lock those folks up, throw flashbangs in their homes, run through their houses, do all of the things that we do in our enforcement operations, you know what will happen? We will get a phone call and they will shut our operation down, and there goes your overtime. There goes all your excitement, all your money, and everything you're making.

So you know what he said? They still using the drugs, let's just go to the weakest link and get our numbers up. And I told him, that's ethnic cleansing. But this is what we have to look at. We have to understand this whole process and how it's working.

DEAN BECKER: What will it take to motivate? Please visit drug truth dot net.

Hello my friends. Welcome. Well, not welcome. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. We're going to peel back the layers a little bit today and talk today about the fact that we have, uh, the mothership station, KPFT Houston, has moved us from Sunday nights, where we're currently recording this live, to Friday evenings and last Friday at 4:30pm we had that segment with the police chief and it's creating waves around this nation.

As I promised you at the beginning of the show we do have with us live in studio my friend, my mentor, the patriarch of KPFT, Mr. Ray Hill. How you doing, Ray?

RAY HILL: Well, Dean, I'm glad to be here with you. I see that the program has developed and progressed a good distance since we first started.

DEAN BECKER: Well, indeed it has. For those who may not know, Ray was the man who had the acumen, the insight, to put me on the airwaves for the very first time right in the middle of his, uh –

RAY HILL: Prison show.

DEAN BECKER: Prison show which is, well it's still running, you carried it for twenty something years.

RAY HILL: Thirty two years, I retired. Prison show is doing well, it's healthy, the folks that are doing it are hard working, and always trying to bring you new material.

DEAN BECKER: And still dealing with this, uh, criminal justice system of Texas.

RAY HILL: Well, I think you've been, your field – not your position in this field, but your field – has sent us more prison business than anybody else.

DEAN BECKER: Well, ain't that the truth. Every 51 seconds they were talking about, you know, I mean, come on. But uh, yeah, for those who may not know and I urge you to check out Dean Becker, or you know, the Drug Truth Network Facebook page, it has the links to all these stories from NBC, and Ray, the heck of it is you know we had the Houston Chronicle kind of pre-empted this interview with the chief.

RAY HILL: You would have scooped that story.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and then –

RAY HILL: If you'd taken advantage of Friday night time slot, you would have scooped the Chronicle on the story.

DEAN BECKER: Well, but following that, then Huffington Post, there's about 10 or 12 other websites that have done it, and just this morning Fox Houston carried a 7 minute segment talking about the police chief calling the drug war a miserable failure, and, and to me, that's just music to my ears.

RAY HILL: Well, to some of the media that's sensationalism. I happen to be familiar with the editorial attitude at Huffington. For them, that's good news, and it will travel faster than bad news through those networks. Fox is looking for the controversy and people that would disagree with the police chief's statements, so, so they're doing it as sensational stuff. But you know the thing about KPFT, and your show, is it's Joe Friday, it's just the facts, ma'am, we're going to just give them to you.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and again, you know, since we're peeling back the layers, it's Friday evening here in Houston, drive time 4:30pm, right after the KPFT news and before Democracy Now, and I think that's recognition that this issue, this time has come.

RAY HILL: Well, it's, time has more than come, Dean. You and I started looking at this over a decade ago, and uh, I said at the time, I said we can't keep up this madness. Then, uh, you know, a great movement is whenever you get the US Attorney General Eric Holder to go before the Bar Association and say I am going to take the weight marker off of federal drug indictments because that is the basis of the mandatory minimum sentences, and he did that, and I know he did that because I was training a woman to do 15 years, or 150 months, for 400 pounds of marijuana.


RAY HILL: She's almost through with her 20 months now, because the case was re-indicted, came back without the weight marker, and it was just marijuana and that's a two year sentence.

DEAN BECKER: Well you know Ray it's, you know, I take some pride in all this but it's not me. It's you, it's the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, it's NORML, it's all these people that are educating our politicians to the fact they've had it wrong for so long.

RAY HILL: Absolutely. You know, I probably have less at stake here because I've been completely drug and alcohol free for 55 years, plus some months, so this is not a personal issue to me.


RAY HILL: I am interested in this because I'm an American. And this is an American liberty issue, giving people the freedom to make choices in their lives that harm no one else, and probably do not harm themselves, but giving them the ability to have control over their lives and to stop our government from wasting its valuable resources on creating crime for which to punish people.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly right. Uh, you know, I think about – oh, one other bit of good news, I want to share it with you guys. This week, Lew Rockwell did a review of my book, and I urge you to go check it out, please. It's uh, it gets down to the heart of why I put that thing together, and it is the means to break the back of the drug war, I urge you to please check it out.

RAY HILL: Your book, I've read it and I reviewed it. And it's very clairvoyant. It is seeing ahead just far enough. If you get too far ahead, people think you're science fiction. If you're just far enough ahead to say, Y'all come on this direction because this is the way to go, it's a useful item.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you Ray for that. And uh, I don't want to forget this, this coming – well, not this coming – on December 17th, it is a Wednesday, there are several cities around the country that will be holding rallies in front of their uh, their courthouse buildings. I think up in Portland they're going to do some kind of forum because they're afraid of cold and rain and whatever. But it is a recognition of that 100 years since the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act, and uh, that's out there on the web under EndProhibition.org, or you can learn more on facebook at 100 Years Is Enough.

Ray, the second part of the segments we played there was talking about police abuse. That's becoming more and more prevalent, all the video cameras, it is the modern age that's bringing this in focus, is it not?

RAY HILL: Well, everybody's got a camera in their phone, and it's very easy to document things which, prior to the current time, I mean – you may not come and even be able to scan a crowd and realize that it's being videotaped on the cell phone, may not be able to do that. But I want to go back to this guy that we started off talking about, this McLelland fellow.

DEAN BECKER: Well, go ahead.

RAY HILL: McLelland understands that he would not be the police chief if, when the mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, who is, I've helped nurture her career.

DEAN BECKER: Sure, she used to hang out here at the station.

RAY HILL: Right. And, and, she handed me a short list and said is there anybody on this list you can't live with as police chief? Why would she do that? I'm the guy that sues the cops. I'm the guy that goes out of my way to make sure cop behavior within the gay and lesbian community, and within the adult industry, is constrained back to something that is a legal part of their duty definition.

And so she says, handed me a list and said is there anybody on this list, didn't turn out there was anybody on that list I couldn't live with, but I had my preference for McLelland. I've known him for a good many years, I've watched him come up through the ranks, he is as close to a blue knight cop as you're going to find, and when he got in the office, oh I gave him a little trouble, I go down and give every police chief a little trouble, you know, I go in and make him uncomfortable and tell him if you don't straighten this out I'm going to go get arrested, and he laughs and says Nobody's going to get arrested, and the next week I got arrested.

But the deal is, the deal is, the man is term-limited. Police chiefs rise and fall with their mayors. Annise is going to serve until January of '16 and then she's gone, she's got term-limited out, she's got to move on. What Chief McLelland is looking at is his future. Where is this issue and where is the issue of police abuse of authority that results in death and injury, where are those things going to be in five years or in three years?

And if you look that far in advance, obviously, they can't keep on riding the heat on this crap. They're going to have to get off of it. They're going to have to give young people caught with small amounts of marijuana a break in the system so that they have options other than jail and prison time. That's going to happen and McLelland wants to be on the right side of this issue because McLelland has a political future. I don't know what his public office is that I'm going to be endorsing him in, but whatever he decides it to be, I hope we sit down and we talk about it so that I can help clear the way to get a man who has the courage and the responsibility to take his office and do something positive with it.

DEAN BECKER: Well said, my friend. And that's, I've spoken with the chief a couple of times and, especially this last interview, he came in the studio and we sat down for half an hour and, he just seems genuine. He doesn't seem to be having any kind of veil or disguise about who he is, and that's, that's kind of rare in politics.

RAY HILL: Well, no, actually Bradford was that way, McLelland's that way. I didn't get to know Chief Hurtt well enough, he spent most of his time in Arizona, so, he was out of town. Chief Browne was that way. I have found that Houston's experience with minority police chiefs has been very positive. They're conscientious, they're grateful for having the appointment, and they're very keenly aware of the power they have. I'd like to point out that in the Holley incident, Chief McLelland fired every one of those cops.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Yeah. That was where the young man got kicked in the head.

RAY HILL: And the guy that got convicted, his conviction just held up in the appellate court.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Well, uh, folks, I want to say this, you know, it's been a privilege. To the Sunday night listeners, here in Houston, I'm saying good bye to you, but I hope you don't forget me, I won't forget you and your support over the years. And please, check us out Friday afternoons at 4:30, I, uh, hell I'm fired up, the program might get even better.

RAY HILL: Dean. If they want to listen to you on Sunday night, just go to the archive, you'll be there.

DEAN BECKER: Well, true enough. Yeah, uh, and I guess the whole point is, I mean, with all this recognition of what the police chief says, and I want to bring this up: NBC and Fox, neither one of them mentioned me. Fox did mention the show, Cultural Baggage. But uh, it's not like I need the focus or I need the kudos or some honor.

RAY HILL: You deserve them.

DEAN BECKER: Well, but just the same, it feels so good nonetheless, that this word is getting out, it is in fact going national, that the Houston police chief has changed his mind and is going a new direction.

RAY HILL: I, uh, you do remarkable work here, and radio, as an organizing and an activist tool, is a wonderful phenomenon, and here comes somebody else fixing to take over the next shift, and they're going to be doing some activism around a different issue. I am so proud that KPFT is being used for what I helped found it to be used for: Change.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Yeah. And folks, if you don't know anything about Ray Hill, I urge you to look him up on the web, it shouldn't be too hard to find, the man has been instrumental in making change, uh, not just here in Houston or in Texas but on a national scale, insofar as gay rights and other issues that, uh, well hell, we should all care about.

RAY HILL: Thank you. Oh, there will be a demonstration about the police excessive use of power this coming Saturday. We're not going to be out on the street corner, we're going to be over at the big fountain, uh, the Hines Fountain there, behind the Galleria. Join us. It will be in the afternoon about 2 or 3 o'clock, we'll have a good time.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and uh, you know, for what it's worth, it's a little in advance, our end mass incarceration group and other organizations, many of them now, in the Houston area are combining forces to bring focus to bear on issues like this on Christmas Eve we will also be at the Harris County Jail handing out Christmas presents to the children visiting their incarcerated relatives.

You know, Ray, I want to thank you. I mean, seriously, you were the guy, I came in here kind of scared, I admit it. I've said it on air before, I'll say it again, that the night, the first night I went home after doing that report, I was scared, because I live in the city with the, probably is the world's largest drug distribution hub, and back then the police were, certainly more engaging than they are now, they are getting better. But the fact of the matter was it was, you know, who's going to kick in the door, the cartels or the cops?

RAY HILL: How do you think I felt, in the late 1950s when Eisenhower was president, when I came out as a gay guy in a state where you could go to prison for being gay?

DEAN BECKER: Right, right. Well, again, it was your learning, your understanding, your courage and your instruction that helped me say well, if they're going to lock me up they're going to lock me up but they're not going to stop me. And that's the kind of advice that I've been trying to relay on this show for going on over a decade. And, I don't know what else to say. You own this situation now, my friends. It's time for you to step up, do your part, bring this drug war to an end, and I got to do my outro here, as always remind you because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.

To the drug truth network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.