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Independent Journalist Sues Michigan State Police, Antrim County for Non-Compliance With Freedom of Information Act

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2017
For more information, contact Mike LaSusa:  mikelasusa1@gmail.com


Independent Journalist Sues Michigan State Police, Antrim County for Non-Compliance With Freedom of Information Act 

Independent journalist Mike LaSusa has filed lawsuits alleging that the Michigan State Police and Antrim County are attempting to block the public’s access to records concerning a controversial murder-suicide case by charging excessive fees that are unlawful under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

LaSusa, a journalist who has covered crime and security issues in the United States and abroad for several years, is seeking public records related to the case of Anne Avery Miller, a resident of northern lower Michigan who was criminally charged for her son Sam’s 2007 murder and later committed suicide while in the custody of Antrim County police. (The State Police were also involved in this investigation.)

The release of the requested records could help clarify the events surrounding Sam’s death as well as his mother’s jailhouse suicide, which involved alleged law enforcement incompetence throughout the investigation, prosecution and incarceration. Avery Miller and many of those close to her insisted that she was innocent of the crime with which she had been charged, and that her death was the result of improper behavior on the part of law enforcement and judicial officials.

Despite the fact that the release of the requested records would clearly serve the public interest, both Antrim County and the Michigan State Police have attempted to bar access to the records by charging excessive fees for processing this request.

LaSusa’s lawsuits seek to compel the disclosure of the records requested in this case. They also seek to establish a precedent for other citizens and journalists seeking records under the FOIA that are clearly in the public interest. Public bodies should not be allowed to stonewall access to records of public interest by charging excessive and unwarranted fees.

Mike LaSusa is represented by his father Lawrence LaSusa of LaSusa Law Offices in this matter. For more information, please contact Mike LaSusa by email at mikelasusa1@gmail.com.

Copies of the filed complaints are available below in PDF form.

Michigan State Police Complaint

Antrim County Complaint

Press Release

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Weekly InSight: Can Hip Hop Help Stop Gang Violence in Latin America?

In our July 6 Facebook Live session, Senior Editor Mike LaSusa and independent journalist Angelika Albaladejo talked about her recent investigation of hip hop violence prevention programs throughout Latin America and the challenges they face in terms of implementation…

Read this piece in its entirety at InSight Crime. You can watch the full live stream below:

US Media Ignores Massive Scandals Surrounding Honduras President as He Visits Washington

The president of Honduras traveled to Washington, DC for a two-day official visit this week, and the mainstream US media completely ignored explosive charges leveled against the president’s brother, his political mentor, and other current and former Honduran elites.

During President Juan Orlando Hernández’s trip to Washington, he met with many of the top officials in the US government — which one would think would make this visit newsworthy in and of itself.

The president began his tour of Washington’s halls of power by meeting with several leading members of Congress, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Kay Granger, Norma Torres, Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio, Bob Corker and Benjamin Cardin.

Hernández also met with other top US officials, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who himself made many trips to Honduras as head of the US Southern Command from 2012 to 2015.

The Honduran president also met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as well as the head of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, William Brownfield.

He even met with Vice President Mike Pence.

But most major US media outlets completely ignored Hernández’s visit.

The New York Times … nothing:

The Washington Post … nothing:

Reuters … nothing:

The Associated Press … nothing:

The Wall Street Journal did not cover Hernández’s visit, either. But a few days earlier the news outlet ran a story that should have made the Honduran president’s visit a fairly big news story, even in the midst of such a crowded news cycle. But the Journal’s headline (“Trafficker says he met with the Honduran president’s brother”) downplays the explosive nature of the actual statements made by the trafficker in question.

As we reported on March 20 at InSight Crime, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, the former head of the drug trafficking group known as the “Cachiros” who later became a DEA informant, testified in a federal court in New York that not only had he met with President Hernández’s brother Tony, but that Tony had asked Rivera Maradiaga for bribes in exchange for making payments to a company controlled by the Cachiros organization.

To state it plainly, Rivera Maradiaga alleged that the brother of the current president of Honduras solicited bribes from a known drug trafficker. And he made those allegations just days before the president met with some of the top officials in the US government. And the US mainstream media said absolutely nothing about it.

But there’s more to the story. Not only did Rivera Maradiaga accuse President Hernández’s brother of having ties to organized crime, he had also testified earlier this month that he repeatedly bribed Hernández’s presidential predecessor and political mentor, Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo. (These allegations were made in testimony given at the trial of Pepe Lobo’s son, Fabio, who has pled guilty to drug trafficking charges in the New York court.)

It is remarkable, to say the least, that President Hernández could meet with so many of the most powerful people in the US government just days after these explosive allegations were made public, and that not one of those officials — and not a single major US media outlet — would raise the issue, even in passing.

(The Guardian provided some of the only mainstream coverage of Hernández’s visit, but that outlet’s article focused entirely on protesters heckling the president over his government’s handling of the investigation of the murder of prominent environmental activist Berta Cáceres.)

The lack of mainstream coverage of these allegations is particularly galling, considering the close relationship between the United States and Honduras, particularly with regard to security and law enforcement matters. It is disappointing that the US mainstream media has so utterly failed to inform the American people about significant developments that could affect public attitudes about the United States’ cooperation with and assistance to the Central American country — which is one of the most violent and corrupt in the region.

Remembering All the Victims of 9/11

Today is the 15th anniversary of the horrific series of terrorist attacks that killed 2,977 people from 93 different countries on September 11, 2001.

Like many Americans, I can still remember where I was when I first heard about this tragedy; I was at school, listening to the principal’s bewildered voice crackling over the PA system. And I can still remember watching the shocking footage of innocent people jumping to their deaths from the smoking Twin Towers before they collapsed into an unforgettable plume of dust and debris.

Today is unquestionably a day to remember those victims. It is unquestionably a day to remember those who lost loved ones to these twisted acts of violence. It is unquestionably a day to remember the thousands of heroic first responders who rushed to the scene, many of whom are still struggling with aftereffects of risking their own safety trying to save others.

And today is also unquestionably a day to remember the other victims of the September 11 attacks. Like the thousands of soldiers from around the world who have lost their lives in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Like countless others who have committed suicide or who continue to suffer from physical and mental health issues related to their deployments.

Today is a day to remember the tens of thousands of civilian victims of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, and the hundreds of thousands of civilian victims of the invasion of Iraq — not to mention the environmental and cultural destruction that accompanied those actions.

Today is a day to remember the hundreds of innocent victims — including many children — killed by the ongoing campaign of drone strikes taking place across huge swaths of the globe.

Today is a day to remember the victims of the US torture program, like Gul Rahman, a suspected Al Qaeda member who died in a CIA black site after “being beaten, doused with cold water, and left half-naked while chained to the floor of his cell,” as VICE News reported.

Today is a day to remember the countless victims of racial profiling, illegal surveillance, and islamophobic hate crimes that occurred with increased frequency since the 2001 attacks.

And today is also a day to remember that the so-called “war on terror” continues apace, creating an untold number of new victims each and every day.

Today is a day to remember the prescient words of Rev. Nathan Baxter, the Dean of the National Cathedral who spoke at a memorial service for the victims of 9/11 on September 14, 2001:

“Let us now seek that assurance in prayer for the healing of our grief stricken hearts, for the souls and sacred memory of those who have been lost. Let us also pray for divine wisdom as our leaders consider the necessary actions for national security, wisdom of the grace of God that as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.”

UPDATE: Este artiuclo fue traducido y publicado por Revista Factum. Lealo en español aqui. (This article was translated and republished by Revista Factum. Read it in Spanish here.)