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'Truth and Reconciliation' podcast to launch at WYPR with Mod Squad team from WEAA

Sean Yoes, Taya Graham and Stephen Janis, known to area radio listeners as The Mod Squad when they appeared on WEAA, will launch a podcast Wednesday at WYPR.

The new production, "Truth and Reconciliation," will explore law enforcement reform, community-police relations and social justice.

It is produced by Cianna Greaves.

Graham and Janis are reporters for The Real News, while Yoes is Baltimore editor of the Afro newspaper.

At the start of the first episode, which I listened to, Graham describes the production as, “a podcast that recounts the troubled history of law enforcement in Baltimore and the search for solutions to heal from it.”

Yoes further describes it as, “a forum providing a voice for people who have suffered at the hands of law enforcement — and to inform and empower others through their experiences.”

Janis then picks up the description, saying that the podcast is “ultimately about holding power accountable.”

In an email to The Sun, Janis sent synopses of the first four episodes:

Episode One: The Lingering Consequences of Zero Tolerance: Morgan State graduate Evan Howard tells his story of how he was arrested and held in Central Booking for 56 hours without committing a crime during the height of Baltimore's zero tolerance era, and the repercussions for him that linger years later.

Episode Two: The Political Power of Policing: Efforts in Maryland’s state capital to reform policing have fallen short for three consecutive years. In episode we talk to Adam Jackson CEO of the activist group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle about the formidable power the state's various police unions, and how they exert far-reaching influence over the state's legislative process.

Episode Three: Healing Amid Corruption: The affects of The Gun Trace Task Force, a group of now nine police officers accused of robbery, drug, and racketeering are just being assessed. To a get a sense of the fall-out over one of the worst scandals in BPD history we talk to Ivan Potts, who was arrested by GTTF. We also talk to Corey Winfield, a violence mediator from Safe Streets on how he thinks the scandal will impact the streets.

Episode Four: The Personal Toll of Fighting Back. During the height of zero tolerance the voices of dissent among the political establishment were few and far between. We talk to two people who fought back, [state Sen.] Jill P. Carter and Public Defender Todd Oppenhiem about what they experienced and how it affected their lives.

“One of the reasons we decided to go in this direction is that most of the efforts to reform policing have focused on investing money and energy into policing,” Janis wrote. “But there's really not been a reckoning on how years of problematic law enforcement have affected the community. We believe that people need to have a forum to tell their stories and offer solutions to these deep rooted issues. Otherwise reform will be impossible if the community isn't healed as well.”

As I have written before, I was a fan of this this trio when they were on radio at WEAA. I thought they offered both solid reporting and hard-nosed analysis of Baltimore city government including law enforcement. I felt they were as troubled as I was by the closed-door culture of Baltimore city government and were trying to do something about through media.

I like the title, too. It suggests how large and profound a process is going to be needed to generate any real change in this community.

I hope they find the support, resources and the audience they deserve for “Truth and Reconciliation.” This is a podcast that can make us smarter about ourselves as citizens of Baltimore — if we are willing to listen to the voices they promise to include in their media discussion.



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