WJR personality, engineer subpoenaed over Jan. interview

WJR Radio Personality Frank Beckmann was met with a subpoena this week for an interview he conducted in January.

- The legal battle over teacher protests takes a new turn as a teacher and activist is facing a court order after telling WJR that teachers in Detroit may strike.

WJR Radio Personality Frank Beckmann conducted the interview in January with teacher and activist Steve Conn. That interview got him and his broadcast engineer called into court under the threat of being held in contempt if they didn't show up.

"What exactly will you be asking teachers to do?" Beckman asked Conn.

"A strike vote and setting a deadline plan for city wide strike and we are urging not only teachers but students and parents to join us." Conn said.

That was January. On Saturday, Beckman said subpoenas were dropped off at the station

"I saw that if I didn't show up I'd be charged with contempt of court," he said.

Conn says he stands by what he said on the radio show and says the court order is nothing more than a scare tactic.

"(It's) intimidation. (An) attempt to destroy first amendment rights," Conn said. "I have responsibility to stand up and fight back. Whatever it takes in terms of mass action. This is a Jim Crow system and I have a responsibility to stand up and fight."

Beckman has been ordered to appear in court on March 7 for Detroit Public Schools' case against teachers Conn and Nicole Conaway. The attorney for the school district argues that he two have encouraged sickouts which are illegal in the state.

Beckmann shared his thoughts about the part journalism should play in this case

"I don't think it's our role to advocate on any side in this case but I think it's our role is to ask questions."

The court order comes as Darnell Early's resignation as Emergency Manager for DPS goes into effect Monday. Starting Tuesday, former Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will start running DPS on behalf of the state.

Conn says he and others who are demanding change in DPS will continue to make their voices heard and will not back down.


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