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Aaron Patterson sentenced on trumped-up charges

by Stephanie Weiner |
August 31, 2007

Chicago, IL - Aaron Patterson was sentenced to 30 years in prison on trumped-up gun and drug charges, Aug. 14. Patterson was targeted for prosecution because of his powerful activism against police misconduct in Chicago. The case hinged on a government informant, a known drug dealer and gang leader, who Patterson says was trying to entrap him.

Patterson’s lawyer played the tape in court in which Patterson was heard specifically asking for replica guns - not real ones. Patterson was trying to do a reverse sting to expose how the police work to entrap people and had a lot of evidence of this - evidence that was not presented in the trial. The trial was filled with injustices that Patterson and his many supporters tried to fight at every turn.

Aaron Patterson is a former death row inmate who was pardoned after 17 years in prison. From the first day that he was released in January, 2003 until his recent arrest he worked to free other wrongfully convicted people and fought for the rights of all Black and Latino youth across the country. He said in an interview in July, 2005, “I am what you call a freedom fighter, a revolutionary and a professional troublemaker.”

Patterson’s lawyer confirmed that they will appeal the outrageous conviction. This same week has been marked by militant protests of a police shooting on Aug. 6. Aaron Harrison, a Black 18-year old from the West Side of Chicago, was fatally shot in the back by police. As Fred Hampton, Jr., Chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, put it at the funeral, “If we don’t organize, if we don’t fight back, then it’s suicide. It’s one struggle, one people.”