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Angela Davis to rally with freed prisoners

Struggle continues against police terror in Chicago
By Joe Iosbaker |
June 12, 2018
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Armanda Shackleford speaking
Armanda Shackleford speaking at hearing on the civilian component of the police accountability system in Chicago. She is the mother of Gerald Reed, tortured into confessing 27 years ago by members of the gang of cops under Detective Jon Burge. (Photo by Mike Siviwe Elliott)

Chicago, IL - In the past two years in Chicago, over 50 cases of wrongful convictions have been thrown out of court, and most of the Black and Latino men involved have walked out of prison, or had their charges dismissed. These cases have been overturned because of the exposure of crimes by officers of the Chicago Police Department, including many cases of people’s confessions that were exacted through torture. According to attorneys involved in these cases, there are hundreds more that will be making their way through the courts in the coming years.

These victories are happening because of years of struggle by the families of the victims, and by the movement against police crimes that emerged in the past five years, along with the wave of protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression is hosting a Welcome Home Rally for the men and their families on June 17, Father’s Day, at the historic Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side. The keynote speaker will be Angela Davis, the best-known spokesperson for the prison abolition movement.

Among guests speaking at the event will be the Professor Barbara Ransby of the Resist, Reimagine, Rebuild Coalition; and Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa, who sponsored the bill in Chicago City Council to create an elected, civilian police accountability council (CPAC). Then there will be well-known torture survivors or their family members, including Jaime Hauad, recently released from prison after 21 years; Esther Hernandez, whose sons Juan and Rosendo are wrongfully imprisoned by the dirty cop Reynaldo Guevara; and Armanda Shackleford, whose son Gerald Reed has done 27 years, a torture victim of the Jon Burge gang.

Police crimes don’t stop, neither does the fight for community control

On June 7, cops shot 24-year-old Maurice Granton in the back as he ran from them in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Granton had committed no crime when the police began chasing him. Activists from the Chicago Alliance went to the neighborhood to help organize the community to resist police terror. Nataki Rhodes, co-chair of the Alliance, said that on Saturday, June 9, the police moved to force the group to close up a table collecting signatures in support of community control of the police. “We were talking about CPAC, and the police threatened to arrest us. The community defended us, and made the police back down, and restored our table.”

This scene unfolded in the wake of a month long series of confrontations in City Hall, and in neighborhoods around the city, between community organizers and allies like the Chicago Teachers Union, and politicians working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to continue the system of police impunity.

Frank Chapman, field organizer of the Chicago Alliance, described the series of five hearings held by the City Council Public Safety Committee. “What’s new is that for the first time in this movement we are bringing into the forefront a united front of Black people, Latino, Palestinians, other oppressed people of color, faith-based organizations, peace and solidarity groups, organized youth movements and organized labor to stop police crimes by supporting CPAC.”

Chapman continued “We successfully beat back attempts on the part of the mayor and the city council to kill CPAC in committee.”

There will also be a forum on Saturday, June 16, at Trinity church, featuring more of the victims of police crimes, including Bertha Escamilla, whose son Nick was also a torture victim of the Burge gang and served over 20 years; Sara Ortiz, mother of William Negron, recently exonerated in a murder case brought by Detective Guevara after more than 20 years in prison; and Mark Clements, among the most well-known of the Burge victims, released from prison in 2009 after 28 years for a crime he didn’t commit.

The two days will be a celebration of this historic release of more wrongfully convicted men than anytime in U.S. history, as well as a rally to continue and escalate the fight for CPAC.

https://tinyurl.com/WeekendOfPeoplePower

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