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Prominent organizations and individuals urge Gov. Pritzker to free Gerald Reed

By staff |
March 30, 2020

Chicago, IL - Two dozen prominent organizations and individuals have urged Gov. J. B. Pritzker in a letter to use “the powers of [his] office to provide long overdue justice to Gerald Reed.” Reed’s deteriorating health puts him at extreme risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has heart failure, and late last year while awaiting a new trial at Cook County jail he had a heart attack.

Reed was wrongfully convicted 29 years ago based on a confession extracted through torture by subordinates of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. His conviction was vacated on December 18, 2019 by Judge Thomas V. Gainer, who ordered that he be given a new trial and that his tortured confession be suppressed.

The case was assigned to Judge Thomas J. Hennelly, who for 14 months entertained arguments over whether to retry or release Reed. On February 14 of this year Judge Hennelly grossly exceeded his authority and reversed Judge Gainer’s order, directing that Reed be returned to the prison for life without possibility of parole. He is now in the Illinois Department of Corrections Northern Reception and Classification center in Joliet, Illinois.

In their letter the community leaders say, “We are appealing to you in your unique capacity as Governor to immediately release Gerald Reed because recent judicial decisions in his case have been conducted outside the rule of law and in denial of his rights to due process, leaving him and his family with no other recourse.” The Governor has the power to pardon Reed or commute his sentence.

Many organizations have called on the Governor to use this power to release elderly prisoners and others at risk for the COVID-19 virus infection. The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression is urging the Governor to use his power to free all survivors of police torture in Illinois.

The groups and individuals signing the letter to Gov. Pritzker are:

Frank Chapman
Jazmine Salas
Regina Russell
Souzan Naser
Nadine Naber, Mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity
Community Renewal Society
Chicago Torture Justice Center
Black Lives Matter, Chicago
Diane Palmer, President SEIU Local 73
Andy Clarno, Associate Professor of Sociology and African American Studies and Coordinator of the Policing in Chicago Research Group at UIC
Sheila A. Bedi, Clinical Professor of Law, Director, Community Justice & Civil Rights Clinic, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Alderman, 35th Ward
Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation
Stacey Krueger, Graduate Student, UIC
Jenine Wehbeh, Chicago Teacher
Stacey Austin, Esq.
Maryam Kashani, Lead Coordinator, Believers Bail Out,, Assistant Professor, Gender and Women's Studies & Asian American Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
A. Naomi Paik, Associate Professor at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Indivisible Chicago-South Side
Chicago Community Bond Fund
Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)-Chicago chapter
Byron Lopez, Alderman, 25th Ward, Chicago
Jeanette Taylor, Alderman, 20th Ward, Chicago