FOP President Dean Angelo . . . that is, former FOP president Dean Angelo, the former president not acting as a spokesman for the FOP, appeared on WTTW this week to discuss the Jason Van Dyke trial and other union issues with interviewer Carol Marin and fellow guest, journalist Jamie Kalven.
Angelo’s appearance in front of two media figures who have so powerfully attacked the reputations and jobs of police officers comes just a few months after he made a spectacular announcement on the first floor of the criminal courts building at 26th and California.
It was in the middle of the Jason Van Dyke trial when word began reverberating through the building that former Chicago Police commander Jon Burge, the commander who had become the poster boy for police torture in Chicago, had passed away after a long illness.
At 26th and California, Angelo took it upon himself in the wake of these rumors to walk down to the first floor of the building in front of a phalanx of cameras and journalists. To the obvious delight of the journalists, Angelo announced that Jon Burge may not be such a bad guy after all:
“Jon Burge put a lot of bad guys in prison. You know, people picked a career apart that was considered for a long time to be an honorable career and a very effective career. And I don’t know that Jon Burge got a fair shake based on the years and years and years of service that he gave the city. But we’ll have to wait and see how that eventually plays out in history, I guess.”
What a revelation Angelo’s statements were. Where did those sentiments come from?
Some people, like the current police officers or those who worked during the same era as Burge, might wonder: Where were such statements from Angelo when he was president of the FOP?
They might wonder: If Angelo felt that Burge “didn’t get a fair shake,” why wait until after his presidency to inform the media and the public of those opinions? What about the three years of his one-term presidency?
Imagine, for example, if Angelo or anyone in his administration had stood up at the city council meeting in 2015 when the city announced its Burge reparations package by a unanimous vote of 50–0. What an opportunity for Angelo to stand up and challenge G. Flint Taylor from the People’s Law Office in this, the culmination of the PLO’s thirty-year crusade against Burge, his men, and the Chicago Police Department, a reparations package that would no doubt bolster complaints and lawsuits against Chicago Police officers for years, if not decades, to come.
Taylor appeared with Darrell Cannon, convicted of two murders, who claimed he was the victim of police coercion by Burge’s men in the course of one of Cannon’s arrests for murder. In a tragic turn of events, Cannon would be awarded $100,000 as one of the first men to benefit from “reparations” for supposed abuse. Shortly thereafter, Cannon would tell detectives he found his brother murdered in the kitchen of their home on the South Side, a murder that still remains unsolved.
But alas, throughout all this, Angelo, as president of the FOP, made no announcements about Burge being misunderstood, no statements about Burge being a good cop. Not one word, even though part of the reparations package included the stipulation that the Burge mythology would be taught in Chicago’s Public Schools. That’s right, not a word from Angelo or anyone in his administration, even though the reparations package would make Taylor’s Burge mythology orthodox curriculum for possibly generations to come of Chicago students, including those who are children of Chicago Police officers.
So what did it mean when Angelo said to the media at 26th and California that “we’ll have to wait and see how that eventually plays out in history, I guess.”
Hasn’t the history already been determined by the Burge reparations package in large part because Angelo never challenged it?
Just what the hell is Angelo talking about?
But not everyone was silent about the reparations package. Crooked City writer Martin Preib got ahold of Burge as the reparations package was taking shape and got Burge’s response, the first time Burge responded to the allegations against him in years.
Here’s what Burge said:
What about reparations for the families of the African American victims of the heinous crimes perpetrated by the scum who now demand reparations? This entire scenario is being manipulated by lawyers like G. Flint Taylor and his ilk. They have been getting rich for years filing specious lawsuits against Chicago Police Officers, the City of Chicago and other government entities. They know that 99% of the time the City will settle the lawsuit rather than go to trial because it’s cheaper. The City never admits wrongdoing on their part or the part of the individual defendants (police officers) when they settle. Evidence is slowly emerging that clearly shows what happened to the dedicated Chicago Police Detectives who fought, as best we could, the worst, most violent predators on the South Side of Chicago. To understand, all one has to do is review the long record of unethical criminal activity exhibited by academics and students at Northwestern University, particularly in the case of Anthony Porter, a man obviously guilty of two murders, but released from custody after an “investigation” conducted by NU professor David Protess and his students. There has never been a case with more blatant Subornation of Perjury than when they framed an innocent man, Alstory Simon, for the crime committed by Porter.
Working to free guilty, vicious criminals by the likes of G. Flint Taylor and others like him, as well as the Northwestern cabal, all with a radical political agenda, has created a thriving cottage industry in Chicago. These private attorneys grow rich because the City of Chicago is afraid to defend the lawsuits filed by these human vultures. Ask the mayor and City Council members how many relatives of the victims of these crimes they spoke with before deciding on their “Reparations.”
The chief spokesmen for G. Flint Taylor’s reparations campaign are Darrell Cannon and Anthony Holmes. Cannon is a former El Rukn General who has been convicted of three separate murders in his long career, pleading guilty to the last one after cutting a deal for “time served.” His first murder conviction was as a juvenile, so the police can’t mention it, but I can. He still stands convicted of all three murders. . . .
The media’s long silence on these activities makes them complicit in the fraud being perpetrated on Chicago and the citizenry. When the true evidence finally rules the day and the record is set straight, the people who conspired to free a man like Madison Hobley, who was awarded six million dollars by the City after he burned seven people to death, including his wife and infant son, will have to pay the piper.
At that time, I believe I and all the outstanding men and women I had the privilege of working with, as well as the Chicago Police Department itself, will be vindicated.
The media response was swift. Burge’s statement was picked up all over the country, his claims quoted throughout the city.
Angelo’s FOP? Silence.
And when Obama’s Department of Justice announced they were investigating the Chicago Police Department for a pattern of violating constitutional rights, this might have been a good time for Angelo to point out that many police officers, including Burge, according to Angelo, do not get a “fair shake.” But Angelo didn’t. Instead, Angelo flew out to Washington and asked Obama’s DOJ how he could cooperate with the investigation, so much so that he even encouraged members to speak to the DOJ without lawyers present. This politically motivated DOJ investigation, later condemned by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has spelled catastrophe for Chicago Police officers, forming the basis for the consent decree now being finalized.
And then there is the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) that was formed to investigate claims of torture by Burge and his men. Later it was expanded to include any inmate in Cook County who claims they were coerced into confessing.
TIRC expanded powerfully during the three-year reign of Angelo, including setting in motion the decision that would lead to the freeing of convicted cop killer Jackie Wilson for the 1982 slayings of two police officers.
Unfortunately, Angelo never went before this commission and let them know his feelings about Jon Burge not “getting a fair shake.” Not once. Even as dozens of retired detectives now find themselves being called back from their retirement havens in Arizona and Florida to answer questions about cases from thirty years ago, Angelo has never addressed TIRC. Not once. Too bad Angelo never stood on the floor of the Thompson Center in front of a phalanx of cameras to comment on Burge in the wake of this commission’s decisions.
While the FOP under Dean Angelo remained silent, Crooked City writer Martin Preib has been writing about TIRC and the threat it poses to the criminal justice system for four years. He has interviewed family members of victims, written scores of articles, contacted public officials, and fought at the FOP to challenge the constitutionality of TIRC.
Angelo and his administration?
Goose eggs. Nada. Nunca. Zilch. Zippo . . .
But at least Angelo finally found his voice on the first floor of 26th and California and finally declared his true feelings about the Jon Burge legacy. It took more than six years, but at least Angelo finally stated his true opinion.
Would have been nice if he echoed these thoughts in his interview on WTTW, in front of two journalists who have done so much damage to FOP members and the FOP itself.
But you just can’t tell when, where, or why Dean Angelo will find his elusive voice.
Among Marxists and other revolutionary groups, a fundamental strategy is to glom onto democratic institutions under the guise of supporting and strengthening those institutions.
But the revolutionaries are not sincere. Rather, their alliance with these institutions is a revolutionary ruse, a way for the radicals to burrow into the political and legal infrastructure of a society and slowly transform it into an agent of their own designs.
One leftist institution that has adopted this strategy is the National Lawyers Guild, a far left organization with deep sympathies to Stalinist communists.
From “NLG: The Legal Fifth Column” by Jesse Rigsby:
The [National Lawyers] Guild markets itself as a group of progressive "civil rights" lawyers interested in social justice and decries government abuse of authority, all while working for the coming revolution.
Those who blindly bought into the progressive rhetoric of these revolutionaries without seeing their real intent were deemed “useful idiots,” by Communist leader Vladimir Lenin.
With this strategy, revolutionaries imposed a powerful dichotomy upon the American democracy, particularly among the left, a dichotomy between what a political movement seems to be, and what it truly is.
This dichotomy is on full display in Chicago’s wrongful conviction movement. For all the progressive bombast by its most strident adherents, the movement at its core is essentially destructive, aimed at undermining the criminal justice system.
In the last week, this strategy has taken a new, powerful, and quite desperate form in the actions and claims of University of Chicago Law Professor Craig Futterman, who recently published the history of complaints against Chicago Police Officers spanning several years. Futterman garnered the complaints after a long legal battle with the city.
It didn’t take long after the complaints were published to see the cracks between Futterman’s progressive rhetoric and his true malevolent intent against the police department.
It came in a story by public radio station WBEZ days after the complaints were published.
From the WBEZ story:
One of Futterman’s law students, WuDi Wu, spent months analyzing the records. He discovered that when discipline is handed down, officers who violate internal departmental procedures get heavier punishments than officers who violate the constitutional rights of citizens.
Whoa, Wu. Let’s take a closer look at Futterman and Wu’s foundation for such a claim that the statistics indicate cops are “falsely imprisoning” people and not being sufficiently punished for it.
From the WBEZ story:
Four years of the data includes 27,000 complaints. Many are simply thrown out for a variety of bureaucratic reasons, leaving 10,000 complaints.
“So you’ve got about two-thirds that are just completely gone, which could be valid complaints, could be invalid complaints, but it’s sort of a vast drop in the number right away, which is striking,” according to Wu.
Yes, it is striking. Two thirds of the complaints don’t even pass the first threshold of legitimacy established by the city. One wonders how many of those complaints failed because the complainants declined to sign an affidavit, an affidavit that, if proven to be false, could get them in legal hot water.
Wu presses on, looking for something to hang the police on:
“And then of the 10,000 only 700 are proven in the department’s eyes. And then of that 700 maybe only 80 ...have a punishment for the officer of anything over a week of suspension.”
What more needs to be said? Wu admits that some 27,000 complaints are whittled down to only 80 cases that result in more than a week’s suspension. This must have been a tough pill for Futterman and Wu to swallow: Such a small number of complaints against cops result in a serious punishment. That’s less than one percent. This is pretty solid evidence that the cops are legit, isn’t it?
No, not for Wu and Futterman. That’s not what the numbers indicate. According to them, the numbers indicate—drum roll, please—there’s a police conspiracy.
From the WBEZ story:
Wu says when discipline is handed down, officers who violate internal departmental procedures get heavier punishments than officers who violate the constitutional rights of citizens.
For example, he says when officers take a second job without notifying the department, they get an average suspension of 16.5 days. And when they illegally arrest someone? 2.3 days.
“It’s false imprisonment,” Wu says. “You’re literally in jail when you shouldn’t have to be, and the police agree. The police department agrees … and you’re getting two days of punishment for the cop. You can arrest who you want and nothing’s going to happen to you.”
Police are disciplined more heavily for departmental procedures than for violating constitutional rights? What evidence exists anywhere in these statistics or anywhere else that this is the case? Perhaps the assigning of lesser punishments reflects something far more obvious: that the investigation determined the violation did not merit a very serious punishment. In other words, the violation was doled out in proportion to the misconduct revealed.
Perhaps the officer got a few days suspension because he cursed someone out while trying to maintain a crime scene. Perhaps he mouthed off to someone responding to a call. There are scores of situations that can result in a sustained complaint. The more trivial punishment of a few days off reflects the fact that investigators concluded that was the magnitude of the violation.
Where is the evidence, then, beyond Wu’s vague implication, that cops are running around falsely imprisoning people? That they are getting away with it with only small penalties?
The truth is that if an investigation revealed cops were falsely imprisoning someone, they would be criminally charged. And right behind that, Futterman and his band of wrongful conviction attorneys would be lining up to sue them over it. There is no entity protecting cops from falsely imprisoning someone. There is no one looking out for them saying, “Hey, don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure you will only get a few days off for illegally putting someone in prison, okay?”
If the complaint history Futterman published indicates anything, it is that constitutional violations by Chicago Police Officers are rare, much rarer than Wu or Futterman would wish. The conduct of the police becomes even more impressive when placed in the appropriate context, a context Futterman and Wu take great pains to avoid.
Cops are subject to investigation by two entities, Internal Affairs and the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). IPRA is a separate institution from the police department, so just how cops are reaching out to those investigators to get off from falsely arresting people Futterman and Wu do not address.
Police are also subject to surveillance on squad car cameras, in-car microphones, by a public armed with video cameras on their cell phones. Their conduct is subject to review in the criminal cases and then by powerful law firms—like Futterman’s—willing to attack the police in civil court even for the most ludicrous claims.
One would be hard pressed to impose any more oversight of the police than already exists.
Moreover, Chicago cops work in one of the most violent, dangerous, gang-infested cities in the nation. They work within one of the most corrupt political machines as well. Despite all this, less than one percent of the complaints against them end up in significant punishment. Futterman and Wu’s own statistics indicate the Chicago Police are doing a heroic job.
Finally, no news coverage of a wrongful conviction activists can go without the obligatory accusation of endemic racism among the Chicago police. Wu and Futterman do not disappoint.
The police complaint files include information on race as well. Wu says the majority of the complaints are filed by black people. Only 20 percent are filed by white people. But of the cases that are sustained? The cases where the police department decides, ‘yeah, that really happened,’ 60 percent of those cases have white victims.
Here the wrongful conviction spin machine is on full display, their willingness to construct a fantasy world from the slightest statistical data.
Are Wu and Futterman alleging that complaints by blacks are dismissed based on race? Many of the investigators are themselves African American. Is there any evidence that any of them are arbitrarily rejecting these complaints for racial reasons?
Isn’t there a contrary argument just as likely, more so even?
Could the real reason be that African Americans, particularly those living in neighborhoods where the gangs are strong, could they have been encouraged to file these false claims in part because of the wrongful conviction movement itself? Isn’t filing complaints against the police for supposed racist conduct the lynchpin of Futterman’s wrongful conviction movement? And isn’t the fact that so many of them are not sustained more evidence that making false claims is an endemic in these communities? How much of that is consequence of the wrongful conviction influence upon these communities?
Police officers have a name for it. It’s called the ghetto lottery.
Here’s a top gang member describing how it works, a gang member never interviewed by any wrongful conviction lawyers like Futterman.
RICKY SHAW 15 MINUTES 1 - YouTube
The absence of real, meaningful evidence of police abuse stands in vivid contrast to the mythology upon which the wrongful conviction movement is built— a movement alive and well at Futterman’s University of Chicago Law School. According to their ideology, cops are racist maniacs running around beating people and framing innocent people.
This mythology goes a long way toward explaining Futterman and Wu’s deep statistical manipulation and absurd conclusions. Rather than indicate anything corrupt about the police, their insubstantial arguments are signs of the extent to which they will go to vilify the police. Their interpretation of these statistics are, in fact, a sign of their corruption, not the cops’.
But this is not the worst sign of how Futterman and Wu are hiding their intense destructive intent toward the police and criminal justice system under the guise of progressive rhetoric. That sign emerges when Wu levels accusations that the police are not punished for failing to uphold constitutional rights.
Here, Futterman and Wu are pushing their luck. Futterman and his fellow members in the wrongful conviction movement are among the last people who should be shouting about constitutional rights.
The historical record of the wrongful conviction activists’ relationship to the constitution is a little clearer than some loony statistical interpretations. In their actions, associations, clients, and tactics, the collection of radical ideologues that comprise much of the wrongful conviction movement reveal a long record of intense hatred of the American constitution, and violently so.
The most prevalent organization in the movement to free convicted killers and vilify police officers is the law firm the People’s Law Office, the chief wrongful conviction lawyers in the city and deeply committed to the National Lawyers Guild. The PLO is also a longtime ally with the University of Chicago Law School.
In any other municipality, any city not filled with so many of Lenin’s “useful idiots,” such a claim by radicals like wrongful conviction activists hurling accusations for others violating the constitution would initiate howls of laughter.
Again, from “NLG: The Legal Fifth Column” by Jesse Rigby:
The [National Lawyers] Guild’s motives should be regarded with the deepest suspicions. Its loyalty to U.S. democracy is not even questionable—it is non-existent. Perhaps, at its very beginning, the Guild viewed the U.S. with even the remotest sympathy, but that long ago ceased to be true. Though the Soviet Union is dead, the Guild marches on, continuing to embrace leftist extremists, press for disorder at home, and otherwise work against the interests of the United States and its allies abroad.
Would Futterman, for example, label the Weather Underground movement, supported by and deeply allied with the PLO and other wrongful conviction activists, would he label them adherents of the constitution when they went around setting off their bombs throughout the 1970s? When they bombed the home of a judge while he and his family were inside because the judge was overseeing a case involving Black Panthers? Would he label their incessant calls for revolution by “killing the pigs” a sign of their unfailing devotion to constitutional principles?
That a founding member of the PLO allowed his children to be used by the Weather Underground members like Bernardine Dohrn, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, to scout out bombing locations never raises the ire of people like Futterman or WBEZ reporters, never a questioning of anyone’s devotion to constitutional principles then?
What about when the Puerto Rican terrorist group the FALN, represented by the PLO, set off a bomb in a crowded restaurant near Wall Street in 1975, killing four and wounding 50 others? Weather Underground members took part in an armored car robbery that killed two police officers. What about the murder of police officers by the PLO’s treasured heroes like the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, all self-avowed Marxist revolutionaries?
But one does not need to look back into what is now ancient history to see the disparity between what the wrongful conviction movement’s claims are and what they actually do.
The wrongful conviction movement is based upon one central claim: that there is a pattern of corruption within the police department spanning decades, beginning with allegations against former police commander Jon Burge and his men.
This “pattern of corruption” theorypresents a major problem for wrongful conviction activists like Futterman. The reason is that in the past five years, evidence of bribed statements, false allegations against police officers and the fraudulent release of the most violent predators in the prison system have emerged in one case after another. It is a chilling pattern of evidence that reveals clearly a strategy of cloaking their destructive plots in the guise of progressivism.
It is a pattern of evidence no one in the movement, least of all Futterman, can ever admit.
Wrongful conviction zealots have already seen their key case from 1999, the exoneration of Anthony Porter, fall apart under renewed scrutiny. A judge recently ruled that the man brought forth by wrongful conviction investigators at Northwestern University, Alstory Simon, was innocent. Simon’s lawyers cite in their lawsuit this same pattern of corruption in other wrongful conviction cases. Other wrongful conviction cases have also fallen apart. A central witness, for example, brought forth by several wrongful conviction law firms last year was convicted of perjury.
A leading public relations executive and former Chicago Tribune reporter, Dan Curry, has published a blog, What Really Happened in Paris?, about a downstate murder case that casts even more doubt on the methods and intentions of the wrongful conviction movement.
Where is Futterman and Wu’s self-righteous claims about violating the constitution in these cases? Where is his statical analysis of corruption now?
Crooked City sent a list of questions to Futterman about the corruption in the movement. He did not respond.
One case Futterman was asked about was the Madison Hobley exoneration.
Pardoned under the most suspicious circumstances by a governor himself soon to be sent to prison, Madison Hobley walked out of death row in 2003. Hobley had been convicted of setting a fire in 1987 that killed seven people. The pattern of evidence of corruption in the wrongful conviction movement now leads clearly to this exoneration.
Hobley’s exoneration initiated exclamations of joy among the wrongful conviction crowd. But now his exoneration, like the exoneration of Anthony Porter that paved the way for Hobley’s release, may also be a fraud.
The celebration of Hobley’s release from prison must now be superimposed upon the crime scene photos of his arson. Here the dichotomy of the wrongful conviction movement takes on a macabre countenance, for this crime scene included the burning of two children, one of them Hobley’s own infant son. And if the Hobley case is shown to be a fraud, what does it make of these people who celebrated his exoneration?
And should the courts ever conclude that the Hobley exoneration was a fraud, the way they have refuted the Anthony Porter exoneration, it will take more than fudging statistics to maintain the wrongful conviction party line.
Then things may truly get out of hand. Then the crowning achievement of the wrongful conviction movement, the establishment of The Illinois Torture Investigation and Relief Commission (TIRC), may also come under fire. A state agency ostensibly designed to address accusations of police corruption by former police commander Jon Burge and his men, this commission may also have to answer for their role in freeing killers.
One of their biggest decisions is looming. This week, TIRC will take up the case of convicted killer Jerry Mahaffey.
Mahaffey, along with his brother, Reginald, had been sent to death row for killing Jo Ellen and Dean Pueschel during a 1983 home invasion on the far north side of Chicago. The brothers also tried to kill the Pueschel’s eleven-year-old son, Ricky, but Ricky..
In what might very well be a nail in the coffin of the Illinois criminal justice system, a controversial state commission ruling may initiate the release of perhaps the most depraved killer in the city’s modern history.
The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) may recommend that Jerry Mahaffey’s murder conviction be reviewed by the courts, based on Mahaffey’s spurious claim that he and his brother, Reginald Mahaffey, were tortured by investigating detectives for a 1983 double murder on the far north side of Chicago. This review could pave the way for Mahaffey’s release, should the case be remanded and prosecutors decline to retry him.
Here’s what happened:
The brothers, career criminals both, traveled from the south side in a friend’s beat-up van, planning the burglary of a store at Howard and Western. When they arrived early in the morning, there was a police car parked in the lot, so they abandoned their plan.
They decided on a possible home burglary and headed down the alley on the 2500 block of Jerome, near the border of Evanston. Their van broke down, so they got out and began to walk. They spotted a bedroom window of an apartment open. Here was their opportunity.
The Pueschel family was inside, sleeping. They had packed many of their belongings in boxes. They were moving into an apartment in Skokie.
Reginald and Jerry entered the room of 11-year-old Ricky Pueschel. One of the Mahaffeys placed him in a chokehold and covered his mouth and nose. Jerry then stabbed Ricky repeatedly. Ricky passed out.
Ricky was a baseball fan and there were several bats in his room. Reginald Mahaffey found one and began beating Ricky with it. The Mahaffeys figured Ricky was dead.
The Mahaffeys entered the other bedroom where Jo Ellen and Dean Pueschel were sleeping. They both struck Dean Pueschel repeatedly with the bat in the head. Jo Ellen awoke.
The brothers took her into the kitchen.
The brothers raped Jo Ellen repeatedly, in different manners.
While they were attacking Jo Ellen, they heard a noise back in their couple’s bedroom. They went back there and found Dean Puschel attempting to load a gun. Unfortunately, Dean Pueschel could not load it before the Mahaffeys attacked him again, this time killing him.
It turns out the Mahaffeys had not killed Ricky Pueschel. He woke up and walked out into the apartment. Ricky wouldeventually witness the Mahaffeys murder his mother after she begged for their lives. Then they beat Ricky again, thinking once again that they had killed him. The brothers left in a car they stole from the Pueschels, a car packed with guns, jewelry and other items they stole from the apartment.
Later that day, around eight a.m., Ricky’s grandparents became alarmed when he was not dropped off at their house. The grandfather drove over to the apartment. There he found Ricky walking around the alley, covered in blood and disoriented. Ricky was rushed to St. Frances Hospital. He survived and testified in court against the Mahaffeys. He would eventually lead a distinguished career in law enforcement.
In 1984, while awaiting trial, the Mahaffey brothers staged one of the most daring escapes in the history of the Cook County Jail. They convinced a paramedic to smuggle a gun into the facility, taking a corrections officer hostage. They opened up the cells of other inmates, many of whom joined them. They were recaptured.
What would happen if the Jerry Mahaffey’s case was remanded for another trial? Since the Mahaffeys’ murder case is more than 30 years old, many witnesses have died. In addition, the detectives in the case, hounded for decades by members of TIRC and their respective law firms, are no longer willing to testify. TIRC’s ruling, therefore, could set in motion the release of Jerry Mahaffey, once sentenced to death for the murders.
It could happen. Just a few weeks ago, TIRC resurrected a long settled case involving Shawn Whirl, convicted of a 1990 robbery and murder of a cab driver. TIRC’s actions in that case eventually resulted in Whirl being set free from prison.
There are other dire consequences looming in the TIRC’s recommendation in the Mahffey case. If they can get Jerry Mahaffey out, they can get other killers out and frame a whole new generation of detectives on little or no evidence. The evidence against Mahaffey, after all, was overwhelming, including detectives finding a vast collection of items in their homes that was taken from the Pueschel apartment. There is little if any evidence of torture, particularly when one reviews the police investigation of the case.
What is clearly taking place in the criminal justice system is the fact that convicted killers like the Mahaffeys, who have exhausted all other legal remedies, are taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by TIRC by falsely claiming torture merely as a means of getting out of prison.
The members of TIRC, a collection of activists with an extraordinarily biased record against police and prosecutors, appear all too willing to oblige.
There is another tragic dimension to the case. Just last year, relatives of the Pueschels had TIRC on the ropes, fighting for its life. They had revealed one piece of evidence after another that TIRC was violating the law in the execution of its mandate, not just in their case, but many others. Even timid prosecutors and politicians were on the attack.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has written a scathing letter to Gov. Pat Quinn, saying the state board that looks into police torture allegations has acted illegally.
“There’s no oversight to this commission. I don’t know who they report to, if anybody. I don’t think anybody’s watching or vetting what they’re doing,” she said.
Part of what the the relatives of the Pueschels revealed was an almost macabre pleasure the commission took in torturing the family members of the victims, including laughing when they reviewed the cases.
This is from Joe Heinrich, brother of murder victim Jo Ellen Pueschel:
I listened to the audio tape from your July 17th meeting where Dave Thomas (former head of the commission) is clearly heard snickering and giggling as he presented the Jerry Mahaffey case to this Commission. I have that audio here today for anyone to hear. I am having a very difficult time trying to figure out what was so funny about what Jerry Mahaffey did to JoEllen, Dean and Rick. Was it the rape? The beatings? The stabbings? Or was Thomas just acting like a child, giggling with excitement and a sense of delight that this case was being heard? Or is he just an insensitive and callous human being who couldn’t care less about what Jerry Mahaffey did to my family? Where was the adult in the room?
If we had been there on July 17th he would not have laughed. But we weren’t there, were we? And at that meeting all of you sat on your hands and heard him laugh and you said nothing. To tolerate it is to condone it.
The family also gathered evidence that the establishment of the commission itself was in violation of the constitution, as the commission fundamentally alters the criminal justice system in the state, affording its unelected, biased members to resurrect cases that have already been legally settled.
In fighting the constitutionality of the commission, the family members knocked on the door of one state entity after another, one attorney after another, many of them agreeing that commission was constitutionally dubious, but none of them were willing to take up their cause.
This failure to fight the legitimacy of TIRC also stands as one of the great failings of the FOP, the union that represents police officers in Chicago. The reason is that the singular goal of the commission is to frame cops. With each successful release of a killer through the machinations of the commission, their ability to wage war on cops with little or no evidence increases. After these convicted killers are set free, wrongful conviction law firms are free to file lawsuits and tap into the reparations fund recently established by the city council.
In an executive board meeting on November 3, FOP President Dean Angelo announced that the FOP will attend the November 18 meeting of TIRC in which the commission will likely announce their ruling on the Mahaffey case. While it is a good thing that the union is finally getting involved, the FOP’s actions are somewhat late. The horse, as it were, is already out of the barn.
Angelo’s comments at the executive board meeting revealed, incredibly, that neither he nor the FOP board members know much, if anything, about the Mahaffey case or the torture commission itself, though the commission was established all the way back in 2009 and has been waging war on FOP members ever since.
What does it say about a union administration when that administration knows little or nothing about the institution that poses the greatest threat to its members?
As important as it is to attend the next TIRC meeting on behalf of the FOP members caught in the crosshairs of this movement and showing support for the family members of the murder victims, fighting TIRC on every level, including their constitutional legitimacy, should be a top priority at the FOP. The union’s lawyers should be sitting down with Heinrich and Pueschels to begin the campaign to legally undermine TIRC.
The union should be fighting TIRC cases in the courts and the media, in every sordid corner of the Crooked City.
Please support the family members of the victims of the Mahaffey murders. Check out their face book page and see if you can attend the meeting. If you are a police officer, let your FOP representatives know it is time they started fighting TIRC.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and an arson in 1987, titled Burn Patterns.
Court Ruling Frees Another Convicted Killer, Gives New Life to Tainted Torture Commission...
An appeals court decision that prompted the release of yet another convicted killer two weeks ago could be a catastrophe for members of the Chicago police department.
The court overturned the conviction of Shawn Whirl for the 1990 murder and robbery of a cab driver. Whirl claimed he had been tortured into confessing by a detective who had worked with former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. A special prosecutor declined to retry the case, so Whirl went free.
The appeals court decision reversed a ruling last year by a circuit court judge, who rejected Whirl’s claims, saying they were baseless.
Whirl’s release is another sign that convicted killers can garner their release merely by claiming they were abused by a detective who once worked with Jon Burge, a former commander who has become the poster child for the wrongful conviction movement’s claims of torture.
What makes the Whirl case so threatening to Chicago Police Officers is the crucial role played by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) in securing Whirl’s freedom.
The case took a circuitous path through the courts. After losing his initial appeals, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC), created to investigate abuse allegations against Burge and detectives under his supervision, found Whirl's claims credible in 2012. The commission held that Whirl had consistently alleged torture and that his allegations were "strikingly similar" to those of other Burge victims.
What is TIRC? Ostensibly, it is supposed to investigate torture claims against former commander Jon Burge and his men. But since its inception, the actions and integrity of the commission have been called into question. Now a long body of evidence paints a clearer picture of TIRC’s real purpose.
The creation of TIRC in 2009 was one of the greatest accomplishments of wrongful conviction law firms like the People’s Law Office (PLO). It was an extension of the PLO’s war on the police extending back to the early 1960s. Their clients include numerous domestic terrorists engaged in bombings and other violent “revolutionary” campaigns, including the murder of police officers.
More and more, TIRC reveals itself as an arm of the wrongful conviction movement, employing the kind of legal “end-around” the criminal justice system common to these activists in their campaign to overturn legitimate convictions and vilify cops.
For many years, this end-around the criminal justice system by these activists and lawyers was accomplished through intense media pressure, as wrongful conviction activists found key allies among the city journalists and editors. This pressure intimidated prosecutors, judges, and politicians into doing the bidding of law firms like the PLO, which claimed many Chicago cops were racist, violent criminals protected by a sympathetic police department hierarchy.
But with the creation of a state commission, comprised almost exclusively of their own advocates, the wrongful conviction law firms are no longer on the outside pushing their cause. Now, with TIRC, they are a powerful force within the criminal justice system itself.
It was the kind of power radicals like the People’s Law Office and their terrorist clients and allies could only dream about in the 1960s.
The bias built into TIRC was apparent from the outset to the family members of murder victims.
Joe Heinrich’s sister was raped and murdered in 1983 by brothers Jerry and Reginald Mahaffey during a home invasion on the far north side. His brother-in-law was also murdered and his nephew was severely beaten and left for dead by the Mahaffeys. Here is what Heinrich observed about the corruption inherent in the commission. Heinrich confronted the commission on this bias:
Before being appointed to this Board, many commissioners were already involved in Burge-related issues and have already decided that any person interrogated by him or those under him should go free. Some commissioners have written articles, some have added their support and names to court documents favoring the defendants, one founded an organization to investigate and sue police officers, and another runs an organization that has investigated many of the cases this commission has and will consider. Just last Friday, Governor Quinnannounced that he wants to add a defense attorney who works for a law firm that has been involved in Burge-related court proceedings and a priest who has been arrested and sued police officers.
The bias Heinrich observes reveals itself clearly in their “investigations.” Remember the claims by TIRC in arguing that Whirl should be released, their observance that his claims were part of a larger pattern of abuse by Burge and his men?
The commission held that Whirl had consistently alleged torture and that his allegations were "strikingly similar” to those of other Burge victims.
Well, this penetrating ability to spot patterns of potential criminal behavior and other misconduct is strikingly absent among TIRC members when it comes to their own movement, a pattern now well established in the media and courts.
Consider, for example, who Whirl’s attorney is, Tara Thompson. Thompson is a wrongful conviction crusader with the notorious law firm Loevy and Loevy. According to court transcripts, Thompson worked on another wrongful conviction bid that floundered in the courts just a year ago. It fell apart because a judge ruled that a witness, Willie Johnson, brought forth by Thompson’s law firm, was lying under oath in an attempt to free two killers serving life sentences. After the judge stated he thought the witness was a not telling the truth, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged Johnson with perjury.
A 43-year-old Texas man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for lying on the witness stand about a 1992 double murder in Chicago…
“My office does not take the decision to charge perjury lightly and this charge is brought in very limited circumstances and only when it is appropriate to do so. We believe this was certainly the case in this particular matter and we are very pleased with today’s plea of guilty by this defendant,” Alvarez said in a prepared statement.
In the past four years, Johnson is the only person to be charged with perjury for recanting testimony in a post-conviction hearing in Cook County, according to the state’s attorney’s office.
Witnesses trying to free double murderers convicted of perjury?
One wonders what would happen if a detective got busted bringing forth a witness who later pled guilty to committing perjury. TIRC and every other wrongful conviction law firm in the city would begin poring over every single case that detective was involved in.
Another glaring example of commission members failing to observe central patterns of corruption in their own movement is Rob Warden, retired director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. Warden’s longtime colleague, David Protess, former professor at Northwestern, and Protess’ sidekick private investigator, Paul Ciolino, have amassed a chilling body of evidence of corruption, spanning several cases over long period of time.
A central theme emerging in Protess and Ciolino’s cases at Northwestern is evidence that the two men attempted to bribe witnesses into changing their testimony.
Well, remember Whirl’s lawyer, Tara Thompson? Remember how she worked with a group of lawyers who brought forth a witness convicted of perjury?
Thompson’s law firm of Loevy and Loevy was also a key player in one of the biggest exonerations in the state’s history, the exoneration of Madison Hobley for a 1987 arson that killed seven, including Hobley’s own son and wife. Hobley’s exoneration was the work of Loevy and Loevy attorney Ken Feuer and DePaul University Law Professor Andrea Lyon.
One thing that made Hobley’s conviction for the seven murders airtight were the statements of key witnesses. Two of those witnesses told authorities that they saw Hobley arrive at a gas station near Hobley’s house shortly before the arson. They saw Hobley fill a gas can and walk back in the direction of Hobley’s apartment that would soon catch fire.
Arson investigators concluded the fire was started by gasoline poured outside Hobley’s apartment and then down the stairs. Hobley admitted to the detectives that he bought this gas from this station, just as the witnesses stated.
Hobley’s attorneys—remember, one of them was Loevy and Loevy attorney Kurt Feuer—fought for years to claim that Hobley was innocent, that he had been—drum roll, please—tortured by detectives.
To do so, Feuer and Lyon concocted a fairy tale that the detectives, before the evidence was all in, decided to pin the murders on a guy who had just lost his own wife and child in the fire. Not only did the detectives arbitrarily decide to frame Hobley, a man they had never met, but according to Hobley’s attorney’s theory, everyone involved in the investigation went along with it. The detectives did this not knowing whether new evidence would come forward that could uncover their plot.
The Loevy and Loevy fairy tale that Hobley was innocent never went anywhere in court. Indeed, some judges along the way ridiculed this fairy tale.
But Hobley’s attorneys, having seen once airtight cases like the Porter conviction unravel in the machinations of their wrongful conviction spin machine, pressed on.
The witnesses who watched Hobley buy the gas threw a fly in the ointment. It was hard to overcome such compelling statements. Remember, in the last two years, unequivocal evidence of obtaining false statements, even bribed statements, has revealed itself in the Porter case under David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino, and then there is the fact that a witness brought forth in the Willie Johnson case was convicted of perjury.
Well, one day Paul Ciolino and one of the attorneys representing Hobley, Andrea Lyon, paid a visit to the home of one of these the key witnesses, Andre Council.
Council had told investigators he observed Hobley at the gas station putting the gas into a gas can. Council even had words with Hobley after Hobley spilled gas on Council’s truck. Council told investigators that he saw Hobley walk away. A short time later, Council saw the fire trucks speeding down the street. Council walked over to the site of the fire. There, he observed Hobley in the crowd.
The following day, while watching the news, Council saw Hobley on the television named as a suspect, so he called police to tell them about seeing Hobley buy the gas. That’s what an open-and-shut case it was. Hobley confessed to the crime, then witnesses come forward confirming exactly what Hobley said he had done. Their statements and Hobley’s confession matched in great detail. No wonder the jury not only convicted Hobley, but also gave him the death penalty.
So one day Council is sitting in his home and he gets a visit from attorney Andrea Lyon and private investigator Paul Ciolino, the same Ciolino accused of bribing statements and coercing suspects in the Porter exoneration scandal.
Here’s Council’s sworn statement describing what Lyon and Ciolino did when they came to his home:
Q. Okay. And did they -- how did you first come in contact with them (Andrea Lyon and Paul Ciolino)? Did they call you first? Did they come to the house? What do you remember?
A. I remember them coming to the house...
A. …You know, they was telling me that, you know, he didn't do it.
Q. He, meaning who?
A. Madison Hobley. You know, that's the way -- they say Madison Hobley, he wasn't the one who set the fire. The lady [Andrea Lyon] was telling me, you know, that I need to concentrate on looking at him as not being guilty…
A. …My daughter's picture was sitting up there right in front. They was asking me did I have kids, you know…
Q. Who was asking that?
A. Both of them was talking to me about it. And they was talking to me about it.
Q. Asked you if you had kids?
A. Right. Well, my daughter and son look just like me. And so they was asking me, you know, what grade, what grade was they in, how old was my kids, and, you know, was they going to college.I said, Yeah, they -- my daughter is older. And well, she's still older, and they was talking about what she going to college for. I told them I didn't know what was she going to do. And they asked me, you know, how would I like to not work anymore. You know, they said that they have ways they could do it. You know, she said she deal with colleges.
A. And he was -- he was telling me the same thing, basically, that they could send mydaughter to college and I wouldn't have to pay for it. And I was like
Q. What do you mean, if you changed your testimony?
A. Exactly. They told --they told me, first of all, he's not guilty. I'm like, first of all, you know, I'm saying this to myself, they didn't know Madison Hobley before this case comes up. You know, I could see if they live right next to him or they knew him, but they didn't know anything about him at all. I'm saying this to myself, not to them.
Q. All right. But in terms of that conversation, you're saying they were telling you that if you changed your testimony -- what did they want you to say? Did they tell you what they wanted you to say?
A. They wanted me to say that I didn't -- that I wasn't -- that I wasn't sure, you know, that, you know, you know, she was -- she was writing down, which I never said this before, but I'm going to say it now. She was writing on a sheet of paper the things that I should say.
Bribing witnesses? Change your testimony and we’ll send your daughter to school?
Remember, some of these activists in the wrongful conviction movement worked with terrorist bombers who went around preaching revolution and killing police officers. Some of their close friends, members of the Weather Underground, bombed the home of a judge while he and his family were inside. The family was only saved by the heroic actions of their neighbors. The connection between PLO and violent radicals continues to this day. Even as recently as 2011, several youths who were caught making incendiary devices were represented by the law firm. Investigators stated that the youths planned on throwing the fire bombs at the police during the NATO demonstrations.
In the face of these crimes, is gathering bribed statements as a means of getting back at the “pigs” whom they hate so much such a stretch?
All of this brings us back to the ruling last week that freed Whirl.
Was Whirl tortured into confessing, as he claims, or did activists push through another wrongful conviction scam, as they did in the Johnson case, the Porter case, the Hobley case? Is Whirl another killer walking the streets of Chicago free as a bird?
And all of this brings us back to why the Whirl case is so much more dangerous to the police than the many other exonerations spearheaded by the wrongful conviction activists.
Whirl’s release from prison breathes new life into TIRC, one that will increase their power within the criminal justice system and certainly embolden them to push more and more cases. Now that one of their cases has won, the precedent is now set for the organization to overcome its former scandals and grave misconduct, the evidence of their own duplicity and fraudulence, and vilify a whole new generation of police officers. Wrongful conviction cheerleaders disguised as journalists like Steve Mills, Eric Zorn, John Conroy and a host of others can now crank out stories about the police torturing people by quoting the “findings” of a state commission.
With each case TIRC overturns on the argument that the detective “once worked with Jon Burge,” they open up a whole market of exonerations and lawsuits for their allies in the wrongful conviction movement.
They’ve come a long way since the bomb-throwing days of the 1960s, finally seeing their “Marxist revolution” taking shape.
And as they destroy the career and reputation of one cop after another, other inmates arrested by these detectives will make the same claims. Soon TIRC members will be free from the shackles of only considering the Burge cases. They will establish new villains in the police department, upon whom they can hang the mantle of corruption that has profited them so handsomely and bought them untold power from a political system that has always been for sale. The lawsuits that will follow will fill the coffers of their political allies while the journalists supporting them bask in the glory of more exonerations.
No cop, no matter how honestly he attempts to investigate his cases, will be immune from their machinations.
Only one thing stands in their way now: The Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents cops. But that is hardly even a nuisance. The current FOP administration, headed by President Dean Angelo, has shown time and again the union will not take on the wrongful conviction machine, no matter how much evidence arises that they are crooked and that they are victimizing FOP members.
In the wake of the Whirl ruling, a Chicago cop can be certain of only two things. He can be accused of any crimes, no matter how ludicrous, and his union will do little if anything about it.
That’s just the reality of patrolling the most Crooked City.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and an arson in 1987, titled Burn Patterns.
The rumors started about four days before the actual event.
But no one, not even the police officers who were shot that night, believed them.
Besides, it was an impossible level of corruption, even for Chicago and Illinois.
But the rumors kept flying, from more and more sources. The officers started to get nervous.
Could the inmate in prison, Howard Morgan, who shot three police officers in 2005 during a traffic stop actually be set free by Governor Quinn right as the governor left office? And could the governor do so without even providing a piece of evidence in the case justifying his decision?
It wasn’t possible.
The officers had figured the ordeal was finally over, though there were still rumblings in the media repeating ludicrous theories that the four officers somehow conspired to rob or execute Morgan.
But Morgan had been convicted on four counts of attempted murder in his second trial, nine years after he pulled out his pistol and fired at the officers 15 times, wounding three.
Those nine years had been a nightmare for the four cops, as a merging of media, religious groups and activists, mostly within the African American community, unleashed a vicious campaign to smear the cops, poison the jury, and pressure prosecutors and judges. A documentary and statements from supporters of Morgan claimed that the cops were racist executioners. Journalists stepped forward, making the most outlandish claims without any evidence.
It worked, at first. The first trial ended up with a hung jury, as the lawyer for Morgan played the race card against the officers. But by the second trial, prosecutors were ready for anything, including the regular disruptions in the gallery of the trial by supporters of Morgan. Morgan was found guilty on all four counts of attempted murder.
One of the officers who was shot that night said this in a victim statement:
John Wrigley - Candlelight Vigil 2014 - YouTube
The night I crossed your path I was only doing what I have done a thousand times before. Then you made a choice... You shot me, Mr. Morgan. I don't think we will ever know how you came to that choice, but you have shown me what type of person you are in the events following that night.
What is so reprehensible, Mr. Morgan, is you have shown no remorse or even an ounce of accountability in regards to your actions and choices that night. In fact, you have done exactly the opposite. You have attempted to lead, and you have allowed people of our community to believe you did nothing wrong. You have attempted to hide behind the racial fears of our community, and manipulated organizations into believing that Police corruption was the cause of me being shot that night. The very idea goes beyond reason. You preyed upon fears and emotions, hoping to serve your own selfish agenda. In doing so, you have further damaged the trust between our community and the Police. But, you couldn't hide from the facts, and the truth of this case. You are a fraud, Mr. Morgan... that's also the truth.
Morgan was sentenced to 40 years. During the final hearing before being sent to prison, Jessie Jackson, perhaps the most familiar face when one thinks of an activist black caucus in Chicago, showed up and testified about what a great guy Morgan was and that he should be set free on bond pending his appeals. Then Jackson arrogantly and insolently walked over to the officers and stuck out his hand, taunting them. Ever the professionals, the officers shook his hand, despite the fact that members of his constituency had accused them of the worst crimes imaginable, without any evidence.
And after the conviction, all Morgan’s appeals failed.
Then the rumors about Quinn commuting the sentence of Morgan started spinning.
The FOP, the union that represents the officers, knew nothing about it. In fact, so irrelevant has the Dean Angelo administration become in city affairs that no one at Quinn’s office even bothered to notify the union what was about to take place. No heads up was given. No one in the union fielded the rumors and began preparing a statement about what a grave injustice such a decision would be. And then after Quinn made the decision, no press conference was convened by Angelo to condemn it, to call for an investigation. Angelo did not call on the mayor and superintendent to condemn it. There was no guest column in the papers, not even a letter to the editor.
And so Morgan was set free, the complex media and political campaign by a slew of African American activists and organizations in the city, culminating in a visit by Jesse Jackson himself, undermining an open-and-shut case and conviction of quadruple attempted murder of four Chicago police officers.
The entire affair is a testament to the vast power the consortium ofpolitical, religious and media reps hold in the city, one intimately tied to the black caucus, for this consortium arose almost exclusively from the African American wards represented by the caucus. Their seemingly invisible hands were somehow able to pull strings all the way up to the governor’s office and free a man who shot three cops. It was an impressive display of power.
Howard Morgan speaks on his release from prison and faith - YouTube
Another impressive display of power in the African American community took place last week during a hearing in which members of the black caucus grilled Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. The grilling took place one day after caucus members announced they wanted McCarthy fired in the wake increased violence around the city, particularly in their own neighborhoods.
“What else can you tell me we can do?” Alderman Carrie Austin shouted at McCarthy during the hearing. “Don't tell me about no legislation. We don't control them. What we control is here."
But Austin asked the question, and perhaps it’s time someone answered her.
The caucus can do a lot. First, it can explain what happened in the Morgan case, and then it can help undo it.
After all, these four officers were engaged in exactly the kind of patrol the caucus was demanding in their neighborhoods from Superintendent McCarthy at the recent hearing.
The officers were responding to what they believed were gunshots when they encountered Morgan’s van driving away from the direction of the shots without his headlights on and driving the wrong direction on a one-way street.
If the caucus is so concerned about police getting better control of crime patrolling in their neighborhoods, why didn’t they speak up for these cops when their own people were vilifying them? Why did they leave the cops hung out to dry?
The release of Morgan was less than a year ago. Nevertheless, the caucus comes forward and demands more accountability from the police. But, in the wake of the Morgan scandal, isn’t it the caucus that needs to demonstrate some accountability?
In Chicago, factions that gain a certain level of political power are immune from the requirements not only of integrity, but even any consistency. This is why the constituents of the caucus can be advocating the freeing of a police shooter one day, then calling on the police for more accountability and asking “What can we do?” the next day.
It raises the question as to whether the caucus is really concerned about public safety in their districts or just engaged in a political power play against the police.
But the question was asked by Alderman Austin, and it should be answered.
What can the caucus do?
The caucus could get to the bottom of the religious institutions that immediately organized behind Morgan and helped him obtain bond, when he should have been awaiting trial in the county jail. It could ask how the freeing of Morgan and their support of his case, despite all the evidence he was guilty, was an expression of some religious sentiments, and how such actions would increase the trust and cooperation between the police and the members of their own community.
It would also be great if the caucus could confront several prominentjournalists who wrote about the case.
One in particular would be Sun Times columnist Mary Mitchell, a columnist whose writings are more PR memos for the black caucus and its constituents than actual journalism, a columnist whose willingness to vilify Chicago police officers on flimsy claims of racism with little or no evidence is unparalleled. True to form in the Morgan case, Mitchell unleashed one falsehood after another in her coverage of the case, including, incredibly, claiming the Morgan case was Chicago’s own Trayvon Martin case.
At a time when the shooting in Florida of Trayvon Martin is drawing supporters from across the country, Chicago has its own shooting scandal.
What shooting scandal? The Morgan incident was reviewed time and again and shown that it was obviously justified, based on the evidence.
One wonders: Did Trayvon Martin fire a pistol 15 times at four cops from a distance of a few feet?
One aspect of the Morgan shooting never mentioned by Mitchell and many other journalists was the fact that two of the cops pulled Morgan over for traffic violations. Two other cops from another unit joined them. How did these four cops, who didn’t even know each other, hatch a plan to execute Morgan, or rob him, in the few seconds before the shooting began?
And then why did the cops cease firing when Morgan ran out of bullets? If they shot him 18 times for no legal reason, what’s one more shot that would kill him and eliminate him from telling authorities what they did to him?
And finally, how did all the cops come up with an identical story in the seconds after the shooting when three of them lay wounded and were taken to different hospitals? How was it that their trumped-up story held up to all the forensic evidence?
Mitchell’s entire column is one of the most crooked pieces ever to appear in a Chicago newspaper. If she were truly concerned about public safety, particularly for her own people, she would be grateful to have such courageous, disciplined cops patrolling their neighborhood. Instead, she tosses them onto the dung heap of race baiting and scaremongering as if they were nothing but pawns in a larger, far more sinister plot.
So what can the caucus do, Alderman Austin?
The caucus could call Mitchell to a hearing and have her go through a thorough grilling on the evidence of the Morgan case, and then have her explain her column. Then, if the caucus concludes that Morgan is guilty the way the jury did, the caucus should demand that she be fired.
And what are the chances of that happening?
And then there is the governor himself. If only the caucus would call Quinn to a hearing and have him explain the evidence of clear backroom dealing that took place in his decision to release Morgan.
If one were truly interested in forging a working relationship with the police to combat crime and protect the innocent members of their districts, that might be a good starting point.
Who knows what could come of it? Maybe in the end Howard Morgan would be back in prison serving the 40-year sentence he so justly deserves.
Now that would be an impressive display of power in the Crooked City.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and an arson in 1987, titled Burn Patterns.
It was an incident captured on video that devastated the image of the Chicago Police around the world, a drunken, irate, off-duty police officer, Anthony Abbate, brutally attacking a defenseless female bartender, Karolina Obrycka.
It took place in 2007. Abbate was charged and found guilty of Aggravated Battery, and sentenced to probation. He was also fired, the superintendent assailing Abbate’s conduct in media events.
A theory emerged in the lawsuit that was difficult for many Chicago cops to digest. It was the claim that the department somehow had gone to bat for the officer, that there was a coverup to try and protect him, a “code of silence.”
It was so difficult to digest because most cops were furious about the attack, as disgusted as any member of the public.
Nevertheless, the “code of silence” claim became central in the bartender’s federal lawsuit against not only Abbate, but also against the City of Chicago. Obrycka’s lawyer, Terry Ekl, went after the city as well as Abbate based on the argument that Abbate attacked Obrycka because he enjoyed “an air of impunity” because he was a cop.
From the Tribune:
At the center of the trial was the allegation that a long-standing code of silence protects officers who use excessive force or engage in other misconduct. As a result, Obrycka's lawyers maintained that Abbate acted with impunity in the bar because he was unafraid of consequences.
For such a legal claim against the city to go to trial is rare. Obrycka's lawyers waged a five-year legal fight. The city at no point offered her a settlement, calling the case a matter of "principle" in part because Abbate was off-duty at the time of the beating.
"She's been through a lot, and a lot of people would have caved in under the pressure of what she had to go through," said her attorney Terry Ekl, who embraced his client after the verdict was announced.
With the jury's favorable verdict, Ekl said, the city also will have to pay substantial legal fees racked up by Obrycka's lawyers over the legal fight, but he maintained far more was at stake than money. The verdict sent a strong message about how the Police Department is run, he said.
"This is putting the Chicago Police Department right on the front burner for everyone to take a look at," he said. "But for that (video), Anthony Abbate would still be a police officer today. If it became Karolina's word against Anthony Abbate ... this case would have gone nowhere."
Would it? Would the agencies that investigate police misconduct have given Abbate a pass without the video? Would the police department have backed Abbate up if they believed he had in fact brutalized the bartender just because he was a cop? That’s a powerful prediction by Ekl, and a stunning condemnation of the police department.
As it is, a jury clearly bought Ekl’s arguments about the police “code of silence,” awarding his client a large settlement. It’s a case cops talk about among themselves to this day.
Times have changed.
Another high-profile case now asks some of the same questions about a “code of silence” among attorneys, especially prosecutors and former prosecutors, including Ekl. Only this case is more than a shocking, despicable battery against a woman by an off-duty cop in a bar.
This one involves a brutal double murder and the complete breakdown of the entire criminal justice system in the state of Illinois.
At the very time Ekl was working the Abbate case, he was representing Alstory Simon, a man coerced into confessing to a double murder he did not commit. Simon’s confession, obtained by a private investigator, Paul Ciolino, working with Northwestern University professor David Protess and several students, paved the way for Anthony Porter to be released from prison in 1999. Simon’s confession was the key piece of evidence that allowed Porter to go free.
Porter’s exoneration was central to the wrongful conviction movement in Chicago and initiated several other equally suspicious exonerations. It also compelled then governor George Ryan to end the death penalty.
After Simon was sent to prison, he began claiming he made the confession because Ciolino threatened him with violence. Ciolino, Simon claimed, offered two choices: conviction for the murders and a possible death penalty, or go along with Coliolino’s plan, confess, and get out in a few years. Furthermore, if Simon played ball, he would also make money through movie and book deals. Boxed in, Simon grudgingly made the confession because of Ciolino’s threats against him.
But then something unforeseen took place. A top prosecutor, Thomas Epach, knew the evidence in the original Porter murders backward and forward. He was certain Porter was guilty and he didn’t believe Simon’s confession. He told his boss, Dick Devine, as much, but Devine went ahead and let Porter out of prison. Devine also took Simon into custody.
Furious, Epach initiated a grand jury investigation into the murders. He sent underling Thomas Gainer into this grand jury with instructions to get to the bottom of the case. Gainer did so.
One after another, Gainer called Protess, Ciolino, and the students to the stand, reviewing in detail their “investigation” into the murders. From the outset, their “investigation” fell apart, an image emerged of students being blindly led around by a professor and private investigator whose conduct and motives, were, at best, questionable, at worst, criminal.
As one example of how ludicrous the Northwestern “investigation” was, Protess and his students admitted they hadn’t even talked to four of six witnesses in the case.
And why not, the prosecutor asked.
Well, we were too busy with our other classes, one of the students said.
With all this testimony and evidence that the Northwestern case was a fraud, Epach tried to get Devine to retry Porter and not proceed with a criminal case against Simon. But even with the grand jury evidence, Devine wouldn’t budge. The reason is that Devine was facing a media deluge in support of Northwestern’s claims by reporters willing to parrot Northwestern’s claims without checking any facts.
Devine told Gainer, the same prosecutor who led the grand jury, to go into court and accept a confession from Simon. Simon did not know about the grand jury evidence that exonerated him or the fact that a top prosecutor was arguing for his innocence.
Gainer went ahead and took the confession, even though there was a mountain of evidence exculpating Simon.
It was a complete breakdown of the justice system and the worst betrayal of ethics by a prosecutor imaginable.
Another group victimized by Devine and Gainer’s refusal to adhere to the evidence was the Chicago Police Department. The Northwestern theory claiming Porter was innocent was based in large part on the fraudulent claim that the detectives framed Porter.
This theory became the foundation of Porter’s lawsuit against the detectives after he was set free. A six-year campaign by Porter’s lawyers vilified these detectives in the media and the courtroom. The detectives won the case in court, and Porter got nothing. But the damage had already been done. The Porter exoneration spurred other fraudulent exonerations that also falsely vilified the police. In most of those cases, the city settled, the lawyers become rich on false exonerations.
Only in the Crooked City.
In fact, the machinations of Northwestern in the Porter case spurred much of the anti-police hysteria now sweeping the country.
As it was, Simon languished in prison for more than a decade. A group of people looking closely at the evidence began fighting for Simon to be released from prison. They pressed their case with the current prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, who took over the office after Devine left.
Faced with so much evidence of corruption in the case, Alvarez released Simon from prison last year, the central case in the wrongful conviction mythology now completely obliterated.
But, tellingly, Alvarez would not declare Simon innocent. She only pointed to the corrupt tactics of Protess and Ciolino in getting a confession from Simon as justification for Simon’s release. It was an incredible turn of events that the chief prosecutor in the county, after a yearlong review of the case, held up her hands in confusion and said she couldn’t be sure who truly committed the murders.
The reason becomes painfully clear. If Alvarez did admit Simon was innocent, it would point a finger at her predecessor, Dick Devine, and admit that the prosecutor’s office was involved in a major scandal. It would also point an ominous finger at her own administration for not delving into the corruption of the Simon case years earlier.
So Alvarez got up in front of the media on the day she released Simon and made the incredible claim that her office could find no wrongdoing on the part of Devine’s office.
Alvarez’s declaration that Gainer and Devine did nothing wrong was an incredible favor to the two men.
Alvarez wasn’t the only one. Right after Alvarez let Simon out of prison, Ekl and his colleagues on the case immediately filed a $40 million lawsuit against Northwestern, Protess, Ciolino, and an attorney Ciolino and Protess had obtained to represent Simon when he confessed.
But Ekl did not name in the lawsuit the prosecutors in the case, Devine and Gainer.
In short, Ekl ignored the overwhelming evidence that Devine and Gainer were co-conspirators in the framing of Simon, along with Protess, Ciolino, and Northwestern.
To this day, Ekl refuses to acknowledge the prosecutor’s central role in the Simon travesty, not only in his lawsuit, but in his frequent statements to the media. Instead, he focuses only on the Northwestern investigators. Furthermore, Ekl refuses to acknowledge the clearly suspicious claims by Alvarez that her predecessors Devine and Gainer were innocent of any wrongdoing.
Ekl, himself a former prosecutor, gives not only Devine and Gainer an incredible pass, but also Anita Alvarez, when he doesn’t attack her suspicious claims that she still can’t decide who committed the original murders.
Some of Ekl’s claims about the police department now haunt his own “representation” of his client Alstory Simon.
"Officers routinely cover up the misconduct of other officers," Ekl told the Chicago courtroom. "We call it a `code of silence. ... Misconduct without consequences."
Rather than condemn the prosecutors’ role in destroying the life of his client (and the lives of all the detectives who originally fingered Porter) Ekl raises none of these issues in either his lawsuit or in his media statements. He also lets Alvarez get away with claiming there was no wrongdoing in the prosecutors’ administration.
But how can that be?
How could Alvarez find corruption in the manner by which Protess and Ciolino obtained a confession from Simon in the 1999, but not in the conduct of the prosecutors at the time? Simon was in the county jail for six months waiting for his trial. How come Devine and Gainer could not find the evidence that Alvarez found more than a decade later? It was all right there. After all, there was a prosecutor right in Devine’s office telling him that the case was crooked as hell.
Ekl ignores all of this evidence that Alvarez is playing politics in the case. When Alvarez finally released his client, Alstory Simon, from prison last year, Ekl, incredibly, gushes over Alvarez’s decision:
“We’ve been working for Alstory Simon for 10 years, and for a while, I never thought this day would come,” he said. “But we were increasingly encouraged over the last year, where Anita Alvarez and her staff conducted the reinvestigation of the case; and I just can’t say enough good things about the way her office handled this case, the thoroughness of their investigation. I always sensed they were trying to do the right thing, and come to the right result, and they did that today.”
Here’s what Ekl could have said.
After more than a decade of presenting our evidence to the prosecutor that our client was wrongful convicted, the state’s attorney finally acted. It is disappointing that it took so long and that Alvarez did so only when she was boxed in by so much evidence. Her refusal to declare my client, Alstory Simon, innocent and Anthony Porter guilty is troubling, given all the evidence of misconduct by Northwestern investigators in this case and others. Equally troubling is her refusal to point out the clear misconduct by her predecessor Dick Devine in this case, whose decision to arrest, indict, and convict my client is one of the greatest abuses of justice by a prosecutor in the state’s history. Alvarez’s refusal to point out Devine’s corruption is not only an abuse of my client’s rights, but a devastating blow to the entire criminal justice system, including the police.
But Ekl didn’t. He let two generations of prosecutors completely off the hook. There was no pontificating about reforms in the prosecutor’s office, no questions about how they conduct their investigations.
Talk about professional courtesy. Talk about a code of silence.
This case involved a double homicide. After the Porter case, prosecutors began rolling over on one wrongful conviction case after another. One wonders, would they have done so if Devine and Gainer had stood firm on the Porter case, if they had allowed the case to be guided by the evidence?
If they had, the wrongful conviction movement might have been dead on its feet all the way back in 1999, and hundreds of cops would not have faced fraudulent accusations of coercing confessions from so-called “innocent” men.
All of this brings us back to Alstory Simon, Ekl’s client. Is Ekl’s unwillingness to point out the magnitude of the corruption in the prosecutor’s office influencing his representation of Simon?
Well, let’s take a look.
Whenever an inmate is released from prison on a wrongful conviction claim, his attorneys immediately file a petition for a certificate of innocence (COI). The COI is a declaration by a judge that the individual is innocent of the crime.
The COI is crucial because it compels the state to pay the former inmate for his wrongful incarceration. For Alstory Simon, this would have amounted to around $200,000.
Granting the COI also paves the way for the former inmate’s lawsuit, for who could challenge a former inmate’s lawsuit when a judge has declared that former inmate innocent?
Simon’s petition for a COI seemed a mere formality.
Ekl appeared at 26th and California in front of Judge Thomas Byrne. In both his petition and his presentation to Byrne, Ekl did not name the misconduct by either Devine or Gainer when they took his client into custody in 1999. Instead, Ekl, just as he had in his lawsuit, focused his entire petition on the misconduct of Northwestern investigators.
In an incredible ruling, Judge Byrne admitted that Simon was innocent of the murders, but he wasn’t getting the certificate of innocence. Downplaying the threats of violence, the death penalty, and the trumped-up evidence Ciolino used against Simon to get him to confess, Byrne argued that Simon’s willingness to go along with the confession because Ciolino also promised him wealth and money through movie and book deals made Simon a kind of co-conspirator.
But the fact that Ekl failed to mention the role of the prosecutors in Simon’s wrongful conviction also seemed to factor into Byrne’s decision:
…Petitioner’s attempt to recover the from the Court of Claims is not appropriate when his allegation of wrongdoing occurred at the hands of David Protess, Paul Ciolino and the Northwestern School of Journalism. He alleges no wrongdoing on the part of the state.
Did Ekl’s unwillingness to finger the prosecutors cost his client the $200,000 from the loss of the COI? Did it hurt his civil lawsuit?
Ekl’s statement about police corruption in the Abbate case comes to the forefront again:
"This is putting the Chicago Police Department right on the front burner for everyone to take a look at," he said.
Now it’s Ekl who’s on the front burner for everyone to take a look at. Now it’s a code of silence that seems to be emerging among attorneys, particularly prosecutors and former prosecutors in a double homicide case, one that devastated the justice system, in particular the police.
It’s not a pretty picture.
It forces one to trace many lines of evidence from the Porter murder victims all the way to the highest reaches of the city’s most powerful offices, lines that, taken together form a kind of outline of the Crooked City.
Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and an arson in 1987, titled Burn Patterns.
In the Chicago Police Department, there is a strict policy against lying under oath or on reports, called “a rule 14 violation.”
It prohibits a cop from “making a false report, written or oral.”
If a cop is caught doing so, he or she is subject to termination.
A key reason for firing a cop for a rule 14 violation is the argument that when a cop has been caught lying once, nothing he or she says on the stand can ever be believed again.
All a defense attorney has to do is produce the evidence of this lying and the officer is discredited.
Among Chicago journalists, no such penalty exists. There is no investigative agency that monitors their conduct, and, when confronted with evidence that they are willfully not telling the truth, they do not have to explain. There is no penalty.
Journalists in Chicago, therefore, have an unbridled freedom to twist the facts into the service of their own private designs.
This freedom to deceive by the media is at the core of the wrongful conviction movement. The Chicago Reader’s record of deception on several key wrongful conviction cases goes back decades, but perhaps the most glaring example was published just last week, in an article by Reader veteran writer Mick Dumke, entitled The Trials of Anita Alvarez, an article about the upcoming election for Cook County State’s Attorney. Dumke and the Reader are clearly lobbying heavily for Alvarez to be voted out of office and for their preferred candidate, Kimberly Foxx, to take over.
Dumke recently switched from the Reader to the Sun Times, but for some reason he wrote this latest article for the Reader. Several reporters from the Better Government Association also worked on the article with him, almost as if Dumke’s article is the concerted effort of many journalists throughout the city.
In his latest article, Dumke trots out the tired leftist cliches about racism in the criminal justice system and disproportionate rates of incarcerations of blacks.
But taking a close look at Dumke’s article reveals something else is going on. There is a desperation behind the desire for Dumke and the Reader to get Alvarez out of office, apart from the fact that her policies offend the paper’s political philosophy.
Dumke and the Chicago Reader’s candidate, Kimberly Foxx, is backed by Cook County Board member Toni Preckwinkle.
Taking a close look at Dumke’s article reveals the real reason why so many journalists want Alvarez out of office and Foxx in.
Chicago journalists are facing a crisis over their coverage of the wrongful conviction movement. Their reports going back decades, in which they argued that murderers supposedly innocent were being released from prison, are slowly falling apart under renewed scrutiny.
The crisis is so deep that Chicago media outlets are engaged in a coverup over their coverage of these stories, refusing to publish evidence of key developments that undermine their reporting and actively vilifying anyone who comes forward to point out their record of getting the stories completely wrong.
Dumke’s shocking article about Alvarez bears all the hallmarks of this coverup, not the least of which is Dumke’s willingness to publish out-and-out falsehoods on a grand scale.
Here is why.
In the past few years, Alvarez has grudgingly revealed the corruption at the heart of the wrongful conviction movement. It’s a window into the movement that reveals the greatest corruption in these cases was not the conduct of Chicago Police detectives, as Dumke and his colleagues have alleged for decades. Rather, the real corruption lies with the wrongful conviction zealots and the Chicago media, the two working hand in hand.
Dumke and the Reader want a prosecutor who will maintain their narrative about the wrongful conviction cases. That candidate would be Preckwinkle’s Kimberly Foxx, for Preckwinkle has unquestioningly supported the anti-police narrative of the wrongful conviction movement.
To see Dumke’s service in the media coverup of the wrongful conviction scandal, one only has to take a close look at his article about Alvarez.
Evidence mounted that, in its push to put away criminals during the rising violence of the 80s and 90s, some county prosecutors took politically expedient shortcuts. After a number of flawed murder convictions came to light, then-governor George Ryan put a halt to executions in Illinois. Meanwhile, Daley's lieutenant and successor, Richard Devine, was battered with allegations that his office had failed to investigate evidence of police torture under former commander Jon Burge…
This is perhaps one of the most incredible paragraphs ever written by a Chicago journalist, featuring a jaw-dropping sentence that flies in the face of more than ten years of evidence indicating just the opposite.
After a number of flawed murder convictions came to light, then-governor George Ryan put a halt to executions in Illinois.
Every journalist in Chicago knows that this claim no longer holds water. Each week, more evidence arises that these convictions were not flawed at all and that these convicted killers should never have been let out of prison. Dumke and his fellow writers at the Reader have been confronted with this evidence for years. They have chosen to ignore it.
The most compelling evidence lies in the Anthony Porter exoneration in 1999, the most influential wrongful conviction case in the state’s history and the core case in the wrongful conviction mythology.
Porter was exonerated in 1999 through the efforts of former Northwestern Professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino. The men, along with students at Northwestern, came forward with what were later proven fraudulent claims about Porter being innocent of a 1982 double murder. Dumke and his rag, the Chicago Reader, published these claims without checking the facts. In an effort to free Porter, evidence indicates wrongful conviction activists went so far as to bribe witnesses and coerce an innocent man, Alstory Simon, into confessing to the crime.
Alvarez was the state’s attorney who finally admitted that Northwestern’s “investigation” in the Porter exoneration was crooked. Just last year Alvarez released Alstory Simon from prison, admitting more than a decade after he was imprisoned that Simon’s constitutional rights had been violated by Protess and Ciolino when they fingered Simon—who was not identified by one single witness at the scene of the crime—and that they had coerced him into confessing.
Earlier this year, a judge also reviewed the case and declared that Simon was innocent of the murders.
So what is Dumke talking aboutwhen he cites “flawed murder convictions” as if it is a statement of fact? Simon’s release from prison is proof positive that this most central exoneration in the wrongful conviction mythology was anything but a “flawed murder conviction.”
Paul Pompian's Innocence Project Trailer (10 min) - YouTube
The clear intent of Dumke’s article is revealed as much in what he writes as what he avoids. Despite the fact that the Porter exoneration is the crucial exoneration in the wrongful conviction mythology and it has now been rejected yet again under the weight of new investigations, Dumke does not give the case one word in his article. He completely ignores it. This would be akin to writing a defense of the Richard Nixon administration by simply ignoring the Watergate burglaries.
It gets worse.
Dumke mentions Governor Ryan’s decision to end the death penalty in the face of these “flawed murder convictions.”
Whoa. Wait a minute.
That’s not exactly accurate. That’s a statement that might have a tough time in a Rule 14 hearing.
Ryan acknowledged that the motive for this moratorium on the death penalty was rooted in the Porter exoneration, an exoneration now thoroughly discredited by Alvarez, a judge, a grand jury, a civil trial, a criminal trial, witnesses old and new, detectives, private investigators, and attorneys.
Dumke is asserting an argument about “flawed murder convictions” when Ryan himself admitted he was basing his decision on an exoneration that has now been revealed as little more than a criminal conspiracy. The Porter exoneration reveals itself to be a legitimate conviction more and more each day.
This is the kind of duplicity, deception, and downright fraud all too common in Chicago journalism.
Perhaps the reader would be interested to know that the exoneration, upon which Ryan ended the death penalty, has been thoroughly discredited. Perhaps Dumke would do at least this slight service to the truth in his article, just one sentence.
As it is, Dumke’s claim about“flawed murder convictions” is a measure of just how far Chicago journalists will go to maintain their mythology about these cases, no matter how powerful the evidence to the contrary. They will do so even if it means fighting to get people elected to crucial positions in the criminal justice system as a means of preserving this false narrative.
That’s particularly bad news for Chicago police officers, already facing the daily threats of working in one of the most violent, gang-infested cities in the country. Dumke’s article is a sign that the media will never give them a fair shake, will never be reasonable in their coverage.
“I got accused of certain things I didn’t do,” says Charles Salvatore, a lead detective in the Porter case. “I got accused of being this ringleader in a great conspiracy to frame Anthony Porter. I got accused of not having probable cause. I got accused of intimidating witnesses and I got accused of physical abuse, and I didn’t do any of this. And I have to ask. If they were making this up in my case, in how many others were they doing it?”
Perhaps Dumke should have sat down with Salvatore for a little while before Dumke published his fantasy claim about “flawed murder convictions” from Salvatore’s era on the job. Certainly Salvatore could enlighten him about such a claim. But that’s not likely. Since Salvatore successfully defended his investigation of Porter and proved in both a criminal and civil trial that Porter was guilty, not one journalist has ever sat down and asked him about the Porter case, including Dumke.
That Dumke’s article and his advocacy in favor of Foxx for prosecutor is aimed at covering up corruption by the media in the wrongful conviction movement is also revealed in his refusal to address the most obvious questions arising from Ryan’s stated reasons for ending the death penalty.
Wouldn’t a legitimate journalist, for example, call Ryan up and ask him how he and his staff didn’t see all the evidence that Porter was guilty and Simon innocent in the face of the Porter exoneration imploding this year? Rather than writing articles insisting that convictions were flawed, wouldn’t a legitimate journalist ask Ryan why he let Porter out in the face of all the un-refuted evidence of Porter’s guilt that was on the record at the very time Ryan pardoned Porter, evidence that compelled Alvarez to release Simon and a judge to declare Simon innocent?
Once again, it gets worse.
In his public relations piece posing as journalism, Dumke does slightly mention some wrongdoing by Protess in his article, but in a manner and substance that only adds to what seems to be clearly calculated deceit.
Protess is now named by Alstory Simon’s attorneys in a $40-million lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Simon’s attorneys cite a pattern of potentially criminal conduct by Protess in his wrongful conviction crusade throughout several cases spanning many years.
Dumke, who ignored in his article Protess’ role as the architect of the Porter conspiracy, also wholly ignores this evidence of other misconduct, and all the while prattles on about “flawed murder cases” by police and prosecutors and suggests Alvarez has been too “skeptical” of these wrongful conviction cases.
Instead, Dumke refers to one small aspect of another scandal Protess was involved in, the case that led to Protess’ exit from Northwestern, the McKinney case.
McKinney was another convicted killer Protess was trying to spring from prison. Dumke’s writing on this subject is nothing less than chilling.
In the McKinney case, the misconduct by Protess was discovered after Anita Alvarez and her staff smelled a rat. Alvarez subpoened a wide array of evidence in this case, including the Northwestern records and emails of students working on the case with Protess.
Journalists were furious at Alvarez for demanding these records, saying it was a violation of their privacy and their rights as reporters. Dumke taps into this outrage in his article.
In a 2012 interview, Alvarez said, "We tore those cases apart to see if there was any truth to them. I think it was unfortunate that it was portrayed as me going after the students."
Well, there are a few telling details omitted by Dumke about this subpoena that cast even more suspicion on the substance and intent of his article.
Alvarez smelled a rat in Protess’ claims about the case because her investigation unearthed statements from witnesses that contradicted statements Northwestern was claiming these witnesses made. It was yet another sign that wrongful conviction activists may be manufacturing false narratives. When Alvarez subpoened the records, it was the first time in decades that a prosecutor stood up to Protess, Northwestern, and the wrongful conviction movement.
Sure enough, Alvarez hit pay dirt.
The lawyer for Northwestern—not Alvarez—discovered that Protess was committing some potentially serious misconduct in his investigation. The lawyer discovered that not only was Protess lying about the case, but that Protess had also altered evidence that he had submitted to the school in response to Alvarez’s subpoena. In other words, Alvarez’s subpoena, which Dumke implies is overaggressive, unearthed shocking evidence of corruption against Protess.
Rather than criticizing Alvarez for being too aggressive, too skeptical of wrongful conviction claims, shouldn’t Dumke and the Reader be patting Alvarez on the back for potentially preventing yet another killer returned to the streets, like Anthony Porter?
Don’t bet on it. In the sick, twisted world of wrongful conviction journalists, undermining a wrongful conviction case is, in and of itself, a sin by a prosecutor, even when the prosecutor uncovers corruption and imposes justice.
Here is what Dumke is truly arguing: How dare Alvarez question Northwestern, Protess, and the Reader…How dare a prosecutor question these self-appointed guardians of truth?
After the school’s lawyer rushed to a hearing and told the judge that he was unwittingly given false evidence by Protess, Northwestern was compelled to conduct an internal investigation of Protess. What the school found was rumored to be chilling and undeniable: There was a shocking level of dishonesty at the very heart of wrongful conviction claims, a dishonesty Dumke and his self-aggrandizing colleagues never once uncovered.
Consider this statement the school released, not Alvarez, not the cops, but Northwestern itself, when they fired Protess.
In sum, Protess knowingly misrepresented the facts and his actions to the University, its attorneys and the dean of Medill on many documented occasions. He also misrepresented facts about these matters to students, alumni, the media and the public. He caused the University to take on what turned out to be an unsupportable case and unwittingly misrepresent the situation both to the Court and to the State.
Despite this bombshell statement and turn of events that describes conduct that could have clearly resulted in criminal charges, Dumke gives voice in his article to none of this in his recounting of Protess and Northwestern. Rather, he writes thatProtess's methods were eventually discredited, that Protess left the school in the wake of the ensuing controversy.
Not exactly, Mick.
Clearly Dumke is obfuscating the real significance of Protess’ conduct in the McKinney case and what it means in the context of the larger wrongful conviction narrative.
Here is what actually happened: Caught red-handed manufacturing and hiding evidence once again, the school canned Protess and admitted he was a liar.
Northwestern’s bombshell admission about Protess and their firing of him was yet another indication that what Chicago detectives had been saying for years was true: Dumke’s so-called “flawed murder convictions” weren’t flawed at all.
It’s important to pause and consider what is at stake. These were cases of vicious murders with grieving families and cops whose lives were ruined by the claims of Protess and his media supporters. This is the criminal justice system being sacrificed by private and potentially malevolent factions.
Dumke’s article is a sordid look into the imagination of a wrongful conviction journalist in Chicago, a measure of the lengths to which they will go to preserve their wrongful conviction mythology.
In the wake of all this evidence, Dumke’s suspicious motives are revealed, once again, just as much by the questions he doesn’t address as those he does.
The reader might ask why, despite the wrongdoing that Northwestern itself admitted, neither Dumke nor any of his colleagues at the Reader ever asked the next logical question following Protess’ firing from Northwestern: In how many other cases was he employing his “discredited methods.” How many other cases is there evidence of lying, altering evidence, and bribing witnesses by Protess? Isn’t this exactly what the detectives have been begging the Chicago journalists to do for more than thirty years, but Dumke and his band of brothers steadfastly refused?
Salvatore’s statement seems like a plea from another world.
“I got accused of being this ringleader in a great conspiracy to frame Anthony Porter. I got accused of not having probable cause. I got accused of intimidating witnesses and I got accused of physical abuse, and I didn’t do any of this. And I have to ask. If they were making this up in my case, in how many others were they doing it?”
Something else is missing in Dumke’s article. Why hasn’t one journalist in Chicago, why hasn’t Dumke or anyone at the Reader, gotten hold of the internal investigation by Northwestern into Protess’ conduct? The report is rumored to contain other bombshell evidence about Protess misconduct. Wouldn’t any real journalist be drooling to get at such a report?
Imagine if such a report existed about a cop. You couldn’t shake Dumke and his wolf pack of journalists off the trail.
The likely answer as to why they won’t track down this report is rather simple. The list of misconduct at Northwestern is also the list of misconduct by journalists, who went along, like so many lap dogs, with whatever Protess and other wrongful conviction law firms claimed.
That’s it, right? That’s the end of the story?
No, it isn’t.
Amazingly, it gets even worse.
Remember Governor Ryan? Remember how Dumke had the gall to say that Ryan was reacting to “flawed murder convictions” when he ended the death penalty?Remember how Dumke ignored the evidence that these convictions were not flawed at all?
Well, maintaining this false party line about these cases also excuses Dumke and his cohorts from facing the most chilling exoneration of them all, that of Madison Hobley, and the role of Chicago journalists in it.
Hobley was pardoned along with four other men in the wake of the Porter exoneration. Ryan harkened back to the Porter case when he let all four men go.
That’s right. In letting four more killers out of prison, Ryan justified the decision in part by referring to the Porter exoneration, an exoneration that has now been completely undermined.
You wouldn’t know about any of this from reading Dumke’s article, but it’s all true, on the public record.
Ryan let these men out despite the fact that they had never been able to convince a jury or judge that they were innocent and despite the fact that they had never unearthed any new evidence pointing to their innocence, and he justified much of it based on the Porter case.
Madison Hobley had been convicted for an arson that killed seven people in 1987. Out of deference to the living family members of victims in the arson, Crooked City will not publish the morgue photos of the burned victims, including the two children who perished when Hobley poured a pool of gasoline outside his apartment door, then down a stairwell. Hobley did so knowing his wife and child were sleeping inside his apartment. Here, though, are pictures of the building after the fire.
People around the country are becoming anxious over the growing lawlessness and violence throughout the country.
They’ve even coined a phrase for it: The Ferguson Effect.
It’s one of the first times the national media acknowledged that the movement to vilify the police, as was the case in Ferguson, is having a dire effect on policing, particularly in large cities.
Conservative columnist Patrick Buchanan describes it as well as anyone:
This year, 24 cops have been gunned down. And the day after deputy Goforth’s execution, “Black Lives Matter!” showed up at the Minnesota state fair chanting, “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ’em like bacon!”
Last fall, when mobs blocked highways after the death of Eric Garner in an encounter with police on Staten Island, the hoodlum chant was: “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want ’em? Now!”
Soon after, two cops in Brooklyn were executed in their patrol car…
For some of the evils of the last century we thought we left behind seem to be returning, as is the old indulgence of lawlessness when done by those claiming some “grievance” against society.
Violent crime is rising again, a direct result, many believe, of a new police reluctance to be aggressive in enforcing the law, to avoid violent clashes with criminals and suspects, the so-called “Ferguson effect.”
The lead story in the Sept. 1 New York Times reported a surge in murders in the city after the Eric Garner incident, and even greater surges in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
A closer look at the Times figures reveals something more disturbing. Chicago, a city with not half the population of New York, exceeds New York in murders this year, 294 to 208.
Washington, a city not a tenth as populous as New York, had half as many murders, 105. Baltimore, where Freddie Gray died in police custody, and six officers have been charged in his death, has had more murders this year, 215, than New York, though New York has 14 times the population.
The intense media pressure to vilify the police in Ferguson might seem to be new to the rest of the country, but it is all too familiar to members of the law enforcement community in Chicago.
Here, city cops have been dealing with it for more than 40 years.
Older cops, now mostly retired, can trace its origins to the 1968 riots in Chicago. There has always been bitter contention over who was at fault for the violence in Chicago at the convention, the protestors or the police. Many of the narratives, written by “protesters,” placed the blame on the cops.
But the truth is that even by 1968, a radical, violent and often revolutionary collection of activists was taking shape in the city, and taking aim at the police. Initially, they threw rocks and bottles at the police, then shot them and set off bombs.
From City Journal:
Numerous histories from participant-memoirists unsurprisingly second the “police riot” verdict. Cathy Wilkerson, whose cadre unleashed stink bombs and phoned bomb threats to local hotels, notes in her recent memoir that the “rampant brutality” of Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley “was exposed for all the world to see.” For Tom Hayden, the coordinator of the Chicago protests who was arrested for deflating a police car’s tire, “rioting police” exhibited “brutal behavior” and “mindless sadism.” Bill Ayers, who brags of pelting Chicago cops with marbles fired from a slingshot, decries the “violent police assaults” and police “rioting.” But far from political innocents clubbed into reality by sadistic policemen, the activists who squared off with cops were generally movement veterans who went to Chicago looking for a fight. As Jeff Jones and Mike Spiegel of New Left Notes wrote six months before the convention, “to envision non-violent demonstrations at the Convention is to indulge in pleasant fantasying.” By 1968, the movement had moved from mere protest to open confrontation. Leaving for Chicago, Terry Robbins—who, 18 months later, would blow himself up while constructing a bomb intended for a soldiers’ dance—told comrades: “Let’s go kick some ass.”
The figure most closely associated with the Chicago protests is Tom Hayden, now point man for Progressives for Obama. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) activist Gerry Long recalled to David Horowitz that Hayden noted the benefits of firebombing Chicago police cruisers. “I heard Tom Hayden speak, in chillingly cavalier tones, about street actions which would run the risk of getting people killed,” Todd Gitlin remembered in The Sixties. In a conversation with me, Mike Klonsky, SDS’s national secretary during the convention riots, described how Hayden plotted to scatter nails over a nearby highway…
The behind-closed-doors Hayden occasionally ventured into public view. In Chicago, he called on activists to “avenge” the injuries of co- organizer, Rennie Davis, who had suffered a concussion battling the police. Hayden exhorted the throngs: “Make sure that if blood is going to flow, it will flow all over this city.” Hayden wasn’t alone among future Chicago Eight defendants in his violent rhetoric. “If a pig comes up to us and starts swinging a billy club,” Black Panther Bobby Seale counseled, “and you check around and you got your piece, you got to down that pig in defense of yourself! We’re going to barbecue us some pork!” Abbie Hoffman called for “a huge orgasm of destruction,” and (along with sidekick Jerry Rubin) daydreamed of poisoning Chicago’s water supply with LSD. Hearing the reckless pronouncements of the riot’s ringleaders, Americans—already weary from several years of deadly urban rioting across the country—supported the Chicago police by greater than 2–1 margins. “The whole world is watching!” the protestors chanted, but polls showed that not everyone saw events their way.
But over the course of several decades their war on the police and criminal justice became more sophisticated.
To understand this evolution, one must look at a crucial event in Chicago more than a decade after the 1968 riots.
It was 1992. Mayor Richard Daley, the leader of perhaps the country’s most formidable political machine, faced an ominous decision. The same group of lawyers and activists who had rioted or supported the rioting at the 1968 Democratic Convention claimed that a Chicago Police Commander, Jon Burge, had tortured murder suspects.
The claim by these lawyers was based primarily on the case of Andrew Wilson, a career thug who gunned down two police officers during a traffic stop in February of 1982. The murder of the police officers took place during a period of unprecedented violence against police—the kind of violence against the police many of these radicals had called for in the 1960s. In one month of 1982, five cops were gunned down, four fatally, in the same year in which the city logged some 900 murders.
Wilson was captured several days after he murdered the two officers and was interrogated by Burge and his men in Area 2 on the far south side of Chicago. Up until this case, Burge was considered one of the best cops in the city, with one of the best homicide resolution rates. Tough cases, like the Wilson murders, were often given to him.
After Burge and his men interviewed Wilson and got a confession from him, Wilson was transported by a police wagon to central detention downtown. When he arrived, he was badly beaten. The lockup keeper would not accept the badly bruised Wilson, so the two wagon men took him to the hospital, where a doctor and nurses watched one of the wagon men become unhinged in dealing with Wilson, calling him names, pulling out his gun and threatening him.
It was never clear who abused Wilson. Many believed it was the wagon men. But the fact that four cops had been killed was clearly more than some cops could handle.
There was really never much evidence against Burge and his men, despite the claims by Andrew Wilson, claims that were his last, desperate hope of avoiding an almost certain death penalty, which he did. Wilson got off death row in large part because he had been beaten.
Nevertheless, it made little sense that detectives would leave marks all over Wilson, giving him an instant defense when they were trying desperately to build a case that would get him executed.
Based in large part on Wilson’s wounds, a group of lawyers and activists, spearheaded by the People’s Law Office (PLO), began pressing their claims that Burge and his men were racist monsters that tortured confessions out of suspects.
The PLO tried twice to sue Burge and his men over the abuse against Wilson.
Twice they failed.
“We’re sure something happened to him [Wilson], but maybe he inflicted it on himself,” one juror said after the first trial.
“We never would have given him money,” said another.
Despite these losses in the courtroom, a courtroom in which lead PLO attorney G. Flint Taylor would be held in contempt several times, turning the trial into a kind of circus, much as ultra-left attorney William Kunstler had done in his defense of the Chicago seven after the 1968 riots, the PLO pressed its case.
In doing so, Taylor and the PLO claimed they were fighting for justice and human rights, something that struck many people in the criminal justice system as ludicrous, since the PLO and many of their associates were comprised of self proclaimed revolutionary Marxists with a long history of supporting domestic terrorists, including the FALN bombers and the Weather Underground. These groups were extraordinarily violent. Later, they would be tied to black revolutionary groups that also committed many murders, including the murder of police officers.
In fact, the PLO got its start representing family members of the Black Panthers, who also called themselves revolutionary Marxists, and spoke endlessly about “killing the pigs.” Two of their members, Mark Clark and Fred Hampton, had been killed during a shootout with police in 1969, when a joint Chicago Police and FBI group tried to serve a warrant on a west side apartment that contained a weapons cache by the group.
The PLO’s formation to represent the Panthers typified the bridge-building between the upper middle class terrorist organizations like the Weather Underground and the urban black militants like the Panthers in the late 1960s, all of whom shared a philosophy calling for violence against the police, all of it shallowly disguised in the rhetoric of human rights.
A chief BPP [Black Panther Party] priority was to harass police officers under the mask of a “political” program. The “self defense” part of that program involved Panther members appearing in public places heavily armed, as a means of standing up defiantly to “police brutality” and America’s allegedly racist power structure. This—coupled with the Party's anti-police (“pig”) rhetoric—caught the political fancy of Sixties radicals who considered themselves to be at war with the United States and were beginning to flirt with “revolutionary violence.”
To be sure, BPP was engaged in veritable warfare against the police, not merely “defending the people” against them. As BPP leader Eldridge Cleaver told Reason magazine years later (in 1986): "We [Panthers] would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence."
Whenever possible, BPP actively sought out opportunities to spark confrontations with police. On February 21, 1967, for instance, Huey Newton provided an armed escort for Betty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X, during a Bay Area speaking engagement. When newsmen tried to get closer to Shabazz than the Panthers wished to allow, police tried to enforce order with their nightsticks. In response, Newton and his fellow Panthers promptly loaded shells into their shotguns. After a tense standoff of several minutes, both sides backed off. Newton, however, boasted that the Panthers had “won” as a result of their “superior firepower.” The incident propelled Newton and the Panthers to national prominence.
The Black Panthers would lie about police violence in an effort to cast the police as the villains, distracting the gullible left from seeing the groups own growing criminal undertakings and violence.
But radical mythmakers tried to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. They portrayed the Panthers killed in the conflict as not merely dead, but as victims of "genocide." Thus, in 1969, Newton attorney Charles Garry claimed that 31 (or 29 or 28, depending on what day he was being interviewed) Panthers had been "assassinated" by law-enforcement authorities in the preceding two years. While it was true that approximately that many Panthers had indeed been killed since the group's inception, almost all of them had died in the course of criminal activities or in conflicts with other black militants. Of those Panthers who did die at the hands of police, all had provoked the shootouts.
The PLO represented the family members of Hampton and Clark by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The PLO claim—big surprise here—that the deaths of Hampton and Clark were executions by the police. The PLO engaged a strategy they have been using ever since: making their clients the victims and the police the criminals.
The tenuousness of Panther martyrdom was seen even in the most celebrated claim of innocent victimhood—the death of Chicago Panther Fred Hampton. According to Garry and other Panther supporters, Hampton had been wantonly murdered in his sleep as part of a police-FBI conspiracy. While it was true that Hampton was killed in a crossfire of bullets while sleeping off a drug binge, it was also true that when the police knocked on the door of the apartment, which served as a storage facility for all manner of BPP weaponry, they were greeted by a blast from Panther Mark Clark's shotgun, which initiated the shootout.
A decade after the PLO had formed to represent the Panthers, Andrew Wilson’s wounds provided a prime opportunity for the law firm to push their anti-police agenda once again.
The fact that Burge was also a decorated Vietnam veteran tied into the firm’s fervent anti-war platform as well. The lawyers at the PLO made the giant leap that Burge learned how to torture confessions while in Vietnam, then came back to the states and employed the tactics as a police commander. The assumption in the claims by the PLO was that the police department was in sympathy with Burge’s racist crimes, because he was quickly promoted through the department and never disciplined for any torture, so the entire police department was painted with a veneer or racism, torture, and abuse.
Even though the PLO was shut down in court in their crusade against Burge and his men, they pressed their claims with a fervency and aggression only the most radicalized activists can muster. Talk to a PLO founding member today and he may refer to the mission not in legal terms, but in revolutionary ones, calling their crusade against Burge as part of “the movement.”
As it was, the campaign against Burge by the PLO at first failed miserably, including the two civil trials, where the trial antics of PLO attorney G. Flint Taylor earned the scorn of lawyers and reporters alike.
But in time, the PLO prevailed, based in large part because Chicago was governed by a crooked political machine that acquiesced to emerging political factions, regardless of their legitimacy.
One inroad was through higher education. In their transformation from terrorists or terrorist supporters to mainstream lawyers, academics, and journalists, many of the surviving 1960s revolutionaries in “the movement” would end up in some of Chicago’s most prestigious universities, where they set up law and journalism departments aimed at attacking the criminal justice system. Former Weather Underground (WU) bomber Bernadine Dohrn, for example, ended up at Northwestern University working on wrongful conviction cases. Her husband, former WU bomber Bill Ayers, got a job at the University of Illinois.
In Chicago, crime not only pays, it grants tenure.
A second inroad was into the local media. The PLO and other “movement” activists held relationships with key journalists in the city who acted as their personal PR agents, rarely reviewing the full record of evidence in murder cases. Instead, they merely parroted the claims of law firms like the PLO and of the Innocence Project at Northwestern University.
Try finding, for example, one single article by a Chicago media outlet about the PLO detailing their long history supporting the Weather Underground when Weather Underground members were on the FBI’s most wanted list and living underground.
Furthermore, these journalists would use their positions to vilify anyone who questioned wrongful conviction myths. Chief among them was Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn. Even if a trial proved one again that a wrongful conviction case was a complete falsehood, as it did in 2005, Zorn was willing to assail the claims, and the lawyer who made them, in his columns.
A third inroad was into the black caucuses in the inner cities. From the earliest days representing the Black Panthers, the PLO had established ties to African American political leaders. When Black Panthers like Bobby Rush—who had been at the Panther apartment shortly before the shoot out in 1969—moved into the political establishment, much as former WU members had moved into academia, these ties became invaluable.
All of brings us back to the dilemma Mayor Daley faced in 1992.
Here is why.
In 1982, when Andrew Wilson was arrested for murdering the two police officers and then showed up at central detention badly beaten, Daley was the chief prosecutor in the city. Two doctors had documented Wilson’s abuse, but Daley had never done anything about it.
Now, as the mayor, he was being confronted by leaders in the African American community asking him why he didn’t do anything about it back then and why he wasn’t doing anything about Jon Burge now.
Organizations had formed demanding action, just as they had in the 1960s. They marched, protested, shouted.
And there is one political reality every mayor in Chicago had to face: It is virtually impossible to maintain the position of Mayor in Chicago without the black vote.
So Daley did what many leaders of political machines do—and what he did dozens of times in the decades he ran the city with an iron fist: He threw an underling under the bus and let that underling take the fall.
Daley appointed a new director of the agency that oversees police misconduct, the Office of Professional Standards (OPS), to look once again into the allegations against Burge and his men. Her name was Gayle Shines.
It is important to remember that this decision from Daley came after the PLO lost two trials in their attempt to pin torture allegations on Burge and after previous OPS investigations nearly ten years earlier had not sustained any complaints against Burge in connection with Andrew Wilson.
Sure enough, this second OPS investigation concluded there was widespread abuse in the police department and recommended that Burge should be fired.
Cops and the cop union were furious, as were attorneys representing them.
Then FOP President John Dineen in the Tribune:
Dineen said it was unfair for the Office of Professional Standards to file charges nine and a half years later while the agency was “into its third director. Francis Nolan [a former director] couldn’t find anything wrong. David Fogel [who succeeded Nolan] couldn’t find anything wrong.
“Suddenly, Gayle Shines, finds something wrong. Was there something wrong, or was the political atmosphere such that they had to find something wrong?”
William Kunkle, Burge’s attorney:
“I think it is atrocious that OPS would reinstate these charges after nine and a half years, when Andrew Wilson has never made himself available to any prosecutorial agency or the OPS to be interviewed with respect to these charges.
Police Board hearings were convened to determine whether Burge would be fired in light of this last OPS investigation.
The family members of the two police officers gunned down by Andrew Wilson had already relived the murders through two criminal trials and two civil trials. Now they were forced once again to relive them and endure Wilson’s claims in another proceeding, one more resembling a kangaroo court than a legitimate trial proceeding.
This was, after all, a man who was supposed to have been executed.
It didn’t matter. It was all part of a process by the PLO to transform killers and other violent criminals into victims and make the police the offenders.
And if it meant making the family members of the victims reliving time and again the horrible murder of their loved ones, well, then, so be it.
As it was, Daley turning OPS into a kind of instrument of the PLO was perhaps the most crucial moment in the entire history of “the movement,” when the most radical, lawless groups on the left coalesced and compelled a city’s institution, OPS, to bend to their will, even after they had utterly failed to push their cause in the courts.
From the moment the PLO compelled Daley to fire Burge, “the movement” had its foot in the door, and the “Ferguson Effect” was taking shape.
Bit by bit, these radicals were able to undermine city institutions, compelling them to betray the obligations of their office, just as Daley had perverted the office OPS to go after Burge and his men.
While their advocates celebrated the firing of Burge as a grand achievement for justice and human..
In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, several groups radicalized by the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights movement and a profound sympathy with Marxist philosophy, turned to terrorism as a means of initiating a revolution.
Of these groups, the Weather Underground was the most prolific. They set off bombs throughout the country, hoping that these acts of terrorism would spur the domestic chaos they believed necessary to initiate this revolution. They were placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. Members were forced to live underground, using fake names and keeping constantly on the move.
They counted on sympathizers living above ground to fund them and provide assistance.
One of their greatest supporters was the People’s Law Office, a collection of radical attorneys in Chicago, who got their start representing the families of Black Panthers killed in a shootout with police in 1969.
The intimate connection between the Weather Underground and the People’s Law Office comes as quite a surprise to many people in Chicago. Though the PLO is quoted on an almost weekly basis by a collection of journalists in the city, one would have a difficult time finding one article in Chicago’s media chronicling the law firm’s ties to one of the country’s most infamous terrorist organizations, a terrorist organization whose mantra was all about “killing the pigs.”
Despite their high-profile bombings and incendiary rhetoric, few people in the mainstream gave the Weather Underground much legitimacy. As a result, the group faced a sad realization common to many revolutionary groups, particularly Marxist groups.
“The people,” for the most part, wanted nothing to do with them.
This is eventually what happened to the Weather Underground. People became fed up with their bombing and their violence, as well as their philosophy, particularly when people caught a glimpse of just how violent and lawless the group could be. Even many on the political left became disgusted with them.
Todd Gitlin, former president of the Students for Democratic Society and writer:
“They were ready to be mass murderers. This is mass murder we are talking about. They came to this conclusion, which is the conclusion that was come to by all the great killers, whether Hitler or Stalin or Mao, that they have a grand project for the transformation and purification for the world, and in the face of that project ordinary life is dispensable. They joined that tradition. ”
Weather Underground - YouTube
The entire movement seemed to fade away; but the members who didn’t get killed, flee to Cuba, or get life sentences for other crimes, members like founding members Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn who beat their criminal charges on legal technicalities, quietly moved into academia, the law, and the media.
And so they didn’t fade away at all. Rather, they transformed the strategy of their “any means justified” attacks on the system. Specifically, they mastered the arts of public relations and media manipulation and reinvented themselves. They began a thirty-year assault on the criminal justice system, in particular the Chicago Police, lobbing one media and legal bomb after another that claimed the police were a collection of racist torturers who routinely and indifferently framed innocent men.
Bernadine Dorhn ended up at Northwestern University’s Law School, working on wrongful conviction cases.
Once frothing revolutionaries who bombed the home of a judge, nearly killing the judge, his wife, and his son, the former terrorists were now mainstream educators—even buddies with the president, disguising their revolutionary aims in the guise of what they called “civil rights.”
Here is a passage written by a man who experienced as a child their civil rights crusade first hand.
In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called “Panther 21,” members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of February 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. (Today, of course, we’d call that a car bomb.) A neighbor heard the first two blasts and, with the remains of a snowman I had built a few days earlier, managed to douse the flames beneath the car. That was an act whose courage I fully appreciated only as an adult, an act that doubtless saved multiple lives that night…
For the next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car. My mother, a schoolteacher, had plainclothes detectives waiting in the faculty lounge all day. My brother saved a few bucks because he didn’t have to rent a limo for the senior prom: the NYPD did the driving. We all made the best of the odd new life that had been thrust upon us, but for years, the sound of a fire truck’s siren made my stomach knot and my heart race. In many ways, the enormity of the attempt to kill my entire family didn’t fully hit me until years later, when, a father myself, I was tucking my own nine-year-old John Murtagh into bed.
Wrongful conviction activists have modified their strategies. Now they toss legal and media bombs at one murder case after another, with the same unrelenting aggression their allies once firebombed the homes of judges.
It has worked. Law firms like the PLO have made millions. With that money, they have secured vast political power and celebrity status.
But now a newfound silence has enveloped their movement, a silence taking shape among their key foot soldiers in the media, the ones who played a crucial role in supporting the wrongful conviction theories.
It is a silence emerging from one key mass murder case, the Madison Hobley arson.
The reason these journalists, John Conroy, Eric Zorn, and Steve Mills, are silent is that the Hobley case undermines every tenet of the wrongful conviction movement and shows exactly the malevolence and evil at its core, stripping away the veneer of humanity and higher principle the activists claimed and revealing a sordid willingness to release the most cruel and sociopathic offenders back on society.
It was a strategy that could do more damage, in the long run, than any pipe bombs.
The Madison Hobley murders took place on January 6, 1987. Hobley, angry that his wife would not let him remain with his mistress, decided to start a fire outside his apartment, where his wife and child were sleeping.
Creating what fire investigators called a chimney effect, the fire raged swiftly and intensely throughout the building. Seven people died, including Hobley’s wife and child. Many others were injured jumping from the third floor.
At first, detectives approached Hobley as a witness, wondering how he got out of the fire, but not his family. Hobley’s account did not make much sense, so they asked him to take a lie detector test. He failed it and confessed to the cop giving the test.
He was charged, convicted, and sentenced to death.
Even though Hobley was sent to death row, one of his attorneys, De Paul University Law Professor Andrea Lyon, fought to get Hobley out, creating a narrative that Hobley was tortured into confessing to the crimes. It might seem strange that an attorney would take up such an open-and-shut murder case, but at the time Lyon began fighting for Hobley, the movement to free convicted killers—by any means necessary—was already well under way.
In fact, almost all that was required was that the detectives who worked a case had at one time worked with or under the supervision of police commander Jon Burge, the police official who became the symbol for torture in the Chicago Police Department. One of the tenets of Lyon’s claim, repeated over and over, was that the detectives in the Hobley case had worked with Burge.
Beyond these vague associations to Burge, Lyon and her supporters never truly explained the details of their theory that Hobley was framed by detectives. They never explained how detectives somehow decided to pin the murders on an innocent man, a man who had just lost his wife and child, including such elemental facts as how the detectives communicated their conspiracy amongst themselves when they were scattered all around the city, and how they could be sure their false narrative would stand up to the forensic evidence and witness accounts.
Lyon—who established a reputation among police officers in her years as a public defender for her brashness and strong anti-police bias—was never able to get her claims about Hobley to fly in a court room. Hobley lost all his appeals.
Andrea Lyon Give GRRReat speech in 2008 - YouTube
Case closed, right?
No. In Chicago, under the pressure of the wrongful conviction movement, no murder case is ever finished.
In one of the most puzzling and disturbing chapters in Chicago history, Lyon was somehow able to get then Governor George Ryan to pardon Hobley in 2003. Ryan pardoned three other men at the same time, one of whom was represented by the People’s Law Office.
Hobley’s pardon marked the first time convicted killers were exonerated by a governor without any new evidence.
New York Times:
Mr. Hobley, who was convicted of killing his wife, infant child and five others in a 1987 arson, walked out of Pontiac Correctional Center this afternoon, one of four death row inmates that Governor Ryan pardoned three days before the end of his term. Experts said it was the first time in memory that condemned men had been directly pardoned, as opposed to being released through a court proceeding, an extraordinary step Governor Ryan took because, he said, he is convinced of their innocence.
It was a decision that placed the governor in direct conflict with the entire criminal justice system that convicted Hobley.
Governor Ryan’s decision came in the wake of an investigation of Ryan’s administration when he was Secretary of the State for illegally selling licenses, contracts, and leases in a corruption scam that resulted in an 18-count indictment against him under a scandal that became known as Operation Safe Road. Ryan was indicted in 2003 in federal court.
In a bitter, cruel irony, one of the cases tied to his indictment also involved a fire that took the lives of children. It was a traffic accident tied to a motorist who had illegally bought his drivers’ license. The Willis family was driving to Wisconsin in 1994 when their vehicle struck debris that had fallen from a vehicle driven by Ricardo Guzman. The debris punctured the gas tank of the Willis’ vehicle, causing it to catch fire. Six Willis children burned to death.
The image of the Willis’ car set on fire became the symbol for Ryan’s corrupt administration.
In light of the pending criminal case against Ryan, many people wondered aloud about Ryan’s motivation to set Hobley, and other convicted killers, free from prison. They wondered if his newfound passion about the injustice of the death penalty wasn’t aimed at winning political and public support in the wake of his own trial for corruption.
The question burned even brighter when it was announced that Lyon, Hobley’s attorney who had convinced Ryan to free Hobley, would represent Ryan in his own criminal trial.
Even the most stalwart wrongful conviction disciples could not ignore the overwhelming signs of quid pro quo between Lyon and Ryan.
Even Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune:
Lyon bristled at the suggestion of payback and, as I reported, said this was "absolutely not" the case…Appearances, however, remain troubling.
John Conroy, a journalist who worked at the Chicago Reader, wrote extensively about the Hobley case, alleging all kinds of criminal conduct against the investigating detectives, despite the fact that one legal proceeding after another bolstered Hobley’s conviction.
In Conroy’s long-winded analysis of largely irrelevant details about the case—details that had been brought up, and rejected, during Hobley’s trial and his appeals—Conroy ignored one central, unequivocal event in his major, breakthrough article about the arson.
Weeks before the actual arson that took the lives of seven people, two police officers responded to a call of criminal damage to property at a residence. The complainant had taken in Hobley’s wife and child after the wife left Hobley when she learned he was having an affair.
The complainant stated that Hobley had thrown a brick through the window of the residence. While she was talking to the cops, the phone rang. She told the officers that it was likely Hobley calling to make threats again. She asked one of the cops, Glenn Evans, to listen on another phone. Evans did. He heard Hobley threaten to set the woman’s residence on fire.
Conroy’s refusal to mention this arson threat weeks before Hobley actually committed an arson less than a mile away is perhaps one of the most sickening displays of the allegiance between Chicago journalists and the wrongful conviction activists.
The arson threat was a key event that convinced detectives and prosecutors of Hobley’s guilt.
Hobley’s arson threat remained in relative media obscurity, even after he was pardoned by Ryan. De Paul University went on to earn high praise and prestige for exonerating an “innocent” mass murderer.
Well, guess what happened to Conroy after he wrote these articles? Eventually he was laid off from the Chicago Reader. Then he was hired by the Better Government Association where he wrote about the Hobley case some more.
Then he ended up at—lo and behold—DePaul University, teaching investigative reporting at the same university where Andrea Lyon worked when she convinced Ryan to pardon Hobley, the same university where Ryan announced his groundbreaking decision to end the death penalty, the same university that garnered vast praise and celebrity for getting Hobley, a “wrongfully convicted” murderer out of prison, in large part through Conroy’s articles.
What a coincidence.
One wonders what exactly Conroy teaches his students. How to ignore crucial evidence for decades? How not to let any facts get in the way of your story? How to vilify the police? How to build your career by destroying the lives of others, including the family members of murder victims?
It wasn’t just a job at De Paul that Conroy gained from his years of writing wrongful conviction articles, including the ones on Jon Burge and Madison Hobley. He wrote a play based on these cases, My Kind of Town.
A main character in the play is an African American victim of police torture.
What is this character accused of in the play?
An arson that killed several people.
One wonders how many people watching Conroy’s play, which earned widespread praise in reviews, had any idea about what really happened in the Hobley case. One wonders what the public would think of Conroy’s artistic ambitions if they knew his articles helped free a mass murderer.
There is a crucial, deeper question in the Hobley case that goes to the core of the silence now surrounding it.
How did Lyon know Governor Ryan would play ball on the Hobley pardon? How did her office know to even approach Ryan? Where would such a plan to use crooked politicians in such a macabre plan come from?
Well, this is the $64,000 question.
Chicago’s corruption is such that it does not generally allow highly principled public servants to rise to the tops of its institutions. Leaders of Chicago’s institutions are powerbrokers, not public servants. They are not guided primarily by the obligations of their offices. The consequence is that the city has generally played ball with wrongful conviction activists, despite their sordid associations with the likes of the Weather Underground.
To understand how this political backscratching works, one has to look closely at another wrongful conviction exoneration a few years earlier, one that gave life to the Hobley pardon.
Investigations by Crooked City writer Martin Preib and journalist William Crawford, as well as private investigators John Delorto and John Mazzola, into the seminal Anthony Porter exoneration in 1999 for a double murder revealed that the entire basis for Porter’s exoneration was a complete fraud.
Claims that Anthony Porter, convicted of a 1982 double murder, was innocent emerged from Northwestern Professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino.
They came forward with a confession by another man, Alstory Simon. With this confession, prosecutors set Porter free from prison and took Simon into custody. Later, Ryan pardoned Porter, amidst a media frenzy. Ryan sang the praises of Protess and Ciolino, saying he was so moved by their “investigation” that it compelled him to end the death penalty.
It also precipitated his decision to then pardon Hobley, and others.
Anthony Porter’s exoneration in 1999 for a double homicide has now been shown by prosecutors, the courts, and the evidence to be a fraud, just as Preib and Crawford had argued.
Last year, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez released Alstory Simon from prison, saying his constitutional rights had been violated by Protess and Ciolino when they coerced a confession from Simon. Then, earlier this year, a judge declared that Simon was innocent.
It was a bombshell announcement, undermining the central case that formed the basis of the wrongful conviction mythology in Chicago.
Governor Ryan, shortly before he himself would go to prison, described the influence of the Porter case in 2003 when he ended the death penalty, citing in particular the work of Tribune reporter Steve Mills:
I never intended to be an activist on this issue. I watched in surprise as freed death row inmate Anthony Porter was released from jail. A free man, he ran into the arms of Northwestern University Professor Dave Protess who poured his heart and soul into proving Porter's innocence with his journalism students.
He was 48 hours away from being wheeled into the execution chamber where the state would kill him.
It would all be so antiseptic and most of us would not have even paused, except that Anthony Porter was innocent of the double murder for which he had been condemned to die.
After Mr. Porter's case there was the report by Chicago Tribune reporters Steve Mills and Ken Armstrong documenting the systemic failures of our capital punishment system. Half of the nearly 300 capital cases in Illinois had been reversed for a new trial or resentencing.
Now that the Porter case has fallen apart, one wonders how it was that Governor Ryan, with all the staff and resources available to him, did not observe the overwhelming evidence of Porter’s guilt and Simon’s innocence and the corruption permeating Northwestern’s investigation into the case.
Equally so, how did Ryan not see it in other cases, like Hobley’s?
False light is a legal theory that allows someone to file a lawsuit against a media outlet for publishing offensive and false facts.
Closely related to defamation, the false light theory claims that information released about an individual is wrong if it is misleading, unreasonable, and malicious.
The legal theory holds the following elements: a publication about someone, one made with actual malice, and one that places the individual in a perspective that would be considered highly offensive by a reasonable person.
More and more this false light legal theory seems to address the abuses Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans has endured by Chicago’s media machine.
Evans was indicted last year for allegedly sticking a gun in the mouth of gang member Ricky Williams after a chase in 2013.
A few days after Williams was arrested, Evans was called down to headquarters and ordered by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA)—the agency that investigates police misconduct—to submit his pistol for a DNA swab. A state police DNA report later indicated the swab showed Ricky Williams’ DNA was on Evans’ gun.
A media frenzy followed, describing the report as indicative of Evans’ guilt. Part of that frenzy included reporters requesting Evans’ work history and publishing complaints made against him over the course of his career.
But the criminal case against Evans has taken some heavy blows in the last few months, not the least of which is the emergence of possible exculpatory evidence. In June, the Cook County State’s Attorney announced that this evidence emerged from an inquiry by the city’s Inspector General (IG) into the IPRA, the agency that investigated Evans.
Rickey Williams vs. City of Chicago, CPD Commander Evans - YouTube
Exactly what that exculpatory evidence is, isn’t clear. Judge Diane Cannon has imposed a protective order in the case.
But a reporter for public radio station WBEZ, Chip Mitchell, has stated in his reports that one aspect of the investigation by the IG into IPRA is the release of the DNA report of Evans’ gun to the media. Mitchell and other media outlets have stated that this report was first released by Mitchell.
If IPRA released the report, it would be a significant violation of Evans’ due process and a serious blow in the case against him. It could be construed as an underhanded act to portray Evans in a negative light.
Did the reporter who allegedly first released the DNA report, Chip Mitchell, know that its release might be a violation of Evans’ due process? How did he get hold of it?
More so, is the report even indicative of Evans’ guilt at all?
Evans’ attorney, Laura Morask, has stated that the DNA could have gotten on the gun in various ways. Evans never denied, for example, that he was wrestling with Williams in the course of the arrest. So why then is the DNA report portrayed as such a bombshell piece of evidence against Evans?
It may be just as feasible that the state DNA report actually bolsters Evans’ account of what took place.
And what about the exculpatory evidence the prosecutor and IG have brought forth? Why didn’t the media discover it in the course of their investigation? If they were being reasonable in their reporting, wouldn’t they have discovered such evidence or learned that IPRA was itself the subject of an investigation?
Rather than discover this evidence, media reps like Mitchell at WBEZ and the Steve Schmadekeat the Chicago Tribune obtained the record of accusations made against Evans, records they obtained through Freedom of Information requests.
The reporters dug deeply into the allegations against Evans, but, it appears, not so deeply into other aspects of the case, such as potential misconduct by IPRA.
Tio Hardiman statement on CPD Commander Glenn Evans - YouTube
Then WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell took it a step further. He interviewed G. Flint Taylor from the People’s Law Office in an article in which Mitchell described the misconduct complaints against Evans.
Seeking a comment from Taylor is somewhat surprising.
The reason is that Taylor is the leading architect of the wrongful conviction movement in Chicago. His law firm has spent the last three decades vilifying Chicago Police Officers, claiming, among other things, that many are racist torturers. Taylor’s PLO is also infamous for its long client list and associations with native terrorist groups who have committed bombings and other violence throughout the country, many of them driven by an intensely anti-American, pro-Marxist ideology.
But in the last few years, Taylor’s claims about police corruption have taken their own body blows. Some of the seminal wrongful convictions Taylor and other wrongful conviction activists have cited as evidence of police wrongdoing have imploded, much as the Evans case now seems to be.
Chief among those is the Anthony Porter exoneration in 1999. Once the lynchpin wrongful conviction case in Illinois, the Porter exoneration is showing itself to be nothing more than a criminal conspiracy by wrongful conviction activists at Northwestern University, longtime allies of Taylor. The evidence of wrongdoing in the case was never difficult to find, but Taylor and his wrongful conviction cohorts ignored it for more than a decade.
Another key murder case, this time a mass murder in which seven people died in an arson, is also revealing itself to be every bit as corrupt as the Porter case. In this arson case, Madison Hobley was exonerated and released from prison. A key witness against Hobley was Evans, who maintains to this day—in defiance of the wrongful conviction mythology posited by Taylor—that Hobley was guilty of the arson.
The Evans connection to the Hobley arson in light of the indictment on charges that would undermine his credibility in any criminal case is a connection Mitchell, or any other reporter, will not draw.
Mitchell does not explain is just why he still considers Taylor a reliable source for commentary on Evans’ case.
The evidence of wrongdoing among wrongful conviction lawyers and activists, including freeing a mass murderer and making him rich, pales in comparison to the accusations against Evans.
But Mitchell, and the Chicago media in general, nevertheless insist on running to Taylor for an almost obligatory comment against the police.
And Taylor delivered:
“He’s [Evans’] one of the worst [excessive-force] repeater cops in the history of the city of Chicago,” Taylor said. “He should be fired.”
One of the worst in the history of Chicago?
A police officer who went to the upper ranks of the department and worked in the most violent, crime-ridden neighborhoods is one of the worst excessive force cops in the history of the department? A police commander beloved by many people in the community, who garnered the support the superintendent and the mayor?
He should be fired?
On what basis does Taylor make this claim? And on what journalistic criteria does Mitchell publish it?
Clearly Judge Cannon did not see the misconduct complaints as holding much import. Clearly she didn’t see Evans’ work history in such an extreme perspective as Taylor did. In fact, Cannon ruled these misconduct complaints won’t be allowed into trial:
But in terms of relevance and materiality, the court found there was nothing systematic, nothing alleged in the OPS [IPRA] records. There was no history of brutality. The vast majority were not sustained of the OPS [IPRA] records, unfounded. The defendant was actually exonerated. The petitions were withdrawn. And, again, a large portion, the defendant was not the arresting or primary officer.
So what exactly is Flint Taylor talking about?
It’s almost as if Flint Taylor is the go-to guy when the media wants to press a case against police officers, when they want to hang them out to dry, as the media did to the detectives in the Porter case, and then in the Hobley case.
And then again, where is the coverage of Evans’ success? Where are the discussions of his awards, the breaking down of crime statistics before and after he came to a district?
What about his medal of valor?
In fact, isn’t fighting crime exactly what he was doing the night he chased Ricky Williams after observing Williams with a gun? Isn’t this what the police are supposed to be doing?
If the criminal case against Evans falls apart, how can all this blatantly biased reporting not be construed as malicious, a key element in proving the “false light” legal theory?
There is one more telling development in the case.
If Evans were truly guilty, wouldn’t he dread a trial? After all, he stands to lose everything: his pension, his job, his reputation, even his freedom. If he were guilty, there would likely be signs of a plea deal, but there is no evidence that Evans ever did anything but fight for a trial, as if he is chomping at the bit to get the evidence into court.
“I cannot comment directly on the case because of the protective order, but I am eager to go to trial and confident the evidence will absolutely show I am innocent,” Evans told Crooked City.
These are hardly the statements and actions of a guilty man.
It’s more like the conduct of a man guided by a singular vision, a vision that takes shape in the false light of the Crooked City.
Martin Preib is an awarding-winning writer and Chicago Police Officer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, chronicles his investigation into Chicago's wrongful conviction movement. Told in the gripping tension of a crime novel, Crooked City paints a dire picture of the movement to release convicted killers from prison.