Stop The Violence

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Courtroom Drama

In the last issue, I wrote about the three youths who were incarcerated for the Lori Roscetti murder. Omar Saunders, Calvin Ollins and his cousin, Larry Ollins, spent 15 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit. A lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, had their cases reviewed and had DNA tests taken that proved that they were not the ones. They were released Dec. 6, 2001.

The irony of the case was that there was a fourth suspect, Marcellius Bradford. He had testified against the other three and got a shorter sentence.

The case was reinvestigated and Eddie Harris, 36, and Duane Roach, 46, were arrested. They had matching DNA. They both confessed and had their first day of trial on Feb. 8. They were indicted for murder with no bond. At a press conference, Omar Saunders said that he was glad the 1 percent of doubt was cleared up.

The same day, Feb. 8, attorneys tried to have the judge changed in the Louis Schmude trial. In this case, 3 sheriff’s deputies were on trial for killing an inmate in lock-up in May 2000. Schmude was alleged to have insulted a woman officer, causing the woman and two other male officers to beat and kick him until he was dead. The courtroom was 400, Judge Ronald Himel’s courtroom. The change of venue was denied. The trial started again on Feb. 14. The scene in the courtroom was loud and disturbing. The lawyers and lawmakers were at each others’ throats. The officers were acquitted.

Death In Ogden Courts
Tragedy struck Ogden Courts again recently. This time, it wasn’t the gangs.

A 3-year-old baby fell out of the window from the apartment just above mine. He fell into the tall bushes under the windows. He was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he was put on the critical list.

The people in the building put up balloons and cards in the hall and in front of the building to show that we were upset with the way he had been hurt. The news people came around for days. That Saturday, the day after he fell, his aunt, Brenda Jefferson, was interviewed. She said even she had reported the window to the management but nothing was done, as is the case with all of us in the complex.

Sunday, management went around every apartment to repair windows. They repaired Ruby Davis’ window. She was angry because it took them 4 hours and they were throwing the broken glass down on the ground outside where the children were playing.

Johnny Cochran came by in a limousine to talk to the mother and I heard from my sources that he took her case. The boy died five days later, on March 19. DaMontae Tywand Kentrel Harris’ funeral was held on Wednesday, March 27. Elder Ronald Mables officiated the service.

The first time I went to see his mother, Tina Mables, she was away taking care of the funeral arrangements. Tina is a working mother and is not home all day.

On Thursday, March 28, I went back and asked a couple of questions. I then asked her if it was OK to take her picture. She said yes, and her three remaining boys pushed and crowded around her to be in the picture too.

Friday, the real estate company started to move her out at 9 a.m. They did it in an orderly fashion and had her out in no time.

DaMontae’s father, Christopher Harris, was in jail when the boy died. They told me he took his son’s death very hard. Christopher’s mother had died just a year ago. “I will miss his little footsteps running through the house,” he reportedly told people.

A couple of weeks ago, Julius Johnson was shot in the head. No one knows who did it. He was found just outside the lobby. His brothers, Peter and Darren, said they don’t have any knowledge of what happened either. He was known as J.J. His funeral was held on Wednesday, April 24.

More Police Violence at Stateway
On March 18th, the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Chicago and six Chicago officers allegedly involved in a case of false arrest and police abuse. The lawsuit names as defendants James Ryle, Jerome Finnigan, Bret Rice, Christopher Hoffman, John McGovern, and Carl Suchockim.

The lawsuit states that on March 19, 2001, Kenya Richmond was falsely arrested and abused in a racial way by the defendants. Kenya Richmond is employed by the Neighborhood Conservation Corps (NCC), a community organization at the Stateway Gardens public housing development on South State Street. Jamie Kalven, advisor to the Stateway Local Advisory Council (LAC), said, “In the tradition of human rights monitoring, we seek to document police misconduct in order to create the conditions for reform. Our ultimate goal is to secure for the Stateway community the same quality of law enforcement that various other neighborhoods in the city enjoy.”

Jamie has been working at Stateway for about 10 years. He seems dedicated to his job.

On March 19, 2001, in the afternoon, a police car jumped a curb and hit a teenager in front of Richmond’s office. Richmond had begun to document the accident as a part of his duties for the Stateway Civil Rights Project. He also criticized the officers and demanded that they take the youth to the hospital. This caused them to handcuff and arrest him. They took his belongings and destroyed his notes. The complaint states that, on the way to the police station, they mocked him and made racial slurs. The lawsuit quotes them saying: “Who the f–do you think you are?” They allegedly called him a “f—g monkey” and a “f—g n–r.”

One is said to have laughed at his efforts to document and criticize the police and told him, “You should call your man Jesse Jackson.”

The lawsuit charges that the officers filed false reports, saying that Richmond was directing narcotics traffic at the time. It also alleges that they made up evidence to retaliate against him for documenting and criticizing the mistreatment of the teenager they hit with their car.

His advocates feel he was only exercising his First Amendment rights, just doing his job. Craig Futterman from Mandel Legal Aid said, “I’ve known Mr. Richmond for well over a year and I’ll never forget the profound fear and powerlessness that overtook him despite his fortitude and strong character, as we went together to court to answer the false criminal charges.

“If you could walk a mile in his shoes and understand all he has been through and risen above, you would know how much he hurt by being falsely labeled a criminal, not to mention the ‘n’ word (he was called) by the police.”

Richmond was taken to the second district police station, processed and taken to court. The criminal charges against him were later dismissed. The lawsuit charges that his constitutional rights were violated, which caused him mental and emotional distress.

But the real purpose of Richmond’s suit is to stop the abusive police practices in the community, Futterman said. He added that CHA residents should have the same protection as every other citizen in Chicago. They want to be treated with dignity and respect.

I wrote about Futterman in an earlier edition of the Residents’ Journal. He is also handling the case where the Stateway fieldhouse’s yearly basketball tournament was raided by the police.

Help to Stop the Violence
In my quest to find ways and people who can help me stop the violence, I was informed by Kirk and Louis of a couple of ways:

A friend of Galen Eric Richmond, my oldest son, invited me to a body building championship. His name is Kirk Stoll, 37. Kirk and another friend, Louis Childress, 38, came to Galen’s house for an interview on March 22. They have set up a record company called Sir Sax Productions, a part of the Big Boy production company. This is not to be confused with Bad Boys of WGCI. They have a CD coming out in May by their first discovery, called Manzet, his trade name. Louis is the one who came up with the idea to start the music company and he wants to keep the discoveries centered on the ‘young bloods’ of Chicago.

The young men all went to Gillespie Elementary School together. They all started working out together at Quads gym. At one time, Quads gym was located across the street from my house on 103rd Street. It has since moved to Calumet City. Galen’s friend, Childress has since become a corrections officer with the Sheriff’s Department. If you have musical talent, contact them.

Childress feels that the police have been under a great deal of stress since many officers have been killed, such as Eric Lee and Michael Ceriale. Ceriale was killed Aug. 15, 1998, at the Robert Taylor Homes. When Ceriale was killed, I worked for a dentist who worked in Cook County Jail during the day and came to his own office in the afternoon. The police from Cook County Jail came to his office to have their teeth worked on. They would come in full gear, wearing their guns, and they would have on their bullet-proof vests. I would listen to them talk about how afraid they felt. Childress feels they need some type of outlet and is hosting a Cook County Law Enforcement Bodybuilding Championship, for men and women, on Saturday, May 25, at the South Suburban Cultural Center, 15800 South State St.

“Everything we were doing before, we still do, but we’ll be doing it behind the scenes,” Childress said.

Stoll has one sister and two brothers who are police officers. His father, now retired, was a policeman. Stoll went on to be a contractor and bricklayer.

Kirk told me that he used to ride his bike to Childress’ house every day. They would practice in his garage. Stoll plays the drums and Childress plays the saxophone. They would also lift weights. Childress had the kind that had cement bars on the end – heavy. Stoll went on to win competitions in body building. He has many trophies and titles. Stoll is also a Mason in the St. Paul Grand Lodge, has been for 15 years.

At the first part of the interview, they laughed at me when I asked Stoll if Childress was his mentor. That was when they told me what their ages were. After the interview, we sat around talking about the Schmude trial. Childress explained that he had a feeling that the officers would be acquitted. I simply told them that I had never seen such a show in a public courtroom.

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