Stop The Violence

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There are a number of cases currently in the courts that involve Chicago police officers who are being accused of corrupt involvement with street gang members.

On Feb. 14, I went to court to see the arraignment of William M. Patterson. He was one of the officers caught in the federal sting that centered around the Robert Taylor Homes and the Ida B. Wells housing complexes last week. The court procedure was to determine if the case would go to trial. The judge said that the indictment would stand.

Patterson was charged with several counts of drug offenses, including conspiracy to possess and distribute narcotics. The arraignment of Patterson’s partner, Daryl L. Smith, called “Smitty,” was handled on a different day and time. According to the court testimony, federal investigators caught on videotape two teams of policemen robbing drug dealers.

One team was led by Eddie C. Hicks, prosecutors said. Hicks and his crew allegedly robbed a house on West 67th Street which had been set up by the FBI. Matthew L. Morgan was Hicks’ partner. Morgan is a former investigator for the Office of Professional Standards.

Another policeman named was Lawrence W. Knitter, who was a police department mechanic.

Mistrial
Separately, the trial for the murder of Chicago policeman Michael Ceriale took 10 days and ended in a mistrial. I covered the funeral of the slain policeman about two years ago. The trial was a roller coaster ride for everyone. The courtroom was so crowed every day that the family members of Jonathan Tolliver, the young man accused of killing Ceriale, had to stand in the halls.

Tolliver is on trial for shooting Ceriale while he was on a drug sting operation at the Robert Taylor Homes at 4121 S. State St. Tolliver allegedly was a look-out for a street gang. Tolliver’s defense was that he was returning to his home when the shot was fired and that he had no gun. No weapon was found and there was no other physical evidence to tie Tolliver to the crime.

Every day, about 150 policemen showed up at the trial to show their support for Ceriale. This is what kept the courtroom packed.

The jury went into deliberation after the second day of trial. On the fifth day, over 200 police officers returned to court only to be sent home again. The jury first said they couldn’t come to a decision and started to declare a mistrial but decided to try again.

I got to the court early on the next morning of the trial to find the Rev. Paul Jakes, an anti-police brutality activist, and some of his followers on the steps outside the courthouse. They chanted, “If the crime doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

Jakes said he felt the trial was taking too long and that the constant show of police force could have an effect on the outcome.

Something doesnt smell right, Jakes said.

On the ninth day of the jury’s deliberations, they discovered that one of the jurors had been arrested but not convicted on a drug charge. Judge Dennis Porter said the trial must go on. When this juror was asked how he passed the screening of the jurors, he said, No one ever asked.

The next and final day, the jurors came out and announced a mistrial. Eleven had voted to convict but the last juror – the same man who had been arrested on a drug charge – held out, saying that he wasnt convinced.

The date will be set for a new trial.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson
On Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, I went to Salem Baptist Church to see what the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his colleague, former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, were talking about.

Feb. 21 was one of the first public appearances for Jackson after the news of his infidelity. During the time when Jackson went to Washington to help President Bill Clinton get out of the mess he was in because of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, he had an affair of his own, which resulted in his fathering a child. The child is almost two years old.

His wife and family appeared with him at the church. During the session, Jackson’s friends did nothing but co-sign and give support. I asked a few people their opinions about the incident.

Renee: “I don’t feel sorry for him at all. They should kick him out. I’m angry because he hurt us because he was on the inside and had gotten a lot of children into the church. I feel he used the president as well as us. He knew the stuff would hit the fan soon. He was preparing us on how to forgive him.

“We know he’s a man but he’s a leader. He might as well be like Farrakhan; he put himself in the same boat. Our voice has been closed down or severely stifled. Nothing he says now means anything to me. He had half the world following him and all of us women looked up to him.

The woman is 39, my age. Shes a child to him.

Brian: “I’ve got mixed feelings on (Jackson) counseling the president and him doing the same thing. Forget the media. How long was he going to keep it from his family, from us? This new baby should be involved in the rest of his life. She and the mother should be invited to all the parties. Where will he be on the holidays? He should have used some protection. Hes a prominent Black man and he had to know it would come out one day. Its a moral thing.

When I spoke to Kublai Khan Mohammad Toure, at first he smiled. “He’s a man,” Toure said. Then he laughed. I met Toure in 1970. In 1971, he became the father of my third son. Ive seen and heard that laugh many times before.

I asked a woman who lives in my building what she thought about the revelations about Jackson. She looked me right in the eye and said, Hes a man – a man who could not resist temptation.

Then she said, Thats why I dont go to church.

As for me, the pedestal I had Jackson on has crumbled. It was too high for it not to be very painful when it fell on my feet.

On Feb. 28, the same crowd gathered at the same place to welcome Mel Reynolds back from jail. Before President Clinton left office, he pardoned a couple of people. Reynolds was one of them. Reynolds had been convicted in August 1995 of sexual misconduct, child pornography and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison on these state charges. In April 1997, Reynolds was convicted in federal court on 16 counts of bank fraud.

When the reunion was over, Reynolds had two new jobs. Salem Baptist Church’s pastor, the Rev. James Meeks, offered Reynolds a job as a community counselor. Reynolds also was given a job working for the Rainbow\PUSH organization. Reynolds will serve out the remainder of his terms in a half-way house.

Cease Fire
I contacted Robyn Wheeler, an aide to U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D.-IL) to see how the Cease Fire campaign is coming along. The campaign is designed to create advertising telling youths to stop the violence.

Wheeler said, “They’re still working on the billboards and buttons. I have seen two of the billboards, one on 107th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue and one on Marquette Road near Ashland Avenue.”

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