Heidi Boghosian Updates Listeners on the Revictimization Relief Act
Michael Smith Returns from Argentina Book Tour
Early October marks the 47th anniversary of Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s capture and assassination in Bolivia. Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith have authored the book Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away with Murder. Michael Smith has recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires to promote the Spanish-language version of the book. Michael explains how Che was a threat to the United States by helping Cuba take over their own economy and why it’s important to set the story straight about Che’s death. Review of Who Killed Che?
Weekend of Resistance: Ferguson, St. Louis Protests and the National Lawyers Guild
Last weekend, thousands of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri just outside of St. Louis demonstrated during a long-planned Weekend of Resistance to the militarized suppression of peaceful demonstrations against the the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown two months ago. Demonstrators traveled from cites across the country to participate in protests against police violence, including sit-ins and vigil marches. Meanwhile, National Lawyers Guild members have been providing legal support, legal observation and felony representation for people arrested during the weekend. We catch up with St. Louis Lawyers Guild member attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke who has been working long hours representing arrested demonstrators. There are 90 municipalities in St. Louis and Maggie also explains the challenges in helping those arrested get processed through a unique court system.
Attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke:
- People poured into the streets after the killing of Mike Brown and have pretty much been occupying various locations around the St. Louis area and protesting ever since.
- We at the National Lawyers Guild have mobilized close to 100 legal observers at this point to come down and do the observing and training people who are local.
- We’ve also been connecting people who are facing felony charges with representation as well as backing up the Arch City Defenders who are handling the bulk of the ordinance violations and charges.
- In August there were lots of chemical weapons used, tear gas every night. I was tear-gassed multiple times. Other major mobilizations that I’ve been to, they last a couple of days, maybe the duration of a week, but this has been a continued onslaught of less-lethal weapons.
- There are a lot of difference agencies on the ground for law enforcement. There’s the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department and of course we have 90 different municipalities in St. Louis County, each with its own police force.
- This is what it takes to fight back. People are out there every day on the streets.
- We’ve had NLG members pour in from all over which has really been fun, getting to know all these people.
- Monsanto, which is based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, made a donation recently of a million dollars to various community groups doing work on the ground. On the other hand we’ll have a local pizza company board up and then the owner will train a gun on protesters to intimidate them.
- The demands have varied depending on the organizations. Indicting Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown, is at the top of everyone’s list. In order to achieve that you would have to have demand number two met, which is that Don McCullough, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney recuse himself from this case. People think that he’s conflicted in that his father was a white police officer who was shot by an African-American man and killed.
- Another big demand is that the many, many municipal charges that people are facing be dropped.
- In addition, we desperately need reform of our municipal court system. The structure is insane.
- We’re hopeful that if we can demand jury trials for all of those arrested, we may in fact be able to crash the system.
- We have 40 people now who are facing felonies.
- The Organization for Black Struggle and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.
Guest – Attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke, National Lawyers Guild member and activist, and a partner with Ellinger & Assoc., P.C., a law firm in O’Fallon, Missouri.
Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, Out of Prison After Less Than 4 Years
Last week former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, who was convicted of lying about torturing more than 100 African-American men at Chicago police stations, will be released from the Butner Correctional Institution and reporting to a halfway house in Tampa, Florida. This, as many listeners know, is an ongoing story that we’ve been reporting on for many years with Attorney Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, who worked on the case representing some of the torture victims. We talk about why Jon Burge was released and his recent article titled “Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than Four Years.” Flint reminds listeners that the total in financial damages to taxpayers from the torture of over 100 black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing pension payouts to his collaborating officers, exceeds $120 million.
- Burge is a now-notorious police torturer here in Chicago. He shot from detective up to commander of a police station based on torturing African-Americans suspects into giving false confessions, sending many of them to death row and to life in prison.
- Ultimately, along with community activists, we were able to expose this pattern of police torture.
- This was by electric shock, by bagging people and other kinds of racist brutality.
- We exposed it and nothing happened for many years. Ultimately the Feds indicted Burge, several years ago, not for torture because the statute of limitations had run out on that, but rather for perjury and obstruction of justice.
- He was convicted by a predominantly white jury and ultimately sentenced to 4 1/2 years in the penitentiary.
- After 3 1/2 years, he was permitted to go to a halfway house for 6 months.
- What’s happening now? What’s happening with regard to the men who are still in the penitentiary, decades later–and there are almost 20 of them–based on tortured confessions?
- How about the men who testified against Burge, who were his victims?
- Those men, unlike Burge who gets a pension now–and the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld his right, even as a convicted felon, to collect that money–these men get nothing, have nothing.
- There are as many as 90 of those men on the streets now, with no health care, with no treatment for psychological damage.
- The majority of city council members support reparations for those men. The reparations for those men would be $20 million–the same amount of the money the city spent to defend Burge in the cases of the exonerated men.
- We’re now at a sensitive stage, where the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has had to come out. He’s no friend to the anti-torture forces, and he’s been asked repeatedly on this.
- He has played both sides against the middle; it’s time right now where he’s going to have to fish or cut bait.
- We had the strong support of Karen Louis who was a wonderful challenger, but she has now had to withdraw from the mayoral race because of health issues. She was a strong supporter of the reparations ordinance.
Guest – Attorney G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 40 years.