A Month Later and We’re Still Wondering… What Happened on March 30?

After several times of getting the runaround, I still have not been able to see the official account of what happened on March 30 when Champaign police sent a 17 year old to the hospital. On a Friday night at 8:30 p.m. three black youth – a 17 year old, a 15 year old, and an 8 year old – were leaving the Douglass Center gymnasium and walking home. Champaign police officer Andre Davis ordered them to stop. Police say the 17 year old youth resisted arrest. Whatever happened, four police officers surrounded the youth at 5th at Tremont, threw him up against a fence, pepper sprayed, and then beat the youth. He had to be taken to the hospital, then was taken to the county jail. According to the Champaign Police Department, the case has been sent to the State’s Attorney’s office and it is Julia Rietz who is now not releasing the police reports. The State’s Attorney has offered the defendant diversion and we are waiting for “disposition.” The youth has still not accepted the terms of the diversion, probably because he has not seen the evidence against him. The youth’s attorneys Bob Kirchner and Ruth Wyman have themselves still not seen the police reports.

UC IMC General Membership Meeting and Building Birthday Bash, May 5, 4-6pm

The semi-annual Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center general membership meeting will be this Saturday, May 5, from 4 to 6pm at the IMC, 202 S. Broadway, in Urbana. This date is also the Second Anniversary of UC IMC's purchase of the historic old downtown post office building. The general membership meeting is a chance to catch up with what's going on among the various working groups that the hundreds of UC IMC members participate in to bring media access, performing arts, and make available space for other arts and community projects. You can find more about most of these working groups by clicking on the links in the banner at the top of this page, but you can meet and discuss this work by attending the GMM yourself. Everyone is invited to this public meeting.

What Happens When Women Seek Justice In Champaign County: The Case of Brian Silverman

On April 9, 2007, local Urbana attorney Brian Silverman began a nine month suspension handed down by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) in Springfield. They found credible the allegations made by a girlfriend of one of Silverman’s clients that he had extorted her for money and sexual favors. This was in exchange for getting the State’s Attorney, who was a friend and “will do just about anything I say,” to go easy on her boyfriend. The State’s Attorney was Tom Difanis, now Presiding Judge of the entire Champaign County criminal justice system. According to the woman, she was not only forced into sexual relations with Silverman against her will, but she was asked to provide $5000 “under the table” for Difanis and find someone to “be good” to him.

New Trial Granted for Patrick Thompson

On April 24, 2007, Judge Harry Clem handed down a decision to grant a new trial to black activist Patrick Thompson. This could result in a third trial. Thompson’s supporters demand that Special Prosecutor Michael Vujovich drop all charges and not spend one more cent of taxpayer money on this flimsy case. In the downstate Illinois environment of sundown towns and law-and-order Republicans, the police are as brutal in Urbana-Champaign as in Chicago. The black community is kept segregated from the University of Illinois campus and is heavily policed. Starting a cop watch program in 2004, Thompson captured local police on videotape as they arrived in “arrest mode” when dealing with the black community. For his media activism, the local authorities have come down hard on Thompson. In July 2006, Thomspon was found guilty of home invasion and sexual abuse. A 2005 trial in which Thompson defended himself pro se had ended in a mistrial. The guilty verdict in the second trial carried a sentence of 6-30 years. Thompson’s supporters say the state never presented any evidence or witnesses, and that this case was retribution for his political activism.

Champaign County Criminal Charges 2000-2006

The number of felony charges filed in Champaign County has been decreasing.  We studied the raw data provided by Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz from 2000-2006 and found that 2006 had the lowest numbers of charges and defendants.

Since defendants often face multiple charges, we thought that it would be useful to estimate the number of defendants from the raw charge data. We assumed that if a record had the same name, birthdate, and race, it represented the same person, and we performed some queries to determine the number of defendants by year and case type. We noticed errors in a few records, but this represented a very small percentage of the total data. Overall, the queries counted 19246 defendants - 8449 black, 9163 white, 754 Hispanic, 880 other.

Below are some tables and graphs that summarize the findings.

Felony Charges


Why You Should Vote In The Champaign City Council Elections

by Martel Miller Tuesday, April 17, City of Champaign voters will be asked to fill 3 city council seats. This year's primary election for Champaign City Council saw only a 7 percent voter turnout. We cannot afford this kind of voter apathy this election. The next Champaign City Council cannot merely serve the developer and business interests as we have seen in recent years. While the City of Champaign continues to grow and prosper, there are other pressing issues that will affect our quality of life. The stakes for this year's Champaign City Council election are high for low-income and single-parent households. How the votes fall could determine whether Champaign Township can help the destitute, whether there will be a citizen's police review board, and whether landlords can discriminate against Section 8 voucher-holders. The Council we have now has neglected the interests of the working class for too long. For the past couple years, we have seen these issues come up, and they have not been addressed. Change is needed. These issues should concern the whole community.

Community Court Watch Still Wonders… How Does the Criminal Justice System Work in Champaign County?

By Marti Wilkinson On March 13, 2007, members of the community showed up at the Urbana Civic Center to learn how the criminal justice system works. A panel comprised of Sheriff Dan Walsh, States Attorney Julia Rietz, Public Defender Randy Rosenbaum, Associate Judge Richard Klaus, and Director of Court Services Joe Gordon shared what their duties are and how they do them. After their speeches, the participants selected written questions to answer. The only parts of the evening offering anything fresh and new were the cookies served to the people who attended.

March, Rally, Vigil on 4th Anniversary of War

(Urbana) Four years ago this month the US launched an illegal, immoral and ill-thought-out war of aggression against Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of needless deaths and billions of wasted (and much needed) dollars later, the Bush Administration is threatening another unprovoked war, this time against Iran. Local opponents of this shoot-first policy will gather twice in coming weeks to mark the anniversary and to protest. And some will make the long trek to Washington DC to protest there. First, locally, on Thursday March 15 at 11am, anti-war students will march from the Illini Union down Green Street, then back for a rally on the Quad at 12noon. And on Monday March 19 at 12noon, community members opposed to war will hold a vigil for peace at the Veterans’ Memorial, Champaign County Courthouse, NW corner of Main and Broadway, to call on Congress to end the war with Iraq and prevent war with Iran. Anger is liable to run high nationwide on the anniversary, as anti-war activists and military families get, in the immortal words of Fanny Lou Hamer, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Tues. March 13th - 4th Annual Share A Meal with Community Shares of Illinois

Now, feeding your own hunger can help feed the hungry, house the homeless and much more! On Tuesday, March 13th, Community Shares of Illinois invites you to pull up a chair at participating local restaurants for the 4th Annual Share-a-Meal with Community Shares event. All you need to do is spend an enjoyable evening with family and friends at one of these fine participating local restaurants: The Great Impasta, Café Luna, Milo’s, Kennedy’s, or the Camelot Room at the Historic Lincoln Hotel. Proceeds from this unique event will support dozens of local charities, including the UC-IMC, working to address hunger, health care, homelessness, domestic violence and other important community issues. For more information, including a complete list of participating restaurants and member charities, call 217-352-6533 or visit www.Share-a-meal.org. Make your reservation today to Share-A-Meal on Tuesday, March 13th. And remember—there’s a place at the table for you!

Sgt. Myers Given Probation: Torture of Inmates Goes Unpunished by State’s Attorney

On Monday, February 26, former Sergeant William Alan Myers pleaded guilty to charges of felony disorderly conduct and misdemeanor aggravated battery. Charges of felony obstruction of justice and felony aggravated battery were dropped. He received two years probation, a $500 fine, and 100 hours community service. This is the third cop in less than two years whose abuse of power has gone unpunished by State’s Attorney Julia Rietz (whose husband is, incidentally, a cop). In July 2005, Urbana officer Kurt Hjort was accused of rape by a 25 year old woman. Hjort was fired from the force but special prosecutor Jim Dedman refused to even file charges against him. In November 2005, Champaign County sheriff’s deputy Ryan Garrett lost his job after reports of physically abusing his wife, who later left him, and threatening her boyfriend by telling him, “I’m a cop. Watch your back.” Garrett pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense and received a two years conditional discharge. Garrett was represented by Tony Novak, the attorney who also defended Sgt. Myers.

DePauw Delta Zeta Purge Scandal: Elitism Has Its Price, Smart Women Get Dumped

Maybe those who said the Greeks really weren't often being racist in their behavior regarding the "Chief" and "tacos and tequila", etc were right. Maybe they're just totally insensitive toward other human beings in general? Stories like this make you wonder. February 25, 2007 Sorority Evictions Raise Issue of Looks and Bias By SAM DILLON GREENCASTLE, Ind. — When a psychology professor at DePauw University here surveyed students, they described one sorority as a group of “daddy’s little princesses” and another as “offbeat hippies.” The sisters of Delta Zeta were seen as “socially awkward.” Worried that a negative stereotype of the sorority was contributing to a decline in membership that had left its Greek-columned house here half empty, Delta Zeta’s national officers interviewed 35 DePauw members in November, quizzing them about their dedication to recruitment. They judged 23 of the women insufficiently committed and later told them to vacate the sorority house.

Sunday, Feb. 25, 3-6pm: The Twin Towers -- Joint Fundraiser for New Towers for Radio Lenca and Radio Free Urbana

Come on out to an afternoon of energetic Fandango music from Veracruz, Mexico, in a benefit concert for The Lenca Radio Project and Radio Free Urbana, WRFU, at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25, at the UCIMC in the old Post Office Building in downtown Urbana. Radio Lenca is being built in cooperation with local people who are dedicated to improving communications in developing countries. Also featured will be local mime artists Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman, informational sessions about the projects, refreshments and a raffle. Sliding scale admission from $5.00 to $20.00 The Primary Communications Project, a non-profit organization based here, takes a different angle on the natural tendency of people to come together to help each other. The Primary Communications Project works in cooperation with community based organizations in developing countries to build their own communications media which they in turn use to bring about understanding between cultures, social justice and improved living conditions. This is done by rebuilding used broadcast equipment from the United States and prefabricating it into ready-to-use stations and

Test your Chief Illiniwek IQ

With the retirement Chief Illiniwek, the fog of mythology thickens. As accusations fly, how well can YOU see fact from fiction? Test your Chief Illiniwek IQ. True or False?: 1. The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign was established partly using money from selling off Native American lands. TRUE. 2. After the US Bureau of Indian Affairs outlawed Indian religion, dance, and ritual on reservations, Chief Illiniwek was invented as half-time entertainment for UI football games. TRUE. The original 1926 Chief Illiniwek a white student dressed as a tribal Chief smoking a "peace pipe" with another student dressed as William Penn. 3. The dress, dance, and symbol of Chief Illiniwek bear no relation to the dress, dances, and symbols of any tribe from the midwest. TRUE. The dress is borrowed from Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, staged photos by Edward Curtis, and the Boy Scouts - who captured the European-American imagination with a single image of The Indian - a pre-reservation Native American from the southwest Plains region. The dance is made up acrobatics. 4. The tradition of genocide has historically involved appropriation of religious symbols.

Statement from University of Illinois Native American House on "chief illiniwek"

February 16, 2007 The Native American House recognizes the significance of the Board of Trustees' action in announcing that “Chief Illiniwek” will no longer perform at athletic events. Now it is time to heal and take responsibility for the history of “chief illiniwek” on our campus. To that end, we expect that the University will act constructively in response to the Oglala Sioux requests and return the regalia to its rightful place. We want to honor and thank all of those who have worked so hard and long on this issue. And while this is a moment of reflection, we know that retiring the performance of the mascot does not solve campus climate issues, and we will continue to work with the campus and the community to address misinformation and miseducation about indigenous peoples, histories, and cultures. http://www.nah.uiuc.edu/

It's Official: Chief's Gone

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has just released a press release saying that Chief Illiniwek will no longer perform at U of I games. More coming.

Stay Warm & Fight for Justice at your Workplace

There has been 9 inches of snow so far today with 4-6 more inches coming and wind gusts over 40 MPH. Country roads are closed. The bus system will operate through 7 pm tonight and is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning but be prepared for delays. The downtown post office is open. Urbana & Champaign schools are closed today and tomorrow. The University has not yet decided to close tomorrow. Today, the University stalled until 9 am to close campus. Some suspect the University is giving its 70,000 employees the shaft by only paying those who showed up at 8 am for work today. Local Commentary & the Chancellor's e-mail follows. The latest weather is here: http://www.atmos.uiuc.edu/weather/index.php. SHAME ON THE UNIVERSITY AND SHAME ON CHANCELLOR HERMAN!

No Weapon Can Replace Good Police Work: Response to Sheriff Dan Walsh’s Report On Tasers

No Weapon Can Replace Good Police Work: Response to Sheriff Dan Walsh’s Report On Tasers Monday night, February 5, 2007, Sheriff Dan Walsh gave a report on Tasers to the Justice Committee of the Champaign County Board. Sheriff Walsh was on the defensive and at times indignant as he argued that the Taser is a “humane” weapon, even in spite of the discovery that 14-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department William Alan Myers had abused inmates with a Taser in the jail. In November 2003, the Sheriff’s Department purchased Tasers and they went into use a year later. He gave a previous report on Tasers in May 2004 and since his tune has not changed: Tasers are a useful weapon to protect officers and protect citizens. He echoed the Taser manufacturer’s own advertisements, “Tasers Save Lives.” Several members of the community, organized by Chamaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, spoke during the period for public comment at the beginning of the meeting. They included: Belden Fields, Professor Emeritus; Durl Kruse, member of AWARE; Giraldo Rosales, Champaign City Council member; Martel Miller, co-founder of VEYA; and myself. Others opposing Tasers sat with them.

Fred Hampton Jr. comes to Urbana to witness the Patrick Thompson Trial Wednesday

Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Champaign County Courthouse, downtown Urbana, Main and Vine, Courtroom A Press conference at noon lunch break with Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. at the Independent Media Center (old Urbana post office behind the Courthouse) On Wednesday, February 7, a judge will hear testimony from several witnesses in an attempt to gain Patrick Thompson a new trial. In July 2006, Thompson was found guilty of home invasion and sexual abuse. Thompson’s new attorney, Robert Kirchner, is claiming that Thompson received ineffective counsel and has not had a fair trial. On January 5, 2007, six witnesses appeared in the first day of the post-trial hearings. This Wednesday, Thompson’s former attorney Harvey Welch will take the stand, along with Thompson himself, the accuser, and others. We will be holding a press conference at the noon lunch break with Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr., prison activist and founder of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (P.O.C.C.).

Chief Illiniwek appears in a retrospective on racism on the Colbert Report, 2/1/2007

Chief Illiniwek appears in a retrospective on racism on the Colbert Report, 2/1/2007

A screenshot of Chief Illiniwek as he appeared in "a short look back on racism" on the Colbert Report, Comedy Central (note logo on the bottom), February 1st, 2007.

Here's the video on YouTube:

Media Reform Activists Come Together in Memphis

Media Reform Activists Come Together in Memphis By Marcia Zumbahlen and Brian Dolinar

Sioux Request Return of Lakota Regalia, Peoria Request Use of "chief illiniwek" Mascot to Cease

via email Breaking News at this hour... A press conference will be held on Thursday, 1/18/07, at 10:00 AM, in the Conference Room at the Native American House, 1204 W. Nevada Street, Urbana. January 18, 2007 RESOLUTION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE DEMANDING RETURN OF LAKOTA REGALIA USED IN PERFORMANCE OF "CHIEF ILLINIWEK," AND IN SUPPORT OF REQUEST BY PEORIA TRIBE OF OKLAHOMA THAT THE USE OF THE MASCOT CEASE. On January 17, 2007, the Executive Committee of the Oglala Sioux Tribal

Pro-Chief Students Issue Call for Racism and Violence against American Indians at University of Illinois

Pro-Chief Students Issue Call for Racism and Violence against American Indians at University of Illinois via email As concerned citizens of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and as faculty in the university's American Indian Studies Program and staff at the Native American House, we wish to call attention to a recent incident of university students explicitly advocating racist violence against American Indians in general and against one American Indian student in particular.

Urbana joins Indymedia convergence in Africa during World Social Forum

Several Urbana IMC members are traveling to Narobi, Kenya this month to support an Indymedia convergence during the seventh annual World Social Forum which runs January 20-25th. Media activists from Africa and around the world will be reporting in the World Social Forum, providing hands-on media production workshops, building two low-power radio stations in Kenya, and creating solidarity across borders. The UC-IMC is trying to gather $1000 to support this Indymedia convergence. Your donation will help pay for needed radio & computer equipment, travel for African media activists, and set up costs for the media center (Note: Donations will not be used for travel expenses for UCIMC members). Please consider making a tax-deductible donation here. Donations of working computers - especially laptops - as well as hand-held tape recorders, cameras, video camcorders, or wireless access points, are also needed. Please contact chyn (at) ucimc.org to contribute.

Final strategizing for civilian oversight of police

Urbana is on the verge of establishing independent civilian oversight of its police. But the new Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) contract with the City has placed severe limits on this grassroots effort. Concerned citizens meet this Tuesday, January 9 at 7:00 pm to strategize.

More Testimony Comes to Light in Post-trial Motion for Patrick Thompson

Witnesses Appear in Post-trial Motion for Patrick Thompson By Brian Dolinar

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer