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On Monday night, May 3, 2010, Durl Kruse delivered a proposal for revisions to the complaint process for the Champaign Police Department before the Champaign Human Relations Commission on behalf of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. The document is a 12-step process to strengthen transparency in the the complaint process, which many have admitted is broken. Citizens who have gone to file complaints against the Champaign police are known to have been turned away, discouraged, yelled at, and delayed in recieving a response for months.
Members of a newly-formed working group were present at the HRC meeting. They include Mark Aber, Andre Arrington, Jamar Brown, Police Chief R.T. Finney, Sgt. David Griffet, Valerie McWilliams, Garth Minor, Deputy Chief Holly Nearing, and Steve Carter. Their areas identified for considering changes are: 1) making a complaint 2) offering mediation 3) reporting results and 4) educating and informing the public.
The working group plans to present their proposals before city council. Whether they would first be brought before the HRC at the next meeting on June 7 was not clarified.
At an event held in late 2009 by the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago in the suburb of Skokie, Gregory Koger was arrested for voluntarily videotaping a free speech statement made by Sunsara Taylor, a political commentator and writer for Revolution, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist party. After being asked to speak at the event, Taylor was later disinvited because of her political views. As an act of protest, she read a prepared statement in a public meeting area at the conference which was videotaped by Koger. As he was videotaping, Skokie police grabbed Koger, handcuffed and maced him, then charged him with trespassing.
Recently, Koger was charged with contempt of court by the Cook County State’s Attorney for speaking publicly about his arrest at a forum where he was on a panel with Billy Ayers, Marc Falkoff, and Sunsara Taylor, and for those speaking on his behalf at a website organized by his defense committee. He will be in court Wednesday, April 28, 2010. If found in contempt of court, he will be sent to jail.
On April 21, 2010 some 40 to 50 people gathered in front of the Swanlund Administration Building for an event billed "Take back YOUR Campus Rally". The gathering was organized by Students for Chief Illiniwek (SFCF), the Orange and Blue Observer, and Illini Against a Mascot as a response to SFCF Freedom of Information Request findings showing the UIUC administration scrambling to articulate a post-mascot era policy regarding the display of their copyrighted property. The entire Pro-Mascot rally is now available at http://www.iresist.org/
The April issue of the Public i can be viewed here. The theme is environmentalism for Earth Day this month with articles on the anti-coal campaign of Students for Environmental Concerns, Prarie Roots, Olympian Drive, Judi Bari, and Guerrilla Gardening.
Champaign City Manager announced that Officer Daniel Norbits, who shot and killed Kiwane Carrington, has been suspended for 30 days. This is the maximum suspension that can be enforced according to the police union contract. The justification was that Norbits "failed to maintain control of his weapon." The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police promptly responded, saying that Norbits was now the "victim" in the case.
See the attached pdf for the full reports.
Tuesday night, April 20, 2010, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice presented three proposals for changes to the Champaign police union contract, set to expire on June 1, 2010 and currently under negotiation. Over a dozen organizations endorse the proposals, including the NAACP, Ministerial Alliance, and Planner's Network.
Here's Champaign Mayor Jerry Schweighart at the Tea Party in Champaign on April 15, 2010.
The Mayor says about Obama, "I don't think he's American, personally," and denies the existence of the President's birth certificate.
· Tamms Super Maximum Correctional Center, which opened in March 1998, is Illinois’ only “Supermax” prison. It is located at the southern tip of Illinois, originally opened under the guise of being for short-term incarceration.
Although it was 2008 when off-duty Champaign police detective Lisa Staples was caught driving drunk in an unmarked squad car, only recently were police reports describing the incident obtained. Many were outraged when Staples was given a lighter punishment than other DUI cases in Champaign County. But the public was kept from knowing the extent of her intoxication or the embarrassing details of her arrest. This case and others have led to a campaign for more harsh drug and alcohol testing for Champaign police officers.
In March 2009, I sent a FOIA request for police reports on the Staples case to the Illinois State Police. Notorious for their denials of public information, the state police summarily denied my request. After new FOIA legislation took effect in Illinois on January 1, 2010, I re-submitted my request. Now forced to obey the law, the state police handed over their records.
CHAMPAIGN- On April 1, 2010, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D) paid a quick visit to the Illinois Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall to speak about jobs, health care, and FutureGen, a coal project in Illinois.
Senator Durbin said he finds it "inexcusable and unacceptable" that wages have gone down when worker productivity is at an all-time high. He touted the new healthcare bill that recently passed saying that is it "good for everybody." And he fueled hopes that FutureGen, a proposed coal-fueled power plant with near zero-emissions, is still a possibility for Mattoon, Illinois.
Of particular interest to Indymedia fans was Durbin's renewed support for the Local Community Radio Act, a bill pending in the Senate that would open the airwaves for hundreds of new non-commercial stations across the country, bringing low power radio to urban areas for the first time.
The 5th Illinois Coalition for Justice Peace and the Environment Conference, "Connecting and Communicating"
April 9 & 10, 2010 will feature Alexander Cockburn as Keynote speaker at the Independent Media Center • 202 S. Broadway, Urbana, IL 61801.
The PUBLIC is WELCOME.
The Illinois Coalition for Justice Peace and the Environment invites you to join us as we celebrate our 5th annual conference in the town where we began, Urbana, Illinois.
This year we come together to forge new connections and to explore new ways to communicate with each other as we meet the challenges of a movement seemingly drawn down while injustice, war and environmental degradation rage on. Yet, in four years ICJPE has grown to include over 160 member groups.
We are led by the activism of an extremely talented group of activist/speakers who will guide us in our presentations: Connecting and Communicating, Transforming Empire, Transforming the Land and finally Transforming Social Relations. Join us.
Friday Fri, April 9, 2010
Keynote Address from 7:00pm - 9:00pm:
The March issue of the Public i dedicated to Women's History Month is now out on stands!
This month's issue includes articles on early Urbana woman Kate Baker by local historian Ilona Matkovszki, women in the economy by Women's Studies professor Marianne Ferber, and domestic violence by Marya Burke.
Also notable are two articles on criminal justice: Barbara Kessel writes about a civil suit filed by parents of black children used as subjects for class displays of Taser use by Kankakee cops; and Tamms inmate Joesph Dole writes about the increase of commissary fees in Illinois prisons, an article reprinted from the Prison Legal News.
You can access the March issue by clicking here.
Or you can go to: http://publici.ucimc.org/mar10.pdf
The Champaign City Council is deciding at their meeting on Tuesday at 7pm whether to accept $22.5 million federal grant already awarded to the two cities and the University for creating jobs and building internet connectivity in our community. If you support the deployment of a municipal broadband network in Champaign-Urbana, please consider contacting your city council member to express your support of the plan. Attached is a .doc file containing contact information and a sample correspondence. Whether or not Champaign accepts the grant funds has a strong bearing on whether federal stimulus money under the Broadband Opportunities Program will be used to create jobs in both Champaign and Urbana or provide essential services to underserved parts of our community. Our acceptance of this money also has a strong bearing on the viability of our round 2 funding proposal for community centers, libraries, and schools.
On Monday afternoon, Deborah Thomas, who lives at 906 W. Vine St., received a phone call from the City of Champaign. The woman on the phone identified herself as “Susan” from the City Attorney’s office. They wanted to visit her house the following day on March 2 at 3:30 p.m. with Police Chief R.T. Finney. It was at Deborah’s home that Kiwane Carrington was fatally shot after Chief Finney and officer Daniel Norbits arrived there on October 9, 2009. Running between classes at Parkland, Deborah did not get the chance to ask why they wanted to visit, but told them they could come by.
IMC brings three free events for Open House
Urbana, IL March 7, 2009:
Bill Staines: Folk Singer and Songwriter
presented by CU Folk and Roots, IMC Shows, and Heartland Galleries
March 13th, 2010
Tickets $10 advance / $15 door
Bill weaves a magical blend of wit and gentle humor into his performances, and he is a favorite on Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage. Bill continues to drive over 65,000 miles a year, doing what he loves, bringing music to people.
On March 4th, 2010 several organizations on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus and people across the country gathered to “march forth” in a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education. At UIUC, more than 300 came together for a spirited rally on what turned out to be the first sunny day of the new Spring.
The march began at the Alma Mater statue with a dedication to the Native American peoples who “granted” the land on which this land grant university was built. Miriam Larson led a modern-day adaptation of the classic Woody Guthrie song: “This land is your land, This land is my land, From Illinois to California, From Minnesota to Arizona, Land grants were made for you and me!”
March 2010 Progressive Community Calendar
Please comment with additional events!
The NTIA just sent out an official press release announcing that the infrastructure part of the broadband proposal submitted by a coalition of the two cities and the University is going to receive $22.5 million in federal funds for a fiber-optic infrastructure rollout.
Note that the SBA (Sustainable Broadband Adoption) and PCC (Public Computing Centers) parts of the proposal were rejected for Round 1 funding, so this increases the importance of submitting a strong application for those components for Round 2, in order that the infrastructure being contructed can be successfully utilized by the citizenry. The cities have 30 days to decide whether to accept the award.
Project description from the NTIA press release below:
I gave an audible affirmation when Erin Harper, a member of Engineers Without Borders at Illinois, spoke of efforts to create a community garden at Washington School in Urbana. I learned that the school board has approved a community garden curriculum at Washington and that each class will grow food and take it home and perhaps one day sell it at a local food stand.
Marvin Reeves (pictured on left) and Mark Clements (right) visited Champaign-Urbana on Wednesday night, Feb. 24, 2010. They spoke on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and on the topic of "Lynching Then/Lynching Now" as part of a national tour sponsored by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. An audience of some 60 people filled a room in Gregory Hall.
Freed from prison in October 2009 after 21 years, Marvin Reeves spoke about how he was framed for murder by the testimony of an inmate in jail for burglary. His co-defendant Ronnie Kitchen made a false confession after being tortured by Sgt. Jon Burge of the Chicago Police Department. Reeves has since been awarded approximately $200,000 as compensation.
Mark Clements was sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile and was released in August 2009 after serving 28 years in prison. He spoke about the need to end the harsh penalities handed out to juveniles. He was also tortured into making a false confession by Chicago police who later worked alongside Sgt. Burge.
For Immediate Release: January 12, 2010
Local Contact: Susan Song
CAMPUS ANTIWAR NETWORK ANNOUNCES NATIONAL CONFERENCE
Disappointment with Obama Administration reinvigorates national student antiwar movement.
The Black History Month issue of the Public i is out on stands now featuring an article by Michael Burns on the history of the Douglass Center. Also in this issue is an interview with Deborah Thomas, at whose home Kiwane Carrington was killed. There is an article on all-white juries by Jan Kruse. The GEO's Kerry Pimblott writes about ensuring that higher education is publicly accessible. The Public i's own Belden Fields writes a satirical aritcle comparing the NYPD to the Champaign Police Dept.
At a coroner’s inquest on Thursday, February 18, 2009 into the police killing of Kiwane Carrington, six jurors ruled the death was an accident. This came after Illinois State Police Special Agent Lisa Crowder, who oversaw the investigation, stretched the facts in the case. Interviewed after the hearing, James Montgomery Jr., the attorney who has filed a civil suit on behalf of Carrington’s family, said the testimony was a “smoke screen” to make the youth look bad.
Crowder confirmed that it was a bullet from Officer Norbits’ gun that killed the 15 year old. Yet she also said that testing for the gunpowder residue on Kiwane’s clothes was never conducted. A forensics expert stated that from eye view it appeared as if the gun shot did occur at close range. Crowder’s explanation was that Kiwane had several layers of clothes on, making it difficult to conduct a test. Of course, the only layer that would require testing would be the outer layer. Crowder said the clothing is currently in the possession of the FBI, who is conducting their own investigation into the matter.
Illinois Public Media General Manager Mark Leonard announced today steps the organization’s leadership will take to address ongoing budget concerns and ensure that Illinois Public Media is sustainable in a new financial and technological environment. Changes include:
· Elimination of nine staff positions
· Phasing out the weather department, resulting in the elimination of in-house forecasts for WILL Radio and WILL-TV. Weather reports and severe weather coverage will continue, provided by regular radio staff using National Weather Service information.
· A change in format for WILL-FM, which will become a dual-format radio station April 1, adding news programs from National Public Radio to its classical music line-up, while expanding classical music on the weekends and retaining its locally produced music programs
· Shifting WILL-AM staff responsibilities to provide more in-depth coverage of local issues, informed by outreach projects in the community
· Addition of three staff positions, including a Web developer, in critical areas or areas with potential for revenue growth