Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicago Cops Score 'One for Our Own'

Shocking Verdict in Morgan Trial

Photo: Morgan with his wife, Rosalind

By Ted Pearson
Progressive America Rising

People were stunned yesterday afternoon when jurors, after only 3 hours of deliberation, returned a verdict of “guilty” on all counts against Howard Morgan for the attempted murder of four policemen.  Morgan had been shot 28 times by these same policemen after a routine traffic stop at 1:00 am on February 21, 2005 in the Lawndale community on the West Side.  His $1 million bail was immediately revoked and he was taken away by Sheriff’s police, who refused to allow him to even hug his daughters in the courtroom.

The more than 25 mostly white uniformed Chicago policemen who had packed the courtroom before the verdict celebrated the racist verdict.  The Fraternal Order of Police web site posted also celebrated their “victory,” which they called “justice for our own.”

Observers noted that it is not uncommon in state criminal cases that bail is revoked pending appeals.  Attorneys representing Morgan said they would immediately file a motion for a new trial and were considering appeals of the verdicts in both state and federal courts.

Morgan was taken to Cook County Jail’s Cermak Hospital due to his damaged condition resulting from the police shootings.  He requires assistance in walking and regular medication.

I witnessed much of the trial testimony.  Upon learning of the verdicts, it is clear that this jury of ten white people and only two African Americans did not take any time to reviewing nine full days of testimony by witnesses for the prosecution or the defense.  They simply wanted to go home, so they did what was expected of them by the system – they quickly brought back the verdict of ‘Guilty.’ That in itself ought to be grounds for Morgan to be granted a new trial.

The police who tried to murder Howard Morgan should be dismissed from the force and the U. S. Attorney should immediately launch an investigation into the conspiracy to cover-up this heinous crime against humanity. No one, including the Chiefs of Police, Chicago’s Mayors, and the State’s Attorneys responsible for this ongoing conspiracy should be exempt from this investigation.  Current State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez especially should be brought before the bar of justice for her role in prosecuting this racist case.

This case reeks of the kind of white supremacy that shocked the nation 80 years ago when nine Black teenagers were falsely accused and sentenced to death in Alabama for the rape of two white girls on the flimsiest of evidence.  This case calls for the same level of national and international outrage that ultimately saved the lives of those men.  People who care about democracy and fairness will demand that Howard Morgan be freed immediately on bail, that he get a new trial, or that the ridiculous charges against him be dropped.

Only a loud massive public outcry can free Howard Morgan at this point.  The criminal justice system will not do it if left alone.  Just as in the case of Angela Davis, who inspired the founding of our organization 39 years ago and who was granted bail while being held on a capital murder-conspiracy charge, it will take a broad and irresistible demand by the people that Morgan be allowed to make bail during his appeals, and that the charges against him be dropped.

For the jury the case came down to whom to believe: four white rookie policemen who did all the shooting or Howard Morgan, the young African American woman who witnessed the police crime, and Morgan’s attorneys, both of whom are Black.  The testimony given by all the witnesses was essentially the same as that given in Morgan’s first trial 5 years ago, at which he was acquitted of aggravated battery with a firearm in the cases of all but one of the officers, but at which the jury was deadlocked over whether or not he had attempted to murder them.

Charice Rush was a young teenaged woman who was out late that night in February 2005.  She testified at the trial that she witnessed what happened as she sat in her parked car in front nbear the incident.  She saw the police pull Morgan’s minivan over and with their guns drawn forcibly pull him from the driver’s seat and throw him to the ground.  She said she saw them open fire on Morgan as he lay on the ground.  She said that she did not see Morgan with a gun in his hands at any time.

Morgan is an eight-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department and a thirteen year career policeman for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.  He was required to carry a weapon on his job, and he normally carried it when on his way to and from work, as proscribed by Illinois law.

Morgan himself testified that he had been on his way to a family home he was remolding before he had to report for work at 6:00 am that day.  He pulled over to let a police squad car with its lights flashing behind him pass, and was surprised when instead they pulled up, got out of their car and approached his vehicle.  He said they pulled him out of his mini-van in an unprovoked attack, grabbed the gun he carried for work from his belt, and started shooting.  He tried to tell them he was a policeman to no avail.  He said he lost consciousness after several shots.

In contrast to the story told by Rush and Morgan, Policemen Timothy Finley and John Wrigley said they first observed the mini-van driven by Morgan going the wrong way down a one way street with its lights off.  They followed the van with their lights flashing as it made only “rolling stops” at three stop signs after turning onto 19th St.  Another squad car with Policemen Nick Olsen and Eric White came on the scene.  When the van finally pulled over Morgan got out of the van.  They got out of their car with guns drawn and ordered Morgan to place his hands on the side of the van.  As they patted him down he turned on them, drew a gun from his waistband and opened fire on them.  They ran for cover behind their cars and returned fire until Morgan ran out of bullets.

However, the testimony of the police, along with a lot of the evidence presented by the prosecution, was contradictory.  Some of the police testified that Morgan ended up lying on his back.  Some of them testified he ended up lying on his stomach.  No one testified that they had turned him over.

Photographs of the van taken by police evidence technicians all showed that the van was parked with its lights on.  The police testified that the lights were off all the time, which is why they said they were first drawn to the van.

The police said they stopped firing when Morgan ran out of bullets.  Officer Eric White, however, testified that he had stood over shot Morgan and shot him in the back and struck him in the head after the shooting stopped “to protect my fellow-officers,” as he lay on his stomach in the street.

The police all testified that several hours after the shooting they each engaged in “roundtable” discussions about the incident with police officials and attorneys from the State’s Attorney’s office.

The prosecution guaranteed that the jury would not pay attention by presenting a seemingly endless account of every shell casing and ever bullet fragment found at the scene in the greatest possible detail.  These included some casings and bullets fired from Morgan’s own gun.  Significantly, the police identified only three of the twenty-eight bullets taken from Morgan’s body by the surgeons who treated him at Mt. Sinai Hospital.  They did not say what happened to the other 25 bullets or if they had been kept.  They also did not keep or indentify any of the many bullets that pierced the mini-van, which they confiscated and had destroyed (crushed) before any forensic investigation of it could be done.

Since Morgan testified that the police had taken his gun immediately, and when everything was over that gun’s bullets had all been fired, it was a major error not to have preserved the bullets that hit Morgan and could have established that some of them came from his own gun fired by police.

An independent observer of the proceedings would have come away with a picture of what happened very different from that accepted by the jury.  Howard Morgan, after a dinner at home with his family where they were living on the South Side, decided to go to the family home he was renovating in Lawndale on his way to work that February 21 in 2005.  On his way he was pulled over by four very young, white rookie policemen just before 1:00 am.  They had been hyped up with warnings from their superiors that Lawndale was all Black, and was a “high risk” neighborhood.

They got out of their cars with guns drawn and pulled Morgan from his car.  They threw him to the ground.  One of them saw the pistol that he was legally carrying and shouted “Gun!” Perhaps he or another officer grabbed it from his belt.  The others immediately started firing and continued firing until they thought Morgan was dead.

They were terrible shots in their panicked state.  In addition to the 28 bullets that went into Morgan’s body collapsed on the ground they fired wildly.  Countless rounds pierced the side and rear of the van, and others ended up in furniture and walls in nearby apartments.  Two of their shots wounded their fellow officers.

In other words, they panicked and went on a rampage.  It is only because of their poor shooting and, as Morgan’s wife Rosalind always pints out, the grace of God that can be responsible for the fact that Morgan was not murdered.

Once they realized that Morgan was not dead and others arrived on the scene they had to invent a story to explain their behavior.  The “roundtable” discussions they held later that day with representatives of the State’s Attorney and the Fraternal Order of Police helped them get their stories straight.

They charged Morgan with attempted murder of the police and conspired to convict him, to save their careers, their department, and the City from the millions that would otherwise be due to their victim for the permanent damage and terrible suffering they have put him, his family, and his community through.

Morgan’s attorneys are Randolph Stone and Herschella Conyers are both Professors of Clinical Law at the Mandel Legal Clinic of the University of Chicago.  Stone was, for many years, the chief Public Defender of Cook County.

Ted Pearson is Co-Chairperson of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression,

People can support Morgan’s legal defense by sending checks or money orders to the Howard Morgan Defense Fund, c/o Church of God, 1738 W. Marquette Rd, Chicago 60636.

Morgan’s address is Howard Morgan 2012-0127254 Cook County Jail P.O. Box 089002 Chicago, Illinois 60608


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jodi Kantor's ' The Obamas' Misses the Point:

Michelle Obama Could Be This

Generation's Eleanor Roosevelt

By Rebecca Sive
Progressive America Rising via The Sive Group

Jan 11, 2012 - As she made clear yesterday morning in an interview with CBS' Gayle King, the clear-headed and brilliant, knows-what-she-wants-at-all-times Michelle Obama is no kind of stereotypical “angry black woman.” In fact, Michelle Obama is no kind of (publicly) angry woman of any kind. Quite to the contrary (her “MO”: hug everybody). And therein lies the teachable moment to draw from the hours of conversation stirred-up by the publication of Jodi Kantor’s “The Obamas.”

There are many different vantage points from which to examine the Obamas. Millions of words have been written, and thousands of pages have been printed doing just that. But, separating the wheat from the chaff, what I find most interesting about them is from this vantage point: The Obamas' choice to present themselves as a conventional 1950s family, so at-odds with the American family norm of today. 

Lest you doubt this, see the mind-boggling cover drawing for USA Weekend, November 25-27, 2011 (Thanksgiving weekend) edition. It's a drawing of the Obamas, derived quite literally from a Norman Rockwell painting, in which drawing Princeton and Harvard-educated Michelle Obama, apron on, is serving turkey. It’s preposterous, really. We know Michelle Obama doesn’t spend her time putting her apron on and cooking turkey. We know the Obamas have had cooks for years. So what’s up with that?

Another image conjured-up by this Rockwellian drawing is American wife, who, if publicly engaged, is only engaged in homespun activities benefiting women and children -- like gardening, reading to children, and teaching children how to be healthier. Just what Michelle Obama is doing as First Lady. More 1950s in the 2000s.

And one final image from USA Weekend: Only the President, perhaps needless to say at this point, is all suited-up, ready to venture out into the “real” world.

While I understand why the Obamas drew this picture of themselves, and why they will continue to make political calculations, and create political images of this sort, especially when it comes to Michelle Obama; while I even understand why the First Lady is portrayed, as part of “Our 2011 Holiday Letter,” as significantly shorter than the President — just because that “angry black woman” stereotype is so potent—to put it mildly, I, like many other admirers of Michelle Obama, chafe at it.

And I don’t chafe because I wish the First Lady were, instead, running some Fortune 500 corporation. Far from it. I chafe because I, like millions of other American women voters, love the fact that this First Lady (only the second) comes to the job with male-world-gained, powerful professional credentials, along with a superlative education in a male-dominated profession. Consequently, we revel in the notion of what this First Lady is capable of; oh, say, making this world of ours a much better place, with almost just a wave of the hand. (Wal-Mart, say, can do lots of things for her that it's not yet doing.)

While we also recognize that Michelle Obama’s education and experience aren’t requisite to our gold standard First Lady (think Eleanor Roosevelt, whose formal education ended at age 17), we wonder: What’s up with this? It doesn’t make sense, either. Even without her education Roosevelt became an activist and outspoken proponent of social justice.

I’m clear on this because, like Eleanor Roosevelt’s, Michelle Obama’s arc bends towards justice. Kantor’s book is tantalizing on this point: She writes that Michelle Obama is interested in transformational public policies, e.g., healthcare reform, not politics as usual.

So, the questions arise: Is Michelle Obama doing what she really wants? Is she OK with her current public image and public activities? If she is OK, and doing (publicly) what she wants, is this because she is, as many Chicagoans could attest, a smart political (with a small "p") operative, in this case the political operative as political wife who always “has her husband’s back?” Or has this old-timey image been foisted on her by her husband’s political advisers, making her go so far as to have to set up the straw (wo)man, the "angry black woman,” to beat back presumptively bad press for a president who can’t win re-election without pulling “independent” (read: white, not-hard-core Democrats) to his side? (They need to be reassured she's one of them.)

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know that when I worked with Michelle Obama, she had a GREAT presence and commitment to social justice. So while the stereotype of the “angry black woman” is one which, twenty history-making years in from those days, a would-be second-term First Lady and President would do well to steer clear of, I also think that the American public would welcome and participate in, as Chicago did, Michelle Obama’s compelling invitation to helping make the world a better place.

A note to the President’s political handlers: You have nothing to fear from this new Michelle Obama as First Lady, one whose arc bending towards justice would be apparent to all. Why? Because, uniquely, First Lady Michelle Obama has the power and the platform to make the rest of us feel better, and, then, as a consequence, to do better for the country we love. Working at a food pantry every week; visiting a homeless shelter every week; leading a neighborhood clean-up project every week; counseling young people looking for jobs every week, the mind (again) boggles; this time at the opportunities to do good that we could all undertake, led by this new Michelle Obama as First Lady.

A further note to you political handlers: I can tell you that, based on conversations I've had with all kinds of women—from sophisticated Upper West Side New York, and Gold Coast Chicago plutocrats, to blue-collar housekeepers in poor, rural Michigan, to inner-city social workers--I’ve heard the same thing, admiration for Michelle Obama.  She is everything they aspire to be: smart, beautiful, a good mother and daughter, a loving partner, loved always by her husband, no questions (apparently) asked. Thus, in my view, if Michelle Obama takes on another substantial activity, public leadership for the greater good of the least among us, they will follow her, in droves.

It is in this winning (public opinion and votes) context that Michelle Obama could be this generation’s Eleanor Roosevelt, not the stereotypical “angry black woman,” but yes, an angry black woman. She could be just as angry as her angry white, brown, yellow and red sisters, who in this campaign year would stand with her and say: “Yes, we are angry. Angry because American still has hungry and homeless people.  Angry because America has too many people who want to work, but can’t find jobs. Angry because America these days works for few, when it’s supposed to work “…for all.”

Come this Election Day, with this campaign plan, I believe American voters will admire Michelle Obama even more than they do today, for she will have stood tall (she knows no other way) and said what time it is: time to help America, all of America. The voters will flock to her husband in droves. We will all have his back. Just what our First Lady wants most of all. . . . . . .


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Madness and Disaster: No War with Iran!

What are We to Make of The USA,

Israeli, Iranian Dance Of Death?

By Bill Fletcher
Progressive America Rising via

Jan 15, 2012 - In watching the USA/Israeli vs. Iranian tensions play out, I found myself thinking about the similarities with the British/Argentine war in the early 1980s over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Talk about a useless, purposeless war. Except for one thing. The ruling elites of both countries needed it.

In the early 1980s the Argentine military government was in trouble and they knew it. Their regime was unraveling and they desperately needed a means to hold things together. Presto!! They began a pseudo-nationalist campaign to regain control over the desolate Falkland/Malvinas Islands that were occupied by Britain (since 1833). Hoping to distract the Argentine population from the economic crisis that combined with the savagery of the military dictatorship, the junta carried out a military operation that under other circumstances would have been the basis of a comedy. Unfortunately the loss of life that accompanied this war was nothing to laugh at.

Britain, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, needed its own distractions. The Falklands/Malvinas Islands did not possess any strategic importance to Britain but a nice little war did hold importance. A quick, dirty, little war could, and did, distract the British population from its own political and economic difficulties. It also represented an opportunity for the citizens of a dying empire to reassert themselves, much in the way that a bully picks on a weak neighbor in order to reinforce their own feelings of superiority.

There were no good-guys in that war. It was a war that should never have happened.

In today's situation the USA, Israel and Iran all need distractions. All three countries have been in the midst of severe economic crises. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have protested economic conditions in an unprecedented display of antipathy toward the Israeli political establishment. Iran has been unsettled ever since the emergence of the massive opposition "Green Movement," that followed the questionable elections of 2009. The political challenges faced by the Iranian theocracy accompany growing economic challenges which preceded Western-imposed sanctions (though have been accelerated by those sanctions). And, of course, we in the USA are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The USA cannot really afford a war with Iran (though this will not necessarily stop the US from initiating one), a point demonstrated just this past week with Obama's announced cuts to the Pentagon, the clear result of the impact of the aggressive US wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel, which claims an existential threat from Iran, knows full well that such a threat does not exist. The only nuclear power in the Middle East is Israel, and any threat to Israel from Iran would be met by a terrible response from both Israel and the USA. But carrying out an attack or encouraging the USA to carry out an attack on Iran would both distract the Israeli population from domestic concerns as well as provide a cover for Israeli military operations closer to home, such as against Hezbollah in Lebanon or against Hamas in the Gaza.

A war with Iran would be a disaster for everyone. For the Iranians, war would be used, much as with the Argentine junta thirty years ago, to clamp down on dissent and wrap everyone in the flag of nationalism. It would be a chance to breathe more life into what appears to be a dying, reactionary theocratic regime that has carried out brutal repression for years, all the while claiming to be an anti-imperialist force.

A war would create greater instability in the Middle East and more than likely encourage some countries that currently do not possess nuclear weapons to seek them in a hurry!

Such a war could very likely lead to an even deeper global economic crisis if the Straits of Hormuz are blocked by the Iranians, thereby cutting off about 20% of the world's oil. It would also be a war that the West cannot, literally, afford to conduct.

There are many reasons to believe that a war will not happen precisely due to the potential catastrophe. That said, there are elements in all three countries that wish to militarily settle accounts with someone on the other side and/or find an opportunity to use "patriotism" - the last refuge of scoundrels, according to 18thcentury British author Samuel Johnson - as a means of suppressing domestic conflicts, particularly the growing demands for political and economic justice.

Let's not get hood-winked. Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfricaForum and co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Obama’s Advantage: Divisions in the GOP

Iowa Results Bad News for GOP

By Robert Creamer
Progressive America Rising via HuffPost

Jan 4, 2012 - To maximize their odds of reclaiming their hold on the White House, the Republican establishment believes they need two things:

• To nominate Mitt Romney;

• To effectively end the Republican nominating process as soon as possible.

Last night's results from Iowa lower the odds they will get either.

In fact, what we saw in Iowa last night was the Republican base gagging on the Presidential candidate the Republican establishment is trying desperately to cram down their throats.

Romney - and Republican Super Pacs - spent millions of dollars trying to convince Republican caucus-goers that Romney should carry the Republican banner next fall. But in the end 75% said no. MSNBC's Chis Matthews went so far as to argue that Romney is being rejected by the Republican electorate the way a body rejects foreign tissue.

In fact, most rank and file Republicans are so repulsed by Romney that they have test-driven virtually every possible alternative in the show room. Rick Santorum's turn came just at the right time to catapult him into the position of the "anti-Romney" - giving him the right to carry the anybody-but-Romney banner in the battle ahead.

Here are the reasons why the Iowa results are such bad news for Republicans:

1). Sometimes when a candidate has a hard time winning the support of his base, the reasons actually make him more electable in a general election. That's not true of Romney. The major factors weighing on his candidacy are just as toxic with persuadable General Election voters as they are with voters in the GOP primaries.

In interviews and focus groups, anti-Romney voters use words like "phony," "fake," "robotic," "cold." They think Romney has no core principles - that he will say anything to be elected - that he's a flip-flopper. One Republican went so far as to say, "He's Kerry without the medals." That, of course, is an insult to Kerry - who has strong core principles - even though Karl Rove's consistent attacks on his character gave a not-so-popular George Bush a second term in 2004.

And it doesn't help - even with rank and file Republicans - that Romney is, in fact, the candidate of the Republican establishment - which, let us remember, is basically Wall Street and the CEO class. Romney is the poster boy for the 1%. He is the cold, calculating guy who made his fortune dismantling companies and laying off workers. He is a guy whose painted-on smile is set in concrete as he hands you your pink slip. Mitt Romney is about as empathetic as a rock.

2). The fact that one anti-Romney contender consolidated enough votes to fight him to a virtual tie in Iowa was a big blow to Romney's chances for a quick victory. His forces had hoped to keep his opposition divided and appear as the obvious front runner even with 25% of the vote. Instead, Rick Santorum comes out of Iowa with the "big Mo."

Santorum will carry that momentum into New Hampshire where he will begin to pick up the votes of the "also-rans." Most Perry and Bachmann votes simply aren't going to Romney. Since everyone thinks that Mitt is way ahead in his adopted home state of New Hampshire, Santorum is under no pressure to win. Romney is left competing with his own expectations - anything but a blowout will be considered a defeat.

If Santorum's numbers materially improve from his pre-Iowa single digits - as they most certainly will - he will continue to carry that momentum into South Carolina where he should win handily. That's particularly true if Perry officially drops out of the race and Bachmann continues to fade.

3). Gingrich as much as announced last night that he would be playing blocking back for Santorum. He will attack Romney viciously in the coming debates - while having nothing bad to say about his apparent rival for the "anti-Romney" mantel. A wounded Gingrich could be a great deal more dangerous to GOP prospects than frontrunner Gingrich was a few weeks ago.

4). Ron Paul has every incentive to continue his crusade to reshape America in Ayn Rand's libertarian image. Paul probably hit his high water mark in Iowa, but he certainly has no reason to leave the race anytime soon and shows every inclination to continue to use his platform to promote "Austrian" economics and the gold standard. He has plenty of money and a solid core of activist support.

5). Much of Romney's pitch to voters has been premised on his "electability" and "inevitability." At the very least the "inevitability" argument is now gone.

Politics and momentum are often about self-fulfilling prophesies. The argument that "Romney is bound to be the nominee, so get with the program" is now toast - at least for the near term.

6). The new Republican delegate selection rules make it more likely that the nomination process will drag on for some time. Many states that used to have "winner take all" primaries now allocate delegates in proportion to the percentage of each candidate's votes.

If Romney continues to top out at 25% or 30%-- which nationally seems to be his ceiling - it's hard for him to wrap up the nomination in the near future. You need 50% plus one of the delegates to seal the deal. If Paul and Santorum continue in the race - not to mention Gingrich - that isn't going to happen any time soon. And if Santorum continues to surge, all bets are off.

7). From the Republican point of view, nothing good can come from a long, drawn-out nominating process.

His opponents will continue to pound Romney for being a phony flip-flopper - a charge that will devastate him in a General Election.

Romney will continue to tack to the right to compete for base voters. That will lead to more and more positions that disqualify him with big chunks of the electorate - like his recent statement that he would veto the DREAM act.

The DREAM Act is an iconic issue for Hispanics. According to a recent Pugh Poll, ninety-one percent of Hispanic voters support the DREAM act and 51% consider a immigration the most important issue facing their community. In a general election, Romney - or any other Republican - simply can't win a majority of electoral votes without states with heavy Hispanic voting populations. Yet to win primary votes from Perry, Romney positioned himself as the most anti-immigration Republican candidates in recent American history.

Santorum has positions on reproductive rights that are way outside the American mainstream. Not only does he oppose abortion in virtually any circumstance, he wants to give states the right to ban contraception. That's right, contraception - which is used at one time or another by 98% of American women. A long primary fight with Santorum will inevitably require Romney to tack in his direction on these issues as well.

8). Before it's over, the Republican race will inevitably get more negative. Romney and his Super-Pacs used a fusillade of negative ads to stop Gingrich in Iowa. Presumably they will try to do the same to Santorum - and maybe even Paul. Santorum, with the help of his lead blocker Gingrich in the debates - will inevitably have to fight back.

In fact, the odds have just increased that the Republican nominating circus is about to become a vicious, no-holds-barred dog fight.

No, Wall Street's "masters of the universe" and the other Republican poobahs cannot be pleased with the outcome of last night's caucus in Iowa.

One thing is for sure, it's not time to take down the GOP "Big Top." This show will be in town for some time to come.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.


My Zimbio Add to Technorati Favorites Locations of visitors to this page EatonWeb Blog Directory