Members of the Gay Liberation Network and attorneys for 22 people falsely arrested by a Town Hall District police officer released police videotape during a well attended press conference Tuesday showing that the officer trumped up the bogus charges.
Officer Richard Fiorito is charged with targeting lesbian and gay motorists for wrongful DUI arrests, and roughing up and verbally abusing some of them with anti-gay and lesbian slurs. The film released Tuesday shows a person passing sobriety tests, yet Fiorito arrested him and wrote a police report saying that the motorist couldn’t even complete the tests, let alone pass them.
GLN has been working with the falsely accused motorists and their attorney, Jon Erickson of Erickson & Oppenheimer, to raise community awareness about the civil rights violations and demand that the police department put Fiorito on desk duty pending the resolution of the charges against him.
In addition to police Internal Affairs and Independent Review Authority investigations and the twenty federal lawsuits already filed against Fiorito, another ten to twenty more suits are expected to be filed over the next several weeks. Given the ample evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the 22 lawsuits filed against him, GLN has also been demanding that the Cook County States Attorneys Office file criminal charges against Fiorito.
On Sunday the pressure appeared to begin to get results as ABC Channel 7 News reported that a grand jury has been impounded to investigate filing charges against Fiorito (see http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7047994).
But even if criminal charges against Officer Fiorito are filed, this is only a first step in the direction of justice. Community pressure will then have to ensure that such charges are followed up with a vigorous prosecution. There have been too many past cases of alleged law breaking by police officers in Cook County where, while charges have been filed, the States Attorney’s Office prosecutions of the officers appear to have been deliberately weak and pro forma.
Besides releasing the film to the public, the press conference also served as the public launch for the 11th Annual Matthew Shepard March for LGBT Freedom scheduled for 7 PM, Saturday, October 17th at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe Streets. This year’s march will focus on the alleged police misconduct of Officer Fiorito, and the cover-ups that have allowed to him to operate in the Town Hall District with impunity for years.
The march will go past Alderman Tom Tunney's office and the Town Hall Police Station.
Downloadable posters and flyers for the march are available at the following URL:
For more information about the 11th Annual Matthew Shepard March, or to volunteer to help out, please email LGBTliberation@aol.com
See more coverage of Tuesday’s news conference at:
NBC Channel 5, WGN Channel 9, Fox Channel 32, Telemundo Channel 44, Chicago Tribune, CLTV Video, CLTV Story