Amnesty International, the globally-renowned human rights organization, tomorrow will release a worldwide report highlighting alleged anti-gay brutality by Chicago police officers against two Chicagoans, Frederick D. Mason, Jr. and Jeffrey Lyons. The two cases have been championed by a local gay rights group, the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network (CABN), which accuses the Chicago Police Department of covering up and stonewalling impartial investigations.
The report will be released and discussed at a 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 20 press conference at Amnesty International Midwest Regional Headquarters, 53 W. Jackson Boulevard, Room 731 (use south elevators).
Frederick Mason, Jr., an African American gay man, his lawyer Standish Willis, and CABN allege that Mason was attacked by a Chicago police officer on July 19 of last year at the 11th District headquarters (Harrison & Kedzie). They charge that after shouting racist and anti-gay slurs, an officer pulled down Mason's pants and jammed a police billy club up his rectum while he was handcuffed to the wall of an interrogation room.
Jeffrey Lyons is the son of a Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty. Lyons, who is not gay, was perceived to be such when he embraced a friend November 25 outside of a West Side "cop bar," two blocks from the 5th District police headquarters (Grand & Central). Lyons, his lawyer Tim Cavenagh, and CABN allege that approximately 8-10 off-duty officers hurled anti-gay epithets and physically attacked him, resulting in a fractured cheekbone, broken nose, and neurological damage. Towards the end of the assault, one officer allegedly yelled, "Get this through your head, you faggots will never win."
On hand to discuss the implications of Amnesty's report will be:
* Nancy Bothne, Midwest Regional Director, Amnesty International;
* Andy Thayer, co-founder of CABN;
* Atty. Standish Willis, lawyer for Frederick Mason, Jr. in his $2.5 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the City;
* Atty. Tim Cavenagh, lawyer for Jeffrey Lyons in his $3 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the City, the individual officers and a local tavern;
* Rev. Paul Jakes, Chairman, Christian Council on Urban Affairs (invited);
* Rev. Karen Hutt, Co-Pastor, Church of the Open Door; and,
* Mary Powers, Coordinator, Citizens Alert.
"What Amnesty International brings to the table in this fight for justice is incalculable," said CABN's Andy Thayer. "With AI chapters around the world organizing around these two cases you have the spotlight of the world shining on Chicago police brutality. We understand from past history that without intense community pressure, the City of Chicago never concedes justice in cases like these, and so we're extremely gratified that Amnesty International has chosen to take the lead in the Frederick Mason and Jeffrey Lyons cases."
A host of Chicago community organizations also have signed on in solidarity with Mason and Lyons and most will have representatives at the press conference, including the Aaron Patterson Defense Committee, the African American Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and Aaron Patterson, the Chicago Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Church of the Open Door, the Comite Exijimos Justicia, 8th Day Center For Justice, Equality Illinois, Horizons Community Services, the Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago, Men of All Colors Together, News and Letters, the October 22nd Coalition/Chicago, Queer to the Left, and Sangat.
For more information call CABN at 773.209.1187 or 773.878.4781 or e-mail CABNstopthehate@aol.com.