On Tuesday Chicago Anti-Bashing Network (CABN) co-hosted a press conference with Amnesty International to announce an out of court settlement between Frederick Mason, Jr., the survivor of a July 2000 racist, anti-gay attack by police, and the City of Chicago. In an unusual twist for out-of-court settlements, there will be no "gag order" on Mason or his attorney discussing the facts of the case.
CABN has been the principal organizer of support for Mason since shortly after the attack, and his case was the subject of a landmark February 2001 Amnesty International (A.I.) report, A.I.'s first-ever report on gay-bashing by police in the United States. CABN and Amnesty found credible evidence to support the charges that Officer Luis Alejo falsely arrested Mason and subjected him to a barrage of anti-gay and racist epithets before jamming a police billy club up Mason's rectum. Hector Alfaro allegedly stood by passively during the opening part of the attack.
The Office of Professional Standards (OoPS), the city's main oversight body for police misconduct, is notorious for not vigorously investigating possible wrong-doing, finding against cops in less than 10% of all cases. Yet before the July 2000 attack on Mason, Officers Alejo and Alfaro already had three previous, sustained complaints of brutality between them, according to OoPS.
If this city truly cares about the welfare of African Americans, gays and others, why does it continue to employ known thugs? If the city had done the right thing in the cases before July 19, 2000, Frederick Mason, Jr. would not now have to face a lifetime with the memory of that morning's horrible attack.
Besides CABN's Bob Schwartz and Andy Thayer, other supporters of Mason who spoke at the press conference included:
* Robert Schultz, Amnesty International
* Rev. Karen Hutt, co-pastor, Church of the Open Door
* Ruth PeÃ±a, co-founder of ComitÃ© Exigimos Justicia, a Latino-led anti-police brutality and misconduct organization (see notice about their march this Saturday in the calendar section)
* Rev. Paul Jakes, Jr., President of the Christian Council on Urban Affairs and recognized as a leading anti-police brutality activist in the City
* Lydia Taylor, Executive Director of the Justice Coalition, a coalition of dozens of Chicago organizations working for reform of the police department
Cameras from Channels 2, 9, 32 and CAN-TV were at the event. Also present were reporters from WBEZ-FM, WBBM-AM, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Lambda Publications, the Associated Press, and the Medill News Service. Shadow Broadcast Services, the Chicago Free Press and the Chicago Defender have covered, or probably will be covering, the story over the next week.