CHICAGO — More than 40 people gathered outside the Daley Center here Feb. 25 to demand that Chief Judge Timothy Evans intervene in the case of Gerald Reed. Reed is in jail on “evidence” extracted though torture in 1990 by two Chicago police detectives. “What do we want? Free Gerald Reed,” protesters chanted.
Reed’s “confession” led to his being found guilty in 1991 on murder charges and subsequently sentenced to life without any possibility of parole. He was one of dozens of over 100 victims of the “Midnight Crew” run by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, who was later exposed, fired and convicted of lying about torturing people.
In 2012, more than two decades after his conviction, Reed won a hearing before the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission. This panel was established by the Illinois legislature in 2009 after widespread publicity on Burge-led cop torture. Cook County Judge Thomas Gainer ruled in December 2018 that Reed’s confession was most likely the result of the beating he suffered at the hands of cops and threw out his conviction. He ordered a new trial.
On Feb. 14 Judge Thomas Hennelly, who had been assigned to the case after Gainer retired, reversed Gainer’s order and sent Reed back to prison.
In the days leading up to the protest, organizers of Reed’s defense circulated a letter to Judge Evans demanding he intervene. The letter, made public and released to the press, was signed by dozens of organizations and individuals.
“If they believe Gerald committed the crime they accuse him of, they have to prove it,” Reed’s mother, Armanda Shackelford, told the press and fellow protesters. “They have never proven it, and never will be able to prove it. We’re hopeful Evans will reverse this miscarriage of justice.”
“We have to keep mobilizing in Gerald’s defense,” Aislinn Pulley, co-director of the Chicago Torture Justice Center, told the crowd, “and demand the release of all survivors of cop torture.”
There are over 100 other torture survivors inside Illinois prisons who have not gotten a hearing on claims of torture.
Ilona Gersh, a worker at an area Walmart, announced that at two Walmart stores close to 40 workers had signed a letter urging Evans to reverse Hennelly’s decision.
Mark Clements was a victim of Chicago police torture, railroaded to prison for 28 years on frame-up charges.