RSS

Category Archives: Take Action!

Petitioning Justice for Tiawanda Moore…


On August 2nd, a small but determined group of us went to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office to drop off petitions signed by over 3,200 people demanding that the unjust charges against Tiawanda Moore be dropped. We walked into the building that houses her office and took the elevator to the 32nd floor. There were two people sitting at desks in the reception area.

We politely asked to speak to Ms. Alvarez and the young man who was seated at the desk told us that she was “unavailable.” We didn’t press our case and asked to speak to another representative of the office. In the meantime, we noticed that the small reception area was getting crowded with large white men who were coming from a door that seemed to lead to offices. There were at least 6 of them standing around. We assume that they were concerned that we might cause a disturbance. A quick perusal of the rag-tag group of us though should quickly have disabused them of the idea that we were there to cause a scene.

The night before the action, we had spent several hours writing the names of each person who signed the petitions on separate index cards. It came out to 3277 index cards.

After a few minutes, a gentleman came out and introduced himself. We explained that we wanted to register our voices in opposition to the unjust prosecution of Tiawanda Moore. We said that we were dropping off petitions signed by thousands of people who agreed that Tiawanda Moore was being wronged. He told us that he would relay our message to the State’s Attorney. Somehow, we doubt this.

Ms. Moore’s trial was supposed to have started with jury selection on August 3rd. We have confirmed that Ms. Moore’s trial is in fact in continuance now until Monday August 8th for motions.

The Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to sign their names to our petition in support of Ms. Moore. We believe that it is important that those who we elect to ensure that “justice” is done should not abuse the public’s trust. This unjust prosecution of Ms. Moore is a travesty and perversion of the criminal legal system. Thousands of people agree.

 
 

Join Us on Tuesday at 1 p.m. as We Protest Tiawanda Moore’s Upcoming Trial!

Ms. Tiawanda Moore’s trial is currently scheduled to begin on August 3rd. The Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Young Women and Girls launched a petition drive earlier this year urging State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to drop the unjust charges against Ms. Moore. To date, the petition has garnered over 3,200 signatures.

On Tuesday August 2nd, join us as we bring the petition signatures directly to Anita Alvarez and demand that she do the right thing by dropping the charges against Ms. Moore. Tiawanda Moore is a young woman who reported that she had been sexually assaulted by a police officer in July of 2010, and was then herself charged with eavesdropping on police. According to her attorney, Robert Johnson, when she tried to report the assault, internal affairs “gave her the run-around, trying to intimidate and discourage her from making a report. The internal affairs officers told Ms. Moore if it happens again you have our number. Finally, a recording of the officer’s misconduct is made on her cell phone.” She was charged with two counts of eavesdropping – and if found guilty, will face up to fifteen years in prison.

We will meet downtown at 1 p.m. to deliver the petition signatures to Anita Alvarez. Please join us and bring your friends. Rather than being a demonstration, this is a targeted strategic direct action designed to convey the reality that thousands of people demand that the charges against Ms. Moore be dropped. If you are planning to join us, please e-mail us at chitaskforce@gmail.com for more information.

We plan to dramatize the number of signatures that have been collected by presenting index cards with each individual name represented. We need volunteers to help us create the index cards. If you have the time and inclination, please join us on Monday from 3 to 6 p.m. for an index card writing session. We will be meeting at the Rogers Park Community Council, 1530 West Morse Ave. Please stop by and help us write out the cards.

If you have any questions, please contact us at chitaskforce@gmail.com.

ETA: We will be meeting at 1 pm at the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza, and walking together to the state’s attorney’s office to deliver the petitions. 

 

A morning in court in support of Tiawanda Moore

Cross-posted from Prison Culture, by Mariame Kaba

The first thing that strikes me when I see Tiawanda Moore is that she looks so very young. The second thing is that she reminds me of my cousin Fatime. She has the same fine features and beautiful dark skin. She is slight in build and is wearing glasses. Every black person in the U.S. has a sister, friend, cousin who looks just like Tiawanda Moore.

I arrived at Cook County Criminal Court at 9:30 this morning for a scheduled 10 am hearing on Ms. Moore’s case. I sat in the “holding area” reserved for spectator and the accused. Large tinted windows separate me from what’s happening inside where the judge and attorneys hold court. We can hear the proceedings happening past the large windows and glass doors through a horrible sounding speaker system. The sound keeps cutting on and off. I get frustrated so I walk through the doors to alert someone about the technical difficulties. A woman who appears to be waiting for a relative to be called for his case informs me that this is the norm and that when I hear Ms. Moore’s case called I should walk inside and stand by the doors if I want to support her. I thank her for the advice.

Promptly at 10 am, Ms. Moore’s name is called and she walks up to the judge with her attorney, Robert Johnson. I get up and stand inside the doors toward the back so that I can hear what is happening. The judge makes a couple of pronouncements that I as a layperson don’t understand. Then he invites the Assistant State’s Attorney and Mr. Johnson to use his chambers to review some items for discovery. The  item of interest is the internal review report from the Chicago Police Department which has been kept underwraps.

Ms. Moore walks out back toward the “holding area” and I follow her out. She sits on one of the nondescript wood benches that court watchers and the accused share. I walk over to her and introduce myself. I let her know that I am one of the co-founders of the Taskforce and that we have been trying to bring attention to her case. She shakes my hand which feels really small in mine. She is soft-spoken and shy. She thanks me for helping her. We go outside the courtroom and she starts telling me about her case. Shortly, we are joined by her lawyer, Mr. Johnson. He says that he expects to look over the internal review documents today and will make a motion demanding that the case be brought immediately to trial.

Ms. Moore tells me that she is invoking her right to a speedy trial. This ordeal is of course weighing on this 21 year old young woman. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress of these regular trips to criminal court. It was obvious to me today that the State of Illinois is stalling for time. I speculate that they do not want a public hearing of the audio recording that Ms. Moore made of the police when they would not take her complaint seriously. This is of course conjecture on my part but the first hearing in this case was scheduled for February 7th and the expectation was that trial would begin shortly thereafter. Today is June 23rd and still there has been no trial. State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has no case against Tiawanda Moore and she ought to pursue an investigation against the rogue police officer who abused his power by sexually assaulting Ms. Moore in her own home.

The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women intends to continue to pressure the State’s Attorney to end this unjust prosecution. We will keep you apprised of the developments in this case.

To learn more about the background of this case, you can read the following pieces:

New York Times Article

Radley Balko’s Huffingpost Article

You can help by signing our petition demanding that Anita Alvarez drop the unjust charges against Tiawanda Moore.

 

Update on Tiawanda Moore’s Trial Date

We know that many are anxious to hear what happened at Ms.Moore’s scheduled trial date of June 8th. Well we have been informed by her lawyer that the judge was not available and so they have provided another date which is now June 23rd. Her lawyer, Robert Johnson, doesn’t know if the actual trial will kick off that day or if the State will once again ask for a continuance. Ms. Moore has asked for her right to a speedy trial to be respected. Originally this case was supposed to be tried on February 7th. Instead it has continuously been continued and postponed.

The Taskforce continues to demand that the unjust charges against Ms. Moore be dropped immediately. This young woman has been put through hell and it is wrong.

 

Press release: No Justice for Victims of Police Sexual Violence

For Immediate Release

No Justice for Victims of Police Sexual Violence

Tiawanda Moore court date set for June 8, activists demand justice

The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women is calling on State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to drop the criminal charges against Tiawanda Moore. Ms. Moore is a young woman who reported that she had been sexually assaulted by a police officer in July of 2010, and was then herself charged with eavesdropping on police.  According to her attorney, Robert Johnson, when she tried to report the assault, internal affairs “gave her the run-around, trying to intimidate and discourage her from making a report. The internal affairs officers told Ms. Moore if it happens again you have our number. Finally, a recording of the officer’s misconduct is made on her cell phone.”  She was charged with two counts of eavesdropping – and if found guilty, will face up to fifteen years in prison.

Ms. Moore has been awaiting trial since her initial scheduled trial date of February 7. The next court date is scheduled for June 8 on which Judge Kevin M. Sheehan will decided what documents from the Independent Police Review Authority’s investigation will be released to the parties.

Describing the injustice facing his client, Mr. Johnson stated, “Ms. Moore reports an attack by a police officer in her bedroom and almost a year later she is facing prison and he is still patrolling our streets. Listening to that recording makes me wonder where future victims will get the courage to report sexual misconduct by a police officer.”

Ms. Moore’s case comes in the wake of local and national headlines, as a series of women have reported that they were sexually assaulted by police officers.  In New York, on May 26, the acquittal of two police officers for alleged rape of a woman drew protests from local organizations, who pointed to the victim-blaming inherent in the defense’s winning argument that the woman had been drinking.  Here in Chicago, officers Paul Clavijo and Juan Vasquez were indicted on June 1 for sexual assault, for an alleged rape of a 22-year old woman in Rogers Park in March.  According to reports, Clavijo was charged with a second count of criminal sexual assault and official misconduct for an unrelated incident involving a 26-year old woman, which also took place in March.

Local activists have urged the State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to drop the criminal charges and expedite the investigation into Ms. Moore’s allegations against the police.  The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women, a citywide coalition founded in 2009, launched an online petition on http://www.change.org that has drawn over 2,100 signatures.  The State’s Attorney has not responded to these demands.

According to Taskforce co-founder Melissa Spatz, “cases like this have a chilling effect on women’s willingness to come forward and report if they have been sexually assaulted by police officers.  It’s crucial that the city send a clear message that sexual assault of young women will not be tolerated.”   Co-founder Mariame Kaba adds, “We at the Taskforce recognize the deep injustice of this case, and we demand immediate accountability from the State’s Attorney.”

Contacts: Melissa Spatz (773)454-0366 chitaskforce@gmail.com

Mariame Kaba (773)392-5165

Robert Johnson (773)485-2267

 

How you can support the Taskforce

With the website going up, we’re getting a lot of questions about how people can get involved and volunteer at the Taskforce.  Thanks to everyone who has reached out to us!  For those who are wondering how to support our work, here are some areas where we could use help:

Blog about our report: One quick way to support our work is to spread the word about our online report (www.chitaskforce.org).  Is there a particular section that you found interesting?  Something that struck you, or points to the need for the work your group is doing?  Or something that wasn’t said in the report, that you’d want to add?  Blogging about it is a great way to make your voice heard while also supporting our work.  And we might even re-post on this site!

Help develop our Media Toolkit: This year, the Taskforce is going to be producing a Media Toolkit, to provide recommendations for how the press should cover the issue of violence against girls and young women.  Producing the toolkit is going to involve:

  • Doing a media analysis, to identify to what extent, and how, the press currently covers the issue
  • Facilitating focus groups with young people, to identify youth concerns about media coverage
  • Developing recommendations, and the components of a Toolkit

If you’d like to get involved in any of these steps, please email me at chitaskforce@gmail.com; I’ll let you know when our first planning meeting is set.

Help research Teen Dating Violence curricula:  This fall, the Taskforce is going to be bringing together groups that provide teen dating violence workshops, to identify best practices and share strategies of what works and what doesn’t.  In preparation for these conversations, we could use help in gathering research on the topic of best practices in teen dating violence education.  If you’re interested in helping us with research, let me know (again, at chitaskforce@gmail.com).

Make a financial contribution (of any amount) to the Taskforce to cover costs including food, supplies, printing, and web hosting.  Please make checks payable to the Chicago Freedom School and send to 719 S. State Street # 3N, Chicago, IL 60605, and specify that your support is for the Taskforce.  Or you can donate through our facebook cause.

Many thanks, again, for all the interest in supporting our work!

 
 

Website is live! Check out the Taskforce report

We are excited to announce the launch of the Taskforce website and online report, with our recommendations on how to end violence against girls and young women in Chicago!  We invite you to visit the website at www.chitaskforce.org.

Based on Roundtable discussions and surveys of dozens of organizations from across Chicago the website is a roadmap for the Taskforce’s action steps to end violence against girls and young women.  We’ll be meeting with public officials, issuing a Media Toolkit, and holding workshops around innovative approaches to end violence against girls — and we welcome you to get involved!

UNDERSTANDING VIOLENCE AGAINST GIRLS:  The website looks at 5 interrelated forms of violence against girls and young women:

For each, it offers concrete data about violence against girls, and identified issues & needs in the field.  The Taskforce is committed to highlighting great work happening across the city as well, and for each section you can read about organizations that are doing innovative work.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ENDORSED BY 40 ORGANIZATIONS: A highlight of the website is a set of recommendations for Chicago Public Schools, Cook County, and the State of Illinois, as well as organizations, foundations and researchers.  These recommendations have been endorsed by 40 organizations, representing youth groups, domestic violence and sexual assault groups, city and statewide agencies, policy organizations, and more.  They will serve as the basis for our work in the coming year, as we advocate to make Chicago safer for girls and young women.

TOOLS & RESOURCES:  The website offers tools & resources that groups can use in their own work.  Our resource page includes data sheets, reports and curricula, all free for downloading.  And our Occasional Papers series offers evaluations of innovative programs, and evaluation tools that organizations can access.

Our thanks to all of the volunteers who supported this work, and to the foundations that funded the development of the website: the Field Foundation of Illinois & the Verizon Foundation!