September 19, 2021
Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson have been exonerated!
There are hundreds more survivors of torture in prison
IT’S TIME TO FREE THEM ALL!
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) greets the decision by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to drop the cases against Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson before Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Flood Friday. This was a recognition that without the “confessions” extracted through torture by police there was no case against them.
Liam Collier, a leader of the Chicago Alliance Campaign to Free Incarcerated Survivors of Police Torture (CFIST), commented, “It’s great that the State’s Attorney finally recognizes that convictions obtained through torture are indefensible. It’s the movement of survivors and their families, united with religious, labor and community organizations that have made it possible for her to do the right thing and push back against intimidation coming from the far right-wing, white supremacist leadership of the Fraternal Order of Police.”
Bertha Escamilla, another leader of CFIST and the mother of a torture survivor herself, added, “It great to see Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson free. But they were in prison for 27 years for something they didn’t do. Hundreds of others have likewise been falsely imprisoned. We have been demanding justice for our loved ones for decades. We’d like to know, how long is justice going to take?”
Tyler and Henderson were convicted of the 1994 murder of 10-year-old Rodney Collins, who was killed in crossfire during a gang shooting. Henderson was tortured and confessed in a statement written by police naming his brother, Sean Tyler, as the shooter. Tyler ultimately confessed after he also was tortured. They were convicted in spite of evidence that they were nowhere near the scene of the crime when it happened.
Tyler has charged that he and his brother were framed in retaliation for his testimony in the case of Marcus Wiggins, that Wiggins was somewhere else at the time of a murder to which Wiggins, who was 13 at the time, confessed under torture. Wiggins was exonerated in that case and then framed again by CPD detectives and imprisoned for the murder of Theopolis Teague in 1998. All of the witnesses against Wiggins have recanted and said the police made them testify against him. Wiggins, freed after 22 years in prison. He is suing the City of Chicago for damages for what was done to him.
CFIST and the Alliance are organizing to demand that Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker pardon all survivors of police torture and frame-ups, starting with all those found to have credible claims of police torture by his appointed Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission.
They are also demanding that the State’s Attorney move in court to vacate the convictions of all known torture survivors. Frank Chapman, Executive Director of the National Alliance and Chicago Alliance Filed Organizer, declared, “The State’s Attorney’s office has known for decades who the people are that have been imprisoned through tortured false confession. This was exposed by ASA Terrence Johnson, who told the FBI many years ago, how cases were rigged in that office.
“It’s great that Kim Foxx has taken the first step to right this wrong after almost 6 years in office. But the time for study and investigation is long over – free these men and women now!”
The Chicago Alliance has been in the forefront of the massive movement demanding community control of the police, which recently won passage in the City Council of the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance (ECPS), setting the stage of a public referendum in June 2022 that would require the popular election of the Community Commission on Public Safety and Police Accountability created by the ECPS.
“It’s the murder by police of hundreds of Black and Brown men and women, and the torture and frame-ups of hundreds more, that has created the groundswell of demand for community control, especially after the murder of George Floyd” declared Regina Russell, Co-Chair of the CAARPR and the mother of Tamon Russell, framed by police for a murder he could not have committed.