Category Archives: Justice

Donald Trump v. Shamar Betts

I, Shamar Betts, incited a riot through a Facebook post encouraging my people to join alongside the rest of the world in an attempt to express our feelings on the tragic death of George Floyd in May of 2020. Although … Continue reading

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Shamar Betts Case Moves to Federal Appeals Court

On April 8, the case of Urbana resident Shamar Betts moved to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Betts was arrested in June, 2020 in the midst of a national crackdown on protests against the murder … Continue reading

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“It’s a Money Grab”: Billions in COVID Relief Going to Fund Police and Prisons

If you’re from inner-city Birmingham, Alabama, there’s a “99-percent chance” you have a family member or friend who has been incarcerated, according to Veronica Johnson, deputy director for the Alabama Justice Initiative, which has been fighting against a proposal to … Continue reading

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Fines, Fees, and Escalating Bail Bonds: Champaign County Urgently Needs to Implement the Pretrial Fairness Act

The Champaign County Bailout Coalition (CCBC) is a grassroots organization that uses community donations to pay low bail amounts for incarcerated individuals who don’t have access to financial resources in their moment of crisis. Founded in 2018, CCBC now pays … Continue reading

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Local Community Protests Former Champaign Police Chief’s Teaching Appointment at Parkland College

Former Champaign Police Chief Robert T. Finney was hired in August, 2020 to teach Community Policing as well as Introduction to Criminal Justice at Parkland College. “Unbelievable” is what one African American community member thought on hearing the news; “Shocking,” … Continue reading

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Taking the Band-Aid Off of Mass Incarceration

On a bad day, those of us seeking justice can find little to be hopeful about. The recent acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse again reminds us that the law is designed to protect white lives. Even after widespread protests and demonstrations … Continue reading

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Urbana’s Long Search for Traffic-Stop Equity

In 2004 the State of Illinois required all law enforcement agencies to report their annual traffic stop data to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The Urbana Police Department’s (UPD) data shows they have enforced traffic laws inequitably every year … Continue reading

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What’s Understood Need Not Be Explained

I’m curious to know, as a reading eye and listening ear, what are you expecting to hear from me? That the feds were somehow wrong, and Shamar was right? Or that he was justified in putting out some call to … Continue reading

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Posted in African American, African Americans, Arts, BLM, Justice, Local Arts, Police brutality, Racism, Section, Voices | Comments Off on What’s Understood Need Not Be Explained

Ubuntu Project Statement on Automated License Plate Readers

The Ubuntu Project Urbana-Champaign is disappointed to learn that the Champaign City Council is considering voting to purchase license plate readers. Considering the well-documented controversial reputation and questionable value of license plate readers, the Champaign people need more information on … Continue reading

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Debt Peonage in the 21st Century: The Shamar Betts Case Continues

On August 19, Shamar Betts was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison (minus 12 for time served) for authoring a Facebook post. The sentencing also made Betts personally responsible for repaying $1.5 million for damage committed by others at … Continue reading

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The Ubuntu Project and the Need for a Progressive Shift in Policing

Ubuntu is a term that originated with the Zulu people and roughly translates to “humanity” in English. The term emerged as a political concept following apartheid’s disintegration in South Africa. Now a collective of local community members, scholars, clergy, and … Continue reading

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Police Brutality is Not Uniquely American: Try France

While we are rightly preoccupied with abuse by the police in the United States, almost no Americans know anything about policing and justice in other countries. France offers a particularly interesting case. In January, six nongovernmental organizations, including Amnesty International … Continue reading

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Posted in 1968 Revolt, France, International, Justice, Police, Police Brutality, Police brutality, Policing, Racism, Students | Comments Off on Police Brutality is Not Uniquely American: Try France

Scapegoating and the 2020 Marketplace Mall Riots

I watched the legal machinery eat further into the life of a young man this past month. On June 14, I joined others at the sentencing hearing for Shamar Betts at the federal courthouse in Urbana. Betts is accused of … Continue reading

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The 2021 Illinois Police and Criminal Justice Reform Bill

On February 22, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 3653. This bill, rather a composite omnibus of many bills, was sponsored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in both the Illinois House and Senate. Several of the individual bills were sponsored … Continue reading

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Bail Systems as Wealth-Based Incarceration, or “No Money, No Justice”

  The Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits “excessive” bail, a prohibition that dates back to English common law, and is largely honored in the breach. In Champaign County Jail, on any given day this past winter, there were … Continue reading

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Shamar Betts: Caught in a Legal Drama that Started Before He was Born

No one wants to be the poster child for a Supreme Court challenge. However, finding his case before the Supreme Court could not only help Urbana resident Shamar Betts resolve his own situation, but it could redraw the legal lines … Continue reading

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Urbana Police Chief Finally Admits Misconduct in Aleyah Lewis Arrest

  It has been more than seven months since the violent arrest of Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis. Tens of thousands of people have watched the videos of Urbana Police Officers throwing Lewis to the ground, pinning her, punching her in the … Continue reading

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Governor Pritzker has the Power to Halt All Utility Shutoffs by Signing an Executive Order

Robin Brown’s utilities in Champaign were shut off by Ameren Illinois on September 18, 2020, in the midst of our historical COVID-19 pandemic. When asked about how utility shutoffs affected her, Brown said “I’ve had to give away and separate … Continue reading

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Pro-Business Bias and Conservative Extremism at the Supreme Court

As recent books and law review articles have confirmed, the Supreme Court has been moving to the right since the Nixon Administration. Abetted by Republican politicians, anti-abortion advocates and organizations, and conservative legal entities like the Federalist Society, this rightward … Continue reading

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Incarcerated Activists Raise the Bar on Parole

Over-incarceration in this country takes many forms. One form that is particularly egregious in Illinois is that of keeping people imprisoned for years, or even decades, beyond the time that they pose any risk to public safety—and even beyond their … Continue reading

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