Courthouse Rally in Kiwane Carrington Case: “Felonies Ain’t Favors! Plea Bargains Ain’t Either!”

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About 25 people, including several youth
and their parents, showed up at the
Champaign County courthouse on
November 12, 2009 for a juvenile hearing
of the other 15-year old involved in
the police shooting of Kiwane Carrington.
Police had originally responded to a
burglary on October 9, but after it was discovered that one
of the two youth lived at the house, charges of felony
resisting arrest were leveled against the surviving boy. Following
the hearing, supporters and family members
assembled in front of the courthouse for a rally.
Before the hearing, State’s Attorney Julia Rietz was seen
outside her office talking with Ed Piraino, known as a local
“plea doctor” who had been appointed by the court to handle
the case. When inside the courtroom, Rietz appeared personally
and Piraino was present for the defense but not for long.
Local attorney Alfred Ivy, who ran against Rietz in the 2008
democratic primary for State’s Attorney office, entered a substitution
of counsel and will be taking over the case.
But before exiting, Piraino made a statement for the
record. After talking, he and the State’s Attorney had come
up with what he called “an agreement in principle.” If the
boy would attend Lincoln’s Challenge, a military school in
Rantoul, the charges would be dropped.
The option of attending a military school in which her son
would be taken away from her was unacceptable to Laura
Manning, the boy’s mother. She apparently did not believe
that the courts have the best interest of her or her son at
heart. Of course, there is a long history of the court system
taking children away from poor families and families of color.
At Lincoln’s Challenge, a program sponsored by the Illinois
National Guard, children are enrolled for a period of five
and one-half months during which parents are only allowed
to visit once every two weeks. Approximately half of the students
are African American. Focused almost entirely on discipline,
it is questionable whether students learn anything at
the school and their chances of re-offending are high.
Aaron Ammons, co-founder of CU Citizens for Peace
and Justice, had a different explanation of the proposed
plea bargain. He said, “Citizens organizing to put pressure
on public officials has an impact, specifically in the case of
this teen, organizing to demonstrate, march, and speak
out is impacting this case.”
Discovery materials were turned over to attorney Ivy
who asked for a continuance to review the documents. A
status hearing was set for January 19, 2010 at 2PM in
Courtroom C.
After the hearing, supporters organized a rally outside
the courthouse. They held posters that were made by
youth the previous day at the Independent Media Center.
They pinned buttons to their clothes reading “S.W.A.G.,”
which stands for Students With A Goal, an idea the youth
came up with themselves. Gathering outside the secondstory
window of the State’s Attorney’s office, they chanted,
“Felonies Ain’t Favors! Plea Bargains Ain’t Either!”
Those who would like to contact State’s Attorney Julia
Rietz and ask that the charges be dropped can call 384-
3733 or email her at

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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