In the aftermath of the August 9, 2014 death of Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, the corporate media blackout of police crimes against African-Americans and other non-whites was lifted to reveal long-term systemic racism, torture, and murder. Following this, day after day, reports fill the papers, websites, and broadcasts of news organizations regarding ongoing repetitions of these crimes.
Such behavior stems from two primary sources: the longstanding racial prejudices of those who control police activities, both within and external to the department; and, the longstanding racial prejudices of many of the police themselves, from the managerial and administrative levels down to the officers on the beat.
But the large elephant in the room that is generally ignored is the relationship between many police departments and the criminal organizations that they are under oath to bring to justice.
As we’ve seen many times, the line between cops and criminals becomes so blurred that it is impossible to separate the two, with the “legal” system and the police operating as a shield for large-scale drug trafficking operations, as well as prostitution and other rackets. In these cases, the degree and parameters for interaction on the “legal” and “illegal” sides of the arrangement vary.
On the police side, sometimes, we find operations where it is the beat cops who are clearly profiting from the fencing of drugs and other valuable assets that they have confiscated from local dealers and thieves; and sometimes, we find operations where police administrators and the city administration are part of a larger conspiracy to distribute drugs and fence stolen goods, while the beat cops are simply pawns.
In New York, in the ‘80’s, the famous NYPD 77th Precinct “Buddy Boys” scandal was a case of good cops gone bad.
On December 20, 1996, seven Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers from the west side of Chicago, located in the Austin police district, and who thus became known as the “Austin Seven,” and one civilian were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly stealing and extorting $65,000 from undercover FBI agents posing as West Side drug dealers.
The CPD, the Mayor’s Office (Richard M. Daley, at the time of the alleged crimes), as well as the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney General, and the corporate media would like us to believe that what transpired with these seven officers is the same type of operation that happened 10 years earlier in New York, rather than a case of beat cops as pawns in a much larger conspiracy.
As it turns out, in 2011, a 21-year veteran of the CPD, Otha (“TC”) McCoy II, came forward with evidence—a videotape that was suppressed at the trial and additional information that surfaced as a result of his investigation—which show clearly that the first incident in question was a staged robbery that did not involve any of the CPD Austin Seven officers in question, and was created solely for the purpose of framing McCoy and his CPD partner, Jerry Saffold, both of whom had already been cleared in another illegal investigation conducted by CPD Sergeant Eugene “Silky” Shepherd.
The man in charge of this operation, Michael W. Hoke, then Deputy Superintendent of Internal Affairs of the CPD, and whose car was used in the staged robbery, is a known racist involved in the torture of African-American citizens, who were forced to confess to crimes they did not commit, resulting in convictions that include two individual death row sentences for crimes that those convicted did not commit.
The revelation of Hoke’s involvement in torture occurred in 1973, when he was named as one of the perpetrators in the first publicly known use of electric shock as an instrument of torture. Hoke was also a CPD Internal Affairs commander when data on this and other incidents of police brutality were erased. Later, when the ringleader of the torture program, Jon Burge, was indicted in 2005, Hoke was granted immunity from prosecution by special prosecutor Judge Edward Egan and took the Fifth under questioning.
This pattern of targeted, racist incarceration and torture from the CPD continues to the present, as we see in the July 19, 2006, 292-page report issued by special investigators Egan and Robert Boyle. Costing $7 million over four years, the investigation was intended to close the book on a 33-year period of unpunished violence by Burge and his cronies. Instead, it implicates everyone—from the then mayor, Richard M. Daley, and state’s attorney to every single CPD superintendent over the past 23 years—in a massive conspiracy to cover up the institutional nature of police torture, terrorism, and murder.
New reports of torture by the CPD were recently revealed regarding the secret operations at the Homan facility.
It gets worse. In November 2015, 14 months after 16-bullet shooting an unarmed, black 17-year old, a white CPD officer has been indicted for murder. Year after year, as new incidents regularly occur, the city of Chicago continues to pay out massive amounts of money for police misconduct. By some estimates, the city has paid more than $500 million in settlements and other costs over the past decade tied to police misconduct.
Given his history and his involvement in the staged robbery, Hoke—who retired as Deputy Superintendent with a large pension—has no credibility or standing in regards to illegal actions of the CPD, nor regarding African-Americans, in general, and, in particular, the seven officers that he ordered to be framed.
Beyond the details of Hoke’s criminal behavior throughout his career, the larger question is the nature of the CPD’s culture of crime, including those among Hoke’s immediate and civilian supervisors who knew about his activities.
During the Burge torture scandal, evidence showed that Richard M. Daley, while serving as Cook County state’s attorney from 1981 to 1989, ignored medical evidence related to Hoke’s use of torture.
This begs the question, who among Hoke’s supervisors knew and encouraged him to go after the award-winning police officers in the 15th District? During his investigation, McCoy learned that he and Saffold were the original and only targets of the Internal Affairs investigation.
According the CPD’s Policeman’s Bill of Rights, this investigation was illegal from its start, since (1) no complaint had been filed by anyone and (2) the investigation involved the use of a convicted felon on house arrest, who drove an undercover police narcotics car to a staged robbery using lookalike stand-ins to implicate officers who were the targets of the illegal investigation.
No independent judge worth his salt would let the current conviction stand, as virtually every aspect of the CPD’s phony investigation is “fruit of the poisonous tree,” a legal term meaning that the case is voided because the illegal actions used to initiate the crime tainted everything that follows.
The premise for the investigation, wholly invented by Rodriguez, was that McCoy and Saffold were robbing street corner drug dealers of a $100 and $200, here and there. But given the tens of millions of dollars that were spent on creating events that were designed entrap the officers, it is obvious that something much larger was motivating the city, the CPD and its top officials, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois, as well as the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department, wittingly or unwittingly.
McCoy and Saffold had been partners since 1988, when the 15th District was the #2 crime district in the city, according to most crime statistics. Working together, along with Albert Parks, Jr, and joined later by Leonard Perry, they closed down dealers and dope houses and returned stolen property, receiving multiple awards in the process.
Unable to find anything in his first illegal and secret investigation (performed by Sergeant Eugene Shepherd) of McCoy and Saffold, Rodriguez promoted Michael W. Hoke from Narcotics to Deputy Superintendent of Internal Affairs on August 1st, 1995, with the marching orders to do whatever it takes to get McCoy and Saffold out, due to their success at disrupting the distribution and sale of drugs in the 15th District, and making the district the #3 most livable district in the city in the process. Shortly afterwards, Rodriguez was dismissed from his job, reportedly for mafia ties, according to various newspaper accounts.
Rodriguez now teaches at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Circle Campus. But, removing Rodriguez as Superintendent did not change the criminal culture of the CPD or those in the legal system with whom they work hand in hand.
Following Hoke’s appointment and the arrest of the Austin Seven, the assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Northern District of Illinois, Brian Netols and Mark Filip, presented the incarcerated seven officers with a script (later removed from their possession), which said that McCoy and Saffold were robbing drug dealers. When the seven officers refused to implicate McCoy and Saffold (that is, refused to lie under oath, as they were asked by Netols and Filip), they were subjected to more pressure and solitary confinement for up to 36 months. Those who objected most strenuously were told by Netols that they would receive extra prison time, which was indeed the case at sentencing.
The officers arrested were Edward Lee Jackson Jr., Gregory S. Crittleton, M.L. Moore, Alex Ramos, Lennon Shields, Cornelius Tripp, and James Young. Jackson, Ramos and Moore are still in jail, serving a combined 249 years in prison, based on evidence obtained through an illegal entrapment, as well as uncorroborated testimony by Sergeant Shepherd regarding numerous “robberies” that he fabricated, while pocketing CPD (thus, taxpayer) monies.
Numerous community organizations protested the arrest of the Austin Seven. Today, the 15th District is again overrun with drug trafficking and leads the city in murders, just as those directing this conspiracy intended, thus violating the civil rights of over 100,000 people in the district.
In addition to the civil rights violations (of the community and the officers) and the suppressed videotape of the staged robbery, the new evidence uncovered by McCoy reveals numerous missteps and illegal actions by Hoke and his collaborators, including the use of stand-in lookalikes to attempt to implicate McCoy and Edward Jackson Jr, as well as suppressing testimony during the trial, instructing witnesses to lie, providing false testimony regarding the details of an entrapment, using a paid informant to provide false testimony, conspiring to enable judicial misconduct in ignoring lack of probable cause as well as the “fruits of the poisonous tree” doctrine, and fraud in the investigation, staged robbery, and judicial proceedings.
On Friday, December 20, 2013, in a press conference at New Tabernacle of Faith Church, 531 N. Kedzie, McCoy called for a special federal prosecutor to investigate all the incidents that led to the arrest and the eventual prosecution of the Austin Seven.
Among the incidents that McCoy wants a special prosecutor to examine is the behavior of the prosecuting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois at the time, Jim Burns. McCoy alleges that the prosecutors were aware that the so-called corruption investigation was a fraud.
At the press conference, McCoy presented documentation from the FBI in which the civilian informants outlined instructions police gave to them, including that they were to rob a female undercover FBI agent posing as a drug dealer’s girlfriend. The documents also show that the informants were told to “act like the police,” so that it would appear as if the robbers were the police officers that Michael W. Hoke, the Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and the FBI wanted to frame; namely, McCoy and Saffold.
“The cover up is worse than the crime itself,” said Pat Hill, former president and executive director of the African-American Police League, who also spoke at the press conference. Sound familiar? A similar cover up surrounds the latest revelations regarding the criminal behavior of CPD in the Laquan McDonald murder case, which starts with the Mayor and superintendent and filters down throughout most of the organization.
McCoy and his supporters have asked the U.S. Department of Justice several times to open an investigation into the case. In response to their initial inquiry, the Justice Department sent them a form letter telling them to take this up with the CPD.
Later, despite their call for a federal investigation being bolstered when Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle sent a letter last year to then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking an inquiry into the Austin Seven case, there has been no response from the U.S. Justice Department.
McCoy also presented his findings to the both former Chicago Police superintendent Jodi Weis and current superintendent Gary McCarthy. There has been no response from the CPD.
As a result, McCoy has sought independent legal counsel to facilitate a remedy, including a potential federal lawsuit for conspiracy to violate the civil rights (e.g., equal protection under the law) of the Austin community and the officers, violation of the CPD Policeman’s Bill of Rights, as well as charges of willful and wrongful prosecution and conviction by the then U.S. Attorney for the Northern Illinois District’s (Jim Burn’s) office, to mention a few.
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 This term was used by Sergeant Majed Assag, CPD Internal Affairs, on November 8, 2012 (CR1057523), as quoted by McCoy.
 Some important questions that must be asked regarding this video are: Is that an undercover police car? How would a criminal have an undercover police car? Why would Chicago Police Department Deputy Superintendent for Internal Affairs Michael W. Hoke’s car be on the crime scene of a robbery of an FBI agent? Why would the paid informant who gets out of the black car be wearing a hat belonging to Michael W. Hoke?
 Op. cit., “Black Leaders in Chicago Push for Investigation of Police Department, The New York Times, November 26, 2015, page A23.
 Ibid., Austin Weekly News.