Free Richard Flood!

in:

Spectre was pleased to hear that after 12 years as a political prisoner, Mark Barnsley has finally been releasedfrom Britain's prisons. But in a remarkably similar case on the other side of the Atlantic, Richard Flood awaits sentence. Anthony Rayson reports.

By Anthony Rayson (Joliet, Illinois, USA;  August 26, 2002)

At the Will County Fair yesterday, I noticed a sign for "Rozak for Will County Board."  Is it him?  I've been to Rozak's courtroom before.  He's a thoroughly inculcated judicial nazi.  He even likes to bully the bailiffs!  He'll trash your cell phone if it goes off.  He maximizes sentences and fines.  He's Richard's Flood's judge -- biased as hell and totally entrenched.  A few days ago, I read in the Chicago Tribune that he sentenced a repeat DUI to 11 1/2 years!

A while back, a motion was filed by Richard to replace him with a judge who was less biased.  It was, of course, quickly dismissed.

The main road I took, Route 52, leads directly to the Will County Courthouse.  It dominated downtown Joliet.  The Metra stops a block away.  Silver Cross Stadium is right there, too!  Joliet is known for its prisons -- Stateville, Joliet, but not much is known or said about the Will County Jail, where Richard has spent most of the last 521 days...     

To go to Richard's hearing, I had to park several blocks away, for every Monday morning, it's like the movie "The Time Machine" when the sirens go off!  Everyone -- the "defendants," their families and friends, the smarmy suited lawyers, unctuous prosecutors, judges, cops and other workers -- is filling the courtrooms and halls.  A large sign over the railroad viaduct proclaims:  "If it's fun...It's in Downtown Joliet"     

I wore a suit because that, stupidly enough, is what separates those tied to the system (and thus "respect") from the sub-human ilk they will feast upon today.  As I was going through the metal detector, a cop said, "Here comes another 'expert witness!'"  I could pass for a lawyer.  My wife cut my hair, I shaved and am clearly so-called "white."  I wanted the judge to know somebody "important" was in court, writing and a part of Richard's defense team.     

This is such an evil place, as are they all.  Poor people, heavily weighted as to skin color, await their dreadful, in some cases catastrophic fate.  A SWAT tactical unit is in the hall, menacingly.     

The first few cases seem routine enough.  The defendants aren't making their payments fast enough, so the judge is acting as a sort of bill collector with the threat of imprisonment if his somber pronouncements aren't obeyed quickly enough.  Juice loan thugs use strong-arm methods and baseball bats.  The state (and county) have a whole elaborate, multi-layered punishment industry!  Their corporate stock is thriving.  It's a risk-free enterprise, whose sole product is human misery.  It's the connection for rapid advancement in politics and business -- underwritten totally by hardworking taxpayers.     

Rozak called Richard's case at 9:56.  I can't believe it!  But Richard has not been escorted in handcuffs and orange jumpsuit from his cage, yet.  He's to be sentenced today for his non-crime of defending his wife from attack by three crack-addled assailants.     

The system acts like a dangerous drain.  Have you heard of the little girl who had most of her intestines sucked into a pool drain?  It's what the judicial system does to those who cross its path -- and aren't in on the game.  They have many types of agents to collect people for them, mostly off the streets of city ghettos and barrios, who feed them before such a Judge as Daniel J. Rozak, to "legitimize" massive, money-making incarceration.     

They go nowhere near the causes of crime, nor deal with real crime, nor attempt to grapple with the actual problems of society.  They just take out people, put 'em in cuffs and jail 'em.  They then seize their property and take all their money.  Talk about a Criminal Justice System!     

An air of feigned respect for this judge is insisted upon.  If you don't stand when he enters, you can be hustled out of court -- or worse!  You could be cited for contempt and taken to a cage yourself, just for expressing an honest opinion!     

Richard fought off three attackers, who were choking and stabbing his wife, as he came out of a gas station, in Joliet.  When they refused to desist, Richard sprung to her rescue, with minimal damage.  After all, look here, these crackheads had attacked his wife with a knife!  A few-second rescue mission, bravely improvised, was thankfully, successful!  Anybody else would have been in next day's paper, as a hero!  But since Richard is also a creative thinker, activist, writer and organizer, he was targeted.  He is also a longtime, serious political prisoner, recently released from that uniquely psychotic hellhole, known as Tamms...     

The police tracked them down at his relatives' house, where everyone knew he was going to.  His wife was not afforded medical treatment.  Even their sadsack attackers admit to these facts!  But, like the U.S. Supreme Court said in a ruling, "The facts of the case are irrelevant!"

  Three charges of assault were reduced to one, by a cowed and confused jury.  An assailant, a woman, was wounded superficially during the fracas and that's the charge the jury felt coerced to convict on.  The prosecution jumped all over it.  A woman!  They treat poor, mostly black women horribly as they force them into the Maws of Moloch -- and then come for their children, ala Galtieri of Argentina!     

They have it in for Richard, because he is a courageous community activist, as well as a husband, father (of five!) and volunteer social worker.  He's close with John Santana and his courageous program, MR. MALO, standing for Managing Resources to Make Available Life's Opportunities.  John gave terrific, common sense testimony in support of Richard, this day.  They're trying to educate, empower and help mostly Hispanic young men, survive and somehow thrive in this profane society and avoid prison &/or fashion a productive life after prison.     

Since Richard was a twenty-year prisoner, paralegal, and all-around aware nuisance in the Illinois gulag system, the plan was to punish him for his past, using this conjured felony charge as the justification.  They padded it with the obligatory bogus conduct tickets, and even moved him to the backwash Kankakee County jail, in corrupt Governor George Ryan's power base.  In court, the five-o'clock shadow of a prosecutor presented a 3,000-page stack of papers, supposedly documenting Richard's criminal history.     

Richard had made a remarkable recovery into society, after his lengthy incarceration.  He got married to Rebecca, got a job as an ironworker (and quickly became a foreman), became a father to five children, and started working with John Santana.  It's an amazing story, really.  He's also recently written a very perceptive essay entitled, "Towards A Theory of Revolutionizing Street Nations."  Now you know why they want him so bad and why a guy like Rozak is handling his case!     

Those he was able to summon from the gallery, sentence, and have handcuffed and secreted through the back door to their journey through hell, he did.  But where is Richard?     

The eleven o'clock call has come and still no Richard.  Another prisoner, Robert L. Ferguson, convicted of car theft, has "negotiated" a "deal" for two consecutive six-year terms.  Twelve years!  Since he had a prior conviction and the car was valued at over $10,000, the sentencing guidelines stipulate a sentence from 6 to 30 years, for each count!  Rozak rattles off a bunch of rote legal mumbo-jumbo and pronounces him guilty.  Let's see... 12 x $40,000 = $480,000 he is worth to the imprisonment industry.  He's 32 years old.

At 11:30, Rozak excuses himself for a few minutes.  Two minutes later, they bring in Richard.  The Will County Sheriffs were playing games and had refused to go to Kankakee and pick him up on time.

An uncomfortable quiet descends as we wait for Rozak's return.  The seedy prosecutor makes a big stink about his huge pile of papers, which supposedly paint a picture of Richard as an incorrigible "gang member."  He is accused of refusing to disassociate himself from speaking with known gang members, while in prison.     

John Santana takes the stand and plainly explains what genuine rehabilitation work, which he and Richard had worked on, entails.  You talk, mentor and educate "gang members" to develop useful skills and an empowering consciousness to help them transcend the street life, stay out of prison and turn their lives around.  Seen in this light, "talking to gang members" is a very positive thing.  Everyone knows the state does not care for rehabilitation, as each inmate is worth so much to them -- in prison!     

The prosecutor tries to label Richard for being forced to go to Tamms, for "gang activity."  Richard explains to the judge, he was sent to Tamms because he did political organizing among prisoners and acted as a paralegal for them on their legal cases.  He turned the proceedings on their ear.  By his patient, lucid, unafraid statements, he was indicting the system, substituting facts for the prosecutor's lies.     

Richard's lawyer did a halfway decent job arguing for Richard, especially as compared to the "throw the book at him, Judge" arguments of the prosecutor.  The judge mentioned that he has "received a tremendous amount of mail about this case" which he hadn't read.  He said he didn't know if he should have or not, so he didn't.     

Then Richard made his statement.  It was a 1/2 hour long masterpiece!  It totally transfixed everybody in the courtroom.  Even the judge was involuntarily mesmerized.  A statement this powerful, passionate and persuasive is rarely heard (or allowed to be heard) in U.S. courtrooms these days.  He totally deconstructed his case, carefully explaining the facts, giving proper weight to actions and motives.  He coolly, yet passionately defended himself and in the process, basically indicted the prosecution of this case and the whole system in general.     

I looked over at Rebecca.  Tears were streaming down her face because Richard had proclaimed his love for her so absolutely and felt so strongly about his actions being justified -- even required -- by the situation he was confronted with.  The judge was at a loss.  He said he would wait two weeks, to give him time to actually read all of these support letters and maybe thumb through the huge stack of junk the out-argued prosecutor lugged into court.     

So, his sentencing is scheduled for Monday, September 9th at the 9:30 call in Judge Rozak's courtroom.  NOW is the time to flood him anew with support letters!!!  Write him at:

Judge Daniel J. Rozak

Twelfth Judicial District Circuit Courthouse

14 West Jefferson Street

Joliet, IL 60432

These letters should be respectful (I know it's hard!) and point out how important Richard is to his community and his family.  His employer wants him back on the job as soon as he is free.  Richard pointed out during his statement that he was offered a "deal" that would have freed him, last Christmas, but refused it because he is innocent.  With his prior incarceration, the door is open for a lengthy sentence, as well.  So, it is crucial that we somehow manage to influence and persuade Judge Rozak to see to it that justice is finally done in this case.

After the court was adjourned, I spoke with Rebecca and with Richard's lawyer.  I also spoke to the Bailiff and told him I wanted a copy of Richard's statement and that I was a reporter.  I talked with the court reporter, too.  She said it would cost between $50 and $100.  I spoke with Richard, now back at:




Richard Flood #62119

Kankakee County Jail

400 E. Merchant Street

Kankakee. IL 60901     
 
                  




  He'll send me a copy of his statement, which I will then spread far and wide.  Stop this outrageous injustice and help free Richard Flood!