The Trial of Richard Flood


The Trial of Richard Flood

The case of Mark Barnsley in England has highlighted the way in which state judicial and police authorities can manipulate the law to imprison innocent people for their political beliefs and activities. Below, Victor Wallis writes about a similar case on the other side of the Atlantic.

Richard Flood is a former political prisoner who served a long term in the Illinois State system, the last few years of which were in the Tamms "Supermax" prison, to which he had been sent in reprisal for his very valuable legal and organizing work on behalf of other prisoners. He was released from Tamms in March of 2000.

Upon his release, he returned to Chicago, where he secured employment in construction (as a member of Ironworkers Local #1) and continued his political work. During his incarceration, this had included, in his own words, "'re-educating' so-called 'prison gang' members by introducing them to revolutionary political consciousness while steering them away from criminal behavior and mentality, much in the spirit of the late Black Panther Party

leaders Fred Hampton and George Jackson." Since his release, he has worked with a highly regarded community organization called the MR MALO Youth Center [MR MALO=Managing Resources to Make Available Life's Opportunities], whose Director, John Santana, has written a glowing letter in Richard's support.

Richard's current plight results from a bizarre incident in March 2001, which landed him in jail (without bond) and facing serious charges. Here is the account from a flier distributed on his behalf: "On March 24, 2001,… Richard and his wife Rebecca stopped at a gas station [in Joliet, Illinois]. Richard returned from inside the station to find his wife being viciously attacked by three armed persons. Richard, himself unarmed, disarmed one of the attackers, and, during the course of the struggle, two of the attackers were injured. And although Rebecca herself was seriously injured, she was denied medical treatment by the authorities, who also not only refused to arrest the three attackers, but arrested Richard instead on charges of attempted murder."

Richard is being represented at trial (in Joliet) by the Chicago law firm Wigell & Associates (tel.: 708-754-2000), whose lead-attorney Raymond Wigell writes as follows: "Mr. Flood is charged with multiple counts of Aggravated Battery, a Class 3 felony in Illinois. These charges are particularly serious because Mr. Flood may be eligible for an extended sentence beyond the normal sentencing range if found guilty. Our investigation of the facts

indicates that Mr. Flood was not the aggressor in this altercation, making available the affirmative defense of justifiable use of force. However, as you know, even with a trial by jury, the judicial system is seriously flawed. The presumption of innocence is beset, particularly where, as in this case, the defendant is obsequious to his political views."

Richard was kept in jail while the Prosecution repeatedly delayed the trial-date as it tried to fabricate a case against him. The verdict reached in October was as bizarre as was the pretext originally used for arresting him. Richard's use of force was found to be justified against one of the attackers but not justified against another attacker.

The trial judge, Daniel Rozak, did everything he could to help the Prosecution. He allowed police witnesses to offer hours of unsubstantiated testimony as to statements allegedly made by Rebecca Flood (Richard's wife), but never allowed the jury to see Rebecca's actual written statement, which said:

"We stopped at a gas station. While my husband was inside, I used the phone. As I was on the phone, three people jumped me and were beating me. Next thing I know, I heard my husband telling them to get off me and he was putting me in the car."

During the trial, the three attackers (who claimed to be Richard's ''victims'') admitted that they were high on crack/cocaine at the time of the incident, and that they were looking for ways to obtain more drugs. It is also known that the particular ''victim'' for whose minor injury Richard was convicted is a repeat offender who is currently in jail on an unrelated charge.

It is undisputed that Richard was unarmed, was not high on drugs, and did not initiate the incident in question---in other words, that he had no ''criminal intent.''

Below, we publish a letter from Richard Flood himself, followed by what you can do to help.

Communiqué from Richard M. Flood  (April 2):

Brothers and Sisters,

I am no political scientist, and I make no bones about it.  I am a member of the New Left movement and a soldier in the war against all class systems, period.

Once again, the power system has entombed my body, simply because I did the right thing.  Once again, I respond that although they may entomb my body and eventually kill it, no human power or authority can kill an idea.

In retrospect, considering my many years of committed political activism and direct confrontations with federal, state, and local authorities, it may have been short-sighted of me to marry and have children.  I know what the government has in store for politically radical people.  In "The Art of War," Sun Tzu instructs us to "know your enemy and know yourself, and in a thousand battles you will not lose."  So this is my mistake; I own it.  However, neither my wife, nor our children, nor the community I serve should pay the price for my idealism--for my belief that through social, political, and economic change, a better world is possible.  It is in this spirit that I now come before you.

I submit to you that all persons have a natural right to protect themselves and others from death or great bodily harm if they reasonably believe that they or others are in imminent danger thereof.  This natural right is not subject to discretion; in particular, it cannot be denied to someone on the grounds of that person's political beliefs or any other extrinsic factor.

I appeal to you to support us in our struggle for my liberty and, more importantly, for true justice--not merely for myself, but for my family, our community, and all of us who struggle towards a better way of life.

In solidarity,

Richard M. Flood

Sentencing had been scheduled for March 8; however, Richard requested a new trial after further evidence emerged of lying by a prosecution witness (one of the three people who attacked Richard's wife Rebecca in the incident of March 2001 in which Richard was arrested--and later convicted--for coming to her defense).

Judge Rozak will rule April 24 on the motion for a new trial.  If he rejects it, he will impose a sentence.

Letters to Judge Rozak may still help.  Richard has now spent more than a year in jail (in Joliet, Illinois) for an incident provoked by others, in which he did no one any permanent harm.  His valuable community work has had to be put on hold.

Supporting letters written on his behalf include a letter from his former employer (he is a Union Ironworker) saying that his job would be awaiting him upon his release.

Richard needs to build up a defense fund for the next stage, which will entail either a retrial or an appeal.  Contributions should be made payable to Rebecca Flood and addressed to her at:

To convey Richard's value to the community, the best I can offer is the following excerpt from a letter to the judge written by John Santana, the executive director of a Chicago neighborhood youth center.  He writes:  "We offer an alternative to street gangs through educational assistance, leadership and empowerment training, and self-esteem enrichment programs.  One of our valuable assets is Richard M. Flood…. He has a unique ability to communicate with people from many different walks of life…. His theory is that by raising socio-political consciousness of teen gang members we can quell the criminal mentality that is prevalent in them, before they end up in prison or dead."

Please write to the judge urging him not to impose further prison-time on Richard. The judge has a number of options in this direction. These include:

**giving Richard a suspended sentence;

**sentencing him to ''time served'';

**ordering a new trial during which Richard could be released on bail.

Letters should be sent to:

Judge Daniel Rozak

Twelfth Judicial District Circuit Courthouse

14 West Jefferson St.

Joliet, IL 60432

Funds are needed for Richard's legal defense. Please send contributions to:

Rebecca R. Flood

c/o the Richard Flood Legal Defense Fund

3649 East 106 Street (suite 123)

Chicago, IL 60617

Letters of Support to Richard can be addressed as follows:

Richard Flood



95 South Chicago Street

Joliet, IL 60436

If you live in the Chicago area, please consider attending the April 24 court-session, when Judge Rozak will rule on Richard's motion for a new trial. For information, call Rebecca Flood (during business hours) at

(01) 773-721-4200.

Victor Wallis is an historian, teacher and activist and one of the editors of the theoretical and journal Socialism and Democracy.