From ALKQN Support
The following press statement was written by the Jorge Cornell and ALKQN Legal Defense Coalition and released through the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro, NC.
The RICO Case Against Latin King Jorge Cornell:
Evidence Points to the “Abuse of State Power” and Revengeful Retaliation by the Greensboro Police
Several government documents have surfaced recently that reveal the failure of the U.S. Department of Justice ( DOJ) to conduct an investigation into a 22-page Civil Rights complaint that was filed on behalf of Mr. Jorge Cornell by Attorney Anita Earls, a former DOJ Attorney.
Attorney Anita Earls filed the Latin King Title VI complaint with the Justice Department in October 2010. In an attempt to follow up on the complaint, Mr. Cornell’s current attorney, Michael Patrick, made a Freedom of Information Act request and was told that there were no investigative documents because no investigation was done.
The DOJ is required to investigate civil rights complaints. Since an investigation into the police misconduct alleged in the complaint could yield exculpatory evidence for Mr. Cornell and the Latin Kings, the failure to attend to the Title VI complaint is an extremely serious violation of the standards and obligatory procedures of the Department of Justice.
Instead, about a year after the Title VI letter was filed by Attorney Earls, Mr. Cornell and over a dozen other members of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) were handed criminal indictments under the RICO Act. Ironically, the complaint in which they had entered a detailed expose of local police malpractices and violations of their First Amendment Rights occasioned further infringement on their civil rights and, evidently, retaliation by the Greensboro Police Department, backed by the U.S. Justice Department. The 36-page federal indictment by the DOJ includes among its outrageous charges: murder, with no name of a person, no body, no missing person, no weapon, no date, no place, just allegations meant to frighten and drive people away from Mr. Cornell.
The failure of the DOJ to seriously investigate the Greensboro Police Department, coupled with the RICO indictment, alleging among other things that Mr. Cornell’s running for public office and holding press conferences critical of the Greensboro Police Department is a violation of the RICO Act. This is indeed a chilling warning sign to everyone involved in serious activities critical of law enforcement. The first amendment of our constitution is meant to protect the right to protest (including protesting the government and law enforcement), to peacefully assemble, to seek public office, and to advocate for racial and economic justice. This protected right is now being turned on its head, and in the case of Mr. Cornell, it has been labeled a criminal activity.
Unfortunately, Mr. Cornell is not alone in his predicament. There are now some 49 civil and criminal cases against the GDP by current and recently terminated Black and Latino police officers. The police officers are alleging a deeply entrenched sub-culture of double-standards and corruption within the GPD. Officer Reyes objected to an arrested hand cuffed black man being repeatedly slammed against a car. For this and reporting other violations to superiors, Officer Reyes was terminated; Officer Blake complained about racist remarks against Latinos and was caught up in a series of fabricated charges that resulted in his termination.
Many other examples are documented. Similar police abuses have been attested to by ordinary citizens who filed Title VI complaints. In October 2010, a distinguished group of 37 Greensboro citizens, including clergy, police officers, and Mr. Cornell, traveled to Washington D.C. to seek relief from the Justice Department for the Latin Kings and others, who have been subjected to civil rights violations by the police.
Far from being the thug depicted in the indictment, Mr. Cornell played the leading role in negotiating a peace treaty among rival street organizations, or gangs, asking them to come together for peace and the uplifting of the community. Mr. Cornell’s efforts were recognized by several school board members, as he was placed on the Guilford County Public School Safety Committee.
The indictments against the Latin Kings came at the moment when Jorge Cornell was in the process of creating a nonprofit employment center—Community United Staffing (CUS) – that planned to find jobs for and to train convicted felons and others whose records made them unlikely to be employed. His activities were looked upon favorably and encouraged by many Greensboro ministers and others, including Robbie Perkins, the City’s current Mayor, and Yvonne Johnson, a former Mayor. In fact, School Board Member, Deena Hayes, and City Council Member, Jim Kee, were on the board of CUS.
The Jorge Cornell Defense Committee sees the Justice Department’s failure to investigate the complaints against the (GPD) and instead bringing baseless charges as indicative of the continuation of a historical pattern. In 1967, FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, directed his field officers to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit and otherwise neutralize” Black Nationalist organizations and their leaders. The field officers, working under the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), were told that “it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.…” The Bureau feels that “… disruption can be accomplished without facts to back it up.” (1976 Memo from FBI field officers from former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover) Nearly a decade later, a Senate committee—the Church committee—studying intelligence activities and the rights of Americans, condemned these activities as “unworthy of a democracy, and occasionally reminiscent of the tactics of totalitarian regimes.”
We do not deny that some associated with Mr. Cornell have committed crimes; our view is that Mr. Cornell was seeking to help those willing to accept his help in leading them towards jobs and a productive life. Mr. Cornell was, indeed, challenging police misconduct, specifically the mistreatment of young people of color, even as he was seeking to develop employment opportunities for them. In no way do any of his activities violate the RICO Act; that allegation is mere fiction.
We are convinced that what we are witnessing today is a dangerous pattern of the “Abuse of State Power” by the DOJ and retaliation by the GPD, both designed to continue the cover-up of a vicious sub-culture of corruption and double standards within the GPD, which is ruining the lives of many people. We call on the citizens of Greensboro, North Carolina, and our Nation to join us in helping to right these wrongs and to support us in building greater job possibilities, especially for poor young men and women, and to make our city a just, caring community, where there is equal application of the law for all.