Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
Illinois Appellate Court Grants Bond Pending Appeal for Gregory
The call came late on the afternoon of October 20: The Appellate Court of Illinois had accepted the motion for bond pending appeal of the outrageous conviction and sentence of Gregory, a videographer who was railroaded to jail for 300 days for "crimes" that never occurred. (See "Judge Slams Videographer With 300 Days in Jail: Free Gregory!") Gregory was released from Cook County jail late the next evening, after which he was welcomed at an impromptu dinner with friends and supporters.
In accepting the motion, the Court acknowledged the fact that Gregory is not a flight risk, that he is not a "danger to the community," and furthermore that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact "likely to result in reversal or a new trial." This stands in sharp contrast to the vindictive outbursts of the trial judge, who portrayed Gregory as someone who "chose the path of violence" at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) on November 1, 2009, when he simply tried to document a statement by Sunsara Taylor before the EHSC program was set to begin. There was no evidence presented at trial that could support the judge’s malicious allegation, and Gregory was convicted of only the lowest form of battery: "physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature." In fact, Gregory himself was the victim of the only violence that day, the violence of police assault, beating and mace that required he seek emergency medical treatment.
Jed Stone, the attorney representing Gregory on his appeal, said, "I am encouraged by the court’s decision to release Greg on bond. It is a clear indication that his appeal has merit. This appeal speaks to the importance of people to gather in protest. It is an appeal to protect our rights to videotape and speak out. And it is an appeal to protect us from police aggression and over reaching. I look forward to presenting these claims to the appellate court."
This is the first step in overturning this outrageous conviction, and the Ad Hoc Committee for Reason, which has built support for Gregory since shortly after his arrest, released a statement thanking all those whose support helped make it happen. They went on to say, "We have much more to do and we hope we can count on your support all the way to the day we can clear Gregory’s name and score a victory for all of us!"
Gregory’s pre-trial bond had been revoked on the day of his conviction, contrary to standard practice of allowing defendants to remain on bond until sentencing. That is a courtesy extended to Jon Burge, for instance, the notorious Chicago cop who led a ring of torturers at a South Side police station who was only recently convicted of lying to a federal agent. Burge is out on bond until his sentencing in November. Gregory, on the other hand, has already served almost two months of the vindictive sentence of 300 days that was handed down on September 8.
The Ad Hoc Committee circulated a statement by "Humanists for the Ethical Treatment of Gregory" that called on 100 truly ethical humanists who were appalled by the role of the EHSC in railroading an innocent man to contribute $50 each to his appeal fund. Dozens of people from around the country contributed amounts ranging from $5 to $100 and that, combined with substantial contributions from other supporters, was enough to fund the initial stages of the appeal.
The committee also announced an event on Friday, November 12, to celebrate this first step and raise much-needed funds to continue the effort. Jazz musicians Ted Sirota (tedsirota.com) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (lonberg-holm.info) will perform at what the committee has dubbed "Jazz for Justice, A Night of Great Music for a Great Cause." Details about this and future developments in this important struggle can be found at www.dropthecharges.net.
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