Revolution #244, August 28, 2011

Outrageous Verdict in Rockford Illinois!

System Lashes Back
Marissa Brown, Witness to Police Murder, Found Guilty of Three Felonies

After an 18-month vendetta by the Winnebago County State's Attorney against Shelia and Marissa Brown—the brave witnesses to the Rockford police murder of Mark Anthony Barmore—the State's Attorney got a conviction against Marissa Brown. On August 17, a jury found her guilty of three felony counts of lying to police in an unrelated case in which she was charged with filing a false report. This case stemmed from an incident when Marissa was in high school and reported that she was held at gunpoint by a man who came into the school bathroom.

On August 24, 2009, the police with guns drawn chased 23-year-old Barmore into the basement of the Kingdom Authority church, where Marissa and her mother, Shelia, a pastor at the church, shielded the children present in the day care there. Marissa, just 17 years old at the time, courageously told the truth about how she had witnessed the police murder Barmore after they trapped him in a boiler room. "He came out real slow with his hands up and his head down, and they shot him." (See previous coverage of the case at, including "Outrage as Grand Jury Approves Police Murder of Mark Anthony Barmore.")

Yet Marissa is the one who was brought up on felony charges! Charges were lodged by the same police department whose officers she was to testify against in the Barmore case. And Marissa is the one found guilty of serious crimes after the State's Attorney put a parade of "testi-liars" on the stand in this trial (and showed a videotape which repeatedly skipped significant chunks of time, thereby proving nothing), while the State's Attorney made sure that the killer cops who murdered Barmore were exonerated and walked scot-free.

This trial took place in the wake of a whole reactionary onslaught: a rally of a thousand people—almost all white—in support of the killer cops, along with horrible racist comments in the media, racist graffiti of guns with bullets coming out of them, and racist threats aimed at the Barmore and Brown families. All this in turn followed on the heels of large protests drawing in thousands of people, predominantly Black but also white and Latino, expressing their anger at how the killer cops snuffed out Barmore's life.

The courtroom was packed throughout this trial with people supporting Marissa, including her family, others from the Black community in Rockford, and members of a coalition of clergy who had unsuccessfully met with State's Attorney Joe Bruscato to get the whole case against Marissa thrown out pretrial. All were horrified and outraged at this wantonly cruel verdict of "guilty, guilty, guilty" coming down on this young woman.

Reverend Bob Griffin, president of Rockford Renewal Ministries, said of the verdict, "One, it doesn't encourage the black community that there is reasonable justice or mercy in the system. Secondly, for a young girl to go through this and have this on her personal record about lying or not lying—that is really a tragedy for her future, and she is a very smart girl."

Steve Muhammad, an activist with the New Life Movement, denounced the entire case against Marissa as retaliation against Marissa, her mother and her father, Apostle Melvin Brown of Kingdom Authority, for seeking justice for the police murder of Mark Anthony Barmore.

On September 27, Marissa must appear before the Judge for sentencing. She, along with her mother, is already facing previous charges of contempt of court stemming from the Barmore case. Now Marissa could be punished with up to three years' imprisonment on these felony counts.

By persecuting Marissa on these "unrelated" charges of lying to police, the authorities are discrediting her as a witness to the police murder of Barmore. They are also taking revenge against her and her parents and all those who courageously rose up against police murder in Rockford. And they are sending a message of intimidation to people broadly in society as well. "If you are Black, you can be shot down and killed by anyone with a gun and a badge. Anywhere. Even in a church, and while unarmed. And there is nothing you can do about it. Don't dare to raise your voice and speak the truth. Don't even think to step out into the street in protest. Because if you do, we will not only come after you but we will destroy your children!

This is NOT acceptable! We cannot let this happen to this young woman! People need to step forward and visibly show their support. Let's join together and create a huge outcry that can reach to the sentencing hearing with support for Marissa Brown!


1) Send an email and get your friends to send a flood of emails to:

Judge Rosemary Collins: c/o

and to:

State's Attorney Joseph Bruscato:

You must send your email to both Judge Collins and the State's Attorney or it may be disregarded by the judge. Sample email or draft your own: "I denounce the outrageous verdict against Marissa Brown! I strongly urge that Marissa Brown not be given jail time but be given the most lenient sentence possible. Ms. Brown is a courageous young woman who inspires those seeking justice for victims of police murder and a better world."

2) Send a copy of your email to:

Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Chicago Branch
c/o Revolution Books
1103 N. Ashland
Chicago, Illinois 60622

3) For more information and to give your ideas write to the same address.

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