Another Dismal Sun Times Editorial Falls Flat...
If there is one clear truth to the Englewood Four case, it is that the Chicago media will make no serious attempt to get to the truth of it.
That fact emerges in the wake of a bizarre and shocking editorial by the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday.
The editorial came in the wake of the decision by the City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday to a settlement of $31 million to the four men originally convicted of raping and killing Nina Glover in 1994, then leaving her body in a dumpster.
At the Finance Committee meeting, FOP Second Vice President Martin Preib, who has been writing about wrongful convictions for seven years, assailed the decision to settle, saying there was powerful evidence that the four men were guilty of the crime, despite the absence of their DNA. Preib also argued that there is a growing body of corruption in the wrongful conviction movement, indicating that other truly guilty men have been released and made millionaires.
In the editorial, the Sun-Times assures their readers that the claims of FOP Second Vice President Preib “were remarkably weak.” The article continues:
On Monday, though, Preib was eager to relitigate the case. He argued, in an address to the City Council, that when the police found a mop handle and a shovel that Swift had said were used in the crime “right where Swift said [they] were” in a lagoon, it proved the police were right all along to conclude the men were guilty. It was not his intent, but Preib reminded us all of why it is so important that the police not leap to conclusions or cut corners.
The Englewood Four case is a sign that the police have lost the “community trust,” according to the Sun-Times editors.
“We only wish the FOP would reflect more on how to make that happen,” they prattled on.
The solution, according to the sages of the Sun-Times?
Chicago must demand major reforms in the collective bargaining agreement it is now negotiating with the FOP to help prevent future miscarriages of justice.
So, according to the Sun-Times editors, the Englewood Four case signifies that the police leap to conclusions, that their collective bargaining agreement needs to be undermined, and that the police need to reflect on how to win back the community trust.
Then something took place at the City Council meeting that the editors of the Sun-Times likely didn’t expect.
Two aldermen, Nicholas Sposato and Anthony Napolitano, voted against the settlement, saying they thought the men were guilty.
Alderman Sposato said:
“. . . I know this would be a very difficult case to win. But I just can’t stand by and . . . approve a $31 million settlement for four individuals who, I feel, are guilty.”
From the Sun-Times:
Napolitano, who has served the city as both a police officer and firefighter, said, “There’s just an overwhelming amount of evidence against the individuals in this settlement. And I feel that we’re opening a gateway for settlements like this in the future—over and over again.”
Looks like these aldermen didn’t get the memo from the Sun-Times that Preib’s arguments were “remarkably weak.” On the contrary, in voting against the settlement, Sposato said he reached out to prosecutors and police officers, and concluded that the evidence was “overwhelming” against the four men.
One wonders why the Sun-Times never gathered the same information, or whether they did but just ignored it.
That wasn’t the only thing. The Sun Times didn’t even bother to get the basic facts about the case right, glaringly so.
The Sun Times:
The courts have found that the Englewood Four — Michael Saunders, Vincent Thames, Harold Richardson and Terrill Swift — were coerced into confessing to the murder.
No, they haven’t. No court anywhere has made this declaration.
But the comments and the votes by both aldermen raise a question that the Sun-Times should answer: Who, in truth, has betrayed the community trust, the police in this case or the Sun-Times?
Consider the claims by the Sun-Times in the editorial attempting to dismiss the evidence that Preib presented as indicative of the four men being guilty: the fact that one of the men, Terrill Swift, led the detectives to a lagoon where he said they had stashed a mop and shovel used in the murder. Detectives relocated there with the marine unit and found both items.
The Sun-Times weighs in:
No evidence has ever connected those items, which were part of a large amount of debris in the lagoon, to the crime. Swift says he pointed to the lagoon only because detectives urged him to do so. And a skeptical judge said he wasn’t even convinced the decomposing stick offered as evidence had ever been part of a mop.
Really? Well, the discovery of these items certainly had a powerful impact on the prosecutors, who proceeded with the indictment and conviction of the four men—men whose confessions were given in such great detail that they matched up with one another.
The Sun-Times refuses to take into account the significance of the foray to the pond in search of evidence. It was, in and of itself, a clear sign that the seasoned detectives were not rushing to judgment. It was also a sign that they were not coercing the four youths.
Or wait, do the Sun-Times editors think that these detectives got together and hatched a plan to call the marine unit to the pond as part of an elaborate cover-up for their false investigation? Think of the great fortune that a mop handle and shovel were actually recovered.
But wait again. Maybe they went out and found a decaying old mop handle and shovel, and tossed them in the pond hours before they went there with the marine unit.
These are the lengths to which Chicago detectives will go to frame men they don’t know for the rape and murder of a woman, knowing that in doing so the real offender is still walking about.
It goes on and on.
The Sun-Times ignores a whole world of evidence. One of the detectives in the case, Kenny Boudreau, has pointed out the fact that Terrill Swift testified that he was not harassed by the police, that he was treated well, long after his arrest.
From the trial transcripts of Terrill Swift:
Q: Did they beat you up or anything?
A: No, sir.
Q: Did they verbally threaten you?
A: No, sir.
Q: Were they pretty nice to you?
A: Yes, sir.
And who were Swift’s lawyers? They were from Northwestern University, a university who is the defendant in a $40 million lawsuit alleging a pattern of misconduct in wrongful conviction cases, accused of falsely exonerating Anthony Porter and framing another man for the murders that Porter was originally convicted of. Isn’t that worthy of at least a sentence in their editorial?
With this appalling editorial, rejected by two aldermen within hours of it being published, the Sun-Times has reached a new low. They have revealed their smoldering, intense, anti-police bias.
They are the ones who have betrayed the community trust, not the courageous investigators who tried desperately to capture and convict the rapists and murderers of Nina Glover.