The Watch

News and Information for Chicago FOP members.

Tribune, Dan Hinkel And Mountains Of Evidence

The People’s Law Office survived and grew because we did not require uniformity on political issues. It was a delicate balance at the PLO to stay politically involved, aware, and participating without requiring support of the same movement factions…


 On March 6, 1970, three Weathermen were killed in an explosion inside a townhouse in Greenwich Village in New York City, when a bomb they were making accidentally detonated. Ted Gold, who was killed, and Cathy Wilkerson who was reported fleeing, had stayed with Mary and me a week before when they came to Chicago for their court dates. The war had come home.

The above quote is from a fascinating book, The Assassination of Fred Hampton, by a founding member of the People’s Law Office, Jeffery Haas. The book chronicles the formation and early crusades of the law firm, established in the wake of a 1969 shooting between members of the Black Panthers and the Chicago Police during a raid on the Panthers stronghold. Two Panthers, Mark Clark and Fred Hampton died.

The passage about two members of the radical, revolutionary group the Weather Underground, Ted Gold and Cathy Wilkerson, staying at the Haas’ home shortly before they blew themselves up in the New York townhouse is a compelling sign of the friendship and intimacy between the early days of the PLO and the radical group.

Haas doesn’t get into too much detail about what the accidental explosion in the New York townhouse, for good reason. The general consensus among investigators and historians is that the members of the Weather Underground were constructing bombs they planned to explode at a military base in Fort Dix, in New Jersey, where soldiers and their dates would be gathered for a dance, and two others at police headquarters in New York and Detroit.

Hundreds of people, including scores of police officers, could have died in the explosions.

The PLO’s association and representation of violent groups and individuals like the Weathermen and the Black Panthers hints at a darker side of the law firm’s history, one littered with revolutionary groups willing to commit violence.

From Vanity Fair:

Bill Ayers and others would always insist there were never any plans to harm people. The handful of Weathermen who crossed that line, Ayers claims, were rogues and outliers. This is a myth, pure and simple, designed to obscure what Weather actually planned. In the middle ranks, it was widely expected that Weathermen would become revolutionary murderers. "My image of what we were going to be was undiluted terrorist action," recalls a Weatherman named Jon Lerner. “I remember talking about putting a bomb on the [Chicago railroad] tracks at rush hour, to blow up people coming home from work. That’s what I was looking forward to.”

 Weather Underground member Bernardine Dohrn on Charles Manson murders:

“First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach. Wild!” 

This is a side of the PLO’s associates and clients rarely, if ever, mentioned by Chicago’s media as they cover the “social justice” and “civil rights” claims of the law firm.

This extraordinary bias of the local media was on full display by Chicago Tribune “reporter” Dan Hinkel this week, in an article that ostensibly covers the PLO’s latest attempt to spring convicted cop killer, Jackie Wilson, from prison in a hearing to determine whether Wilson will get, yet again, another trial.

Jackie Wilson and his brother Andrew were convicted of murdering officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien in 1982 on the south side, during a traffic stop.

Andrew Wilson was captured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men several days after the murder. Wilson showed up at Central Detention badly bruised after he spent the day being interrogated by Burge and his men, along with a prosecutor. PLO lawyers claimed Andrew Wilson had also been burned.

The murders of Fahey and O’Brien culminated a month in which five police officers were shot, four fatally. Witnesses said Andrew Wilson was laughing after he loomed over O’Brien and fired several more shots as the wounded officer lay on the ground.

It was Andrew Wilson’s bruises that became the foundation of the wrongful conviction movement, as the PLO’s top attorney, Flint Taylor, pushed the narrative that it was Burge and his men who beat Wilson, doing so to get Wilson to confess to the murders. The PLO narrative dismissed the claim that the beating was the result of the distraught wagon men who transported Wilson to Central Detention, as many believed.

Many journalism careers were built on the mythology of police abuse that arose from the PLO’s crusade in the Wilson murders.

Hinkel’s article, like those of so many Chicago journalists before him, dives deeply into the evidence of Wilsons’ abuse, bolstering Hinkel’s narrative that the police are filled with bias and racial animosity. This narrative permeates much of Hinkel’s articles.

But what Hinkel won’t go near is the other side of the story, the one that explores the evidence of an extraordinary bias against the police in the collection of law firms like the PLO, a bias revealed in violent revolutionaries crashing on the couch of PLO lawyers shortly before these revolutionaries accidentally blew themselves up as they plotted to possibly kill hundreds, a group that often targeted police officers.

Beating a man in custody is offensive and wrong. Aren’t bomb plots against innocent people also offensive and wrong?

But one doesn’t have to look four decades into the past to see signs of the fervent anti-police bias in the PLO.

Or the incredible bias of Dan Hinkel.

Hinkel, for example, won’t give even one sentence to a bombshell ruling against the PLO just a few weeks ago. PLO attorney Joey Mogul went to federal court claiming that Nicole Harris was the victim of police coercion when Harris confessed in 1995 to murdering her own child.

Attorneys in the trial argued not simply that the detectives did nothing wrong, but that Harris did, in fact, kill her child. And they won. Harris, her attorneys like Mogul, got nothing. The detectives, who endured a decade of having their names dragged through the mud by media outlets like the Tribune, proved their investigation was airtight.

Why, then, did Harris get out of prison?

Hinkel and the Tribune wrote an editorial apologizing to the detectives, right? They issued the grand mea culpa?

Forget about it. Not only did they not correct their egregious coverage of the case, but Hinkel refused to even acknowledge it in his article about Jackie Wilson. Didn’t a verdict that pointed heavily to the fact that the detectives in the Harris case were innocent of the accusations leveled against them bear on the story about Jackie Wilson? Wasn’t it a powerful sign that at least some of their claims against police officers were wrong?

Hinkel quotes Taylor claiming a “mountain” of evidence of police misconduct?

But now there is a mountain of evidence of misconduct and false claims of innocence in the wrongful conviction movement: Alstory Simon, Anthony Porter, Stanley Wrice, Madison Hobley, Nicole Harris, Armando Serrano, Anthony McKinney…

Which mountain is bigger?

Don’t look for “investigative reporter” Dan Hinkel to find out.  He’s got a story, and he’s sticking with it.