More Than Just Smollett Case Taints Foxx Administration
Why is Foxx Appearing With Former Black Panther Who Claims FOP Is The Enemy of Black People?
Perhaps no one has more riding on the silence of Adriana Mejia than Cook County Prosecutor Kimberly Foxx.
The reason is that Mejia is lingering in the Illinois Department of Corrections serving a life term for the murders of Jacinta and Mariano Soto in 1998. According to court reports, Mejia murdered the couple and kidnapped their two children in a bizarre plot to claim one of the children as her own.
Mejia confessed to the crime. But Mejia also claimed that two men, Arturo Reyes and Gabriel Solache, also took part in the murders and the kidnapping. Both men also confessed to the crime.
But Solache and Reyes got a big break when Kimberly Foxx was elected top Cook County prosecutor. Weeks after she took office, Foxx started letting convicted killers like Solache and Reyes out of prison on the flimsiest claims that they were innocent, that they were coerced into confessing by a retired detective, Ray Guevara. How flimsy? Foxx’s predecessor, Anita Alvarez, backed the convictions made by Guevara. How flimsy? When Solache and Reyes got their walking papers, even the top prosecutor in Foxx’s office, Eric Sussman, admitted they were likely guilty of the murders.
From the Chicago Tribune:
First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman said prosecutors still strongly believe Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes are guilty of the 1998 fatal stabbing of a couple in their Bucktown neighborhood home. . . .
How about that? Prosecutors release killers they themselves admit are likely guilty. Talk about protecting the public.
What is interesting about Solache and Reyes and other “Guevara” cases is that some of them also accuse prosecutors of wrongdoing in the federal lawsuits, not just the detectives who investigated the crimes. So in these Guevara cases where Foxx let the killers out, she is also exposing her own prosecutors to intense civil litigation that has a devastating impact on their reputations and careers. How, then, would you like to be a prosecutor in Cook County with Kimberly Foxx as your boss?
What a signal Foxx is sending to her own troops, many of whom sacrifice working in the more lucrative world of private practice to become crucial public servants, only to be subject to future massive lawsuits. These lawsuits impose great pressure on their families, just as they do to the police and their families.
So what happened next? Well, the same thing that happens to every convicted offender suddenly transformed into a victim and then a folk hero: The attorneys for the two men walked into federal court and filed a massive civil lawsuit.
And that’s where the case is now. But there is still the little problem of Adriana Mejia in the Solache/Reyes case. There is no record or report that Mejia has changed her story about Solache and Reyes helping her commit the grisly murders, and there most certainly would be such a report if she did suddenly change her story.
Maybe six months ago that wouldn’t have been so looming a problem for Foxx. But much has changed. Foxx was a media darling when she released Solache and Reyes and a host of other offenders early in her tenure, cheered by a progressive media in the city, particularly the Tribuneand Sun-Times, that is wholly in the back pocket of the wrongful conviction mythology. For these reporters and editors, Foxx was a kind of dream come true, protecting their claim of systemic police corruption by adding case after case to it à la Kim Foxx.
But not anymore. Now the eyes of the entire country are watching Foxx carefully in the wake of her decision to arbitrarily drop charges against Jussie Smollett for allegedly faking a hate crime.
Why, people who do not understand how Chicago works began to ask. Why would Kimberly Foxx undermine such a highly publicized case and expose herself to so much condemnation?
One reason was suggested by Tribune columnist John Kass in his column earlier this week. Foxx made the decision so many political leaders do: she decided to help her friends and political allies. Citing a 2016 video taken at the White House, Kass pointed out a compelling triangle: Foxx, Smollett, and the Obamas:
In February 2016, the Obama White House held a musical tribute to one of the great American artists in our history, the one and only Ray Charles. . . .
Top entertainers performed that night. Big stars like Usher. So did Smollett, who was by no means a big star like the others, but somebody up there must have liked him. . . .
“Has everybody had a good time tonight?” Obama asks on the video. “Let’s say, ‘Thank you’ to all our outstanding performers!
“Yolanda Adams! Leon Bridges! Demi Lovato! Anthony Hamilton! The great Sam Moore! Usher! Brittany Howard! I want to make sure I’ve got everybody here. . . . Andra Day! Can you give everybody a big round of applause for the band!”
But he’d skipped Smollett. And just then, Michelle Obama is standing next to her husband. She leans forward and whispers into his ear.
“The Band Perry! Jussie Smollett! Did I forget anybody? I got Sam Moore!”
You didn’t forget anybody, Mr. President. And you got the important name on the record.
Using one’s elected office to help friends and political allies? Can it be? Well, Kass’s observations about Foxx using her office to help friends and allies in the Smollett case just might be the tip of the iceberg, especially if one applies the pattern and practice theory so often applied against detectives on scant or highly suspicious “evidence” to Foxx’s decision to let so many killers like Solache and Reyes out of prison.
Why? Well, for one, consider who the attorneys are for these “exonerated” men are. One is Loevy & Loevy, a law firm that makes big money from “wrongful convictions.” Loevy & Loevy made significant campaign contributions to Foxx.
Another is the People’s Law Office (PLO), and in some ways this is the more compelling one.
In the weeks after Foxx dropped charges against Smollett, the FOP attempted to point out to the media the pattern and practice of possible corruption in the Foxx administration and called for her resignation. Much of the local media, the ones who were ecstatic over her election, would have none of it. When the FOP then attempted to demonstrate against Foxx, saying that she should not be letting these once-convicted killers out of prison, likely back into minority Latino and black communities, the media would have none of it again. On the contrary, the media like WBEZ and theSun-Times started talking about white nationalists attending the FOP rally, as if the union had some kind of ties to them.
Foxx seized on the white nationalist imagery and the FOP provided her by the media as a kind of lifeline in her subsequent public meetings, including a press conference at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. In doing so, she and her media lapdogs ignored the obvious fact that the FOP was defending the public safety and justice in minority neighborhoods, while Foxx wasn’t.
And what an illuminating press conference it was. Foxx appeared with two compelling figures. One was current congressman and former Black Panther member Bobby Rush, who said the FOP is the enemy of black people, and Flint Taylor, a founding member of the People’s Law Office, the same PLO that is representing one of the offenders released in the Solache, Reyes, Mejia double-murder case.
Rush’s Black Panthers and Flint Taylor’s PLO have a common history. The PLO was formed in response to the 1969 shootout between the police and Black Panthers at their West Side stronghold that left Mark Clark and Fred Hampton dead.
The Panthers were an organization that called for a violent revolution, including the murder of police officers. Some of their members did, in fact, murder police officers, along with committing vicious crimes against members of their own community. The PLO didn’t just represent the Panthers in their long history. They represented or were accused of working with members of other violent revolutionary groups like the FALN and the Weather Underground.
How ’bout that? Foxx combats the allegations against the FOP by appearing with two men tied to organizations that called for violent revolution, including murdering police officers.
Luckily for Foxx, few in the local media ever mentioned the irony of having members of the Panthers and the PLO onstage with Foxx while these “reporters” gin up associations of hate groups with the FOP.
But the police and many prosecutors know about this history, and they know how disturbing it was to have Foxx stand with Rush and Taylor.
All this brings us back to the lawsuits by Solache and Reyes.
What if Mejia remains true to her claim that Solache and Reyes were co-offenders with her in the 1998 murders? How will that play out in a civil trial brought by Reyes’s and Solache’s attorneys? And what if Mejia changes her story now and says, “No, I was lying for the last three decades, now I am going to tell the truth?”
The murders for which Adriana Mejia serves a life sentence is beginning to pose some truly dark questions, questions no journalist in Chicago has shown the courage to ask, but must be asked: How far will Foxx go to help her friends?
How far, indeed?