CROOKED CITY

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Connections Between Terrorists and Wrongful Conviction Movement?

The summer of 2012, all eyes were watching Chicago.

The NATO summit was approaching. Protesters flooded the city. The world wondered if Chicago would erupt in violence as it did in the Democratic Convention of 1968.

As the summit began, police learned of several youths who planned a terrorist attack. According to news reports, the youths planned to set off fire bombs, called Molotov cocktails. Reports indicated these youths planned on bombing police.

The police raided the building where the youths were assembling their bombs and placed them under arrest.   

It was no surprise to Chicago cops who rushed in to defend the would-be bombers.

One law firm was the People's Law Office (PLO), the most prolific wrongful conviction law firm in Chicago. Right away the PLO made the same claim they have been making for 30 years against the police: the arrests were a police frame up. 

The PLO lawyer came forward and said the police set up the youth. The youths were not making bombs, they said, but brewing beer. The local media echoed the claims by the PLO.  

Several of the accused eventually pleaded out and the story faded out of the public memory.  

But the story illuminates something the media rarely observes: some wrongful conviction law firms have a long and disturbing connection to terrorism.   

The PLO, for example, represented not only the NATO bombers, but also Puerto Rican terrorists in the FALN movement, police killers, and the Black Panther Party. 

"On August 11, 1999, Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of FALN, a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group that set off 120 bombs in the United States, mostly in New York City andChicago. There were convictions for conspiracy to commit robbery, bomb-making, and sedition, as well as firearms and explosives violations. The 16 were convicted of conspiracy and sedition and sentenced with terms ranging from 35 to 105 years in prison. Congress, however, recognizes that the FALN is responsible for "6 deaths and the permanent maiming of dozens of others, including law enforcement officials."

In addition to supporting terrorist groups like the FALN, there is also evidence of the PLO's support of the Weather Underground.

The Weather Underground was a collection of radical students and activists in the late 60's who decided that they wanted to use violence to end the war in Vietnam and initiate a socialist revolution in America.

Fully radicalized by their opposition to the Vietnam War and the possibilities of a socialist revolution, the Weathermen turned terrorist. On the cusp of an attack at a military base, several of the Weathermen accidentally blew themselves up in a townhouse in New York City. The bombs they were making were intended for a dance given for military personnel and their girlfriends and could have killed hundreds. 

A leader of the Weathermen at this time was a woman named Bernadine Dohrn, who was raised in an upper middle class family and graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Law School. As a result of her participation in the group, she was placed on the FBI's most wanted list. 

It’s important to remember just how violent Dohrn and her cohorts were. Some investigators, for example, believe she was the offender in the bombing of a San Francisco police station that killed a sergeant and wounded several other police officers. 

The Weather Underground is also believed responsible for firebombing the home of a Supreme Court judge in New York. The judge was in the midst of a case involving Black Panther members.

At the time Dohrn was running around setting off bombs (not unlike the Molotov Cocktail makers at last years NATO summit), the Weather Underground was infiltrated by Larry Grathwohl. Grathwohl reported on the group to the FBI.

Grathwohl stated that while he was in the group, he was told that if anyone needed legal representation, they should call the People's Law Office. He also stated that if anyone needed to get a hold of other Weathermen in other cities, they should contact the PLO, a sign, he said, that the PLO was working with the terrorist Weathermen. 

Eventually, Dohrn and other Weathermen members were able to avoid prosecution because of legal technicalities. In their zeal to find the bombers before they could harm anyone else, the FBI obtained evidence illegally, and the case against her was dropped. But no one ever doubted her participation in and support of terrorism. 

Once a frothing revolutionary calling for the violent end of America and praising mass murderer Charlie Manson as a true revolutionary, Dohrn quietly moved into a cushy position in Chicago academia. Dohrn ended up at Northwestern University's Law School, eventually working on wrongful conviction cases, as if a woman with her history could ever judge a case involving the police fairly. 

She wasn’t the only former Weathermen to move into the Ivory Towers. Her husband, Bill Ayers, also a founding member of the terrorist group, eventually became a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Neither Dohrn nor Avers ever apologized for their crimes and never backed away from their radical philosophies.

In their travels as revolutionaries, Dohrn and Avers reportedly met with many communist leaders. One wonders if they learned one of the central tenets of revolutionary ideology along the way: Destroy the criminal justice system at all costs.

Currently, Northwestern University is embroiled in a scandal over its wrongful conviction cases, as a long list of abuses emerges, particularly the Anthony Porter case. The tactics show clearly a willingness by activists at the school to undermine legitimate murder convictions and police investigations…no matter what the real facts are. In the Porter case, the Innocence Project at Northwestern released a murderer back on to the street and convicted an innocent man in their quest to undermine the criminal justice system.

In the wake of the scandal surrounding these Innocence Project cases, one has to wonder about the mindset at Northwestern that would hire a former terrorist bomber into their law school and allow her to work on wrongful conviction cases. One has to wonder about the her ties to the People’s Law Office when she was an active terrorist. One has to wonder about the fact that the Innocence Project at Northwestern has ties to the PLO as well, members of both organizations even working on wrongful conviction cases together and supporting each other's claims, even ones as absurd as those posited in the Anthony Porter case. 

Perhaps now that the wrongful convictions at Northwestern University's Innocence Project are falling apart, the media may look more closely at what some of these organizations are really attempting to do.    

Next time, the Chicago Police investigators, even though they are among the best in the country, might not apprehend these terrorists before they strike.

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