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In Wake of Tolliver Mistrial, Community Demands No Retaliation from Police

Police rushed to accuse Jonathan Tolliver of shooting officer Michael Ceriale in 1998. At the end of 70 hours of deliberations, one juror adamantly refused to succumb to police pressure. The judge declared a mistrial. Robert Taylor Home residents, activists, and family continue to proclaim Tolliver's innocence, despite police aggression.
February 9

The mood was tense Wednesday at Cook County Courthouse with the announcement of a mistrial in the Jonathan Tolliver case. Armed police packed the courtroom and lined the hallways and lobby of the courthouse. Sheriffs deputies ordered everyone, police included, off of the 6th floor of the courthouse at 12:30 pm after CPD officers gathered in large groups, many expressing vocally their anger at the verdicts.

The Tolliver family, community residents, and activists warned that the police may seek to retaliate against the Tollivers and witnesses in the wake of today’s end of 10 days of jury deliberations.

Blanche Tolliver, Jonathan Tolliver’s Aunt, told the press “There should be no retaliation by the police against the witnesses. Even my children are afraid to go to school because the police harass them because of their name. “

Willie Herron, a spokesperson for the Tolliver family, said “The only word I can come up with is revenge. They [the police] are going to try to take matters into their own hands. The jury didn’t come back with the verdict they wanted them to. The police are going to be judge and jury and convict the whole community. A lot of the witnesses are still down there [in Robert Taylor Homes]. And the police will be trying to get even.”

“Jonathan did not commit the murder and should be set free. Everyone in Robert Taylor feels that way. The people who stepped forward and testified under oath about how the police used beatings and threats to force witnesses to sign statements against Jonathan - those witnesses were courageous to speak out. The entire community and city should defend them against retaliation by the police,” said A.K. Small, resident of Cabrini-Green.

A neighbor to the Tolliver family, Robert Taylor resident Beauty Turner said that “The entire community stands behind the Tolliver family and the witnesses. This young man has spent almost three years in jail. Let him go.”

“The police will be bashing a lot of heads down in Robert Taylor tonight because of that verdict,” said a 31 year old man named Dave from Chicago’s South Side.

Many residents of Robert Taylor Homes feel the same way. One woman, a working mother and 10 year tenant of the development spoke bluntly about her anticipation of the reaction of police to the verdict “It will be horrific.”



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