Jorge Cornell supporters gather as trial date approachesBy Thomas Burwell
Published: October 14, 2012
The pre-trial hearing for Jorge Cornell, the leader of the Latin Kings along with the other 13 members under indictment is scheduled for Tuesday, October 9; the trial date is October 15. Both are at the Federal Court house in Winston-Salem, N.C. Cornell and 13 other members of his organization were charged with violating the RICO statute, by “engaging in criminal racketeering.”
In defense of Cornell is a group of local clergy, students, community leaders, and thousands of Greensboro citizens who are willingly standing in his defense. Supporters of Cornell are urging the entire community to gather at Bethel AME Church on October 7th at 4 p.m. Wesley Morris, one of the many people supporting Cornell says, “We are planning this meeting to be one of the clearest and most compelling sharings on why Jorge is absolutely not guilty of violating RICO statutes.”
The pattern of charging Cornell is not new. “He has been charged with 18 felonies in Greensboro without a single conviction,” according to Rev. Gregory Headen, pastor of Genesis Baptist Church. Rev. Headen continued, “Now the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) partnered with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to bring RICO charges. It is so important for all the citizens of Greensboro to come out on Sunday to hear another side.”
Those who have worked closely with Jorge hold these charges to be ridiculous.
Rev. Nelson Johnson of Faith Community Church said, “We are clear that the Greensboro Police Department is blatantly misusing state power to seek vindication from the accusations by Jorge and his supporters and, by extension, from the widespread and longstanding accusations of GPD civil rights violations and corruption. Incredibly, the U.S. Department of Justice has joined the police in this ploy. Those of us who
really know Jorge are encouraging everyone to come out and see for yourself.
“The US Justice Department is using their controversial RICO powers to cobble together a dubious conspiracy that is much easier to prosecute than traditional criminal charges. They are casting a wide net among current and former ALKQN members and other associates and threatening them with long prison terms — unless they testify that Jorge was directing the mayhem alleged in the indictment” Johnson continued.
In October of 2010, Anita Earls, a former US Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney, filed a Title VI complaint with the
DOJ against the Greensboro Police Department on behalf of Jorge Cornell. Here is an excerpt from the complaint:
“The GPD has systematically discriminated against and harassed ALKQN members since the group’s formation in 2005. There is evidence showing that the Greensboro Police Department’s anti-Latino bias causes it to intentionally target ALKQN members for deportation, bring baseless charges against them, and subject them to unlawful and discriminatory traffic stops, nonconsensual searches, and false-arrests often involving the use of excessive force.”
The same month that the ALKQN Title VI complaint was filed, a group of 37 Greensboro citizens–including Jorge Cornell–went to Washington, D.C. to meet with DOJ officials to press the need for federal intervention in the matter of the GPD’s longstanding record of civil rights violations. After a thorough discussion of the Greensboro situation, DOJ officials assured the group that the DOJ took these concerns seriously and that they would follow up. But there was no follow up and inquiries about the status of the Title VI complaint went unanswered.
Randy Johnston another supporter of Cornell said: “To put this complaint in context, there are now 49 civil and criminal cases pending against the Greensboro Police Department by current and recently terminated Black and Latino police officers. The police officers are alleging a deeply entrenched sub-culture of double standards and corruption within the GPD.”
Just over a year later, DOJ prosecutors charged Cornell and 13 ALKQN members with violating the RICO statute. The acts alleged in the indictment included armed robberies, shootings, extortion, retaliatory acts of violence, arson and fraud charges, most of which had been brought in state courts and resulted in “not guilty” verdicts.
Jorge’s lawyer learned through a Freedom of Information request that DOJ did not investigate the ALKQN Title VI complaint – even though they are required to investigate civil rights complaints and even though their failure to investigate raises serious doubts about their role as unbiased
prosecutors. When the trial judge asked DOJ prosecutors about the status of the Title VI complaint in response to a defense motion, they responded that they cannot find any information about the complaint – but they will keep looking.
Supporters again urge the community to come out to Bethel AME Zion Church, 200 Regan Street, Greensboro to become informed about the Jorge Cornell/Latin Kings RICO Indictment on Sunday, Oct 7, at 4 p.m. The future progress of the City of Greensboro rests in an informed citizenry.