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African American in Prison

Source: Doug Berry / Getty

Several Black men during court told the story about a Chicago officer that demanded money from them and threatened to arrest them if they didn’t pay. According to Essence, the men also shared that Officer Ronald Watts would handcuff them and stuff drugs in their pockets. The men received justice by the judge and had their convictions cleared.

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It is reported to be the largest mass exoneration in Chicago. The men that were arrested also spoke about how it was common that Black people in the city experience these shake downs a lot. One of the men, Leonard Gipson, said, “Everyone knew if you’re not going to pay Watts, you were going to jail. That’s just the way it was going.” He had two convictions tossed out in court.

The 15 men arrested faced sentences that ranged from probation to a decade. The city of Chicago has paid a half billion dollars to settle several police misconduct cases. Some of the men may sue the city and department, but there is no word on which ones will go through with it.

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