In 1985, as a 16-year-old, Charles Green was convicted of a crime he insists he did not commit. After serving 24 years in prison, he was released in 2009. Since then, he has sought to clear his name. Toward that end, he filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2015 for all police misconduct investigation files going back to 1967.
"Mr. Green is making this request,” his lawyer wrote at the time, “in order to help him discover evidence of his innocence and to preserve and disseminate evidence of innocence to others wrongfully convicted."
Mr. Green’s FOIA request was an act of public service. The records at issue are public under Illinois law. Nothing prevents the City of Chicago from making them readily accessible to the public. The Chicago Police Department, however, ignored Mr. Green’s request. He sued, and in January 2020, a judge ruled that the City must release the records.
The City has appealed the judge’s ruling. At the same time, it has entered into a settlement agreement with Mr. Green under which he will receive $500k in exchange for waiving his claim to the documents.
The goal of this GoFundMe campaign is not simply to raise funds for Charles Green. It is a way for us to join Mr. Green at this critical juncture in his fight for transparency.
On July 22, the City Council deferred voting on the proposed settlement in Green v. Chicago until its September 9 meeting. This is a positive development for police accountability, because it creates an opportunity to negotiate a policy for releasing the documents. It is, however, a personal hardship for Mr. Green, for he has pressing financial needs and is in failing health.
All money raised here will go directly to Mr. Green to help with housing stability and health care costs.
Justice for Charles Green requires not only monetary reparations but also clearing his name and making public all police misconduct files so that others can better challenge their wrongful convictions. We stand with Mr. Green, because he took a stand for us.
**Photo credit: Olivia Obineme