* Gregory's defense committee [dropthecharges.net]
For the history of Gregory's case, see
* "Post-Conviction Relief Petition Filed, Overturn the Wrongful Conviction of Gregory Koger—Not One More Day in Jail!" [revcom.us/a/299/overturn-the-wrongful-conviction-of-gregory-koger-en.html]
* "From Gregory Koger: Stand with Me on July 23...and Support the Prisoners' Hunger Strike," [www.revcom.us/a/310/statement-from-gregory-stand-with-me-on-july-23-en.html]
"Gregory Koger Released!"
2013-10-24 from "World Can't Wait"
After a four-year battle against a truly vindictive prosecution, our friend Gregory Koger was released Wednesday from the clutches of the Cook County system of criminal injustice.
He and his defense committee and friends fought tirelessly against a prosecution for the “crime” of taping a statement against censorship at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago. Find out more: [dropthecharges.net]
"Petition to Sheriff Tom Dart: Release Gregory Koger on Electronic Monitoring Posted"
Please read and sign our petition to Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to release Gregory to serve whatever time he has remaining on electronic monitoring. They have stated in the media that the jail is overcrowded and they have expressed concerns about public resources wasted by incarcerating non-violent offenders. As many friends have noted, Gregory does not deserve to spend one more day in jail! Pleas read our petition here [https://www.change.org/petitions/tom-dart-cook-county-sheriff-release-gregory-koger-on-electronic-monitoring], sign, and share it widely – via email, on Facebook, twitter, etc.! Letters, cards, magazines and paperback books (no hardcover books or newspapers) can be sent to Gregory Koger at #2013-0723091 / P.O. Box 089002 / Chicago, Illinois 60608
Listen to a powerful statement from Gregory at our press conference on July 23 at the Skokie courthouse, along with statements from supporters from the Illinois Coalition against Torture and the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (our thanks to Dale Lehmen, WZRD). [http://dropthecharges.net/wp-content/uploads/GregoryKogerPresser.mp3]
"Petitioning Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff: Release Gregory Koger on electronic monitoring
from "Ad Hoc Committee for Reason" [https://www.change.org/petitions/tom-dart-cook-county-sheriff-release-gregory-koger-on-electronic-monitoring]:
Gregory Koger was convicted of non-violent misdemeanors in a highly controversial, essentially political, trial in 2010. He was arrested for peacefully videotaping a statement against censorship before a public meeting began. Gregory's history includes a felony conviction when he was a homeless teenager. Since his release from prison more than 7 years ago, Gregory has obtained an education and worked as a paralegal for more than 4 years, and he has devoted his life to social justice activism.
In the photo above, he is speaking with Dr. Antonio Martinez (center) in support of the California prisoners hunger strike on Jerome McDonnell's WBEZ (NPR) Worldview radio program on July 16, 2013.
Gregory has maintained his innocence all along, complied with all conditions of bond, and does not belong in jail. However, he was just remanded to Cook County Jail on July 23, 2013. People from all walks of life have testified to the quality of his character at his sentencing and filled the courtroom at every hearing for him. Ex-offenders who have turned their lives around should be supported, not condemned. You have stated in the media that the county jail is overcrowded and expressed concern about public resources wasted by incarcerating non-violent offenders. Please release Gregory Koger to spend any remaining time on electronic monitoring.
(For details regarding Gregory Koger's case and evidence in his defense, visit our website at www.dropthecharges.net.)
Text of Petition:
- Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff
- Toni Preckwinckle, Cook County Board President
Release Gregory Koger on electronic monitoring. He has dedicated his life to social justice and does not deserve to serve one more day in jail.
"Let's tell Tom Dart to Release Gregory Koger!"
2013-08-03 message from "Ad Hoc Committee for Reason"
Thanks to all 530 of you who took the time to sign Gregory's petition. Once we reach 1000, we will request to meet with Sheriff Dart to present the petition asking for electronic home monitoring. The Chicago Sun-Times reported (7/31) again that Cook County jail is terribly overcrowded and inmates are held much too long, at a high human and economic cost.
Last week I visited Cook County jail for the first time to see Gregory. It was a horrible experience of trying to talk through a tiny opening in a plexiglass wall with other visitors all yelling to be heard next to us. It was totally inhumane for everyone involved. No one deserves to be treated like this. If each of you get just one friend to sign Gregory's petition, we will hit the 1000 mark in no time. We need to act fast. Let's act together and get Gregory out.
[signed] An Evanston Mom & Member of the Ad Hoc Committee
"Gregory Koger sent back to Cook Co Jail in continuing political persecution"
2013-07-23 from "Ad Hoc Committee for Reason"
For additional information, contact Jay Becker [312 459 2708] [email firstname.lastname@example.org]
This afternoon Gregory Koger was sent back to Cook County Jail to serve the remainder of his 300 day sentence (around 3 months) for peacefully videotaping a statement against censorship at a public meeting of the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) on Sunday, November 1, 2009. Over 50 supporters, including fellow ex-prisoners, human rights activists, a priest, musician, scientist, retired business people, and a doctor, filled the courtroom in suburban Skokie.
Expressing their outrage at the vindictive hearing and sentencing, over two dozen supporters went straight to the main Cook County jail several miles away to demonstrate their support for Mr. Koger and the California hunger strike. The hearing today was supposed to be about adjusting Mr. Koger’s original sentence, which in part exceeded the statutory maximum. Mr. Koger was represented by attorney Jed Stone, who planned to argue that Mr. Koger’s Post-Conviction Relief Petition filed in March, had to be adjudicated, after months of silence. When Mr. Koger’s case was finally called, however, the presiding judge announced that she had rejected Mr. Koger’s post-conviction relief petition more than three months ago, on April 15, and that his 30 day period in which to file an appeal had expired!
No notice had been received by Mr. Koger or his attorneys of record of the rejection, nor had they received notice that Mr. Koger should appear in court on April 15. The judge stated that the prosecutors had told her that Mr.Koger had been seen in the courthouse on April 15 but left before his case was called, an impossibility because the defense team knew nothing of the date. Furthermore, although Mr.Koger had served two months of his 300-day sentence, the Judge insisted the file showed that he had only been in jail for two weeks. Jed Stone stated, “In my 38 years as an attorney I have never seen anything like the blatant, sloppy and disingenuous actions of the Court today.”
Mr. Koger’s attorneys plan to take further legal action and his defense committee, the Ad Hoc Committee, is determined to continue to press for his release. For more information on this case, see [www.dropthecharges.net].
At the press conference before the hearing, Mr. Koger announced that while in Cook County Jail, he would join the California prisoners hunger strike, now at Day 16, in solidarity with the demand to end solitary confinement. Recently, Gregory Koger has been speaking in support of California hunger strikers on WBEZ’s Worldview, WVON’s Cliff Kelley Show, and KPFK’s Michael Slate Show.
In his youth, Gregory spent years in solitary confinement while in prison. During that time, he transformed himself and has dedicated his life since his release to opposing injustice and struggling for a liberated world for all humanity, as he has written.
2013-07-23 "Revolutionary Gregory Koger Sent Back to Jail Judge's Secret Ruling Comes to Light"
from "Revolution Newspaper" [http://revcom.us/a/311/revolutionary-gregory-koger-sent-back-to-jail-en.html]:
Gregory Koger, revolutionary communist and ex-prisoner, was taken from a courtroom today and sent back to Cook County Jail in Chicago to serve the remainder of a 300-day sentence. Gregory had been convicted of trespass and resisting arrest almost four years ago. But this case has never been about trespass or resisting arrest. It has been about the political prosecution of a revolutionary.
Very importantly, at a rally and press conference before today's hearing, Gregory announced that while in Cook County Jail he would join the California prisoners hunger strike, now at Day 16, in solidarity with the demand to end solitary confinement.
When his case was called today, Gregory and his lawyers were told that the judge had rejected Gregory's post-conviction relief petition three months ago, on April 15, although no notice had been sent to Gregory or his lawyers. In fact, his lawyer protested that they had been checking Gregory's court file regularly and had not found any indication in it of the judge's order. To this, the judge casually replied that wasn't her problem, it was the responsibility of the clerk of court! This is not some inconsequential bureaucratic error. The fact that this ruling was hidden from the defendant and his lawyers for three months means that the normal deadline for Gregory to appeal the judge's rejection of the post-conviction relief petition passed over 60 days ago. This is one more travesty of justice in this completely prejudicial case that almost defies comprehension. His attorney, Jed Stone said afterwards that the unannounced order by the judge denying Gregory's petition for post-conviction relief was "like a secret ruling…" A legal response has yet to be formulated for this blatant trampling on his legal right to appeal, but clearly this cannot go unchallenged.
The judge also said Gregory was supposed to have appeared in court on April 15 but, again, neither Gregory nor his lawyers had received notice of that court date. This judge had already shown her contempt for Gregory in previous hearings, and she outdid herself at this one. She went from outrageous to absurd when she said the prosecutors told her that Gregory had been seen in the courthouse on April 15 but left before his case was called! This "sighting" of Gregory is a complete fabrication in service of the railroad of Gregory Koger. And on the basis of this bogus "evidence" she issued a warrant for his arrest. In the words of attorney Jed Stone, "In my 38 years as an attorney I have never seen anything like the blatant, sloppy and disingenuous actions of the Court today."
An ex-prisoner and former jailhouse lawyer, with deep working knowledge of the law and legal procedure, said afterwards, "People told me how bizarre and strange this case is, but until I saw it myself today, I didn't really believe it." After waiting for Gregory's case to be called and watching the machinery of justice grind up one after another defendant, through patronizing lectures, sentences and at times jailings, one young supporter said, "I thought that was me. I thought that crap only happened to me, that it happened to me because of me. I didn't realize it happened to everyone else, too."
Over 50 supporters who filled the courtroom expressed their outrage at this political persecution at another rally outside after court. An important message was read from Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution and initiator of End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women. It said in part, "No harm must come to him if he is taken into the clutches of the enemy. Everyone who cares about justice, who wants to see the youth on the bottom of society aspire to something better, who knows the horrors carried out against people in this country's dungeons and jails, and who yearns for a better world must have Gregory's back." Then two dozen people headed straight to the jail to demonstrate their support for Gregory and for the California prisoners on hunger strike against torture.
The sharp contrast between Gregory and all the forces who have stepped up to support him on the one side and the ugly vindictiveness of the judge and prosecutor on the other was plain for all to see. People came to court that day from as far away as Michigan, Indiana, and downstate Illinois. Wearing orange marigolds and stickers with Gregory's face saying "Not One More Day!" the supporters included six ex-prisoners, a torture survivor from Chile who went on hunger strike against the Pinochet regime, scientists, lawyers, doctors, anti-war activists and veterans, a priest, a world-renowned musician, a retired businessman, and revolutionaries. Several of these spoke briefly before the hearing and afterwards, Gregory's attorney Jed Stone and several revolutionaries spoke, and the statements from Sunsara Taylor and activist Cindy Sheehan were read. (See below for the statements.)
Gregory Koger has been fighting his prosecution since his arrest on November 1, 2009, at the Ethical [sic] Humanist Society of Chicago. Gregory was peacefully videotaping a statement by Sunsara Taylor opposing the censorship of her scheduled talk at the society that day.
Gregory had come up on the mean streets and by age 17 he had been sucked into the meat grinding machine of the U.S. courts and prisons. He ended up doing 11 years in state prison, 6 of which were in solitary confinement. While in prison, Gregory began reading as much revolutionary literature he could get his hands on. Among the publications he devoured was the Revolutionary Worker, later to become Revolution, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Through the work of the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, Gregory was able to regularly read Revolution and other literature, including the works of Bob Avakian. All this made a dramatic difference in how Gregory began to see the world, how it got as fucked up as it is, how he and others like him came to be in the situation they were in, and the fact that there is a viable and visionary revolutionary path out of it. He transformed himself and has dedicated his life since his release to opposing injustice and struggling for a liberated world for all humanity.
After his arrest for videotaping in 2009, the powers-that-be came down with full force on Gregory. His past record was thrown in his face by the prosecutor and judge as "proof" of his incorrigible criminal nature. At his original sentencing, the judge had claimed that Gregory "chose a path of violence" and "endangered every single person in [the EHSC] auditorium that day"—for videotaping with an iPhone! The judge then questioned "whether he really has any rehabilitative potential." The intention was to punish Gregory for his political transformation and to send a warning to the rest of those in society, especially those on the bottom, who yearn and hunger for a better world, that they dare not try to change the world and themselves in the process.
But throughout the legal battle against his conviction, Gregory has deepened his understanding of, desire for, and many contributions to the whole struggle to emancipate all of humanity through revolution. In the recent days leading up to this court date, Gregory helped lead a protest march in downtown Chicago only hours after the racist vigilante Zimmerman was acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin, and also spoke out in support of California hunger strikers on radio shows such as WBEZ's Worldview, WVON's Cliff Kelley Show, and KPFK's Michael Slate Show.
Plans are being made for taking on the latest outrageous moves of the judge and "justice" system against Gregory. A petition on the website change.org in the next day or two will call on the Cook County Sherriff to take Gregory out of jail and put him on house arrest. Watch revcom.us and dropthecharges.net for further news and to send statements of protest and support.
* * * * *
Statement from Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper, initiator of StopPatriarchy.org:
Gregory Koger is a friend, a comrade, and an inspiration not only to myself but to many, many others both inside this nation's prisons and outside. His life, starting from a very early age, was shaped by the deprivations and horrors of the way this system works and he, like millions and literally billions around the world, was never valued in the least by this system. He was imprisoned as a teenager and held in the indescribable torture of solitary confinement for years. But despite its degradation and brutality, its concrete walls and its psychological torment, this system did not succeed in breaking Gregory. Instead, Gregory fought to lift his head, to understand where all the horrors that he and so many others experienced came from, to grapple with revolutionary theory, to lift his sights to real communist revolution as it has been re-envisioned by Bob Avakian, and to come together with others to bring into a being a world without mass incarceration, without the grinding wars, without environmental destruction, and without violence and degradation against women. A world where humanity could live free from every form of exploitation and oppression and could truly flourish.
Many have been inspired by, learned from, and joined with Gregory in his commitment to fighting for a better world. They have seen in him not only a strong revolutionary brother, but one example of what many whose lives have been counted as nothing by this system can lift their heads and become in the fight for human emancipation. For this, the system has reacted with punishment and violence.
For almost four years Gregory has been unjustly persecuted for his role in peacefully documenting a political statement in opposition to censorship carried out by the "Ethical" Humanist Society of Chicago. He has already served 60 days in jail and now faces the prospect of being mandated to serve the rest of the time in his outrageous 300 day sentence.
All this only shows more clearly the utter bankruptcy and illegitimacy of this country's criminal in-justice system. His strength in the face of this has given many others strength. Now, we must all rally together to demand: This persecution must stop! Gregory must not do one more day of illegitimate time in jail. No harm must come to him if he is taken into the clutches of the enemy. Everyone who cares about justice, who wants to see the youth on the bottom of society aspire to something better, who knows the horrors carried out against people in this country's dungeons and jails, and who yearns for a better world must have Gregory's back.
* * * * *
2013-07-23 Statement from Cindy Sheehan, Peace Mom and "indefatigable peace mongerer":
My good friend and comrade Gregory Koger is another victim of the so-called justice system here in the United States. Not only is Gregory a victim of a deeply unjust institution, he is also a victim of the "Ethical" "Humanist" Society in Chicago! Gregory did nothing wrong, I support him 100% and denounce this further travesty of justice! Free Gregory and all other political prisoners in this "free" country!