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Monday, November 11

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The Mechanics
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Police Wed Mar 31 2010

Marvin Reeves is Free

There are very few injustices worse than the wrongful imprisonment of an innocent person--and the loss of decades of their life in incarceration. Reading the brutal story of Marvin Reeves, tortured by Jon Burge and friends into a false confession and stuffed in prison for nearly 25 years, the moral certitude of the maxim that it is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than to punish one innocent man is plainly self-evident.

MARVIN TELLS me to pull into an alley, and we get out of the car. He points to a boarded-up window of another large brick apartment complex. "This was where the bedroom was," he says. "It was my sister Sonya's apartment, and I stayed there sometimes. I worked just around the block at a mechanic's shop, and I would come here and park my car right here, outside the bedroom window, so I could see the car."

He goes back in time to the day--August 26, 1988:

It was 4 o'clock in the morning when the cops knocked on the door, and my sister Sonya went to answer it. She unlocked the door, but before she could open it, they busted the door in and broke her toe.

She started screaming--that's what woke me up. The next thing I knew, there were two cops at my bedroom door, guns drawn and pointing at me, yelling, "Nigger, if you move, I'll blow your fucking brains out." I had no idea what was going on.

Cops had been following me around--I noticed that, but I didn't think too much of it because I wasn't doing anything wrong. But now I was thinking the worst. We knew of guys who showed up dead behind some bushes in the neighborhood, and all we knew was that the police had showed up at their house a few days before and taken them outside. So I wasn't sure what was going to happen to me.

They were yelling at my girlfriend to shut up. She was asking if I could at least put on some clothes. They said no. Then they handcuffed my hands behind my back and shackled my feet together and they just lifted me up like that and carried me out of the house just like that--without any clothes on at all. They put me in the back of the paddy wagon. And I wasn't free until 21 years later.

I take Marvin's picture outside this window and ask why he's holding his hands stretched all the way out. He yells exuberantly, "Because I'm a free man, I'm a free man!"

 
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