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Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied: Region Where James Evans Was Wrongfully Convicted Has Racist Past Of Sundown Towns

The small Midwest town of Alton Illinois is nestled along side the Mississippi River in Southern Illinois, and just a stone’s toss away from the site of the landmark Dred Scott case (a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court in which the Court held that the US Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for black people) in nearby Missouri. Hidden away from the glare and spotlights of modern big cities in Illinois such as Chicago to the north, Alton and similar surrounding communities like East Alton, Wood River, Glen Carbon, and Edwardsville have a storied past related to race relations.

While the lynching of German immigrant Robert Pragger on April 5, 1918 in Collinsville is probably the mostly referenced incident of mob style justice in Madison County, that historians blame on propaganda circulated by the United States government at the height of World War I, and during very strong anti German sentiment in America, an active culture of disdain for social integration of the races was also very prevalent, as many of these southern Illinois towns didn’t have residence of color until well into the 1960’s. It was a known but unwritten law that blacks were well aware of, that prohibited them from being caught in certain towns at night. In fact, some of these towns excluded black people from its city limits entirely during the day as well as the night fall.

The turbulant times of racial struggles in the deep south of America has always been earmarked as the battle ground for racial equality in this country, but most are ignorant to the fact that their were societal codes pertaining to race relations in America’s heartland as well. To this day there are people in the city of Alton who claim that race relations are still a very troubling reality, especially in the Madison County court system. Black communities are overly policed and citizens of color are more likely to be pinched for petty crimes than their white counterparts who are similarly situated.

Some in Alton say that the “law” will go through extraordinary lengths to arrest, prosecute, and secure convictions of blacks who are seen as uppity “n***ers,” who need to be put in their place. They say a man name James Evans is one of those type of black men who was targeted by dirty white cops. People have told TPC that the cops and prosecutors have a history of allowing violent criminals to roam free, as long as they gave pertinent information pertaining to a target they were focusing on arresting and prosecuting.

That’s a far cry from the shotgun toting all white mob that combed the woods of East Alton back in the late 1890s, while in pursuit of a black male who allegedly committed a crime in town (considering how a mere allegation or just plain suspicion alone, was once upon a time sufficient evidence for blood thirsty mobs that were eager to toss a rope on high to lynch a colored person, whether he actually committed the crime is more than likely tenuous at best). That alleged subject got away, but his escape angered citizens in the town so much that they vowed to never let another person of color live in their community ever again.

The town pretty much achieved that for nearly 7 decades, but while many of those Southern Illinois towns are no longer considered “Sun Down” towns, others claim that blacks are still being lynched in Madison County. Only now they’re called legal lynchings, carried out in a court of law (in Madison County at least). There is sufficient evidence (if anyone cared to look) deeply woven into various court cases involving violent offenders, that shows nowadays they’re actually allowing violent criminals to roam free in exchange for perjured testimony in cases where they say some officials brand of justice could be predicated on superficial premises, or for no other provocation than a guy mouthed off at law enforcement officials in a court house.

Its amazing how towns that were once bent on meting out justice through mob violence, has transformed into a “paper tiger” justice system where murderers and other violent felons are stock holders in backdoor deals that has allowed them to get off the hook for crimes or due miniscule bids in prison for some serious violent crimes. It all depends on who the players are (I guess) and the depth of their desire to put a subject away (for life if possible). That’s why the conviction of James Evans is so baffing (the latest on James Evans Conviction), and to think that law enforcement officials went as far as breaking the law themselves to convict a man with no history of violence whatsoever, adds a lot of fuel to what some Alton residence told TPC regarding how the justice system works in Madison County.

During one interview it was made very clear that allowing a violent black person to roam the streets could be looked upon as a “blessing in disguise” for some racist cops in the Madison County Sheriffs department (like Bradley Wells), because “as long as they are killing other black people, letting them out of jail is practical, besides they could get them on something else later anyway.” As long as white folks weren’t victims of some of these crimes, its really not a big deal.” and that’s where they say Evans drew the ire of cops and the Madison County prosecutors office. He was allegedly selling dope in the community, and its a well known fact that most of the people who are consumers of illegal recreational drugs are in fact a volume of white people. An intelligent, cocky, and smart ass mouthed drug dealer is how they say cops looked upon Evans. An a well orchestrated and intricately woven conspiracy is believed to have been implemented to take him down and off the streets forever.

I’m sure that in the minds of some people, they believe that Evans got what he deserved and that may be a tremendous resolve from their posture, but they should also be cautioned to take notice of the manner in which Madison County prosecutors achieved obtaining a conviction of Evans. First off it should be noted again that prior to his trials for murder and conspiracy to commit murder back in the mid to late1990’s, Evans didn’t even have as much as a school yard skirmish on his record as it pertains to violence. Moreover, in the nearly 23 years since he has been incarcerated, Evans hasn’t had a history of any violence behind prison walls either (that’s simply a miraculous feet). Yet, court records show that some pretty violent felons were cut lose for their suspicious testimony to help the state nail Evans. For instance:

  1. There is the well documented Appeals Court reversal of the murder conviction of Jeremy Brown, who is believed to have been a subject in a murder case along side a man name Demond Spruil. Spruil is well known to Madison County prosecutors, because he testified in at least 8 separate murder cases for state prosecutor Keith Jensen. Officials wired Spruill for jailhouse conversations with Brown and after prosecutors achieved a conviction against Brown, Spruill was given leniency as he also did in other murder cases where he claimed the respective defendants had confessed murders to him. An Appeals Court throw out Browns Conviction citing the state’s recycled use of Demond Spruil as an agent of the state who frequently got out of jail after working for the state. Spruil also testified in Evans Trial claiming Evans had confessed. Just like in other unrelated murder cases, some how Spruill ended up in Evans cell, and he obtained another alleged confession for the state prosecutor’s office. Also, Spruill has a well recorded history of violence, and was even initially a suspect in the very murder case for which Evans was subsequently convicted.
  2. Robert Fletcher was also suspiciously released from jail after Madison County police Bradley Wells and another cop from the Sheriffs department visited him in jail, and showed him post mortem images of his best friend Nekemar Pearson, who James Evans was convicted of killing (according to a sworn affidavit by Robert Fletcher). Fletcher claims Wells and another cop allegedly told him that Evans, Clifton Wheeler, and another man name Brian Warr (Evans best friend) were responsible for his best friends murder. Fletcher and Pearson were both alleged “Crip gang” members, and people familiar with the streets of Alton around that time say that cops should have known that letting Fletcher out of jail would result in yet another murder. They suspiciously released Fletcher and he subsequently killed Brian Warr. TPC was advised that if James Evans had been standing on the streets of Alton that night along side Warr, that he most likely would have been gunned down by Fletcher also, in retaliation for the murder of his best friend. They say the blood of Brian Warr is on the cops hands because they knew what would happen once Fletcher hit the streets, Another classic example of how Madison County allowed violent criminals the opportunity to roam free within the community.
  3. Clifton Wheeler is probably best known as a blazingly violent felon who shot and killed a man name Dwight Riddlesprigger in broad daylight in front of dozens of eye witnesses. Court records show as a matter of fact, that state prosecutor Keith Jensen brokered a deal that allowed Wheeler to serve a minimum sentence for two allege murders, in exchange for his cooperation in the state’s prosecution of James Evans. Wheeler would eventually testify for the state against Evans at his trial, and court records show that Wheeler committed perjury on the witness stand, and Jensen actually broke the law himself by concealing the plea arrangement that he accepted in Wheeler’s criminal case. Wheeler ended up serving a little over 12 years and is still walking free on the streets of Alton this very day.
  4. William Jenkins was also used by the state to help them convict James Evans while granting him leniency for his criminal charges also, but only he returned the favor to state prosecutors by brutalizing and raping an elderly woman after authorities had set him free for his cooperation in the James Evans prosecution.

So you see, at least during that time in Madison County, as long as violent black criminals were committing crimes that were harming other black people, it appeared to be acceptable in the eyes of some law enforcement officials, and a storied past of backdoor deals with some of these very same felons by state prosecutors, who allowed them the opportunity to roam the streets to commit more violent crimes is demonstrative of the extraordinary lengths some of those officials were willing to go in convicting a subject of one of their personally prioritized investigations.

At least three people that were interviewed by TPC say they have been in trouble with the law or have been inside of Bradley Wells office at the Madison County Sheriffs office, and saw with their own eyes a picture of James Evans on his desk along side a photo of his family. That’s probably as personal as it gets when you have a cop who is that obsessed with apprehending an alleged criminal subject, That’s why it should question whether or not their actually was manufactured evidence in the criminal cases of James Evans, after all, Evans has been making this claim since his conviction over 20 years ago, and the courts in Madison County refuse to investigate these allegations.

Maybe the “Sun Down” town mentality still exist and the methodology of dealing with undesirable black folks is just being meted out in a more sophisticated fashion, rather than marching down the hill of Blair Avenue and Alby Street in Alton Illinois like its rumored they used to do in the old days, and string a black person up. Either way, it seems that some things in southern Illinois haven’t changed, and most of it isn’t happening after the sun goes down anymore.

The People’s Champion Blog

I’m Journalist and Crime Blogger David Adams

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David Adams

A Self proclaimed geek, Sympathizer for the homeless, Social Change Advocate, Crime Blogger, Promoter of Awareness for Missing and Exploited Children, and a mobile technology enthusiast. A recognized Journalist and Human Interest Writer championing the plight of the masses whom are without a voice of their own.

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The small Midwest town of Alton Illinois is nestled along side the Mississippi River in Southern Illinois, and just a stone’s toss away from the site of the landmark Dred Scott case (a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court in which the Court held that the US Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for black people) in nearby Missouri. Hidden away from the glare and spotlights of modern big cities in Illinois such as Chicago to the north, Alton and similar surrounding communities like East Alton, Wood River, Glen Carbon, and Edwardsville have a storied past related to race relations.

While the lynching of German immigrant Robert Pragger on April 5, 1918 in Collinsville is probably the mostly referenced incident of mob style justice in Madison County, that historians blame on propaganda circulated by the United States government at the height of World War I, and during very strong anti German sentiment in America, an active culture of disdain for social integration of the races was also very prevalent, as many of these southern Illinois towns didn’t have residence of color until well into the 1960’s. It was a known but unwritten law that blacks were well aware of, that prohibited them from being caught in certain towns at night. In fact, some of these towns excluded black people from its city limits entirely during the day as well as the night fall.

The turbulant times of racial struggles in the deep south of America has always been earmarked as the battle ground for racial equality in this country, but most are ignorant to the fact that their were societal codes pertaining to race relations in America’s heartland as well. To this day there are people in the city of Alton who claim that race relations are still a very troubling reality, especially in the Madison County court system. Black communities are overly policed and citizens of color are more likely to be pinched for petty crimes than their white counterparts who are similarly situated.

Some in Alton say that the “law” will go through extraordinary lengths to arrest, prosecute, and secure convictions of blacks who are seen as uppity “n***ers,” who need to be put in their place. They say a man name James Evans is one of those type of black men who was targeted by dirty white cops. People have told TPC that the cops and prosecutors have a history of allowing violent criminals to roam free, as long as they gave pertinent information pertaining to a target they were focusing on arresting and prosecuting.

That’s a far cry from the shotgun toting all white mob that combed the woods of East Alton back in the late 1890s, while in pursuit of a black male who allegedly committed a crime in town (considering how a mere allegation or just plain suspicion alone, was once upon a time sufficient evidence for blood thirsty mobs that were eager to toss a rope on high to lynch a colored person, whether he actually committed the crime is more than likely tenuous at best). That alleged subject got away, but his escape angered citizens in the town so much that they vowed to never let another person of color live in their community ever again.

The town pretty much achieved that for nearly 7 decades, but while many of those Southern Illinois towns are no longer considered “Sun Down” towns, others claim that blacks are still being lynched in Madison County. Only now they’re called legal lynchings, carried out in a court of law (in Madison County at least). There is sufficient evidence (if anyone cared to look) deeply woven into various court cases involving violent offenders, that shows nowadays they’re actually allowing violent criminals to roam free in exchange for perjured testimony in cases where they say some officials brand of justice could be predicated on superficial premises, or for no other provocation than a guy mouthed off at law enforcement officials in a court house.

Its amazing how towns that were once bent on meting out justice through mob violence, has transformed into a “paper tiger” justice system where murderers and other violent felons are stock holders in backdoor deals that has allowed them to get off the hook for crimes or due miniscule bids in prison for some serious violent crimes. It all depends on who the players are (I guess) and the depth of their desire to put a subject away (for life if possible). That’s why the conviction of James Evans is so baffing (the latest on James Evans Conviction), and to think that law enforcement officials went as far as breaking the law themselves to convict a man with no history of violence whatsoever, adds a lot of fuel to what some Alton residence told TPC regarding how the justice system works in Madison County.

During one interview it was made very clear that allowing a violent black person to roam the streets could be looked upon as a “blessing in disguise” for some racist cops in the Madison County Sheriffs department (like Bradley Wells), because “as long as they are killing other black people, letting them out of jail is practical, besides they could get them on something else later anyway.” As long as white folks weren’t victims of some of these crimes, its really not a big deal.” and that’s where they say Evans drew the ire of cops and the Madison County prosecutors office. He was allegedly selling dope in the community, and its a well known fact that most of the people who are consumers of illegal recreational drugs are in fact a volume of white people. An intelligent, cocky, and smart ass mouthed drug dealer is how they say cops looked upon Evans. An a well orchestrated and intricately woven conspiracy is believed to have been implemented to take him down and off the streets forever.

I’m sure that in the minds of some people, they believe that Evans got what he deserved and that may be a tremendous resolve from their posture, but they should also be cautioned to take notice of the manner in which Madison County prosecutors achieved obtaining a conviction of Evans. First off it should be noted again that prior to his trials for murder and conspiracy to commit murder back in the mid to late1990’s, Evans didn’t even have as much as a school yard skirmish on his record as it pertains to violence. Moreover, in the nearly 23 years since he has been incarcerated, Evans hasn’t had a history of any violence behind prison walls either (that’s simply a miraculous feet). Yet, court records show that some pretty violent felons were cut lose for their suspicious testimony to help the state nail Evans. For instance:

  1. There is the well documented Appeals Court reversal of the murder conviction of Jeremy Brown, who is believed to have been a subject in a murder case along side a man name Demond Spruil. Spruil is well known to Madison County prosecutors, because he testified in at least 8 separate murder cases for state prosecutor Keith Jensen. Officials wired Spruill for jailhouse conversations with Brown and after prosecutors achieved a conviction against Brown, Spruill was given leniency as he also did in other murder cases where he claimed the respective defendants had confessed murders to him. An Appeals Court throw out Browns Conviction citing the state’s recycled use of Demond Spruil as an agent of the state who frequently got out of jail after working for the state. Spruil also testified in Evans Trial claiming Evans had confessed. Just like in other unrelated murder cases, some how Spruill ended up in Evans cell, and he obtained another alleged confession for the state prosecutor’s office. Also, Spruill has a well recorded history of violence, and was even initially a suspect in the very murder case for which Evans was subsequently convicted.
  2. Robert Fletcher was also suspiciously released from jail after Madison County police Bradley Wells and another cop from the Sheriffs department visited him in jail, and showed him post mortem images of his best friend Nekemar Pearson, who James Evans was convicted of killing (according to a sworn affidavit by Robert Fletcher). Fletcher claims Wells and another cop allegedly told him that Evans, Clifton Wheeler, and another man name Brian Warr (Evans best friend) were responsible for his best friends murder. Fletcher and Pearson were both alleged “Crip gang” members, and people familiar with the streets of Alton around that time say that cops should have known that letting Fletcher out of jail would result in yet another murder. They suspiciously released Fletcher and he subsequently killed Brian Warr. TPC was advised that if James Evans had been standing on the streets of Alton that night along side Warr, that he most likely would have been gunned down by Fletcher also, in retaliation for the murder of his best friend. They say the blood of Brian Warr is on the cops hands because they knew what would happen once Fletcher hit the streets, Another classic example of how Madison County allowed violent criminals the opportunity to roam free within the community.
  3. Clifton Wheeler is probably best known as a blazingly violent felon who shot and killed a man name Dwight Riddlesprigger in broad daylight in front of dozens of eye witnesses. Court records show as a matter of fact, that state prosecutor Keith Jensen brokered a deal that allowed Wheeler to serve a minimum sentence for two allege murders, in exchange for his cooperation in the state’s prosecution of James Evans. Wheeler would eventually testify for the state against Evans at his trial, and court records show that Wheeler committed perjury on the witness stand, and Jensen actually broke the law himself by concealing the plea arrangement that he accepted in Wheeler’s criminal case. Wheeler ended up serving a little over 12 years and is still walking free on the streets of Alton this very day.
  4. William Jenkins was also used by the state to help them convict James Evans while granting him leniency for his criminal charges also, but only he returned the favor to state prosecutors by brutalizing and raping an elderly woman after authorities had set him free for his cooperation in the James Evans prosecution.

So you see, at least during that time in Madison County, as long as violent black criminals were committing crimes that were harming other black people, it appeared to be acceptable in the eyes of some law enforcement officials, and a storied past of backdoor deals with some of these very same felons by state prosecutors, who allowed them the opportunity to roam the streets to commit more violent crimes is demonstrative of the extraordinary lengths some of those officials were willing to go in convicting a subject of one of their personally prioritized investigations.

At least three people that were interviewed by TPC say they have been in trouble with the law or have been inside of Bradley Wells office at the Madison County Sheriffs office, and saw with their own eyes a picture of James Evans on his desk along side a photo of his family. That’s probably as personal as it gets when you have a cop who is that obsessed with apprehending an alleged criminal subject, That’s why it should question whether or not their actually was manufactured evidence in the criminal cases of James Evans, after all, Evans has been making this claim since his conviction over 20 years ago, and the courts in Madison County refuse to investigate these allegations.

Maybe the “Sun Down” town mentality still exist and the methodology of dealing with undesirable black folks is just being meted out in a more sophisticated fashion, rather than marching down the hill of Blair Avenue and Alby Street in Alton Illinois like its rumored they used to do in the old days, and string a black person up. Either way, it seems that some things in southern Illinois haven’t changed, and most of it isn’t happening after the sun goes down anymore.

The People’s Champion Blog

I’m Journalist and Crime Blogger David Adams

[/responsivevoice]

David Adams

A Self proclaimed geek, Sympathizer for the homeless, Social Change Advocate, Crime Blogger, Promoter of Awareness for Missing and Exploited Children, and a mobile technology enthusiast. A recognized Journalist and Human Interest Writer championing the plight of the masses whom are without a voice of their own.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus

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