A Former Sheriff discusses the Code of Racism in the Justice System.


Hey, everybody, welcome to tellers of the untold I’m Vanessa. It is the end of January and a lot is going on in this country. But today, for our episode, before black history, we just had Martin Luther King Day. kind of excited for this this month I’m trying to make I’m trying to be excited with everything that’s going on this COVID. But I’m kind of excited about this month to learn more about Black History teaching our kids I’m gonna have some kids on here, so they can learn and teach you guys about some untold stories. But today a little bit different not having that happen. But I am going to play an interview from the documentary Sankofa Chicago, relating to the law like law enforcement. There’s an interview I have with an ex Cook County Sheriff, and he’s going to talk to us a little bit about injustice, he’s going to talk to us about the importance of knowing our history, why this has anything to do with law enforcement, and about the justice system, and who shapes the future of our black children. Not just in Chicago, but this is you know, like I said, I’m going to be doing a documentary for various cities throughout starting with Chicago. So let’s listen in to Matoto. He again, is a Cook County Sheriff, former Cook County Sheriff. And I hope you guys enjoy this episode. Please SUBSCRIBE, like, comment. And we’ll be I’ll be with you next week. Thanks.


A little bit about yourself. My name is Mutota. And I was born in Chicago, but I was raised on the east coast. And so I worked for 30 years. And my background primarily is military, law enforcement security.


Okay, is that in Chicago, where you work?


primarily in the Chicago area.


Okay, so tell me a little bit about that. What made you get into that?


What made me get into it is because I was in the Marines. And so being in the military was an instant qualification for a lot of law enforcement jobs. So that’s why I got into it, not because I wanted to, but because they were willing to pay me to do X, Y, and Z.


So within your position, give me the day to day operations of what you would do


your roles and responsibilities. Okay. So when I was with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, from 2003, to 2010, my primary role was to work in the court system to be an officer of the court. So I would witness a lot of things that some of the things the way they were handled, the way it was handled in the prisons, the way they were handled in, in the court systems, the way the judge would interact with prisoners, or people who were being detained the way the judge would interact with the state’s attorneys, to public defenders, and the public at large, as well as the interactions between law enforcement and and and civilians on the streets as well.


Okay, so are blurred people treated the same in the system?


It’s not even close. Why? Why? Because there is a code of racism. Does that seated within the court system that seated within law enforcement in itself? So the same sentence that you would give a white inmate? That’s not the same sentence that you would give someone that’s black or Hispanic?


And why is this?


Because the whole system is founded in racism. This is not just as far as the way that the judge would deem, okay, how many years or how many months you’re going to get? The whole system is corrupt as such, as well as this goes on with inmates being beaten up by law enforcement, not just Cook County Sheriff department, but Chicago police, Illinois State Police and things like that. I noticed for a fact because whenever you get arrested and you go to Chicago police, the Chicago Police Department has to give us the person that’s arrested so they can stay in court. So when I see some of these inmates or detainees, they have been abused or been broken. You know, their eyes have been blacking and things like that and I have to tell them, the Sheriff’s Department will not accept them. They need to go to the hospital. And they need I need to get a release from the hospital saying that they can stay in court. And I turned right around and they have to take them legally by law, they have to take them to the hospital, because the Chicago police refuse to take care of them to take care of their medical, you know, to take care of them medically.




what about like the rights of fit are just the rights when they get stopped by the police are mostly black and brown people get stopped by a police? What are some advice that you would give? For those that gets? What should we do?


The first thing I would do is is before you pull over, you need to call somebody, you need to call somebody that probably does not have a phone, somebody that’s creditable if they ever had to stay in court. So you need to be calling somebody or that person can answer, you need to record your voice, hey, I’m being pulled over at such a such a place, when you pull over pull over in a lighted, well lit area, where there’s a lot of traffic don’t go down a dark road is nobody in stay on a well lit road. Okay, and then when you pull over, have your turning signal on when you pull over, if you lose a drive and just pull over, they can give you a ticket because that’s it because you did not signal that she was actually going to go white and then turn over. So you just can’t just turn in otherwise, you can’t just stop your car on the road, you need to put a turning signal on and then stop.


Even if this is just for speeding,


you still doing the same, you still doing the same thing. Once you stop, you should have you should be already on the phone talking to someone who is creditable. Why because if anything happens to you, now you have a witness that heard everything, you should also be on the phone where you shouldn’t have to have your hand on the phone, you should have your license and your registration off to the side, their cell phones should not be in your hand because they will shoot you if they see anything in your hand. So your hands should be on the steering wheel at all times and you should not be moving at all. So when the police pull up to you, your window should be all the way up except for a crack in the window. And the officer asked you to lower your windows, you said officer with all due respect, I do not want to lower my window because you might smell something that you don’t smell. If they say they smell marijuana, something like that. Now they can search your car. So you keep your window all the way up. Just enough to slide your driver’s license through in your registration through the office and my asks you Where are you coming from? Where are you going? You say you plead the fifth? What is it? That’s your constitutional rights and to incriminate yourself, because anything you say or do it will be held against you in a court of law. So there’s no reason why he needs to know or she needs to know where you came from, where you’re going.


Even if you’re innocent and nothing’s going on.


Even if you’re guilty. That’s the just a court to decide that that’s not for you to decide whether you innocent or guilty, you have a right to not incriminate yourself under the code of law in this country, the United States.


My question is, why are black neighborhoods


so heavily surveilled. And


the reason why they do that is so that they can have more arrests, more incarcerations, you have to understand that when whenever we’re arrested, a lot of us do not know otherwise. We don’t know what we can say or do. nor are we told, we’re not told by the police, we’re not told by when we go to school, we don’t know the law. And they won’t teach us another thing. A lot of times, a lot of times when we are detained or arrested and we go to court, a lot of us can’t afford an attorney. And a lot of times, even if you can afford an attorney, a lot of times attorneys don’t even defend us. They just take our money. So if you don’t have enough money, usually we rely on the public defender. They defend their Republic, not us. So a lot of times the public defender doesn’t even come in even she or he don’t even talk to you about Hey, what’s going on with your case? Did you do it or not? They just come up to you say Hey, take this six months, take this. Three months in jail, just take this year in jail. They don’t even listen to your case. A lot of them do. Why? Because they’re underpaid. And they overwhelmed with cases they cannot even defend all the cases that they’re assigned to. So they already know that number one, they’re going to arrest X amount of people right off the bat. And they’re not going to be able to defend themselves legally. They’re not going to have a proper defense, whether they did the crime or not. So it’s more incentive for them to go into black and Hispanic neighborhoods and Get rid of the ones that they deem necessary that shouldn’t be here.


So going into the prison systems, you don’t give me exact statistic. But give me an idea how many people that are actually in jail in


prison that




Well, I can really talk about this because prior to my service for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, I worked for the Illinois Department of Corrections, and statesville, which is a maximum prison for years prior to 2003. And I can tell you is so disproportionately when you looking at blacks and Hispanics, in the prison systems, is is a lot of us being locked up and descending, if you look at the crimes, versus what if someone was white committed to crimes, were giving longer prison sentences. And this is this is perpetual, throughout the state of Illinois, not just in Chicago. And then the treatment in some of these prisons are barbaric. Case in point, I had a case where I was working in an E block, this is in statesville. And I know that a black man had been violated. He was an inmate. And he had a black guy. And I was even dealing with a black sergeant. As a sergeant, we need to get this guy moved. It was two men. It was an older man who got abused and it was a younger man who they were both, you know, African American. And it took me four hours, four hours or more to get him moved. Because I was told that he was going to be killed. And the black Sergeant told me I don’t give a damn. They’re animals. The black Sergeant told me in front of black and white officers. I don’t give a damn. I stayed on him for hours. And finally he allowed me to move him in that black me laughter I moved him. It was old to me. He had tears coming down his eyes. He said thank you for saving my life.


So what kind of abuse is actually going on in the prison system and especially with our kids?


Is it his brutality, not only by other inmates, by by officers. And this is very, very This is ongoing. Now some places like the Illinois Department of Corrections, they’re not bad with that. They have stayed on it when I worked at De Ville de did stay on it. When I was at the Cook County Sheriff department. Anything goes, anything goes I mean, the brutality is bad. As a matter of fact, the jail system is so nasty that they actually had we actually created viruses. We actually created SARS viruses. Because the establishment was so filthy. I literally had to go home in my garage when I came home and peel off my uniform and walk from my garage to my house, in my underwear for fear contaminating my family. This is no exaggeration at all. And so what I’m saying is we had inmates, when they hit on the walls that are not sanitize with their hands behind their back. If there was a move their heads off the walls, they would be brutalized, meaning that they might be kicked, they might be stopped, they might be punched, teeth knocked out of their mouth. When I came across if I if I saw them with their heads like that on these walls, I told him to take the heads off these walls. And I told him to relax. And I had other officers Look at me. And I’d be daring him to say anything. So there was none of that going on. When I was around. I would not allow it absolutely would not allow it. And I had been suspended and I had been threatened because of such actions during my time with Cook County Sheriff department.


So do you think it’s gotten better or worse or the same as far as the black community


I believe has gotten worse, I believe has gotten worse. Because with us teaching what us feeling like we hate each other. hating it because of the because of our skin. We have no respect for each other. That count pounds to hopelessness. It counts pounds the the lack of jobs, the education in the system is really bad. I mean, if you want to get your son or daughter to education and you don’t have money, you better fight to get your son or daughter and some charter schools because otherwise if you go to regular public school, they don’t teach you anything. The education system in Chicago is horrible. And I can speak for that, because I have a son. And he’s went through charter schools, not the regular public schools. And if you go to charter schools, they actually teach quality education as well as education when you’re talking about who we are as a people.


So what do you think can be done to help shape the future of our black?


I don’t believe there is a future unless we get control of these institutions, who shapes


that? Who shapes


the futures of the ones who controls the institution’s, they control the laws? If I can control the laws, I could, I could care less what, what fountain you drink out of? Because I’m controlling what comes out of the what comes out what comes into water in the water. So what can we


do as citizens?


We need to put pressure on these institutions, to create laws that will support us that will reflect us as people, whether they’re black, white, Hispanics, whatever, they have to have laws that include us, not exclude us. And as long as the we have these laws and these policies in place, nothing will change, nothing will change, and we will continue to be lost and brutalized and disenfranchised, we have to get control of these institutions, we have to, we have to understand that these policies that are being made, whether it’s the justice system, whether it’s law enforcement, whether is it doesn’t matter what it is, unless we have control of these mechanisms, you know, I’m saying that are keeping us in bondage, nothing will change will continuously be brutalized, that not necessarily for me, not necessarily for my son, but all those that will come after us.


Vote and voting being important.


Voting has its place. But there is nothing that can Dickens subsidize us demanding change. That in itself does not require a vote. When we look at the civil drug and Civil Rights Act, do you think that we just all of a sudden put people in there who could all of a sudden vote for the policies that we want to change? No, look at what’s going on in Minnesota, look at the policies that are changing now. Do you think that that’s because they voted some new people in all of a sudden, absolutely not, the pressure is on, we have to keep the pressure on if we want these policies change it regardless of whoever you want to vote for. We have to demand change. First of all, we need to be aware. Secondly, we cannot be scared. Third, we have to be aware of these policies and attack these policies. We have to be aware of what the police doing, how are they doing and attack that you have to be? You can’t attack something that you’re not aware of? How would you do that you’re not. So there’s people like me who have built in careers in law enforcement who have to teach others, hey, this is what’s going on. And then now we have to get out there and protest and challenge these policies that have been in effect. That’s what we need to do. We need to attack the system at its root.


Important is history. How important is it for us to know?


It’s very important. It’s very important and not just a history of the last 400 years, we have we’ve got a longer history than the last four or 500 years. So it’s very important that we’re getting taught true history, not a not a view of history that does not portray us as our entire history. I entire history spans much further than the last four or 500 years. We didn’t come from slaves. We came from kings and queens that dominate this planet. We created the foundation for all societies to fall societies that have followed us. It’s important for us as a people to experience our true history. And when we experience that, I will be able to love myself. Therefore I can love others, like yourself. But if I can’t love myself, because I’ve been taught to hate myself because I do not know my true history, then people like me will always be damned.


Going back to the


black on black crime Ya


know, you have to understand that when people talk about, you know, living in a project, well, what is a project? A project is a is a experiment. And this experiment of racism has gone bad. We cannot take the projects and use that into our own mentality and our own spirituality. I believe as a people, we have to start loving ourselves, we have to start loving our afros, we have to start loving our natural hair, there’s no such thing as coarse hair or good hair. It’s what it is. We have to love one another, whether we’re dark skin, or light skin, because we’re being attacked by symbols every day, whether it is in the school system, whether it’s in, you know, you watching TV, what is this? What is the injustice system, they call the the justice system, no matter where we’re constantly being attacked. So therefore, I don’t love myself, and I don’t love anybody else that look like me. So I don’t really have to worry about hurting you, or killing you. Because I don’t feel like I’m like human myself.


I really believe as a people, we need to get back to the Creator, we need to give back to his commandments, we need to get back to loving one another. And I believe that that in the other things that I said will help us, we can’t look for others, we have to look for ourselves, we have to look for the Lord. We keep looking to be included. It’s okay to be excluded. But we need to have equality. We should have what everybody else has. That’s what we need. Stop looking for some bones to be thrown to us. We cannot do that no longer. How many years? How many centuries? How many hundreds of years? Are we willing to sacrifice our people to? To this madness? I’m not willing to do it? Absolutely not. Now, I’m sorry for getting emotional. But you know, I this is how I feel. And as God’s people, we have to get back. We have to get back to loving ourselves, loving one another, nurturing ourselves educating ourselves. We can’t worry about other people to educate you. We need to self educate ourselves. Where Who are we what do we really come from?


connections between slavery and


I believe that I believe in 1965. I don’t believe that slavery. I believe that slavery was just transferred to the justice system, law enforcement. So in other words, instead of making you work for free on a plantation, they make you work for almost free in the prison system. And once again, without proper representation, your voice will never be heard. Because you’re not because the public is not helping your voice to be heard. And I believe that this is how he being funneled into the justice system, with the policies in the malls, and the over policing. And how would these drugs coming into the system? And let’s believe, do you really think that crack cocaine, you get the same prison system, if you deal with heroin, which is primarily with Caucasians and being charged with or crystal meth? Absolutely. If you look at the prison systems, they’re really geared to certain drugs. And if you look at some of the black or Hispanic, you’ll see that they have longer prison systems, prison sentences, it is not by coincidence, it is buying design is by design. You think on the Southside of Chicago, we’re growing we’re growing hemp. In our society, we need to have we need to start having like, like clothes, not like the why but we have to have clubs, in these clubs. They we need to talk about our spirituality. We need to talk about our health. We need to talk about healthy foods to eat. How do you treat our bodies? How do you treat our sisters? We need to talk about what do you do when you have to deal with the police. We need to talk about all these things. We need to talk about truth just to have our own clubs that indoctrinate things for us so that we We need to be positive. Yes, we may not have put them in these type of calls. Get indoctrinated they can survive in this world


is not good enough.


Get these things funded by the federal government to better us as a people. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t fund it. If they can fund the why the why CMA? Why can’t they fund this? And I think we need to do this and we can also fund self defense, we can do all these things. This will be this can be a vehicle that can set us free, physically, mentally, and spiritually just a part of this experience

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