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Urbana Mayor Sued for Actively Muting Criticism of Elected Officials at Public Meetings

The Urbana City Council and Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin are facing a lawsuit alleging Open Meeting Act (OMA) violations. The complaint, filed on November 20th, 2020 with the Champaign County Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois alleges that the defendants restricted public speech in a deliberate attempt to silence criticism.…

Urbana Loses FOIA Lawsuit, Judge Rules Improper Denial of Public Records

At a FOIA lawsuit hearing on December 9th, 2020, Champaign County Judge Jason Bohm ruled that Urbana had incorrectly withheld public records and documents related to the alleged retail theft by Illinois State Representative and Chair of Champaign County Democratic Party Carol Ammons. On January 10th, 2020, Urbana Police Department…

Police Chief Finally Acknowledges Violation of Policy During Violent Arrest of Urbana Resident

After more than seven months of internal and external reviews claiming no wrongdoing and clearing all officers involved in the violent arrest of Aleyah Lewis, Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin acknowledged that there was a violation of policy during the incident. Local activists have been voicing their concerns about the…

Urbana Mayor Mutes Speakers for Criticizing Public Officials at City Council Meeting

While chairing the November 9th, 2020 City Council meeting, Mayor Marlin readily enforced a recently passed ordinance regarding public input during public meetings. The ordinance prohibits speakers from addressing elected officials and City staff by name, and shortens public input time. During the public input session of the meeting held…

Urbana City Administrator Continues to Push for Administrative Hurdles to Police Complaints

At the November 2nd, 2020 City Council Meeting, Urbana City Administrator Carol Mitten pushed ahead with her plan to excluded certain types of complaints from the Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) appeal process. A week prior, Mitten presented an update on the status of CPRB complaints and appeals. She focused…

Urbana Withholds Records of Illinois State Representative’s Alleged Retail Theft

The City of Urbana and Urbana Police Department have been withholding records and documents related to the alleged retail theft by State Representative and Chair of Champaign County Democratic Party Carol Ammons. On January 10th, 2020, Urbana Police Department was contacted regarding an alleged theft by Ammons at the Carle…

Urbana City Administrator Pushes for Less Civilian Oversight of Police Complaints

At the October 26th, 2020 City Council Meeting, Urbana City Administrator Carol Mitten presented an update on the status of Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) complaints and appeals. For months, numerous residents have voiced concerns about the shortcomings of the CPRB, and the lack of public trust in the complaints…

Community Watchdog Illustrates Fault in Investigation on Violent Urbana Arrest

Local activists have been voicing their concerns about the inadequate investigations into the violent arrest of an Urbana resident. The City of Urbana has maintained a silent stance as these faults have been brought to light (Public i article here). On April 10th, 2020, Urbana Police officers violently arrested Aleyah…

Urbana City Council Passes Ordinance Restricting Public Comment

On October 12th, 2020 City Council passed an ordinance that allows censorship of public comment during meetings. Several of provisions in the ordinance are in violation of the Open Meetings Act as they pertain to content-based regulation of public speech. The passed ordinance can be viewed in full here: Ordinance…

Mayor Marlin Proposes Ordinance to Restrict Public Comment During Electronic Virtual Meetings

At the October 5th, 2020 Urbana City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Mayor Diane Marlin put forward a second iteration of an ordinance that would restrict public comment during meetings. Marlin’s proposed ordinance came following her new rules for public input during the September 14th, 2020 Urbana City Council…

Mayor Marlin Proposes Ordinance to Restrict Public Comments

At the September 21st, 2020 Urbana City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Mayor Diane Marlin put forward an ordinance amending Urbana City Code, Chapter 2, Section 2-4 (Public Comment During Public Meetings). Marlin’s proposed ordinance came following her new rules for public input during the September 14th, 2020 Urbana…

Urbana Police Review Board Hit by Wave of Resignations

There has been a wave of resignations by Mayor Diane Marlin’s appointees to the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) in the past few months. During the CPRB meeting on September 3rd, 2020, Chair Ricardo Diaz announced that board member Megan McGinty had resigned from the board. McGinty’s resignation came…

Chicago Firm: Violent Urbana Arrest was Consistent with Urbana Police Policy

Nearly five months after the violent arrest of Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis, Chicago firm Hillard Heintze has cleared the officers involved of all misconduct. On April 10, 2020, Urbana Police officers arrested Lewis (video and original article here). Following the incident, Urbana Police Department (UPD) performed an internal review of…

Director of U of I Police Training Institute Called “Public Relations Clown” at Urbana Police Review Board Meeting

On Tuesday September 3rd, 2020 the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) held another special meeting for training purposes. Dr. Michael Schlosser of the University of Illinois Police Training Institute returned to give a presentation on de-escalation. Schlosser was previously criticized by CPRB members and members of the public after…

Newly Appointed Urbana Police Review Board Chair Resigns After Fourth Meeting

After the removal of Grace Mitchell from the Chair position of the Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB), Urbana residents had high hopes that the new leader of the board, Professor Mikhail Lyubansky would be able to turn things around. The CPRB had fallen into a decade-long state of dysfunction and…

Urbana Mayor Appoints Trivia Host, Julie Laut, to Vacant Ward 2 Seat

On Monday August 3rd, 2020, Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin put forth an appointment for the City Council seat left vacant by Eric Jakobsson’s early resignation. According to Marlin, four residents applied for the Ward 2 seat, but only two of those applicants qualified based on the residency requirements: trivia host…

Urbana Residents Criticize CPRB Use of Force Training

On July 29th, 2020 the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) held a special meeting to undergo “use of force training”. The training was administered by Dr. Michael Schlosser from the University of Illinois Police Training Institute in the form of a slideshow presentation. CPRB members, as well as members…

Changes in the Urbana Police Review Board Amidst Public Scrutiny

In the past few months, the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) has been in the spotlight amidst discussions of police misconduct and police reform. Residents have criticized the failures of the CPRB, most notably the board failing to follow their mandates as written in the City Ordinance (article here).…

Chicago Firm Hillard Heintze Selected to Perform Investigation of Violent Urbana Arrest

On April 10, 2020, Urbana Police officers violently arrested and beat an innocent woman, Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis (video and original article here). Following the incident, Urbana Police Department (UPD) performed an internal investigation of the incident and concluded that the actions of the officers were within UPD policy and…

Urbana Staff Attempt to Hamper Efforts of Civilian Police Review Board

After more than two months of public criticism of the Urbana Police Department at weekly City Council meetings, another recipient of significant criticism, the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB), finally hosted its first meeting in five months. On June 24th, 2020, the CPRB held a special meeting to discuss…

Marlin Appoints Retired Cop to Handle Public Records Requests

After nearly two months of complaints from residents about the Urbana Police Department, two weeks after the killing of George Floyd, and one week after marching in the streets with thousands of people concerned with police violence, Mayor Diane Marlin decided that Urbana’s public records requests would be best handled…

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