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Urbana Police Present Choreographed One-Sided Mock Trial to Justify Beating of Woman During Arrest

“This was a carefully crafted one-sided puppet show designed to further embarrass and harass Lewis while straining to assign hero-status to her unscrupulous attackers” Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin and his cohort have switched into full-offense mode after initial efforts to squelch public outcry about police misconduct backfired. It all…

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin Fabricates Content of 911 Call to Support Police Propaganda

Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin issued an update at the May 11th, 2020 Urbana City Council meeting regarding the Aleyah Lewis police brutality incident. Her update was the latest blunder in a series of biased attempts by the city to appease outraged citizens. On April 10th, 2020, Urbana Police Officers carrying…

U of I Professor Mikhail Lyubansky Takes the Reins at Urbana Civilian Police Review Board

After months of residents criticizing the failures of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB), and amidst a barrage of Urbana Police misconduct allegations following a violent arrest video which went viral on social media, a new Chair was quietly assigned to the CPRB. Previously chaired by Grace Mitchell, who…

Urbana Council Member Shirese Hursey: Innocent Arrestee Deserved to be Violated

Citizens were outraged, and at least one Urbana Council member left speechless, after Council member Shirese Hursey placed full blame for the violent arrest of Aleyah Lewis (original article here) squarely on Lewis herself. Hursey’s monologue was delivered at the May 4th, 2020 Urbana City Council meeting, immediately after 20…

Urbana Mayor Marlin to Choose New Police Review Board Member Amidst Storm of Misconduct Allegations

On May 5th, 2020, Mayor Diane Marlin announced that she will be accepting applications for a vacant seat on Urbana’s Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB). Grace Mitchell, the Chair of the CPRB, and a member of the group since its founding in 2007, has resigned her position after widespread criticism…

Champaign Police Review Board Chair: Urbana Police Gave “Slipshod Review” of Violent Arrest

“I witnessed a poor review of police conduct at last week’s City Council meeting” A publicly presented “review” by Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin and Lt. Jason Norton at the April 27th, 2020 Urbana City Council meeting has begun to draw more public scrutiny than the violent arrest that prompted…

Citizens Call for Chief Seraphin’s Resignation after Propagandized “Review” of Violent Urbana Arrest

Citizens having been speaking in great numbers for the past several Urbana City Council meetings, and the May 4th, 2020 meeting was no exception. Residents returned to the virtual podium to issue further complaint about the Police Department’s arrest and beating of Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis, which occurred on April…

City Clerk Charlie Smyth Tries to Dilute Public Input About Urbana Police Misconduct

On April 20th, 2020, dozens of citizens attended an electronic City Council meeting to voice their concerns about the recent arrest and beating of Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis. At the beginning of the meeting, at least 20 citizens had sent public input to be read at the meeting, and another dozen…

Urbana Officer from All-White Town to Investigate Racially-Charged Police Misconduct Allegations

On April 20th, 2020, dozens of citizens attended an electronic City Council meeting to voice their concerns about the recent arrest and beating of Urbana resident Aleyah Lewis. At that same meeting, Urbana Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin announced that Urbana Police Lieutenant Jason D Norton would be investigating the incident.…

Attorney General Investigates Champaign Attorney Laura Hall’s Concealment of Public Records

The Illinois Attorney General is asking Champaign Assistant City Attorney Laura Jayne Hall to explain why she fully denied a recent public records request. The request was related to alleged “threats” claimed by City Officials after their much-criticized passage of an emergency ordinance which gives Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen martial-law…

Urbana Police Push Propaganda Piece on Arrest & Beating of Innocent Woman

Urbana Police Officials didn’t waste any time attempting to save face and deflect blame after a disturbing police brutality video went viral on April 10th 2020. The video quickly made its rounds on social media, garnering widespread criticism for the Urbana Police Department from local citizens. Just 18 hours later,…

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is Violating Public Records Laws During COVID-19 Pandemic

CU-Underground has just received a series of emails and documents from a citizen who has been attempting to acquire public records from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD). The request seeks records relating to the enforcement of Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order within Champaign County. This is a very important issue,…

Urbana Police Beat Unarmed Woman for “Arguing with Officers”

On April 10th, 2020, a video of Urbana Police Officers physically assaulting an unarmed woman, Aleyah Lewis, surfaced on social media. Within two days, the video received tens of thousands of views and thousands of comments by concerned citizens. Around 4:30pm on April 10th, Urbana Police Officers responded to reports…

Champaign Council Ignores Citizens, Extends Broadly Criticized “Extraordinary Powers” During COVID-19 Pandemic

On April 7th, 2020, the Champaign City Council held their first ever fully-electronic Council meeting. The meeting lasted only 25 minutes, but Council managed to vote on, and unanimously pass, 11 different agenda items. The shortness of the meeting, and the number of items passed without any discussion, may itself…

Urbana, IL Mayor Diane Marlin Denies Citizen Police Complaints During COVID-19 Emergency Order

The emergency order unanimously pass by Urbana City Council on March 16th 2020 continues to come under scrutiny by citizens. We’ve just received notice that since Mayor Diane Marlin has shut down all citizen access to the services offered at the Urbana City Building, citizens now cannot submit police or…

City of Champaign Refuses to Release Documents on Alleged “Threats” Issued After COVID-19 Emergency Ordinance

CU-Underground is in possession of documents which show that the City of Champaign is refusing to reveal any information about the “threats” that were allegedly issued to Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen and other City Council Members after they unanimously passed an ordinance would give the Mayor martial-law type powers during…

Rantoul, IL Officer Violates COVID-19 Social Distancing Order for ‘Photo-With-Cop’ Birthday Request

On March 27th, 2020, a set of images began circulating on social media showing Rantoul Illinois Police Officer Kyle Donovan very flagrantly violating Governor Pritzker’s state-wide order on social distancing. The pictures show Donovan standing very closely to two young boys (with whom he has no relation) and placing his…

Urbana City Council Locks Out Citizens, Violates Open Meetings Act

Urbana citizens are upset and feeling shutout from their own government after Mayor Diane Marlin literally locked out citizens and the press from access to public meetings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 23, 2020, the Urbana City Council met at their scheduled meeting time in their usual…

Champaign County COVID-19 Virtual Board Meeting “Utter Failure”

On March 19th, 2020, the Champaign County Board attempted to hold their first electronic board meeting in an effort to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. District 4 County Board Member Jim McGuire called the virtual meeting an “utter failure”, and one citizen who watched the meeting described it…

Urbana’s Preston James Attempts to Cover His Butt After Violating Civilian Police Review Board Ordinance

The follies and tribulations of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) process continue to add up at virtually every meeting or action of the board and related City staff. Communications from a citizen show that “Community Relations Specialist” Preston James failed to mail required documents to a complainant after…

Urbana City Attorney James Simon: Mayor Feinen Can’t Control Guns

On March 16, 2020, the Urbana City Council met to discuss and vote on a “Temporary Emergency Ordinance to Address the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic”. The City of Champaign, which immediately abuts Urbana to the West, passed such an ordinance three days prior, and was met with national scrutiny for their…

Urbana Council to Cease Open Meetings During COVID-19, Despite Illinois Open Meetings Laws

On March 16, 2020, the Urbana City Council met to discuss and vote on a “Temporary Emergency Ordinance to Address the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic”. Three days before the meeting, Urbana City Attorney James Simon sent out an emergency ordinance proposal to the Urbana City Council for consideration. Simon’s proposal contained…

Chief Anthony Cobb Limits Police Services in Champaign During COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 16, 2020, Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb released a video informing the public about changes to the Police Department’s policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, Champaign Police will not be taking any walk-in reports and officers will not be responding in-person to reports of crimes unless the…

Urbana Council Keen to Avoid Champaign’s Blunder on COVID-19 Emergency Ordinance

On March 16, 2020, the Urbana City Council met to discuss and vote on a “Temporary Emergency Ordinance to Address the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic”. The City of Champaign, which immediately abuts Urbana to the West, passed such an ordinance three days prior, and was met with national scrutiny for their…

Urbana Attorney James Simon Proposes Violating Open Meetings Act in Response to COVID-19

On March 13th, 2020, Urbana Illinois City Attorney James Simon sent out an emergency ordinance proposal to the Urbana City Council in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed ordinance cites the Urbana city code “Chapter 6 – CIVIL EMERGENCIES” as insufficient to address an emergency such as the COVID-19…

Champaign City Council Can Exempt Itself from Open Meetings Act, According to City Manager Dorothy David

Just hours after unanimously passing an ordinance that grants “extraordinary powers” to Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City is scrambling to explain itself to citizens and news outlets across the state of Illinois. In less than 12 hours, Champaign gained a moderate amount…

Urbana Attorney James Simon Repeatedly Lies About Illinois Attorney General Findings in Regards to FOIA

CU-Underground is in receipt of a string of emails which include communications from Urbana City Attorney James Simon and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The communications reveal City staff violating public records laws, and Simon repeatedly lying about the legal findings of the Public Access Counselor at the Attorney General’s…

Champaign Posts False Press Release on COVID-19 Emergency Powers

Just hours after unanimously passing an ordinance that grants “extraordinary powers” to Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen, the City is making efforts to deceive citizens about what was actually voted on. The ordinance that was discussed at Friday morning’s emergency Council meeting contained a list of 30 “orders and regulations”, or…

Champaign Councilwoman Fourman Fearful Mayoral Powers During COVID-19 Pandemic Will Cause Liquor Drought

On Thursday March 12th City of Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen called for an emergency council meeting the following morning. The Council met in full attendance at 9:30am and had significant public attendance, plus at least four news agencies were present as well. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss…

The Champaign Police Review Subcommittee is Nearly Defunct

On March 11, 2020, the Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) held a meeting, but board members had virtually nothing meaningful to say. Once again, the only item discussed during the open portion of the meeting was public input on how dysfunctional and ineffective the police complaint process is for victims…

Lt. Tod Myers to City Council: We Don’t Use SWAT-Team Images for Recruiting

The City of Champaign Police Department has been struggling with declining employment numbers for years. At the 2020 March 10th Champaign City Council meeting, this issue was discussed at length during CPD’s “Police Department Update”. The Department is having trouble attracting applicants, and the primary reason cited by council members,…

Urbana Council Picks Insider William Colbrook to Replace Dean Hazen

CU-Underground recently posted an article which showed that resigning Urbana City Council Member Dean Hazen was attempting to transfer his seat to his “good friend” William Colbrook. In an email dated January 28th, 2020, Hazen assures Mayor Diane Marlin that if she would cooperate with this, “I will continue to…

Assistant City Attorney Laura Hall Violates Her Own Rules on Public Input at Meetings

Just weeks after Champaign City Assistant Attorney Kathryn Cataldo sent out a warning letter about interacting with citizens at public meetings, Assistant City Attorney Laura Hall is already breaking the rules. The letter, which was sent by Hall’s subordinate to all of Champaign’s boards, commission, and subcommittees, advises board members…

Urbana Council Member Dean Hazen Attempts to Transfer Elected Position

CU-Underground is in receipt of some concerning emails between Urbana City Council Member Dean Hazen and Mayor Diane Marlin. In the correspondence, Hazen attempts to directly transfer his own elected Council seat to William Colbrook, a fellow law-enforcement officer, an action which is a clear violation of Illinois State law.…

Champaign Assistant Attorney Kathryn Cataldo Warns Volunteer Board Members Not to Interact With the Public

Champaign, IL Assistant City Attorney Kathryn Cataldo (photo credit: ILDocs.com) CU-Underground is in receipt of a concerning memo which was sent to all of the Champaign Citizens who volunteer their time to work on various boards and subcommittees of the City of Champaign. Targeted boards include the Board of Trustees…

Urbana Police Search Citizens’ Mailboxes “All the Time”

The body camera footage from a recent Urbana Police complaint revealed a rather disturbing act by Officer Collin DeDecker. After a hit & run incident, DeDecker went door-to-door in an effort to identify a vehicle owner. DeDecker was then seen opening and searching inside of a resident’s mailbox without permission.…

Attorney General to City Clerk Charlie Smyth: Urbana is Violating Public Records Laws

We have obtained a copy of a letter from the Illinois Attorney General which indicates that the City of Urbana is in violation of public records laws. The letter, addressed to Urbana City Clerk Charlie Smyth, says that records were improperly withheld by the Smyth’s office in a recent Freedom…

Champaign City Council: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

City Council study session on January 28, 2020 covered two main topics- City of Champaign’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and the review of Boards and Commissions. The CAFR, commonly known as “the audit” presents the financial operations and financial position of the city for fiscal year ended June 30,…

City of Champaign Employee Compensation: slicing the pie

During the Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) Meeting in August 2019, Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb evaded answering questions from board members. His excuse? It was above his pay grade. This prompted us to identify the Top 10 highest paid public officials in Champaign County. The ten highest paid public officials…

A “Historic Moment”: Urbana Police Review Board Holds Third Hearing in 12 Years

On January 29, 2020, the Urbana Civilian Review Board (CPRB) held a special appeals hearing meeting for Complaint 2019-06. The appeals hearing is part of the civilian police complaint process – the mechanism by which civilians can file complaints concerning Urbana police conduct. The CPRB is tasked with hearing appeals…

Urbana’s New Deputy Chief Sued for Falsifying Evidence and Witness Coercion

After being held in prison for nearly a year during a criminal trial for armed robbery charges, two men are suing Urbana Police for civil rights violations. Quintin Brown, 28, and Wayne Colson, 24, were a charged for an alleged holdup that occurred on January 21st, 2018 at a house…

Attorney General Orders Human Resources Director Todd Rent to Stop Violating Public Records Laws

We have obtained a copy of a letter from the Illinois Attorney General which indicates that the City of Urbana is in violation of public records laws. The letter, addressed to Urbana Human Resources Director Todd Edmund Rent, says that Rent improperly withheld records in a recent Freedom of Information…

Retired Urbana Police Officer Preston James Attempts to Conceal Efforts to Dilute Civilian Police Review Board

The September 25th, 2019 meeting of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) was unique in many ways. It was a “special meeting” called with the apparent goal of diluting the review powers of the CPRB. During this meeting, Urbana Police Lieutenant Richard H Surles attempted to persuade board members…

Top 10 Highest Paid Public Officials in Champaign County

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb was in the hot seat during a recent Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) Meeting. Board members were trying to get straight answers from him, but he evaded answering by saying it was above his paygrade. This prompted us to look into how much local government officials…

“We are Negligent as a Board” – Scott Dossett on the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board

After several months of criticism from engaged residents, members of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) are finally beginning to realize what everyone else has been saying: the CPRB is broken. At the January 22nd, 2020 CPRB meeting, founding member Scott Dossett did not mince words. “We are negligent…

Urbana Police Review Board Reviews Questionable Taser Usage and Failures in Complaint Process

On January 22, 2020, the Urbana Civilian Review Board met to review a recent Taser discharge and continue the discussion initiated at the last meeting regarding the citizen complaint process. Ricardo Diaz, Scott Dossett, Mikhail Lyubansky, Darius White, and Darrell Price formed the quorum. Chairperson Grace Mitchell and Megan McGinty…

Champaign City Council: January 21, 2020

The January 21, 2020, City Council meeting kicked off with a special recognition session for two firefighters that were recently promoted. Greg Elliot, who has been with the Champaign Fire Department for 10 years was promoted to Fire Engineer. Jeff Jones, with 35 years of firefighting under his belt (21…

Champaign City Council: January 14, 2020

On January 14, 2020, City Council met for a study session regarding Champaign City Code, Chapter 24: Special Events Ordinance. Deputy City Manager, Matt Roeschley, walked City Council members through the proposed amendments to the ordinance initially discussed in April 2019. During the prior study session, council discussed city policy…

Chief Cobb Gives Smart Ass Response to Citizen Review Board Recommendations

At the January 8th, 2020 Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) meeting, board members spent some time discussing the suggested changes to the police complaint process, a discussion that has been simmering for at least the past year. The ordinance which created the CRS in 2017 specifically tasks the 5 member…

Champaign City Council: January 7, 2020

The first City Council meeting of 2020 started with City of Champaign Township Supervisor Andy Quarnstrom announcing the hire of two new personnel. The first hire, U of I social worker intern will mainly assist with the Emergency Rent Assistance Program. Their second hire is a Program Director for Prosperity…

Alderman Dennis Roberts Remarkably out of Touch Regarding Urbana’s Police Review Board

Urbana City Council meetings ran long on November 25th and December 2nd of 2019 as a result of discussion on one particular agenda item: armed “school resource officers” in Urbana schools. At both meetings, members of the public, Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin, and Council members spoke at length. The…

Urbana Police Hide Citizen Complaints, Violate Police Review Ordinance

At the October 23rd, 2019 meeting of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB), it was revealed that board members had not been receiving copies of citizen police complaints for the past several years. Apparently, the Urbana Police Department simply stopped issuing copies to the board, and neither City staff…

Urbana City Staff Dispense Lies to Civilian Board Members Regarding Police Complaints

The 2019 October 23rd meeting of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) was a treasure of revelations about the shortcomings and failures of not just the CPRB ordinance itself, but also the Urbana City staff that have been manipulating the process. At the meeting, one mind-blowing realization was that…

Todd Rent Shirks Criticism at Urbana Police Review Board Meeting

On October 23rd 2019, citizens spoke at the Urbana Citizen Police Review Board (CPRB) meeting, questioning its efficacy, and more specifically, how city staff handle the process. Of particular note, board members heard complaints about Human Resources Director Todd Rent, who has repeatedly refused to deliver public records to complainants.…

Citizens Voice Concerns About Complaint and Appeal Process at Urbana Citizen Police Review Board Meeting

The Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) met on October 23, 2019 with only four of the seven members present. Mikhail Lyubansky, Ricardo Diaz, Darrell Price, and new board member Darius White were in attendance, forming the quorum. After council’s approval of minutes for the July 24th meeting (article here),…

Scott Dossett Calls for Special Meeting of the CPRB, then Fails to Attend

At the July 24th, 2019 meeting of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (article here), founding member Scott Dosset called for a “special meeting” to discuss police Taser policy and reviews. The controversy which led to this request began when Urbana Police Lt. Richard Surles announced that the Police Department…

Urbana Civilian Police Review Board Chair Wants to See Fewer Taser Usage Videos Because They’re Boring

Grace Mitchell, the Chair of the Urbana Civilian Police Board (CPRB), make a remarkable proclamation at the September 25th, 2019 CPRB meeting: review fewer Taser usages. The reason appears to be that they simply aren’t exciting enough. Mitchel said: “We don’t have to see all or so many, maybe we…

Urbana Civilian Police Review Board Votes to End Mandatory Taser Camera Reviews of All Taser Displays

On September 25, 2019, the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) met (only audio recording is made available to the public) to continue the discussion of the Urbana Police Department (UPD) Taser Utilization and Taser Policy. Specifically, UPD had decided independently without consultation with CPRB to phase out the use…

Chief Cobb Completely Unprepared and Out of Touch at Citizen Review Board Meeting

On August 8th 2019, a special meeting of the Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) was convened with one specific agenda item: open discussion with Chief Cobb about the CRS’s recommendations for changes to the police complaint process. The Champaign Police Department has long been regarded as corrupt, racist, and violent,…

Urbana Police to Discontinue Taser Camera Use, Despite Law Mandating Taser Video Review

On July 24, 2019 Urbana Police Lieutenant Richard H Surles surprised the members of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) by announcing that the Department will no longer use Taser-mounted cameras during use of force incidents. The decision would seem to violate the CPRB Ordinance which makes it mandatory…

Founding Member of Urbana Police Review Board Scott Dossett Claims the CPRB is not Tasked with Community Outreach

Meetings of the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) often have more interesting revelations about the board members themselves than of the content of their review process. At the July 24th, 2019 CPRB Meeting, 10-year board member and founding member Scott Dossett made the bizarre claim that the CPRB is…

Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) Meets to Review Police Department Taser Usage

On July 24, 2019, the Urbana Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) meeting took place after a series of cancelled and rescheduled meetings since October 24, 2018. The meeting started with a staff report by Urbana Community Relations Specialist, Preston James. Since the last meeting, the city has received 4 citizen…

Citizens to Champaign Police Review Board: Complaint Process is Broken

On May 8th 2019, several citizens attended the Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CRS) meeting to voice their grievances with the Champaign Police Department’s handling of citizen complaints. The CPD has had a complaint procedure for decades, but due to repeated issues with officer misconduct and corruption within Champaign’s department, the…

Champaign Attorney Laura Hall Lies About City Email Retention, Claims City Receives “Billions of e-mails”

A citizen has forwarded an email exchange with Champaign Assistant City Attorney Laura Jayne Hall, wherein Hall attempts to creatively explain why Champaign City staff delete emails after just one year. The citizen had submitted a Freedom of Information Act request in November of 2018, but received only a limited…

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