Blog Archive

Blog Archive : August 2004

Jose Aspera posted a blog on Aug 25, 2004

African-American Family Injured by Skinhead Attack Files Lawsuit

For further information, contact:

Betsy Shuman-Moore,

Chicago Lawyers' Cmte., 312-630-9744

Brian Pitts, Kirkland & Ellis, 312-861-3115


African-American Family Injured By Skinhead Attack Files Suit


Chicago, Illinois . . . On Friday, August 27, Phyllis Williams and Jimmy Gilmore filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for themselves and their three teenage children against Shaun Derifield, Harley Hermes and Michael Canlas in which they allege that in August 2002 the three men attacked the three Williams children in northwest suburban Fox Lake, because they are African-American. All three pled guilty to charges in 2003 and received prison sentences. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, alleging the family suffered loss of civil rights, embarrassment, humiliation, and fear as a result of the defendants' acts.

The Williams-Gilmore family is being represented by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.


According to the lawsuit, Derifield, Hermes and Canlas, white supremacist Lake County Skinheads, stormed towards the Williams children, who had been walking home from a high school football game. The defendants allegedly threatened to beat and kill the Williamses, using racial insults. The Williams boys were able to run away, but the suit says that defendants trapped Deona Williams against a car, waving their knives. Derifield put his knife to the girl's throat; she cried and pleaded with the defendants not to kill her.


"Hate crimes are not private wrongs between a perpetrator and a victim; they are public crimes. They go to the core of what we believe in as a nation of equals," said Clyde E. Murphy, Chicago Lawyers' Committee Executive Director. "Violent hate crimes are the most extreme form of racism and discrimination."


For 35 years, the Chicago Lawyers' Committee, through its 40-plus member law firms, including Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and staff legal team, has provided free legal services to challenge discrimination and other civil rights violations in both the public and private sectors. For further information about the Chicago Lawyers' Committee, contact Clyde Murphy at 312-630-9744, or or visit its website at

Jose Aspera posted a blog on Aug 17, 2004

Studs Terkel and Civil Rights Lawyers Judd Miner, Matt Piers, and Cindy Hyndman to be Honored by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee


CONTACT: Clyde Murphy: (312) 630-9744,


Studs Terkel, And Civil Rights Lawyers, Judd Miner, Matt Piers, And Cindy Hyndman To Be Honored By The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights At Its Annual Meeting, Tuesday, August 17, 2004


McDonald’s Corporation, Number One on Fortune’s List of Best Companies for Minorities, to Receive Corporate Leadership Award


Pulitzer Prize winning author Studs Terkel will receive special recognition (in an award to be accepted by Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here, about life in a Chicago Housing Authority development); and Judd Miner, longtime civil rights attorney, founder of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, and former City of Chicago Corporation Counsel, will receive the Edwin A. Rothschild Award for Lifetime Achievement in Civil Rights, at the 35th annual meeting of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.


Other award winners include 2004 Pro Bono Award winners Matt Piers, partner in the law firm of Gessler Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym Ltd., and lead counsel in Lewis v. City of Chicago, in which the Lawyers’ Committee represented over 6,500 African Americans who passed the Chicago Fire Department’s 1995 written entrance examination, but were denied an opportunity to be hired as firefighters, and in which a decision from the trial judge is expected in summer 2004; and Cindy Hyndman, partner in the firm of Robinson Curley & Clayton, P.C., also counsel in Lewis v. City of Chicago.


Maryanne C. Woo, an associate in the firm of Sachnoff & Weaver, will receive the Committee’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award for her contributions to the Committee’s legal team representing various organizations of African-American, Hispanic, Asian and women contractors who intervened in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the City of Chicago’s affirmative action ordinance for construction contracts.


McDonald’s Corporation, whose combined sales of its minority franchises make it the largest black enterprise in the country, will receive the Corporate Leadership Award, to be accepted by McDonald’s General Counsel, Gloria Santona.


Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page will keynote the 35th annual meeting, to be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Palmer House. Mr. Page’s theme is: “A New Century of Rights Under Seige.” Mr. Page will address Patriot Act threats to civil liberties and reassessments of civil rights, as civil rights advocates try to answer, for the 21st century, Dr. Martin Luther King’s question: “Where do we go from here?”


Commenting on the receipt of the award, Ms. Santona said: "McDonald's is honored to be recognized by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee and Chicago's leading law firms for our joint commitment to equal justice. In fact, McDonald's demonstrates this commitment every day through its hiring practices, supplier diversity and franchising opportunities. McDonald's has the largest number of minority franchises in the quick-service industry, and 35% of all our purchases are from minority-owned firms. We're proud of this record and seek to surpass it every day."


And Clyde Murphy, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, noted: “We are pleased to have such a distinguished group of honorees for our 35th anniversary, and look forward to celebrating the work of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee with our many partners in the struggle for equal justice.”


The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee was founded in 1969. Its founders stated the Committee’s mission this way: “...the poor and the black can become full and equal participants in our economic and political systems only when they achieve the power to deal on equal terms with public and private institutions. An essential element of that power is access to expert legal resources.”


For further information about the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, or for tickets to the annual meeting, call (312) 630-9744 or go to: