MEDIA WATCH: The Chicago Sun-Times deserves a Pulitzer Prize for stupidity in its reporting on the gang thug who attacked Rahm Emanuel's son and stole the youngster's cell phone a year ago...

One of the results of the reduction in reporters (and the elimination of news photographers and copy editors with experience in Chicago) at the Chicago Sun-Times is that much of the reporting that's left get dumber. And there have been few stories as dumb as the fairy tale version of a gang banger's life and work told in the Sun-Times recently. According to the story, Philllip Payne, who robbed Rahm's son a year ago, "never had a chance" to be a good boy, and his "thug life" is a kind of fate. But the source for all this stuff is also a "grandmother" who proclaimed in print that her grandson would never "snitch." What's clear from the story is that Payne and his family have long been with the Black P. Stone gang, a faction of the the "People." And apparently, to make the gangsters happier, the Sun-Times published a photograph of the gangsters showing off their weapons and flashing their gang signs.

This photograph, which was published in the Chicago Sun-Times, shows a group of Black P. Stones street gang members on Chicago's North Side representing their gang affiliations, disrespecting rival gangs (hand signs pointing "down") and displaying at least three weapons. The Sun-Times will be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in stupidity by Substance for publishing that above photograph and the clueless story that appears a week before Christmas, jumping off the front page of the newspaper's print edition.What the story does is tell the usual nonsense story peddled by gang members and their families when clueless reporters come by to get the story. Instead of utilizing Chicago police gang information (which would show that the Black P. Stones have claimed the area in "Uptown" from Broadway west to Western Ave and beyond for more than a quarter century, the Sun-Times story even confuses the current gang rivalries in Chicago. Contrary to the reporting in the Sun-Times, the Black P. Stones (who along with the Latin Kings are the leading gang in the five-pointed star "People" gang "nation") are still at war with the "Folks" (led by the Gangster Disciples and the Maniac Latin Disciples, and utilizing the six-pointed star). Apparently, the Sun-Times has fired every reporter and photo journalist who might have corrected the silly errors and worse in the story.

Even if the Sun-Times has stripped its newsroom of experienced reporters and photo journalists with even passing knowledge of the gang realities in Chicago (and Illinois) perhaps they could at least provide some of their staff (and editors) with the Chicago Crime Commission's "Gang Book." The "Gang Book" gives an up-to-date accounting of Chicago's major drug gangs, including photographs if gang members and an index of signs and symbols that the gangs used to "represent" during their ongoing gang wars.

Despite a few inaccuracies, the Chicago Crime Commission's "Gang Book", published nearly a decade ago, is still an accurate introduction to the city's major drug gangs in the 21st Century.But don't take my word for it. Read how the Sun-Times reported the story of the supposedly sad life of Phillip Payne, below:

A year later, thug life engulfs teen who robbed Rahms son. WRITTEN BY CHRIS FUSCO AND JON SEIDEL POSTED at the Chicago Sun-Times Website 12/20/2015, 08:24PM. The story jumped off the front page of the print edition on December 21, 2015.

After pleading guilty to robbing Mayor Rahm Emanuels teenage son and apologizing in court, Phillip B. Payne got a break.

Cook County Judge Lori Wolfson sentenced Payne to three years of probation, telling him she thought he is not a violent person and is capable of doing well. She also ordered him to stay away from gangs and drugs.

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But since his sentencing earlier this year, the wiry 18-year-old known as Peejay hasnt managed to do that, according to interviews, court records and his own social-media posts.

n admitted gang member, hes now being held in Cook County Jail after a turbulent spring and summer in which he was arrested twice, accused of dealing cocaine and driving a stolen car.

In between, he grieved the loss of his older half-brother a fellow gang member who was shot and killed in April, a casualty of what appears to be a North Side gang war.

The crime that put Payne in the public eye rolling Zach Emanuel for his iPhone on a sidewalk outside the mayors Ravenswood home last December remains under investigation. Thats because the police say they still dont know who was Paynes accomplice in the nighttime attack on the mayors 24/7 police-patrolled block.

Whats happened to Payne in the year since the mugging, though, is emblematic of a larger problem confronting Chicago. Like many young people from broken families, he has immersed himself in a gang culture that breeds everything from robberies like the one that touched the citys first family to the gun violence that has wracked some city neighborhoods.

That point isnt lost on Paynes grandmother, Loretta Jackson. She recently buried one grandson, Paynes brother, BoShaun D. Jackson. And she is praying that her jailed grandson, still a teen, can turn his life around.

Right now, hes at a crossroad, Jackson, 78, said of Payne. I wrote him in jail, and I told him, Do you want to go down the same road as your brother? . . . He dont know nothing else, so hes doing what his brother trained him to do.

Part of what he learned, Jackson said, is not to snitch on others, including the second person involved in the attack on Emanuels son.

My grandsons not gonna rat on that guy, so he took the fall, she said.

The police say Payne has refused to give up his accomplice in the Dec. 19, 2014, mugging, which happened around 10 p.m. as the mayors son was talking on his cellphone not far from the Emanuel homes front door.

The pair approached Zach Emanuel from behind, punched him, placed him in a chokehold and took off with the phone after demanding he give them the code to unlock it, the police have said. Zach Emanuel, shaken by the mugging, was treated at home by a family doctor.

The police were able to bust Payne because the stolen phone, subsequently sold online, didnt work. So it was brought to a store, where the serial number turned up the name of the original owner, the mayors son, in a stolen-phones database. Investigators said they traced the phone to a man who said he got it from Payne.

On Friday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described the robbery as a crime of opportunity facilitated by the fact that the victim was unaware of his surroundings because he was talking on his cellphone. He also said the victim and Phil Payne did not know each other and had no contact prior to Payne and his accomplice assaulting him that night.

They didnt know who he [Emanuels son] was, and they crossed paths, is how Paynes grandmother put it.

ayne doesnt want to talk about the crime. I thought that whole situation was behind me, he wrote in a letter from jail, declining an interview request. I know what I did was wrong and I apologized to the family already.

The police have declined to release most records on the case, citing the ongoing investigation and the fact that Payne, like Zach Emanuel, was 17 when the robbery occurred.

Now, Payne is an adult under the law, meaning he could spend years in prison if convicted of the two sets of felony charges pending against him.

Stephanie Kemen, a private criminal-defense lawyer, withdrew from his cases last month, citing an irreparable breakdown of the attorney-client relationship, records show. Payne is now being represented by Nicolette Katsivalis, an assistant Cook County public defender, who declined to comment.

According to police and court records, Payne and his brother, who would have celebrated his 28th birthday last Monday, are members of a Black P Stones gang faction centered around Sunnyside and Magnolia in Uptown, two blocks from Paynes familys old apartment and a 20-minute walk from Emanuels house.

The police beat that includes the P Stones turf bordered by Broadway to the east, Montrose to the south, Clark to the west and Lawrence to the north has seen increases in robberies and homicides the past three years, including three killings last year and five so far this year, according to city records.

Some of the violence is the result of rival gangs taunting each other on social media and battling over drug sales throughout Uptown, according to Guglielmi, the police spokesman.

Besides Paynes brother, the gang casualties this year include 20-year-old rapper Shaquon Young Pappy Thomas, a member of a Gangster Disciples faction who was killed in May a week after he starred in a YouTube video called Shooters. In the video, which has more than 2.1 million views, Thomas taunts rival gang members, telling them you dont even know how to shoot, among other things.

Payne, whose gang is affiliated with Thomas, posted Thomas picture at the top of his Facebook page after his death.

Another casualty of the gang violence is 28-year-old DeMarcus Adams, a Black P Stone gunned down in February.

BoShaun Jackson, Paynes brother, was arrested in May 2014, after the police spotted him hanging out with Adams. Jackson was on parole and not allowed to be in the company of other known gang members.

Thats one of nearly a dozen arrests on Jacksons rap sheet, which also includes prison terms for illegal gun possession and dealing cocaine.

In the 10 months since turning 18, Payne already has four arrests as an adult.

Though the brothers have different fathers and were born nine years apart, they were close, with Bo serving as a father figure for Peejay, their grandmother said.

The two lived with their mother, Nora L. Payne, in an apartment in the 4400 block of North Clifton, records show. She appears to have left the neighborhood since her older son died and her younger son got locked up. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.

Loretta Jackson, who is Nora Paynes mother, said her daughter has battled alcoholism for years. The addiction hurt their relationship, with Loretta Jackson playing only a limited role in helping with her grandchildren, including a third child who is about a year older than Phillip.

She threw her kids off on BoShaun, who began getting involved in gang activity when he was about 10, Loretta Jackson said.

The photograph published in the Chicago Sun-Times showing the tattoo of Phillip Payne also indicates Payne's gang affiliation. The five-pointed star represents the "People", one of the two main Chicago "Gang Nations" that have evolved since the 1960s, when they were first organized by the Black P. Stones gang (the "People" utilize the five-pointed star) and the Black Gangster Disciples (using the six-pointed star to represent the "Folks"). Among the many facts left out of the Sun-Times version of Payne's life and work is the fact that the gangs currently run the prisons in Illinois, and control the tiers in Cook County Jail. This is one of the many long-term results of the austerity politics that have prevailed across the USA for the past decades.With the exception of a few years when Phillip and his sister lived with their father in California, BoShaun became Phillips role model.

Loretta Jackson described both as athletic. Though he stood only 5-foot-6, Jackson was a weight-room regular a solid block of muscle at 157 pounds. His grandmother, who stands roughly the same height, fits perfectly into two pairs of her grandsons shoes, which she wears occasionally when running errands around her senior housing apartment in Bronzeville.

At 6 feet and 140 pounds, Payne was a good basketball player, his grandmother said. And he got good grades which Judge Wolfson took note of when she sentenced him to probation on March 9 and had him apologize to the mayors wife, Amy Rule, who was in court on behalf of the Emanuel family.

Shortly after that, things began spiraling out of control for the brothers.

On April 3, Payne was arrested with drugs, records show. Responding to a call about trespassers at a Chicago Housing Authority building in the 1200 block of West Leland, officers said they saw Payne and three others enter and leave a third-floor apartment in which Payne was seated on a couch with a mini-table in front of him with several small blue baggies and a clear plastic bag containing cocaine. A judge released him on $10,000 bail.

When a blog Crime in Wrigleyville + Boystown posted his mugshot and a short story about the arrest online, Payne lashed out on Facebook. He posted the mugshot and the story on the social-media site and taunted the cops, writing, So what yall. Gon post my every arrest cpd . . .

Six days after Paynes arrest, the police pulled over his brother, driving a Mercedes-Benz in the 7500 block of South Halsted, for not wearing a seat belt. As officers approached, they said they saw Jackson pop something into his mouth. He later spit out seven knotted baggies filled with what they said appeared to be cocaine.

Jackson, 27, was charged with felony drug possession. He, too, posted bail.

Less than a month later, he was dead.

Around 3:30 a.m. on April 30, Jackson was shot while driving on North Lake Shore Drive between Montrose and Lawrence. The bullet went through his left arm into his chest.

He called Payne on his cellphone and was able to drive himself to Weiss Memorial Hospital, crashing his car into a sign near the emergency room, according to the police. But Jackson died four hours later, after being transferred to Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Payne said little to the police about the shooting, which remains under investigation.

The victims brother relayed to the police that the victim was driving northbound along 4400 N. Lake Shore Drive when he was shot, according to a Cook County medical examiners report. Victim or brother would not provide any additional information. No offender was named by the victim or victims brother.

The shot came seemingly out of nowhere.

There was no evidence of close-range firing on the body, according to the medical examiners autopsy report, which also noted that several baggies containing possible narcotics were recovered from (Jacksons) mouth, throat and esophagus.

After his brothers death, Paynes Facebook posts veered from sadness to anger to seemingly vengeful.

Ion wanna talk to nobody please dont call or text me, he wrote the day his brother died.

I cant take it yall I fell like a lost soul ion know which way to go, he wrote the next day.

But on May 12, the same day he asked Facebook friends if they needed information about his brothers funeral, he also appeared to want revenge for Jacksons death, writing: I honestly dont give AF them nas dont put no fear in my heart. [I]f u shed blood like me then u better be ready for war cause Im riding for mines.

After the funeral, he posted a group photo in which he appears to be pointing a handgun at the camera alongside more than a dozen other young men holding pistols and flashing what appear to be gang signs.

ncendiary posts are common in gang culture, sometimes with fatal results. A backlash over comments posted on Facebook in the wake of rapper Young Pappy Thomas death, for instance, led to the shooting of a 22-year-old man by a gang member just days later, court records show. The man who posted the comments, Clifton Frye, died in June. Germel Dossie, 17, allegedly shot Frye in Rogers Park because of what hed written. Dossie, charged as an adult, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Fryes death is one of 438 murders in Chicago as of early December, up 15 percent from the same time last year, when the number of killings was the lowest its been since 1965. The city also has seen 2,258 shootings as of early December, up 18 percent from the same time in 2014.

Our violent-crime problem in Chicago has become more unwieldy, U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon said in a speech to the City Club of Chicago in September. Were seeing more and more indiscriminate shootings, social-media spats leading to spraying bullets, and often with kids on either or both sides of the gun.

The month after Paynes Facebook warning to be ready for war, he was locked up after the police spotted him in a stolen car. According to a police report, he told investigators: I borrowed the vehicle from a crack head about a week ago in return for three bags of crack and Yea, I guess I knew the vehicle was stolen.

On June 23, a judge ordered Payne jailed on $75,000 bail.

Loretta Jackson prays that her grandson can get out of jail, move far away from Chicago and get the schooling that he needs to turn his life around.

I feel very bad. These kids, they never had a chance, she said of her grandsons. I just wrote a letter to the president of the United States and asked him to help us. I also had written a letter to Rahm Emanuels family and apologized for what my grandson had done.

The tattoos on Paynes left arm hint at how hard it might be for the teen to leave gang life behind. One of them, a tribute to his late brother, reads RIP Bo, records show.

The other has a five-point star. Gang, it reads.


December 28, 2015 at 9:01 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Quintonio LeGrier

Quintonio LeGrier, a 19 year old sophomore NIU electrical engineering undergraduate, home for holiday break as we all know by now was shot dead by the Chicago police. Again we have another former CPS student (Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy ) shot down and again we appear to have a case involving mental illness. From the articles that have been running for the last few days it is also clear that Quintonio LeGrier had been using for some time psychotropic medications.

From statements made by at least one of his friends from NIU he was having a difficult time at school with these issues. Based on the NIU school plan for electrical engineering majors he would have just completed his very first electrical engineering class, electrical engineering 210. Only 10% of the undergraduate engineering students at NIU are black. In general NIU has about 250 freshman engineering students, by the sophomore year that number is reduced to under 150. It goes back up in the junior year due to incoming transfers. Pass rates are currently only slightly above 50 percent in seven core math competency classes taken by undergraduates at NIU.

Quintonio LeGrier was no doubt in a pressure cooker situation at NIU and even with his high grades at Brooks there is probably little doubt the stress this young man was experiencing was not helping his mental health situation. The police were called by his father who wanted his son taken to a mental health facility, instead they shot him dead as he supposedly charged at them with a baseball bat and killed his neighbor. What a cruel world we are creating for people with mental health related disabilities to succeed in.

Rod Estvan

December 28, 2015 at 11:49 AM

By: Susan Hickey, LCSW

Quintonio LeGrier and mental health

I agree with Rod on his assessment of this latest tragedy of an African-American male being killed while in what appears to be a mental health crisis. Since Rahm has come into office, mental health services on the west and south sides have been reduced. Social workers and psychologists in CPS were reduced by 20 each at the beginning of this school year. Along with counselors being doubling up with non-mental health duties, the ability for children in CPS to have consistent and proper therapy is woefully lacking. Social workers and psychologists along with other clinicians are leaving CPS in large numbers. But then, Rahm, told Karen Lewis in their meeting back in 2011, that 25% of CPS students are 'write-offs'!

Bettie Jones, the downstairs neighbor, who was killed by the police was involved in Action Now, an advocacy group that fights for better health care, including mental health, and to stop the further destruction of the neighborhood schools in Chicago. It is a loss to her family but to all of Chicago because we need people like her to stand upo for what is right.

December 29, 2015 at 11:12 AM

By: Tanisha

Response to Rod

Rod says that Quintonio's father called 911 asking for assistance with his son's mental health issues. I've not seen that reported anywhere...would Rod be able to provide a link to his source? I ask because I've only read and heard that his father called the police because his son was weilding and threatening him with a baseball bat. And,in the event you don't think baseball bats are weapons that police officers have every right to defend themselves against, allow me to remind you of a horrific crime that occurred tight here in Chicago...the young Irish national who was beaten with a baseball bat and, while still alive, has been left totally incapitated. She is unable to walk, speak, feed herself, toilet on her own, etc.

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