Story of the Summer

For most Americans, summer is a time for barbeques, baseball and vacations. But for many in this country's inner cities the warmer months bring violence, tragedy, death and, in some cases, hope. These are the stories of one summer in one town -- Peoria, Illinois.

An admission from a citizen at a heated City Council meeting

If police contend that the parody Twitter account which prompted a raid a week ago tonight amounted to “impersonating a public official,” they have another target following tonight’s City Council meeting.

April Clemons, who was one of several to speak in the public comments portion of a meeting that stretched nearly to 11 p.m., told Mayor Jim Ardis she is the “proud owner of a new Jim Ardis parody account.”
Clemons then told Ardis he “screwed up.” Near the end of her comments, Clemons turned to Chief of Police Steve Settingsgaard and told him the same.

In addition to Clemons, the grandmother of Jake Elliott, who is the only person to be charged with a crime following the raid but not one related to the Twitter account, spoke directly to Ardis.

She was passionate.

“I know you’re hurting,” she told Ardis, “but this grandma is hurting too.”
Clemons is one of more than a dozen people to start a Twitter account that pokes fun at Ardis in the wake of last week’s raid.

Ardis read from what appeared to be a prepared statement after the Twitter raid was brought up by Chuck Weaver. Weaver, Jim Montelongo and Beth Akeson were the only members of the City Council to address the situation, which had been brewing under the surface all night. All three were critical of Ardis, Settingsgaard and the three judges who signed off on a warrant that allowed police to seize electronics from Elliott’s home. In addition to confiscating the items, Elliott was charged with weed possession, making him the only person to have been charged with a crime as a result of the raid.

City Attorney Sonni Choi Williams directed Weaver’s inquiries to both Settingsgaard and Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady, who was not present at the meeting. Settingsgaard, when pressed on the matter by Weaver, said the meeting was not the proper forum to discuss what is an ongoing investigation.

Clemons joins Jon Daniel as the second person to admit to operating a parody account with Ardis’ name attached. Daniel did so Thursday in my VICE story.

More tomorrow. I’m exhausted.

Hide notes

  1. thejasonhowell reblogged this from storyofthesummer and added:
    Great reporting from my friend @justinglawe back home. This saga isn’t over yet.
  2. storyofthesummer posted this