Information on the legal redress available to a citizen of the United States in Illinois who feels he or she is being targeted, harassed and discriminated against by a federal law enforcement/intelligence services agency because of his or her race or political activities [USA19036.E]

The following information was provided by the chief of the Civil Rights Division of the Illinois State Attorney General's office in Chicago during a 15 December 1994 telephone interview.

An individual in Illinois who felt he or she was being targeted, harassed or discriminated against by a local or federal law enforcement agency because of his or her race or political activities would have several avenues of redress.

The first level for redressing a grievance against a local law enforcement agency would be to write a letter to the chief of police of the jurisdiction from which the police were operating. If the chief of police failed to investigate the claim, or if the individual was not satisfied with the response, the individual could take the complaint to the Civil Rights Division of the State Attorney General's office.

Similarly, the first level for redressing a grievance against a federal law enforcement officer in Illinois would be to register a complaint with the director of the agency's Illinois bureau. All federal law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Border Patrol are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, so the individual could also send a letter of complaint to the agency's headquarters in Washington and/or to the Attorney General's office in Washington. By law the Central Intelligence Agency cannot conduct operations within the United States.

If the Civil Rights Division was satisfied that the individual has attempted to resolve the dispute through the internal mechanisms of the local or federal law enforcement agency, it would review the claim to determine whether the individual did appear to have been targeted for abuse, and if so, whether that law enforcement officer, municipality, or agency appeared to have practised a pattern of abuse on the basis of race or political opinion. If the Civil Rights Division found a pattern or practice of abuse, it could file a case against the municipality on behalf of the People of Illinois, and would conduct all the necessary research, verification and legal representation necessary to try the case.

If the Civil Rights Division determined that there was no pattern or practice of abuse, the individual would have to pursue the case on his or her own initiative. The individual could either hire an attorney or ask for assistance from an organization that does pro bono legal representation of cases involving harassment on the basis of race or political opinion.

Regardless of whether the individual secured pro bono or paid legal representation, or decided to represent himself, any case involving police abuse in Illinois would be tried in federal not state courts. A charge of police misconduct would be laid under chapter 42 United States Code (USC), section 1983. Once in the federal court system the individual would be able to appeal to the higher federal courts, on up to the Supreme Court assuming it agreed to hear the case, if the individual was not satisfied with verdict at each levels.

Corroborative or additional information on this subject could not be found among the sources currently available to the DIRB in Ottawa. However, attached please find several documents reporting on cases of racially or politically motivated abuse by police and other law enforcement/intelligence services agencies. These documents might be of interest.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Illinois State Attorney General's office, Chicago. 15 December 1994. Telephone interview with Chief of Civil Rights Division.


Against the Current [Detroit, Mich.]. July-August 1994. Karin Baker. "The Legacy of Contelpro: Geronimo Pratt, Political Prisoner," pp. 3-5.

The Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (CIJL) Bulletin [Geneva]. April 1988. No. 21. Michael Krinsky. "F.B.I. Harassment of the National Lawyers Guild," pp. 26-35.

Human Rights [Chicago]. Summer 1988. Vol. 15, No. 2. Frank Wilkinson. "Why I Won My Case Against the FBI," pp. 38-41, 53-54.

Human Rights Watch and American Civil Liberties Union. December 1993. Human Rights Violations in the United States: A Report on U.S. Compliance with the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York: Human Rights Watch, pp. 115-27.

The National Law Journal [n.p.]. 28 June 1982. Vol. 4, No. 42. Larry Tell. "$700,000 Verdict Is Upheld Against Former FBI Agents," p. 8.