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Active Trans meets with State's Attorney's Office

Hi everyone,

We’d like to update you with some more insights and information on the Reza/Fabian case.

Active Trans staff met with three top officials from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office on Wednesday, July 14. It was a very productive meeting in the sense that we set the record straight and began building what could be a very fruitful relationship with some major players.

Here are some insights we gathered:

  • The State’s Attorney’s Office was just as disappointed as we were with the light sentences given to Armando Reza and Erik Fabian, who were convicted of intentionally running down cyclists with a car in Brookfield in 2009. The State’s Attorney’s Office assured us that they fought for penitentiary time. This wasn’t clear to us from the original Chicago Tribune article, which is why we encouraged everyone to contact Ms. Alvarez. It was good for us to hear that her office didn’t propose the light sentence that was handed down.
  • They also stressed to us that State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and her entire office are committed to seeking justice in all cases. So, while our community doesn’t feel like justice was served in this case, they wanted us to communicate that they do continue to fight for it.

So moving forward, here is what we think this meeting could mean for us in the future:

  • We hope to be a resource to the State’s Attorney on cases involving bicyclists and pedestrians. In the same way, we have committed to reaching out to their office when we have a question about a certain case.
  • We believe there are opportunities to partner with the State’s Attorney’s Office on future legislative campaigns that seek to create stiffer and more equitable penalties for traffic crimes involving vulnerable users.
  • We also offered to provide ongoing training for Assistant State’s Attorneys assigned to traffic court on laws related to bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Finally, we are connecting our new Crash Support Program with the State’s Attorney’s victim assistance program. Our hope is that when a victim or victim’s family is in need of help to process or heal from a crash experience, their office will refer them to us.

So what does it mean for us as a community? Well, a few things:

  • First, it means that we are being heard. The State’s Attorney’s office received hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls. Those responses initiated this meeting, and we have you – Active Trans members and supporters, and the cycling community at large – to thank for it. So thank you!
  • Now we have a connection, which means we have an opportunity to learn about serious traffic crimes earlier in the process, instead of reacting to a news story after the trial has concluded. If you hear about a case involving a bicyclist or pedestrian going to court, let us know so we can take proactive steps to address the situation. One thing to note: traffic court proceedings happen very quickly. Not everything is a drawn out Blagojevich trial. There is rarely time to anticipate when a case will be scheduled in court. But the more we know, the better off we will be.
  • These incidents shape (and give credence to) what we fight for in Springfield. When we make our frustration and anger heard, it reverberates far beyond a single meeting.

These are some big systems we are trying to impact. So big, in fact, that sometimes it feels like nothing is changing. But we have seen here that wheels are spinning and movement is being made toward make biking and walking safer.

And let’s be honest – this won’t be the last instance of injustice we experience. That’s why we need to continue making our voices heard.

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to write a letter, send an email or make a phone call. You are the reason we do what we do.