Mel Reynolds Accuses Justice Department of Racism | NBC Chicago
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Mel Reynolds Accuses Justice Department of Racism

A visibly angry Mel Reynolds accused the Justice Department of racism Friday, after appearing for a bond hearing in Federal Court

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mel Reynolds’ legal saga took yet another twist Friday. The former congressman appeared in court again to show the judge he had an approved place to live. But it’s what happened after court that is making headlines now. NBC Chicago’s Phil Rogers reports. (Published Friday, July 31, 2015)

    A visibly angry Mel Reynolds accused the Justice Department of racism Friday, after appearing for a bond hearing in Federal Court.

    “In 2015 they want to treat a black man like he’s a slave,” Reynolds said. “I guess I was too uppity!”

    At issue, the government’s effort to have Reynolds placed on electronic home monitoring, after receiving assurances that his new residence was not too close to a school or day care center. A pre-trial services officer had raised the question, citing Reynolds’ conviction on sex charges nearly 20 years ago.

    “Mr. Reynolds came back from Africa to face these charges,” said attorney Richard Kling. “And I think it’s nuts to suggest he go on electronic monitoring. I think it’s denigrating and I think it’s ridiculous!”

    A pre-trial services representative explained that while Reynolds is only charged with misdemeanor charges of failing to file his taxes, the electronic leash was needed to make sure that he abided by residency rules keeping him at least 500 feet from where children might be congregated. But after court, Kling said that flies in the face of how much bigger fish were treated in the same court.

    “My understanding is that Mr. Hastert was not asked to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet for a lot more serious felonies,” Kling said. “Mr. Reynolds is charged with misdemeanors, they don’t involve violence, they don’t involve sex.”

    Indeed, the former congressman asked to address the court himself, and emphasized the point that he would abide by all of the judge’s rulings.

    “I came back to America,” he said. “There is no reason on God’s Earth I would just disappear. I think it’s overkill!”

    In the end, the judge denied the government’s request for electronic monitoring, but set a condition of bond that Reynolds must report any change in his living arrangements within 24 hours. He was also required to surrender his passport.

    “How on Earth can the standard be so different, than what happened to Denny Hastert?” an incredulous Reynolds asked reporters after court. “He walked in. He walked out. There was no suggestion of home monitoring or anything like that. Why is a black man being treated totally different?”

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