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The Slow-Turning Wheels of Justice

By Margaret Lyons in News on Jan 23, 2008 5:12PM

2008_1_23.parnell.jpgJoseph Pannell was 19 years old when he shot a Chicago police officer in 1969. And then he skipped bail. And skipped bail again in 1974, this time fleeing to Canada, where he changed his name to Douglas Gary Freeman and lived under that identity for almost 40 years. But in 2004, Chicago's cold case squad tracked him down and started extradition proceedings, which Parnell fought....until this week.

Now, Pannell says he's ready to come back to the US to stand trial. What changed? Chalk up one more thing to Barack Obama. No, it's true! Parnell writes on his blog that

...the current Mayor of Chicago and the Democratic Party establishment have endorsed an African American man to be the next president of the United States of America. Underpinning that endorsement rests a city that deeply desires to make a clean break with the past and to create the kind of society Dr. King dreamed of.

I cannot ignore what is taking place. Nor do I want to. I desire to be part of what must be acknowledged as a defining moment in history. Ultimately, I know I have a responsibility to help create one nation out of a fractured past.

Terrence Knox, the police officer Pannell shot, has become a victims rights advocate and says he "want[s] the court system to do its job now." Pannell is expected to return to Chicago in the next month to face charges.

The Trib and Sun Times both call Pannell a former Black Panther, but a 2005 story in the Toronto Star says otherwise, as does Pannell. [Trib, S-T, Toronto Star]

Image from Pannell/Freeman's website