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Champaign police-community relations scrutinized

By Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media -- The topic of police abuse brought out a large crowd to Tuesday night’s Champaign City Council study session. It wasn’t an item on the agenda, but it grew out of the alleged police beating of a teenager who was stopped by Champaign police over the weekend for a traffic violation.

At least a hundred people showed up in support of 18-year-old Calvin Miller. They wore yellow “I stand with Calvin Miller” signs.

Multiple news reports say Miller was pulled over by police at around 1:30 Monday morning, and he fled the scene after his car damaged the front porch of a home.

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Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media -- Martel Miller, left, talks with Champaign Mayor Don Gerard during Tuesday's City Council meeting. Miller said his son Calvin, 18, was beaten by Champaign police.

Empty harvest: Migrant family faces hardships in Rantoul

RANTOUL— On a Saturday morning in October, trash overflowed from Dumpsters at the old Air Force hospital in Rantoul, where about 300 migrant farm workers and their families lived this summer and fall. Suitcases sat stacked on a picnic table; men walked around one another’s vehicles, looking under the hoods. Inside, the Ortiz family planned their 1,300-mile journey home to South Texas.

Brothers Ernesto and Isidro Ortiz, their wives — who are sisters — and their five children arrived in Rantoul in early July to detassel corn for Monsanto Company. When the hot fieldwork of summer was done, they stayed on to sort corn at Monsanto’s Farmer City plant.

By Shelley Smithson -- Alejandra Ortiz and her family traveled to Rantoul from Texas to work for Monsanto.

County focuses on increasing number of minority jurors

URBANA—  Changes to a jury questionnaire have been made to prompt more participation from minorities in the community thanks to the efforts of a county advisory committee.
The Citizens Advisory Committee for Jury Selection , which launched earlier this year, was created by the Champaign County Board to get more minority participation in Champaign County juries.
Since then, the committee was able to remove some questions from the jury form that may pose obstacles to potential jurors among minority populations, said Chairman Aaron Ammons.
Shelley Smithson/ A committee is trying to increase the number of minorities who sit on juries at the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana.

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