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Ross v. Gossett

In 2015, Uptown People's Law Center and Loevy & Loevy filed a lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of prisoners at Menard, Illinois River, Big Muddy River, and Lawrence Correctional Centers who experienced the physical and sexual abuse of the Orange Crush tactical team in the Spring of 2014. Used as a tool to assert total control, the officers dressed in orange jumpsuits and body armor would beat, abuse, sexually humiliate and destroy the property of prisoners in order to belittle, dehumanize and intimidate them. 

“What sets this case apart is that a supposedly elite unit of specially trained officers brutalized over a thousand prisoners in four different prisons, in what appears to have been an officially sanctioned campaign of verbal intimidation, sexual harassment and blatant physical abuse.” - Alan Mills, UPLC Executive Director

This lawsuit is seeking damages for injuries and an injunction prohibiting such practices in the future. 

Attorneys: Alan Mills, Nicole Schult (Uptown People's Law Center), Mike Kanovitz, Jon Loevy, Sarah Grady (Loevy & Loevy)

Date Filed: March 19, 2015

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

Judge: Judge Staci M. Yandle

Status: Active

Case Number: 15 C 0309


"About 7:45 am on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, I muster the energy to get out of bed and walk the step to the sink from the bottom bunk and I hear it. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. "Shit!" I say to myself as my cellmate and I look at each other wide-eyed. We know that sound anywhere. That's three-foot-long, two-inch diameter solid wood batons hitting the steel bars as "Orange Crush" runs down the gallery clunking every bar along the way as they yell." - TruthOut

"In Illinois, there is a notorious band of guards called the "Orange Crush" who don orange jumpsuits, body armor and riot helmets to conceal their identity. They carry large clubs and canisters of pepper spray, which they use liberally. A recent lawsuit names a list of horrific abuses that includes strip searches, beatings and mass shakedowns of cells." - TruthOut

“Mainstream media seem more interested in covering crime committed by Black people rather than what happens to them afterward,' says attorney Alan Mills of the Uptown People’s Law Center, the lead attorney representing incarcerated plaintiffs in a class action suit against the Illinois Department of Corrections." - Chicago Defender

"They are an elite, mobile Illinois Department of Corrections tactical unit, which civil rights lawyers say regularly humiliated and terrorized more than a thousand Illinois inmates on various occasions using tactics such as forcing them to march naked in single-file, tight formations, causing men’s genitals to press against the buttocks of men in front of them." - Belleville News-Democrat

Over the past year the Uptown People’s Law Center has received numerous letters from prisoners at Menard Correctional Center, initially, and more recently from another lower security southern prisons such as Shawnee Correctional Center. The letters describe a policy wherein the state tactical team lines up men, handcuffs them behind their backs and then forces the man behind him to follow so closely that his genitals are either in the hands of the man in front or touching his behind. Amongst the prison populations this is known as "nut to butt."

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