Four charged with Wrigleyville beatings were shooting a rap video: relatives
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org July 9, 2012 8:18AM
From left to right: Corry Simmons, Alvin Goffin, Edward Robinson, and Donald Robinson were charged Monday morning in connection with a Wrigleyville beating early Sunday that left four injured – including a police officer.
Updated: August 11, 2012 6:11AM
Four men accused of jumping out of a white stretch limo to film themselves attacking people in Wrigleyville are getting a bad rap, relatives said Monday.
The men actually were filming an upbeat, “celebration” rap video along bustling North Clark Street early Sunday when violence erupted after passersby began taunting them and hurling racial slurs at the four black men, family members said.
“He was defending himself, that’s what all of them were doing,” said Lillian Nichols, whose son, 31-year-old Edward Robinson, was one of those arrested. “It was just like a brawl, but they were the only ones arrested.”
Relatives held out hope that footage from the “Take A Sip” video being shot by the four Lawndale residents — who were using the limo loaned to them by a friend for the taping — will help clear them of charges that family members said are unfair.
“Who goes around in a limo with the intent of jumping on someone? It doesn’t make sense,” said Kelly Smith, Robinson’s brother.
Cook County prosecutors painted a starkly different picture, saying Robinson and three other men abruptly attacked nightclub patrons and passersby as they walked down Clark Street.
“They were hitting people for no apparent reason,” Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said as the four — who all have felony convictions — appeared in bond court.
Five men were injured in the 1:10 a.m. clash — including a 27-year-old man who suffered a broken jaw when he was punched in the face and an off-duty Chicago Police officer who was knocked down, authorities said.
Edward Robinson and his cousin, 31-year-old Donald Robinson, were charged with felony mob action and aggravated battery.
Both are on parole — with Donald Robinson having been released in January after being convicted of felony drunk driving, authorities said. Edward Robinson is on parole after being sentenced to seven years in prison for aggravated robbery.
Another man, 32-year-old Corry Simmons, was charged with mob action, aggravated battery and resisting a police officer, while a fourth man, Alvin Goffin, 32, was charged with mob action.
Scaduto would not comment on the contents of the video or on relatives claims’ that the men had been subject to racial taunts before the violence.
Simmons and the Robinsons all have extensive criminal records, with Simmons having five felony convictions, including two on gun charges and one for possession of a bomb. He was free on bail on a felony marijuana charge when he was arrested last weekend.
Donald Robinson has eight prior felony convictions for offenses that include narcotics possession, burglary and escape. Edward has three felony convictions, including one for armed robbery.
Goffin has a prior weapons conviction.
But relatives of the Robinsons said they have worked to turn around their lives — a task that has included launching a music company and mentoring youths in their West Side neighborhood.
“They’re working real hard to do some positive things in the community,” said family friend Pat Herred.
Edward Robinson has released several prior rap videos, including “Drink and Drive,” which warns of the dangers of drunken driving, his mother said, adding he was working with young people to try to steer them away from crime.
“My son is making great strides in his career,” Nichols said. “For this to happen is so unfortunate.”
The group was in Wrigleyville to shoot a celebration scene for their “Take A Sip’’ video, relatives said.
“It was a celebration of change, a celebration of doing better things,” said Nichols.
But the planned video shoot fell apart when the men were taunted and harassed, relatives said, contending violence broke out after Simmons was grabbed by a heckler.
Officials did not describe the race of the alleged victims.
Their court-appointed attorney said during the hearing that all four intend to fight the charges and he dismissed claims that the men videotaped their alleged crimes.
“It seems unlikely they would film themselves committing crimes in the street,” Assistant Public Defender Mike Pannitto said.
Judge Donald Panarese set bail at $400,000 for the Robinsons and for Simmons. Bail was set at $250,000 for Goffin.
All remained jailed late Monday.