Activists Demand End to ‘Systemic Police Brutality’

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

A large group of community and religious leaders took over the fifth floor lobby of City Hall Tuesday, March 24th holding signs that read “end the brutality” and “police accountability now,” outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office to talk alleged police mistreatment, including allegations of abuse at the Chicago Police Department’s Homan Square facility.

“We have been asking the mayor for over four months to just meet with us and listen to this issue, listen to the people, but he has chosen to ignore our communities,” said a member of the Chicago Renewal Society, a faith-based organization that works to eradicate race and class barriers. “He has ignored the police brutality that’s happening every single day. He’s ignored every single person in this room. So today we demand action.” While some protestors took to the microphone to send a message to the mayor, others staged a die-in to demonstrate the victims they say have been beaten by Chicago police officers. Throughout the protest police officers made sure to keep the peace, however at least three arrests were made for disobeying police orders. They were soon released on account of the activists’ right to assemble.

“The Chicago Police Department will always protect residents’ right to free speech and peaceful assembly. As you have seen over the past several years, protests have all been peaceful, and CPD goes to great lengths to ensure protesters’ First Amendment rights, even shutting down major streets in some cases for demonstrations,” the CPD said in a statement.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Community leader Tito Moreno stated that terror and violence of the Chicago police goes far beyond the Homan Square area and is reminiscent of “clandestine jails and other dirty war tactics, which have terrorized civilian populations in El Salvador and elsewhere.” Members of Community Renewal Society said they would like an independent citizen review board, a reform on the body camera pilot program, and an end to “stop and frisk.”

Towards the end of the protest activists confirmed a meeting between them and the mayor before the April 7th runoff election. “We are glad that the mayor has committed to this meeting, but he is yet to commit to changing any of the policies that allow police misconduct to remain unchecked. This meeting happened only after months of calls, letters, demonstrations, and after three people were arrested for trying to meet with their elected mayor. However, we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this meeting and whether the mayor is willing to commit to real, systemic change.”

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