Chicago, IL — Yesterday, August 9, 2020, Chicago police shot another Black person in Englewood. Chicago police allege that they stopped someone who they suspected of possessing a gun. Next, the young person ran away, rightfully fearing for his safety in this dangerous interaction with racist armed police. The cops then pursued him on foot, going directly against the DOJ recommendation to eliminate foot chases. The chase culminated in CPD shooting that young person, creating violence out of a situation where no one was in danger. CPD claims the victim shot first and that they found a gun on the scene. These details are uncorroborated, partially because CPD also claims there is no body camera footage available for this interaction. This is a clear violation of state law and CPD policy and another example of police showing a lack of transparency. It is shameful that after such public instances of police lying as Laquan Mcdonald, Harith Augustus — and many others in Chicago alone — journalists continue to treat the police account as unimpeachable fact.
After police shot this young man, members of the Englewood community are traumatized and want answers. The people of Englewood showed up immediately because they wanted to protect their community members from harm. CPD, meanwhile, was only interested in protecting itself; their response to these bystanders was sending in hundreds of officers with assault rifles, tear gas, and batons. These cops intimidated and beat people for nothing more than being at the scene of CPD’s violence. Yesterday, Chicago police continually proved that they do not keep us safe — they only cause violence, and escalation after the fact.
This morning, Mayor Lightfoot held a press conference. In a predictable and unfortunate move, she did not take this time to criticize her officers for shooting yet another Black man. Lightfoot instead spent her time attacking “looters.” The mayor clearly has not learned anything since May, and she would be wise to understand that the people will keep rising up until the CPD is abolished and our Black communities are fully invested in. Contrary to Mayor Lightfoot’s position, Black lives are and always will be more important than downtown corporations who siphon Tax Increment Financing (T.I.F.) money, while avoiding taxes, and exploiting the labor of Black and Brown Chicagoans. These corporations have “looted” more from our communities than a few protesters ever could, yet the Mayor reserves her anger for the latter. We will remain in the streets until our demands are met.
We are reminding the mayor that she has not provided Black communities any alternative for demanding justice. The demands for community control of the police have been ignored and actively resisted for years while CPD continues to murder and brutalize Black people and tear apart Black families. Massive protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd have left Chicago the largest city in the country with no promise to defund the police. Righteous and justified anger — like the kind expressed after the police murder of Laquan McDonald and subsequent cover-up — has proven to be the only tool for police accountability that the public has at their disposal.
If mayor Lori Lightfoot is upset about the protests last night, then a plausible answer would be to provide an outlet for the people to exert control over the policing of their community. Instead, the mayor has opposed and ignored the demand for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) which would empower the people to get justice for police violence and enact the systemic changes needed to prevent it in the future.
Others in the media have been quick to condemn attacks on “our city” and play up racialized fears for the city’s white residents. These commentators seem to believe that the immense wealth that has been hoarded in downtown Chicago is in some way all of ours. The South and West sides have seen no benefits to this hoarding. Over the past few months, too many people — disproportionately Black and Brown — have lost their jobs, lost their income, lost their homes, and lost their lives as the city has done nothing and the Chicago elite have profited. When protesters attack high-end retail stores that are owned by the wealthy and service the wealthy, that is not “our” city and has never been meant for us.
The Mayor cannot expect people to play by her rules as she refuses to treat them with basic dignity. These protests can only end when the safety and wellbeing of our communities is finally prioritized.