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Chicago joins national day of protest, presses demand for community control of police

By Joe Iosbaker

Armanda Shackleford, mother of Chicago Police torture survivor Gerald Reed, spe

Chicago, IL – About 500 people and at least 200 cars responded to the call from the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression for a caravan on Chicago’s South Side, July 18. They drove through the 3rd, 6th and 17th Wards to call on the alderpersons there to support the movement for community control of police.

In Chicago, 19 out of 50 members of the city council have signed on to the legislation to create an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) that will have final authority over the police budget and policy, and the ability to make decisions in misconduct cases, not just provide oversight. The members of the city council from these three wards – Pat Dowell, Roderick Sawyer and David Moore – have refused to sign on to the legislation, despite the Alliance having gathered over 4000 signatures from their constituents. The caravan drove to the police stations in their wards to highlight the need for community control of the police by lifting up cases of police crimes in each ward. None of the officers who committed the murders or beatings, or who perpetrated the false convictions in these districts, has been held accountable by the current system of police accountability, which leaves the power in the hands of the mayor.

Families of police victims and survivors speak

The protest started with a press conference in Washington Park at the site where the police shot Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson in the back in 2014. Family members and activists spoke about the cases of their loved ones. Ronnieman’s mother, Dorothy Holmes, remembered how the Alliance helped her when she came to them following her son’s murder. “There is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder. I want to get CPAC passed to get justice for my son.”

A recorded message was also played from Regina Russell, mother of Tamon Russell, who was falsely implicated for murder by cops from the 6th District in 2001. She explained, “Those cops were supervised by Sergeant Raymond Madigan, one of the members of Detective Jon Burge’s gang of torturers. The criminal actions of those officers put Tamon in prison for the past 19 years.”

Kobi Guillory of the Chicago Alliance emceed, and condemned police violence against protesters the night before. Guillory and a number of Alliance activists had been pepper-sprayed at a Black and Indigenous solidarity protest in the Loop, along with over 1000 people, many of whom were savagely beaten as well. An 18-year-old Black woman activist had her front teeth knocked out by a blow from a cop.

When the cars stopped at the 3rd District police station, located in the 6th Ward, and again at the office of 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer, protesters jumped out of cars to chalk messages on the sidewalk to demand “CPAC now!”

Frank Chapman, field organizer of the Chicago Alliance, stated, “Saturday was an opening salvo of what we’re going to be doing on the South Side going forward. We’re putting feet on the ground in these wards to send the message to these alderpersons to support CPAC. We’re organizing door by door, neighborhood by neighborhood.”

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