Demonstrators delivered a letter to Chicago's Dirksen Federal Building Wednesday demanding that United States Attorney General Eric Holder launch an investigation into crimes, they say, have been committed by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The letter calls on Holder to investigate the CPD as a whole, as well as Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and law enforcement in other local municipalities where individuals were either killed or harmed by police.
The demonstrators said the shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American male in Ferguson, Missouri, is part of a larger pattern of police targeting people of color.
“Ninety people have been murdered by Chicago Police officers in the last four years,” said Ted Pearson, a member of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). “Something has to be done to stop this, what’s been going on in Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Among the group was Joyce Evison-Brown, who is demanding answers from the Harvey Police Department (also named in the letter), surrounding the shooting death of her son Charles. In April, 20-year-old Charles Brown was shot and killed by Harvey police after they responded to a call of a possible armed robbery. According to the Southtown Star, officers say they opened fire on the man after he allegedly attempted to run them down with a vehicle.
“They didn’t even give me any information, they held me back for 14 hours before they even admitted that they murdered my son,” said Evison-Brown.
Also joining the demonstration in front of the courthouse was a tearful Dawn McIntosh, mother of Roshod McIntosh, who was shot and killed by Chicago police on Sunday. Roshod’s death sparked protest in the South Lawndale neighborhood after accounts surrounding the shooting between the police and community members greatly differed.
Police, who were responding to a call alleging that “armed men” were in the area, said that McIntosh attempted to run from them, and when they caught up he pointed a gun at them. But McIntosh’s mother said her son was surrendering to the police when they shot him.
“He was on his knees with both hands begging for his life and they killed him,” said McIntosh.
On Monday, another group of activists delivered a separate letter to Holder demanding the Attorney General take steps to create and impose policies that will bring accountability and transparency to police departments around the country. Critics of local police departments allege that when a person is shot by police, there is often little to no accountability or information made available about the incidents.
“I still don’t know the name of the officer, the age, nothing,” said McIntosh, who said she wasn't allowed to see her son’s body until Tuesday.
“If it was the other way around and someone had killed a police officer, their name, address, their whole history would be on the news,” she added.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Independent Police Review Authority, the entity that investigates police shootings and claims of abuse, has conducted 176 investigations into shootings since its inception in 2007. Of those, it found that officers had violated department policy just three times.
“It’s always the same story - ‘he was running away from police, he stopped and pulled out a gun, so we had to shoot him in the head,” said Jeffrie Baker, another member of CAARPR. “We hear the same story over and over again. Somehow these young men feel the need to stop running and point a gun at somebody who already has a gun pointed at them.”
Baker said the creation of an elected civilian accountability board is one of the solutions to the disparities between police and community members when an incident takes place.
“Once we can hold police officers accountable, they will think twice," Baker explained. "They will think twice about shooting an unarmed individual if they know other officers were disciplined, fired or even in prison for doing the same thing. They’ll think of a better way to handle a situation than using excessive force.”