Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Monday August 25th, 2014, 2:41pm

Chicago Activists Seek Justice For Michael Brown, Speak Out Against Police Violence (VIDEO)

About 50 activists rallied outside of the Everett McKinley Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago Monday morning to call for justice in the death of Michael Brown.

The Chicago-based community group ONE Northside held the protest as part of a national day of action for Brown — an unarmed black 18- year-old who was fatally shot on August 9 by a white Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

In addition to ONE Northside, National People's Action affiliates in six other states, including Missouri, Nevada and Ohio, demonstrated on Monday, the same day Brown's funeral was held in St. Louis.

Brown's death and the police's subsequent handling of the incident has gained national attention and sparked outrage, including protests that have turned violent, in the majority black St. Louis County suburb. A grand jury in St. Louis County started hearing evidence in the Brown case last Wednesday.

At the federal courthouse in Chicago, activists delivered a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, urging him to "take immediate action to bring Michael Brown's killer to justice." The letter also calls on Holder to "put a stop to police violence in Ferguson and across the country by undertaking reforms to bring transparency and accountability to local police departments."

Richard Young, pastor at New Christian Life Ministries in Evanston who works with ONE Northside, was among the protestors chanting, "Hands up. Hands down. We're standing up for Michael Brown!"

"I'm tired of burying children," Young stressed. "I'm tired of crying. I'm tired of preaching over bodies that look like my son. That look like my daughter. I'm tired of crying over my neighborhood's children because of senseless acts of violence, whether they come from the police or even others in our neighborhood."

"Not another body should fall because of senseless violence," he added. "Ferguson, we support you. Our hearts are in it with you across the country. Tears are flowing because when your son died, my son died. A piece of me died, and we don't want it to happen anymore."

Rogers Park resident Ebony DeBerry attended the rally with her 11-year-old son.

"I'm concerned every day that his interactions with the police will be detrimental to his health and safety," she said of her son. "I should not have to worry about the police being a force that could be detrimental to his health. We need transparency from our police. We need accountability from our police. We need security from our police." 

Uptown resident Hannah Arwe called Brown's death "heartbreaking." The fatal shooting of Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was not an "isolated incident, but part of a widespread pattern of police violence against people of color," she added. 

"We do not know precisely how many black men have been killed at the hands of police, because while the government tracks officers killed in the line of duty, no government agency maintains reliable data on the number of people killed by police every year," Arwe said. "According to the city of Chicago's own report, Chicago police officers shot 57 individuals in 2012, and 50 of them were black."

Here's more from Arwe, South Side resident Arnold Julien and scenes from today's protest:

Attached to One Northside's letter addressed to Holder was a list of demands issued by the Ferguson-based Organization for Black Struggle. In addition to "swift and impartial investigation by the Department of Justice into the Michael Brown shooting," the activists called for the "immediate arrest of officer Darren Wilson." Among other demands, the group and its allies want "county prosecutor Robert McCulloch to stand down and allow a special prosecutor to be appointed."

At the local level, Fred Kinsey, pastor at the Unity Lutheran Church in Edgewater, called on the Chicago Police Department to increase the number of officers who participate in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training programs, which teach law enforcement personnel how to handle crisis situations, including encounters with people with mental illness.

"We need more than what we have now," he said of CIT trained officers. "We need more than just one officer per shift trained in CIT. We're asking the Chicago Police Department to be transparent and accountable for their numbers in raising all those trained in CIT." 


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