The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression has called for maximum attendance at the 2nd People’s Hearing on Police Crimes set for Saturday, February 23, 2013 at the University of Chicago. The Hearing will open at 11:00 am in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St.
The Call was issued in the wake of a record number of murders in Chicago’s Black and Latino communities already this year. Citing a report by the Urban Institute, the Alliance notes the link between police crimes and the total breakdown of trust between the Police Department and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the Organizing Committee to Stop Police Crimes extend the hand of solidarity to the family of Hadiya Pendleton whose young and innocent life was brutally shortened by the internecine violence that is spreading across our communities like a malignant virus. We sincerely offer our condolences to the grief stricken family of Hadiya Pendleton in this tragic hour. And normally we would end it here.
Now is the time to take a deep and serious look at ourselves. We as a community and as a nation must call not just for an end to violence; we must also call for the presence of justice. We can’t tolerate the killing of our children by anyone at anytime in any place. And by the same, token we should want the killers brought to justice no matter who they are. If a gang banger kills a 15-year-old who is innocently seeking shelter from the rain he should be charged with murder and duly prosecuted; and if a police officer shoots a 15-year-old (Dakota Bright) in the back of the head and leaves him laying in a backyard with his hands cuffed behind him, that is also murder and the police officer should be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Stephon Watts, another 15 year old child with a disability known as Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) was shot dead February 1, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. by Calumet City Police. Thus far, the Watts family has been denied justice.
Rekia Boyd (a 22 year old African American woman), like Hadiya Pendleton, was also an innocent by-stander, but there is one significant difference: She was shot and killed by off-duty Detective Dante Servin. We know who her killer was and we know that nothing was ever done in the way of arresting and charging him with murder.
On March 21, 2012, Rekia suffered a head wound that was fatal. She was walking to the store with friends, two males, one female. The officer was not in uniform and was in his personal vehicle. He allegedly left his house to address the noise on the street. He approached them and told them to be quiet. There was a heated exchange and the off duty officer started shooting at them and claims to have mistaken the cell phone in one of the males hands, for a gun. Antonio Cross was charged with misdemeanor assault and will go to trial on March 13th, 2013.
On February 9, 2013, the day of Hadiya Pendleton’s funeral, the Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago’s City Council Finance Committee agreed to pay (having been sued) $4.1 million to the family of Flint Farmer, an African American man who was murdered by a police officer. The shooting was caught on video, yet the officer has not been charged or prosecuted. The Chicago Police Department’s Superintendent, Gary McCarthy, said he thinks the case is a “big problem,” and the officer involved should not have been on the streets given his history of shootings. The taxpayers have thus far paid out $37.6 million, not including lawyer’s fees, for settlements in civil suits against the Chicago Police Department. When it comes to Police Crimes 2013 could easily be one of the most costly years ever for Cook County taxpayers.
While Prosecuting Attorney Anita Alvarez has not seen fit to prosecute one single case of police brutality, murder or torture. She is adamant and willing to vigorously prosecute crimes of violence in the African American community providing the perpetrator is not a police officer. For example, she has not charged Detective Dante Servin (the murderer of Rekia Boyd) but allows Antonio Cross (who only had a cell phone) to be charged with a misdemeanor.
Both the FBI and the State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez claim that they are investigating some of these cases. As far as we are concerned these investigation have been passive and there is no indication that criminal prosecution is even on the agenda. Gildardo Sierra, the officer who killed Flint Farmer, is presently working in the city’s 311 center.
We point out these contradictions not merely for the sake of argument; we want to let the people of Chicago and the world know the problem here is not just a problem of gang violence or moral depravity in African American and Latino communities, but also a problem of injustice. It’s not enough that we are hit by one economic disaster after another and the social savagery imposed by budget cuts but also unchecked and uncensored police repression. The Urban Institute has documented this in a recent study that has attracted some public attention. The study points out that: “The real problem is that an embarrassingly large number of police officers violate citizens’ rights, engage in corruption, and commit crimes while escaping detection and avoiding discipline or prosecution for many years.”
While we welcome these studies that bring out the truth we as victims and organizers in our communities are about the business of combating police corruption and crimes. And we are of the firm conviction that police crimes can only be stopped or curtailed by empowering the citizens of Chicago and other afflicted communities with a democratically elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) with the power to hold the police accountable.
The 2nd Hearing on Police Crimes is set for Saturday, February 23rd, at the University of Chicago Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Registration opens at 10:30. It will continue the campaign to create and empower an elected CPAC with the authority to make policy, discipline individual officers, and refer serious violations of the rights of the people by police officers to an independent special prosecutor. Police crimes undermine the ability of the police to serve and protect the people from violence and crime. Organizing this movement to stop police crimes and enact an elected CPAC is the most concrete thing we can do right now to end the new Jim Crow being implemented through the criminal justice system. The Peoples Hearing will unite all victims of police crimes as they present their cases and demands for justice.
For information contact:
Frank Chapman, Chairperson
Stop Police Crimes Organizing Committee
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