Demonstrators Ring In The New Year Demanding Police Accountability

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More than 100 protesters packed City Hall again Thursday with what are now very familiar chants and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.

The demonstration was one of the latest in what seems to be a never ending series demanding Emanuel, along with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, tender their resignations as calls for more police accountability grow louder. Amid chants of “Rahm’s got to go” and “16 shots,” representing the number of times Laquan McDonald was shot by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, they also called for more resources into struggling communities on the South and West sides, and an elected police accountability board.

“We have a mayor who only cares about Ravenswood but doesn’t care about Englewood,” said J’hmal Green, who also was among demonstrators that were outside Emanuel’s house on Tuesday. “We have a mayor who only wants to make decisions that affect the black community when we show up to his house to protest.”

After holding a die-in on the first floor of City Hall, demonstrators then headed up to the fifth in front of Emanuel’s office where they broke apart a piñata covered with photos.

Rousemary Vega, who has helped organize several demonstrations demanding the mayor’s resignation, spoke about 55-year-old Bettie Jones, who was shot and killed by police along with Quintonio LeGrier:

“This is so personal to us. This attack on our city affects us all. When Bettie Jones was killed, she was battling cancer. Many of our mothers have battled or survived cancer...for you to take someone’s life who already has a death sentence...it touches all of our hearts. That could’ve been my mother, who just survived breast cancer...Now I fear that a bullet could take her life.”

Despite Emanuel’s proposed reforms, which include arming police with more tasers, despite the questionable nature of the alleged “less than lethal” nature of the devices and documented abuse of them, don’t go nearly far enough, according to activists.

Mike Elliot of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, said that citizens need more control of the police. “There is no citizen involvement holding the police accountable,” said Elliot. Elliot and CAARPR have been demanding an elected civilian police accountability board, which would replace the Independent Police Review Authority, a mayoral appointed body that investigates allegations of police brutality and police shootings. Elliot said that much like the mayor’s hand-picked school board, the current police board offers little to no accountability.”

“Right now they operate with impunity. The mayor appoints everyone and it’s like a dictatorship. There’s no democracy going on here. It’s very important that citizens have community control over the police.”

This post was originally published on chicagoist.


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