Civil rights advocates in Chicago plan to rally in front of the city’s police department on Wednesday, demanding that officers be held accountable for shooting and killing civilians.
The Nov. 5 protest will highlight three different times black Chicago youth have been killed at the hands of police officers. Activists say they hope to raise awareness of what they say is a national issue: Unfair police profiling of black and Hispanic youth and the unjustifiable use of deadly force against them.
“We just want justice,” said William Calloway, director of Christianaire, a faith-based social justice group helping to organize the rally. “That’s all we want. We want justice for all the affected families.”
Calloway and other protesters say they will ask the Justice Department to launch investigations into the police killings.
A recent investigation of the Chicago Police Department by the website Truthout found that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) does not maintain a record of police-involved shootings, despite millions of dollars paid out in civil suits.
The nonprofit news organization also uncovered hundreds of officers who had racked up multiple complaints for excessive force and other misconduct, but with little or no consequences for their alleged bad behavior.
Out of 90 excessive force complaints, 82 were dismissed, according to Truthout’s analysis of the CPD's internal review process.
Calloway described the shooting death of Rekia Boyd, 22, by CPD Detective Dante Servin — one of the cases singled out by protesters as a miscarriage of justice.
While Servin is currently on trial for manslaughter, activists say they want the charges upgraded to second-degree murder.
On the night of March 21, 2012, Det. Servin drove his personal vehicle past Boyd and several other friends standing in Chicago’s west side, according to Calloway.
They had just returned from drinking in a nearby park, the Chicago Tribune reported. Servin told the group to keep their carousing to the park. Moments later, Servin said he saw one person in the group, Antonio Cross, approach his car with a gun.
Servin reacted by firing his unregistered 9mm into the crowd, fatally striking Boyd in the head and injuring Cross in the hand, the Tribune reported.
The "gun" Servin saw was Cross’s cell phone.
Calloway says he believes the only reason Servin now faces charges is because Cross survived.
“If he had murdered all three of them, and he had not been charged, we would not know his name,” Calloway said.
Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton, will speak at the 5 p.m. rally, along with family-members of two others killed by police.
“We’re going to have the testimonies of families who have been affected by police violence,” said Jason Ware, an activist with We Charge Genocide, a coalition of Chicago activists against police violence.
“This is an issue that we’ve seen in Ferguson, that we’ve seen in Ohio,” Ware said. “This police repression continues throughout the U.S. The stories that people in Chicago tell aren’t new at all. They’re part of the systematic way that the police forces harm and kill black youth, Hispanic youth, all types of people.”
In the other two shootings, police say Dakota Bright, 15, killed in 2012, and Roshad McIntosh, 18, killed this August, both pointed guns at officers, who responded with justified deadly force.
Witnesses, Calloway countered, insist that both young men were unarmed. Police contend they recovered weapons at the scene.
The CPD has not named the officers responsible for the deaths of Bright and McIntosh. The department did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
But, in reference to the McIntosh case, CPD spokesman Martin Maloney told Chicago's DNAInfo local news site that the department was making progress reforming how its police behaved with civilians.
"Over the past three years, CPD has led a return to community policing to build relationships between officers and residents, and we have instituted new training, mandatory for all officers, focused on how they are to interact with residents," Maloney said.