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Time for top cop to go! say Chicago activists

By La Risa Lynch -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Apr 7, 2015 - 7:49:24 PM

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ACLU report indicates pervasive use of stop and frisk, more than New York City

Grant Newburger
CHICAGO ( - Anti-police brutality activists are demanding the resignation of city police chief Garry McCarthy and a federal investigation of the department in light of a report showing pervasive use of a controversial “stop and frisk” practice that disproportionately targeted the city’s Black population.

The report, issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, showed city police stopped a quarter of a million or 250,000 Chicago residents between May and August 2014. That’s four times more stops done by the New York City police department at the height of its stop and frisk practice in 2011.

Chicago police stopped 96.3 people per 1,000 between May and August last summer compared to New York’s 22.9 per 1,000 for the same time period in 2011. A federal judge, in 2013, ruled New York City’s stop and frisk policy unconstitutionally, calling it “indirect racial profiling.”

Activist Tio Hardiman used the term “gestapo” tactics to describe the police use of stop and frisk, saying it victimizes and criminalizes Black youths. He also noted Black youths account for 80 percent of the city’s homicides and shooting victims while 67 percent of Black men are housed in the state’s prisons.

Tio Hardiman and Otis Buckley
“We are calling for the immediate resignation of Superintendent McCarthy because he is dead wrong for what he is doing,” said Mr. Hardiman, founder of Violence Interrupters, an anti-violence organization.

“The police are nothing but a hostile occupying army in the streets of Chicago, and these stops contribute heavily to the murder of our young Black and Brown brothers and sisters,” added Grant Newburger, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network’s Chicago chapter.

He noted 1,500 minority youths are subjected to these “illegal” stops per day. He is calling for a massive national day of protest and walkouts against police brutality on April 14. Stop and frisk, Mr. Newburger noted, is part of a long list of human rights abuses that justify Mr. McCarthy’s resignation.

Another is the operation of a CIA-style black site at a West Side facility known as Homan Square. The Guardian newspaper profiled the facility reporting arrestees are denied access to attorneys, not listed on official booking databases and restrained for hours.

“Those are crimes he should be fired and indicted for, frankly,” Mr. Newburger added.

The activists also want U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to conduct an investigation into the department similar to its review of the Ferguson, Mo., police department. That report showed widespread racial bias by police in arresting and ticketing Blacks in order to fill city’s coffers. The report led to the resignation of the city’s police chief and a push to remove the mayor.

“A lot of police had to resign because it wasn’t right what they done,” Mr. Hardiman said of the Ferguson police department. “The same thing is happening in Chicago. If we don’t deal with it another generation is going to be pretty much destroyed.”

The report reiterates calls for an independent citizen police review board comprised of community leaders. The activists want quarterly meetings with the police superintendent and want the mayor to address instances of police misconduct and police relations in Black and Latino communities.

“We have a blueprint and we have a plan. We are not just out here talking,” Mr. Hardiman said.

The ACLU report showed Blacks were disproportionately represented in these stops. Blacks accounted for 72 percent or 182,048 of those stops even though they comprise just 32 percent of the city’s population.

The stops occur predominately in Black and Latino neighborhoods and none of those stopped were arrested or committed a crime, the report showed. Even in police districts whose population is predominately White, Blacks were still stopped at a greater rate.

An email to Chicago police officials seeking comment was not replied to by Final Call presstime.

The report was released ahead of a heated run-off election between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. A poll showed Mr. Emanuel leading Garcia by 47 percent compared to Mr. Garcia’s 34 percent.

Both candidates heavily courted the Black vote for the April 7 run-off election. Mr. Hardiman challenged both mayoral candidates to address this illegal policy.

“Everyone wants the African-American people’s vote but they don’t want to respect and protect the African-Americans,” Mr. Hardiman said. “Both mayoral candidates are depending on the Black votes to win. … If they want our vote they need to make a statement and stop these illegal practices in our community.”

J. Hannibal Hereford, of the Young Leaders Alliance, was not surprised by the ACLU’s findings. Mr. Hereford said he has seen “the jump out boys” stop young people with their hands spread on police cars. But he noted the inclination to end this abuse is not there because of a smear campaign against the city.

Chicago has been pegged the murder capital of the U.S. and dubbed “Chiraq” when its 2012 homicide rate topped 500. That characterization, Mr. Hereford said, is not true, but it’s used to justify violating people’s 4th amendments rights against unlawful search and seizure.

“People need to understand that these problems are financially motivated,” he said. “There are incentives for the police to behave in the manner that they do. These incentives are policy driven.”

Otis Buckley, founder of the National Justice Team, wants President Obama to act against excessive policing tactics.

“We need the president to get from behind the desk in his Oval Office, stop twiddling his thumbs and do something about the police brutality and the murder of Black people that continues to go on unpunished,” Mr. Buckley said. “This is a national epidemic.”

Stop and frisk is not a new phenomenon to Chicago. It has had several iterations over the years, including an anti-gang loitering ordinance in the 1990s which resulted in 40,000 arrests over an 18-month period. But Karen Sheley, an ALCU attorney who co-authored the report, said the disparity at the rate the stops occurred was shocking.

“I think everyone was shocked to see this disparity between the number of stops that occurred in Chicago last summer and the number that occurred in New York. It is just a tremendous number. These are stops of innocent people who weren’t charged with a crime,” she said.

That disparity, Ms. Sheley added, shows a racial bias exists since the stops are not fully justified.

Sean Corey Terrll was stopped by police in his junior year of high school. Even though he said police were polite when they questioned him and did not search his bag, he still felt intimidated.

“The minute they come around me I feel like, ‘You should fix your walk. You should fix your demeanor; be ready for what they are about to ask you,’ ” the 18-year-old said. “Me being an African-American it’s no telling what they think or what they can do. Half the time they are just framing people. You just hoping you’re not next.”