Police Accountability Hearing  Highlights Harassment in Rogers Park

Police Accountability Hearing Highlights Harassment in Rogers Park

The City Council held a Police Accountability Hearing in Rogers Park Tuesday, Aug. 9, at Senn High School to get public feedback on a community safety oversight board and a public safety auditor to replace the current rubber stamp Independent Police Review Authority or IPRA.

What they got was a barrage of complaints and outbursts that the police are harassing people in Rogers Park.

One black woman stuck up her middle finger at the two police officers who were sitting near the front and another white woman said her teenager is afraid of the police because many of his friends have been shot by them.

Many demanded that the City Council support the resolution to create a Civilian Police Accountability Council or CPAC.

Not one of the four aldermen – Ald. Rick Munoz, Ald. Harry Osterman, Ald. James Cappleman and Ald. Thomas Tunney – monitoring the hearing responded to supporting the proposed ordinance that would make the police accountable to elected civilians, which would be a first in this country.

“I don’t know if I trust City Hall to negotiate police contracts and hold them accountable when we look at how long it took to prosecute Jon Burge,” one woman said.

Burge was a Chicago police detective convicted of torturing more than 200 criminals between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions.

One of the first speakers was Mark Clements, an activist against police brutality, who was one of those tortured by Burge.

He said he came to the hearing because he grew up in Rogers Park.

Clements said the city police should be investigated for torturing children while being interrogated. Clements told Chicago News he would tell his story in which he served 28 years in prison for a crime he never committed in an upcoming issue.

Several women spoke about police harassment, and one man said the anger that explodes from certain officers is mindboggling. He said he had to temporarily ride his bike on the sidewalk because the street was blocked off when a police officer ran over to him swinging a baton, screaming obscenities and threatening to arrest him.

“A mayor-appointed commission lessens the credibility with Chicago,” another elderly male speaker said. “We need an elected police accountability board. We don’t need any more shams. Power to the People!”

A woman who lives in Rogers Park said the mayor, the aldermen and the police lost all credibility when the city secretly paid the family of Laquan McDonald $5 million before Mayor Emanuel’s re-election to cover-up a white cop shooting a black teenager 16 times as he was walking away.

“That is the machine,” she said. “What you’re hearing tonight is passion and rage against this system.”

Another speaker said he was surprised to find so much of this outrage on the North Side.

“We have a culture of corruption in our police force,” another speaker said. “We are viewed as an armed enemy to be slaughtered.”

Mark Shelby, a homeless man, spoke about police harassment against the homeless. He said he lives in a tent under the viaduct under Lake Shore Drive, and gang members come to disrupt law-abiding people with partying and drugs, but the police do nothing to help.

“There is a policy of collective punishment of the homeless,” Shelby said.

A Loyola graduate student in history said he saw the police set up a sting where they sent a girl out to lure men to solicit sex and then arrest them. What was the point of this, he asked.

One Rogers Park woman said she could not believe seeing the police strip search a youth in freezing temperature in the middle of winter. She said she couldn’t leave after the police asked her to because she was so shocked.

“I don’t feel safe when the police are around,” she said.