clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Feds probing CPD get feedback at public forum

J'dyn Simmons, 11, talks about his paranoia of police during the public forum Tuesday night. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Emily Gunston, one of two women heading up a Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department, nodded Tuesday night as she stood at center court in a North Side community college gymnasium and listened to folks blast the Chicago police.

Robin McPherson, 58, of Rogers Park, told Gunston that police arrested her for failing to use her blinker as she turned out of a gas station two years ago.

She said she became frustrated as she repeatedly asked the officers, “What did I do?” to no avail.

“Please do what you’ve come here to do,” she pleaded. “Help us bring justice to Chicago.”

J’dyn Simmons, 11, told Gungston that he has become fidgety when he’s around people in public, and he fears his dream of becoming a cardiologist might be cut short by police brutality.

“I’m extremely suspicious of everyone,” he said at the microphone.

About 150 people filled the bleachers of the gym at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave., to attend a community forum hosted by the Department of Justice to collect public feedback about the police department.

Audience members listen to stories about police misconduct at a public forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice at Truman College on July 12, 2016. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times
Audience members listen to stories about police misconduct at a public forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice at Truman College on July 12, 2016. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

One man suggested that the names of police officers and their star numbers be made larger on their uniforms to promote accountability.

A woman from Humboldt Park suggested police put a moratorium on hiring white police officers “until they can find a way of dealing with this.”

Before opening the public comment portion of the meeting, Gunston told the crowd, “I know a lot of people in this room, a lot of people in this city are very angry.”

A woman whose son was shot and killed by police suggested a “three strikes and your out” system for police officers who break the rules.

Activist Eric Russell speaks about the Bettie Jones police shooting during the public forum on Tuesday night. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times
Activist Eric Russell speaks about the Bettie Jones police shooting during the public forum on Tuesday night. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

Gunston is a special counsel in the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. She played a leading role in the investigations of police departments in New Orleans and Cleveland, according to an American Bar Association biography. Before joining the DOJ, she was a deputy public defender for eight years in Contra Costa County, California.

“I think she’s sincere. I think they want to know what’s going on in Chicago,” said Kirah Moe, 24, of Auburn Gresham. “I also think that it’s obvious what’s going on here.”

The DOJ investigation into the Chicago Police Department and the Independent Police Review Authority is expected to last another five months at least before yielding a report on their findings.

Once the report is finalized, the federal government could negotiate an agreement mandating sweeping reforms of the department, as it has in cities from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles.

Tuesday’s night meeting was the third of four such meetings.

The fourth is scheduled for Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, 1250 W. 119th St.