DOJ report doesn’t surprise Black Lives Matter activists

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Kofi Ademola of Black Lives Matter discusses the Department of Justice’s findings on Chicago Police practices. | Sam Charles/Sun-Times

Local activists gathered outside the Chicago Police Department’s Central District station Friday afternoon to say that, while welcome, the Department of Justice’s report on the police department’s practices came as little surprise to the residents of the city’s most violent neighborhoods.

“When this DOJ report came out, it didn’t tell any family, any person who lives on the South or West side of Chicago, anything new,” said Anika Tendaji, of the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter. “We know that these cops are killing our families. Our loved ones are nothing to them but a mountain of paperwork.”

The press conference was held outside the station, located at 18th and State, because several housing activists were arrested Friday morning after disrupting Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at the Hilton Hotel.

H. Demetrius Bonner said he was among the more than half dozen people arrested. He said he was charged with trespassing and is scheduled to appear in court next on Feb. 16.

Bonner, one of the co-founders of the Chicago Housing Initiative, said Emanuel was “pimping the legacy” of King.

“Just like there needs to be police accountability, we need to hold our officials accountable, especially Rahm Emanuel,” Bonner said.

Kofi Ademola, also of Black Lives Matter Chicago, said the DOJ was putting the onus on violent neighborhoods for deficiencies in police strategies.

“They tried to deflect accountability by saying because of gun violence, because of all the deaths, the over 770 murders last year, they’re trying to use that as an excuse why policing isn’t happening,” Ademola said. “That is the biggest lie, the biggest distraction of smoke and mirrors that we’ve ever heard.”

Pastor Catherine Brown, a self-described “survivor of police brutality,” was pleased with the DOJ’s published findings.

“I’m just here, happy that we have these results from the DOJ to prove the reckless conduct of the police officers of the city of Chicago,” Brown said. “Hopefully now, what should have been seen before, [it’s clear] that the people have not been out here fighting in vain for justice.”

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