Hundreds of Black women gather to show support for Anjanette Young over botched police raid

Hundreds of people, mainly Black women, gathered outside Chicago Police headquarters in the Bronzeville neighborhood Sunday to express outrage over the botched 2019 raid of Anjanette Young’s home.

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Protestors of the botched raid of Anjanette Young’s home rally outside Chicago Police headquarters at 3510 S Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Hundreds of people, mainly Black women, gathered outside Chicago Police headquarters in the Bronzeville neighborhood Sunday afternoon to express outrage over the botched 2019 raid of Anjanette Young’s home.

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, Rev. Jesse Jackson and City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin were among the notable local and state officials who attended the rally on the South Side.

A coalition of women planned this rally after Young’s story came to light earlier this month when footage of the erroneous raid of her home captured on an officer’s body-worn camera was broadcasted on CBS, over objections from the city’s Law Department.

For about an hour Sunday, demonstrators paced the sidewalks in front of Police Department headquarters, demanding justice for not only Young but for all Black women. They repeatedly chanted, “You’ve got the wrong house” — the same statement Young told police more than 40 times while they raided her home.

Some demonstrators carried signs that quoted Young’s comments to the media, including, “They could have shot me,” and “It felt like forever.” Others held poster boards that said, “I am #AnjanetteYoung” and “It could’ve been you.”

Many had pinned pink ribbons to their jackets or wore pink accessories as a symbol of solidarity in femininity.

“We just wanted to just say, in our outrage and our anger, ‘Hey girl, we with you,’” said organizer Mary Russell-Gardner, who wore a pink scarf and black T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Black women matter.”

When the speakers took turns at the microphone, most men stood behind the women. Russell-Gardner described that gesture as “empowering.”

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Mary Russell-Gardner joins a protest of the botched raid on Anjanette Young’s home outside the Chicago Police Headquarters at 3510 S Michigan Ave. in Bronzeville, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“That’s what we need,” she said. “Black women... we’ve always been that foundation, that glue for the family. And so to see us all come together and respond to demand fair justice for another sister... that was great, that’s awesome.”

A dozen officers entered Young’s home in February 2019 to execute a search warrant, though they were acting on bad information. Young, a social worker, stood naked and handcuffed as officers searched her place despite her repeatedly telling them they were at the wrong home.

“We were outraged, just speechless, can’t even fathom what that woman experienced coming into her house naked,” Russell-Gardner said. “So that’s the main reason I’m out here for this Black woman, Miss Anjanette Young, whom I don’t even know, but I felt every pain she felt.”

Demonstrators called for the immediate firing of all the officers who participated in the wrongful raid. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last week that those officers had been assigned to desk duty as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability continues its investigation into the incident. The organizers also called for police reform and more transparency from the city and the Police Department.

Young has agreed to meet privately with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday morning at Progressive Baptist Church, 3658 S. Wentworth Ave.,“to start the healing process,” her lawyers said in a statement Sunday.

Lightfoot has yet to respond to the invitation, but her office previously reached out to Young’s attorney on Dec. 17 in the hope that the two could speak in person.

Young also invited CPD Supt. David Brown and each of Chicago’s 50 aldermen to attend a forum after the private meeting at the church to address the issues surrounding the case in further detail.

There is no word yet on whether any or all of the officials will attend.

On Sunday, Rush said at the protest that he sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., demanding that he conduct a hearing “on this travesty, on this invasion, on this attack.”

“I am here to let you know and inform you that I stand for Black women, my mama was a Black woman, my wife is a Black woman, my daughters are Black women,” Rush said during his impassioned speech. “We will defend Black women, we will place Black women on the pedestal that they deserve. Black women matter.”

Stratton called for policy reform that better protects Black women and girls.

“We cannot move forward as a society if we do not firmly commit to protecting Black women and girls,” Stratton said. “... As Black women and girls, we deserve recognition of our humanity and we expect to be respected and safe especially in our own homes.”

Russell-Gardner said this is just the beginning of this coalition of Black women. She’s hoping that Young will get justice and that police reform and better federal and state laws come from Young’s story.

“We’re just getting started,” Russell-Gardner said. “This is not a one-and-done. We’re just getting started with this issue.”

Contributing: Emmanuel Camarillo

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