Activists call for police accountability in viral video of officer apparently restraining woman

Activists and supporters gathered outside the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to protest Tuesday after an officer was put on desk duty following an apparent altercation with a woman who was walking her dog at North Avenue Beach.

SHARE Activists call for police accountability in viral video of officer apparently restraining woman

Lamar Whitfield, 45, spoke to activists and supporters outside the Civilian Office of Police Accountability Tuesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Community leaders and supporters at a rally outside the Civilian Office of Police Accountability on Tuesday called for justice for a woman seen in a viral video apparently being grabbed and restrained by a Chicago police officer at North Avenue Beach last weekend.

In the video, a Black woman, Nikkita Brown, is seen with her dog as an officer appears to try and force her to leave the area.

Brown’s attorneys released a statement Sunday calling the incident “an obvious case of racial profiling.”

Tuesday’s rally co-organizer Troy Gaston, 39, claims he received footage of the incident and released it to a local TV news station.

“I believe that this rally…wakes up our communities to be involved in the movement wrapped around Black liberation,” Gaston said.

About 30 demonstrators at the rally listened as community activists spoke about the importance of police accountability. The officer seen in the video has been placed on paid desk duty while COPA, the agency charged with looking into police misconduct, does its investigation.

Lamar Whitfield, a co-host and speaker at the rally, said he wanted to support Brown but also wanted to respect her wishes to avoid the spotlight she’s been in since the video went viral. 

“It brings attention that you don’t want sometimes,” Whitfield, 45, said, “I rarely even wanted to say her name…I don’t like to keep saying her name and bring that sort of attention to her, that could be negative.”

Like rally speaker Mark Clements, many at the demonstration have had their own experiences with police violence.

“All of these rallies serve as a message to the city of Chicago, who for years has been getting away with systemic beatings, lynchings and murders in Black and Brown communities,” Clements said.

Clements was physically tortured at age 16 by police into confessing to a fire that killed four in 1981. His conviction was overturned in 2009.

“I spent 28 years of my life in a prison … I’m out here to hold these police officers accountable for basically engaging into criminal conduct and basically having that conduct covered up,” Clements said.

Clements, who works with the Chicago Torture Justice Center, helps people who have been traumatized in confrontations with police.

“Our job is to provide psychological support to individuals like Ms. Brown,” Clements said, “We provided services to victims of those who have been mistreated as a result of Chicago police.”

Brown or her mother were not seen at the rally.

Contributing: Madeline Kenney, David Struett and Fran Spielman 

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