Protest in Zion over police shooting, killing teen they say was armed

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Protesters gather Saturday in Zion. Ruth Fuller / Sun-Times

A month after 17-year-old Justus Howell died after being shot twice in the back by a Zion police officer, protesters gathered Saturday at the place of his death to march to the Zion Police Department and demand that the officer be charged with murder.

Several dozen people from Zion and surrounding communities were joined by representatives from several Chicago organizations in a peaceful protest.

“We are standing up because this is all of our fight,” said Theo Carter, 20, from Chicago.

According to the police, Howell was shot while fleeing officers around 2 p.m. April 4, near 24th and Galilee. They said they recovered a handgun, though two witnesses have told the Chicago Sun Times Howell wasn’t armed.

Alice Howell, Justus Howell’s grandmother, brought her son, Dennis Howell to the march. While she did not stay, she said that she “supported the march.”

“I support this because murder is murder,” Dennis Howell said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim said last week an investigation into the shooting continues and asked for patience.

“I call on the entire community to respect the investigative process, the family of Justus Howell and the officer involved and not to pre-judge this situation without having any facts,” Nerheim said.

Ralph Peterson, of Waukegan, said that, given the arrests of police following shootings in Baltimore and South Carolina, he thinks Nerheim isn’t doing his job.

“You have seen the face of true justice and how swift it works,” Peterson said. “We strongly feel that Mike Nerheim must go.”

Clyde McLemore, of Zion, who organized the march and also an earlier one, said he will continue to try to stoke community interest.

“I organize these marches to wake people up to the brutality and harassment that has been going on with the Zion police for many years,” McLemore said. “We are having friends investigate friends, and we get no justice. We are calling on Mike Nerheim to arrest the officer.”

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