Hundreds of protesters gathered in Washington Park Friday evening to demand civilian control over the Chicago Police Department — a long-sought goal for those critical of the agency.
The rally kicked off with several organizing leaders condemning police brutality and allowing relatives of those who lost their lives at the hands of police officers over the last decade to tell their story.
Shortly after the rally, protesters marched into the intersection of East 53rd Street and South Martin Luther King Drive carrying signs declaring “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop police crimes CPAC now.”
Chants of “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” could be heard for blocks as one onlooker shouted “Right on” in support. Police rode bikes as the peaceful protest stopped traffic.
An independent Civilian Police Accountability Council, or CPAC, would have the power to negotiate contracts with the police union, hire or fire police superintendents and discipline troubled officers.
The march and rally were organized by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation and several other organizations.
Tanya Watkins, executive director of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, said she went to the protest to send a message to the Chicago City Council.
“Now is the time for you to be on the right side of history as we demand justice for the victims of police violence,” Watkins said.
The rally ended at 51st Street and Wentworth Avenue — just blocks away from the campaign office of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who has accused Chicago officers of lounging in that office, which had been burglarized, as looters ransacked nearby businesses.
At the rally’s end, a banner was dropped from a Metra viaduct; the banner declared that it listed the names of “Over 500 black and brown people tortured and wrongfully convicted” by Chicago police since the 1980s.
Marchers than took over a vacant lot and planted hundreds of signs, each containing one of the names on that banner.