Several organizations that support defunding the Chicago Police Department gathered in front of the University of Chicago Medical Center Friday to demand charges be dropped against a man shot by police in Englewood last Sunday.
“Here we are again demanding justice. We know that this ain’t right,” said Jada Vance, member of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “The police cannot find a way, they cannot figure out how to stop shooting Black people, and that ain’t right!”
Hundreds of people filled the intersection of Cottage Grove Avenue and 57th Street, where activists created a “Peace Circle.” Some in the group circled their bicycles to create a perimeter and keep police out as others spoke through a megaphone. They demanded, among other things, that the Chicago Police Department budget — now about $1.78 billion — be slashed by 75%, with that money reallocated for community benefits.
“We need community control of the police — not yesterday, not five months from now. Right now, because we know how to keep us safe,” Vance said.
Police officers tried to disperse the group which led to a tense standoff for a short moment before officers retreated out of the circle.
The rally was in response to 20-year-old Latrell Allen being shot by police officers last Sunday — he is recovering from his wounds inside the hospital. Allen has been charged with attempted murder; police say he shot at officers during a foot chase and was wounded when police fired back.
Activists and others have questioned the official version of the incident; the officers involved were not wearing body cameras. Skeptics include Allen’s brother, Earl Allen, who has disputed the police narrative, saying police lack evidence and eyewitnesses.
On Monday, CPD Supt. David Brown blamed erroneous rumors about the shooting (for instance, that the person shot was an unarmed 15-year-old), for fueling widespread looting downtown hours later.
Damayanti Wallace, an organizer with Good Kids Mad City, decried the excess attention paid to Monday’s looting, saying that should not be the focus when a young man is shot by police.
The government also has been looting for years, Wallace said — they just do it legally, and that deserves to be talked about more.
“We need those TIF funds that the city is looting from us on a regular basis, we need those put back into our communities,” Wallace said, referring to tax-increment financing, which diverts property tax collections into dedicated funds.
“They want to talk about looting, they want to talk about stealing but they’re doing it to us regularly,” she added. “They put those funds back into the North Side and downtown of the city in an effort to do trickle-down economics.”
After blocking the intersection for about an hour, organizers marched north on Cottage Grove Avenue and police dispersed.
The rally and march was organized by Good Kids Mad City, Black Lives Matter Chicago, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the Let Us Breathe Collective, BYP100, Care Not Cops and the Black Abolitionist Network.
Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.