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Little Village activists protest at police training center, FOP headquarters

Activist presented the “Adam Toledo Peace Book,” — a list of demands to move funding from the police to social services in Little Village.

Garciela Garcia offers a Chicago police officer a stuffed animal outside the Chicago Police Department’s training facility on Friday.
Garciela Garcia offers a police officer a stuffed animal outside the Chicago Police Department’s training facility on Friday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Graciela Garcia held a stuffed animal as she faced a row of police officers who stood behind their bikes, protecting the Chicago Police Department’s training facility.

“Is there any police officer, that has that love in them to show, that they do have that solidarity to accept this gift,” Garcia said, holding out the stuffed animal in front of her.

Garcia stood next to her 6-year-old daughter and more than a dozen activists in front of the police academy, 1300 W. Jackson, to protest two recent fatal shootings by Chicago police: 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.

“Thank you, we appreciate the gesture, we can’t accept gifts though but we really appreciate the gesture,” the supervising officer replied.

Garcia and the other protesters then began placing stuffed animals at the wheels of the officer’s bikes.

She and the other protesters wanted to make some sort of a peace offering to show they don’t wish the police any harm, but they also want to weed out what they consider “bad cops.”

“We are standing here in solidarity with my brothers and sisters to demonstrate to these recruits, before they hit our streets, that we have a heart, that we have a soul, that we have loved ones at home,” said Kristian Armendariz, a youth organizer in Little Village. “To have some compassion. To show some respect to a human life before drawing their guns and pulling the trigger.”

Armendariz wants the officers who shot Adam and Alvarez both charged with murder. He also presented a group of proposals that organizers call the “Adam Toledo Peace Book.”

“We want community control over the police department,” Armendariz said. They also want money shifted from CPD’s budget to fund social programs, such as early childhood education or creating a pipeline to trade schools.

“Adam Toledo is a victim of the lack of resources in my community,” Armendariz said.

The protesters then marched to the police union’s headquarters, taking a less-than-direct route — east on Jackson, north on Halsted, back west on Washington.

As they marched, they called for justice for Adam, Alvarez and other victims of police violence as diners in restaurants gawked.

Once in front of Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police, 1412 W. Washington Blvd., they called on FOP president John Catanzara to step down. After video of Adam’s shooting was released, Catanzara had said the cop was justified — “100% right” — in his actions.