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Garcia supporters join election-eve protest against police brutality

Three of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s most prominent supporters joined in an election-eve demonstration outside the mayor’s office Monday to protest Rahm Emanuel’s refusal to sign onto their demands to end police brutality and stop-and-frisk policies that they say target blacks and Hispanics.

The timing and participation of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and County Commissioner Robert Steele begged the question about whether their motive was to embarrass Emanuel and help Garcia.

But protesters from the Community Renewal Society and the Jane Addams Senior Caucus insisted the groups are non-profits that have endorsed neither candidate.

After demanding a meeting with Emanuel for months, they finally got one on Saturday morning, but came away disappointed by the mayor’s failure to accede to any of the group’s demands.

Those demands include an end to “stop-and-frisk policies that disproportionately target communities of color” and an overhaul of the already-revamped and independent agency that replaced the Police Department’s old Office of Professional Standards.

The protesters further demanded that the body camera program be amended to include: “accountability and consequences” for officers who turn off their cameras during an interaction with civilians; disclosure of recordings to recorded individuals and their attorneys; disclosure to the public of “flagged” recordings involving use of force, detention, arrest or complaints; and public participation in the evaluation of body cameras.

“He did not commit to any changes. He committed to continue talking. And we do not want to continue talking. We want to begin moving and taking action,” said Nora Gaines of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.

“He has agreed to speak with us further. . . .We’re glad that he did that. We look forward to him honoring that should we continue to need to work with him. But talk is not enough — and that’s why we’re here today.”

Pastor Eddie Knox Jr. of the Community Renewal Society added: “There are African-American and brown folk being stopped, being frisked, being harassed, being locked up and it has to change.”

Jackson insisted his motives were not political, either. He pointed to a recent ACLU study that showed Chicago Police made more than 250,000 stops last summer without making an arrest and that 72 percent of those detained were African-American.

“Blacks and browns were stopped four times more in Chicago than New York. That matters. 250,000 people are stopped, but not arrested, meaning they were harassed,” Jackson said.

“If people are either afraid of the police or antagonistic, they cannot do their work. We need to help them help us. The reason why we have so many unsolved murders is because of this gap between police and people.”

Pressed on whether Monday’s protest was an attempt to embarrass the mayor and influence the election, Jackson said, “No this quest for justice lasts for a long time. We don’t seek to embarrass. We seek correction. [But] the fact that we would use this occasion to get your attention is significant.”

Davis added: “It doesn’t just have to do with the election. It has to do with fairness.”

Jackson and Steele then sought to personalize the issue.

Jackson talked about how his own son, Jonathan, had been stopped and detained for an hour while driving in Pilsen, where his business is located, by police who “thought he was a drug dealer.”

Steele said he was stopped by police on Friday.

“Why? Because of my skin color and the community that I was in. . . . Because I’m a young man . . . driving a different kind of vehicle in my neighborhood, I was pulled over,” Steele said.

“We need to push and ask the mayor, ‘Let’s provide some more training to these officers.’ Sensitivity is something we need in our neighborhoods.”

The mayor’s office characterized Saturday’s meeting as a “positive and productive conversation” with representatives from the Community Renewal Society.

“While the mayor has already begun implementing a number of the group’s policy proposals over the past four years, he agreed to a number of their other recommendations during the nearly one-hour meeting,” mayoral spokesman Adam Collins wrote in the statement.

“The meeting ended with a mutual agreement that building trust between police and residents is essential to achieving our shared public-safety goals, and a commitment from the mayor’s office to meet with the group again by early May.”