A week later, Chicago activists still demand answers in death of Harith Augustus
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Five days after a Chicago police officer shot and killed Harith “Snoop” Augustus, a handful of the protesters who staged outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home went to a Chicago Police Board meeting at CPD headquarters, the first such meeting since Saturday’s shooting.
COPA chief administrator Sydney Roberts said Augustus’ death “has raised may legitimate questions” but claimed releasing further video or audio evidence at this point would create “substantial risk to the integrity of the investigation.
“I know given the history of police oversight in Chicago asking for your patience and trust is a lot to ask, but as the new chief administrator I am asking just that,” Roberts said.
After the meeting, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said he released one edited clip of body camera video from the shooting because he saw it as a “public safety issue.
“I didn’t want to see another Saturday night,” Johnson said, referring to hours of sporadic clashes between hundreds of protesters and officers that followed the shooting.
Resident Pamela Hunt rejected that claim while addressing the police board.
“You released that tape because you wanted to show him with a gun. And you feel that’s a justified shooting,” Hunt said, claiming that the officer who opened fire escalated the situation when Augustus was talking to another officer.
“Officers don’t behave that way on the North Side,” Hunt said. “They’re creating situations to use deadly force. And it has to stop.”
Earlier Thursday, protesters brought their cries for justice, and a letter laying out their demands, to the front steps of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood home.
“There is no reason that Rahm Emanuel should get to sit in his ivory tower, unscathed and unbothered by this moment,” said Tanya Watkins, an organizer with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation. “His neighbors, his friends, his colleagues and community members cannot turn a blind eye to the injustice taking place in communities of color and the abuse we are suffering at the hands of CPD.”
At least a dozen police officers formed a line, separating about 100 protesters from Emanuel’s home on the quiet, tree-lined street. Some carried a coffin emblazoned with a crossed-out photo of Emanuel. Others carried signs with Augustus’ name.
Emanuel was not home at the time. Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said that as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigates the shooting, “and long after it is complete, we will continue our ongoing work to strengthen relationships, create common understanding and build trust between police and the people they serve.”
Since the 37-year-old barber was shot by police Saturday after being stopped for allegedly exhibiting “characteristics of an armed person,” activists have marched through South Shore, organized a vigil outside of Sideline Studio and held a “mindful healing village” in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
The demonstration outside Emanuel’s home brought together people who said they were beaten by police at Saturday’s protest, with people like Jeannette Hutchinson, who said her uncle was killed by a Chicago police officer in 2000. Speaker after speaker called for transparency, for resources and for Emanuel to resign.
“In six weeks, CPD has murdered three black men on the South and West Sides of Chicago,” said Ariel Atkins, with Black Lives Matter Chicago, “and not once has Rahm demanded that they put down their guns or that they stop terrorizing communities of color.”
Richard Wallace, with Equity and Transformation Chicago, laid out a list of demands, including “complete and total transparency throughout the course of the investigation,” as well as court proceedings, in Augustus’ death; the release of all camera footage from body-mounted cameras; and the names of all officers on the scene at the time of the shooting on Saturday.
The protests won’t go away until the demands are met, Wallace said.
“You hold no one accountable for black death in this city except for the dead,” said Hesna Boukom, with the Southsiders group, addressing Emanuel. “For you, for these aldermen, for police, all Harith had to do was be black to deserve to die and we’re not going to stand for that.”
Contributing: Mitchell Armentrout