Three people were arrested on Tuesday at a protest at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office while demanding reforms to the nation’s second largest police department, including an end to what they consider excessive use of “stop and frisk” searches.
A group of about 100 protesters – which included several clergy members – chanted “Black Lives Matter,” sang “We Shall Overcome,” and lay down in front of the mayor’s City Hall office until staff agreed to meet with some of them.
The protesters cited an American Civil Liberties Union report issued Monday showing that black Chicagoans were subjected to 72 percent of all police stops, yet constitute just 32 percent of the city’s population, the report said.
The ACLU issued the report at a time of increased scrutiny of policing practices and nationwide protests over the shooting and chokehold deaths of unarmed African American men.
Besides ending “stop and frisk”, protesters also called for independent citizen oversight to review police misconduct and reforms to a pilot body camera program.
Charles Anderson, 37, said he realized police have to fight crime, but there are “different ways to do the same things” which are less abusive when searching for a suspect.
“They don’t have to throw him up against the car and take his pants down to see if he is carrying drugs,” said Anderson. “They don’t have to throw a numerous amount of young men against a fence to find out their names.”
In response to the ACLU report, Chicago police defended their tactics, saying it has improved training to make officers aware of its prohibition on racial profiling.
Police also said that the racial breakdown of the stops made without making an arrest was closely aligned with the profiles of suspects identified by third parties in reports on criminal cases.
The three arrested on Tuesday had disobeyed police orders to stay in a particular area during the protest.
The mayor’s office said it would provide a comment on its meeting with protesters later in the afternoon.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; editing by Andrew Hay)