Dear Chicago: Stop criminalizing our youth

Man wants city to address heavy-handed tactics police use with young people.

February 7, 2011

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Allegations of police misconduct are not new to Chicago. Recently, former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for lying about his role in the torture of prisoners during the 1970s and 80s.

But some Chicagoans say they endure a more routine kind of mistreatment during their day-to-day interactions with police.
 
Muhammad Sankari, 22, says he’s met too many of these residents. He’s an organizer with the Arab American Action Network’s youth program in Chicago Lawn, a South Side neighborhood. Sankari says he routinely sees police mistreat teenagers and detain them during questioning. For him, the police presence sometimes makes the neighborhood feel like a militarized zone.
 
Sankari asks that Chicago’s next mayor and city council push the department to use less heavy-handed policing strategies.
 
*Editors note: A young person in this story makes a claim that he was mistreated by police. This claim has not been investigated, as neither he nor his family has filed an official report about the alleged incident.
 
The Dear Chicago commentary series is a project of WBEZ’s Partnership Program. Muhammad Sankari was nominated for the series by the Chicago Cultural Alliance.