Protests Continue on the West Side

Protests Continue on the West Side
Protests Continue on the West Side

Protests Continue on the West Side

Residents on Chicago’s West Side have been in the streets protesting for the last couple days. They’re angry with how the Lawndale neighborhood is policed. On Monday night an 18-year-old resident was shot and killed by an officer. For Chicago Public Radio, Robert Wildeboer reports.

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About two hundred people are marching down Roosevelt road near Douglas Park.

ambi: No justice no peace, no racist police.

The march blocks traffic. Soon the police arrive and some marchers start yelling at the officers.

ambi: The Chicago police do not like black people.

March leaders shout as they rush to the scene of the brewing altercation.

ambi: Don’t get violent. Do not get violent. Do not get violent.

They get the things back on track. The march circles the block where police shot and killed 18-year-old Aaron Harrison Monday night. It ends in Douglas park. Harrison’s mother steps up to a microphone to address the media.

ambi: Come on baby you can do it. You can do it baby.

But she begins crying so her older sister Ashunda Harris speaks.

HARRIS: On behalf of my sister. She can’t do it right now because of her grievance but we are tired of not being able to hang out on a summer evening like anyone else in their community. We are tired of the police jumping the curb. We want justice. We want this to be taken care of the way that they would take care of if one of they people was murdered last night.

STARKS: We will conduct a thorough, complete investigation. We will leave no stone unturned.

Dana Starks is interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. He says officers were driving down Roosevelt when they saw a group of young men on the corner. Harrison tugged at his waistband which Starks says is an indication that he may be carrying a weapon. The officers got out of the car to check. Harrison ran and the police chased.

STARKS: The officers observed the offender with a weapon in his hand pointed in his direction and the officer fearing for his life, and also the life of all the other citizens that were around, fired.

Starks says police found a 9 millimeter gun on the scene but Harrison’s family insists he didn’t have a weapon. Community members say innocent black men in this neighborhood are always running from the police. They say contact with police can easily turn into four or five hours at the station for no good reason. Reverend Richard Harris pastors a Lawndale church. He says the police haven’t developed relationships with the community.

REV. HARRIS: They only ride the sidewalks with they squad cars jumping the curbs. So you’re chasing the gentlemen down instead of trying to talk with them and get to know them. So they don’t want to talk to you because you steady running. You running, you chasing them so to speak.

HARRIS: You can’t shake an entire crowd and say, ‘Are you the one with the coconuts? Are you the one with the coconuts? Are you the one with the coconuts?’

Harrison’s aunt Ashunda Harris.

ASHUNDA HARRIS: They have to be able to recognize and do an investigation, sit over, stake out, do your job but don’t just go through a neighborhood grabbing and plucking them at your will and beating them. Police say Aaron Harrison had 13 arrests, mostly for possession of heroine. Protestors who were out Monday and Tuesday say they’re planning to march again at noon today. They want charges brought against the officer who killed Harrison.

For Chicago Public Radio, I’m Robert Wildeboer.