Chicago Mothers March to Remember Children Killed by Police

By Emily Gray Brosious | Gapers Block | May 12, 2015

A group of mothers protested police violence Saturday evening on the South Side, near the spot where 15-year-old Dakota Bright was fatally shot by Chicago police in 2012.

“My baby was 15 and he was taken away,” said Bright’s mother, Panzy Edwards. “And the third district cops have no remorse.”

Police claim Bright was killed after he pointed a gun at an officer, but Edwards maintains her son was unarmed. Officers on-scene declined to comment for this story.

The “Mother’s Day March Against the Police State” was the latest in a series of demonstrations aimed at law enforcement, targeting what organizers call systemic racism, violence and a culture of impunity within police departments nationwide.

Standing in front of a poster that displayed the names and faces of black men and women who have been killed by police, Edwards read names of the dead aloud. She turned to the police and said– “If y’all are for the people then why are you killing the people?”

Panzy Edwards, the mother of 15-year-old Dakota Bright who was killed by Chicago police in 2012, addressed demonstrators Saturday evening before leading a march to the Third District Police Station. (Photo/ Emily Gray Brosious)
Panzy Edwards, the mother of 15-year-old Dakota Bright who was killed by Chicago police in 2012, addressed demonstrators Saturday evening before leading a march to the Third District Police Station. (Photo/ Emily Gray Brosious)

Demonstrators rallied steps from the alley where Bright was killed, then marched nearly a mile to the Grand Crossing District police station. Chants, songs and the sounds of car-horns honking in solidarity filled the air as police officers silently tailed the slow-moving peaceful march — without much interaction with protesters.

The group held a candlelight vigil outside the police station and Edwards read a poem for her slain son. It’s been more than two years since his death and Edwards said she still hasn’t found justice through the criminal justice system.

Organizers echoed that sentiment, saying they did not believe justice could come from the same system that “kidnaps and kills their loved ones.”

Demonstrators said they are fed up “living under police occupation,” and called for no-police zones in communities they say have been brutalized by “state sponsored black genocide” at the hands of Chicago police officers.

“Strong communities make police obsolete,” organizers repeated during the rally.

Demonstrator Daphne Jackson described a “war” being waged by police on black communities, and said it was time for people to stand up and defend themselves.

“They’re not here to help us. We are our help,” she said.

Jackson also pointed past the police, at larger public policies that systematically disenfranchise and subsequently criminalize black men in America.

“This is what society gave them. Stop blaming them for it,” she said.

Freddie McGee, whose 34-year-old son Freddie Latice Wilson was killed by Chicago police in 2007, said he sees trouble ahead if the criminal justice system doesn’t reform in a major way.

“People are tired of marching peacefully,” he said.

Rahm Emanuel’s Got Friends in High, Right Places

By Emily Gray Brosious | Apr. 6, 2015

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia face off Tuesday night in a mayoral runoff election, the culmination of a six-week runoff campaign sparked by Emanuel’s failure to capture a majority vote on Feb. 24.

A clear divide in Chicago’s Democratic-party politics is on rare display in this election, with both candidates campaigning from different sides of the party agenda.

In the final weeks leading up to the April 7 runoff, both Democrats are receiving campaign contributions from a very different group of donors.

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Top donors to Rahm Emanuel’s campaign between Feb. 24 and March 18 included hedge fund manager and Citadel CEO Ken Griffin at $250,000, Madison Dearborn Partners CEO Paul Finnegan at $200,000 and Groupon CEO and Lightbank co-founder Eric Lefkofsky at $200,000, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Samuel Mencoff ($200,000), Samuel Zell ($150,000), Michael Sacks ($125,000), Cari Sacks ($125,000), John D. Arnold ($100,000), Laborers’ Political League Education Fund ($100,000), Barry Malkin ($100,000), Richard Melman ($100,000), Muneer Satter ($100,000), Bernard L. Schwartz ($100,000), Craig Duchossis ($100,000) and Donald Edwards ($100,000) were also among Emanuel’s top donors during this time.

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s top donors during the same period included the American Federation of Teachers at $350,000, SEIU Healthcare at $318,169.89 and National Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education at $144,000, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

Other top contributors to Garcia’s campaign during this time included Service Employees Local No. 1 Political Education Committee ($100,000), International Transportation Trade Authority PAC ($50,000), Harold M. Baron ($25,000), Cook County College Teacher’s Union ($25,000) and Yusef D. Jackson ($25,000).

Since Feb. 24, the pro-Emanuel political action committee Chicago Forward, has raised $1,014,000, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Top donors to Chicago Forward include Ken Griffin at $500,000, Michael Sacks at $200,000, Cari Sacks at $200,000, James Abrams at $100,000 and Wendy Abrams at $100,000.

Emanuel’s top funders like Ken Griffin come from the traditionally Republican Right and like-minded financial, business communities, whereas Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s top funders come from the Democratic Left — unions and the like.

Emanuel is no doubt the powerhouse fundraiser between the two candidates, and Garcia’s campaign has criticized the mayor and his wealthy backers for perpetuating the “pay-to-play” problem in politics.

Nonetheless, finance records show neither candidate appears to be turning down donor funding in the lead up to this tighter-than-expected mayoral showdown.

Family calls for police reform at Homan Square protests

Public demonstration: A family affair

February 28, 2015

John Paul Gonzalez and his two children hit the streets of West Chicago Saturday afternoon to participate in public protests at the Homan Square warehouse complex, a so-called ‘black site’ facility where Chicago police secretly detained and interrogated thousands of people without providing access to attorneys, according to an investigation published April 16, 2016 by The Guardian US.

Gonzalez says the police reform demonstration presented him with an opportunity to teach his children about the issues at hand and show them the value of community organizing.

Video shot & edited by Emily Gray Brosious
Music credit: “Stop” (blue mix) by Ghost Kollective/dig.ccMixter, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution

New Year, New Laws in Illinois

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally Published at Gapers Block | Jan. 2, 2015

While you were out celebrating New Year’s Eve, the State of Illinois ushered the new year in with a tradition of its own: new laws. January 1 is the state’s default effective date for any new law unless otherwise specified. As such, more than 200 new laws took effect January 1 in Illinois.

Here are a few notable new laws to keep in mind this year:

Continue reading “New Year, New Laws in Illinois”

Analysis: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Rauner Party

By Emily Brosious and Qudsiya Suddiki | Originally published at The Red Line Project | Nov. 5, 2014

The Illinois governor’s race results weren’t called until nearly midnight, but two things were clear right away on Tuesday night — there would be no free drinks and no free Wi-Fi access at Bruce Rauner’s election-night party.

Continue reading “Analysis: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Rauner Party”