On August 10, protesters gathered outside the 1st District – Central Police Station in Chicago’s South Loop to denounce the shooting of Latrell Allen and provide jail support to those arrested in the protests and unrest that followed. The event was organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago and kicked off with a speech from Ariel Atkins, an organizer with BLM Chicago.
Speaking in front of a banner which read “OUR FUTURES HAVE BEEN LOOTED FROM US… LOOT BACK,” Atkins called for the abolishment of the police saying, “The very foundation of the police is violent and racist. You can not take the foundation out from under a building, it will fall apart. You can not reform what has always, always been wrong. The only thing you can do is abolish it.”
Atkins urged people to focus on the root causes of the rage seen across the city. “I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats, that makes sure that person has clothes,” she told the crowd.
Others in the crowd expressed similar sentiments. Josiah Plummer, a resident from the South Side of Chicago, told Liberation News; “I’m out here today to defend and protect Black lives. We know that we haven’t had justice in a long time and there is a lot of pain in our community, and so I’m out here fight for the freedom of our people.” Plummer continued: “I hope to continue this fight, I hope to continue to fight for the liberation of our people.”
On August 9, Chicago police shot and wounded Allen in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Outraged community members demanded answers from officers on the scene. Chicago police responded by sending additional units to the neighborhood resulting in 150 officers on one street who immediately met community members with violence.
The Chicago Police Department claimed that officers were involved in a foot chase and were shot at, but reports from community members contradict CPD’s account. In a later press conference, Officer Yolanda Talley indicated that the three officers involved in the shooting did not have their body-cameras turned on.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city officials responded to Sunday night’s unrest in downtown Chicago with what has now become a common tactic, raising the bridges and shutting down transportation into the city’s center. “The transportation ban downtown and Lori Lightfoot’s response this morning made it clear to me that the city values property over people, so I had to be out here today,” protester Adelai Abdelrazaq told Liberation News.
While more than one hundred dancing and chanting protesters held the space in front of the police station, around the corner others offered support, supplies, and rides to those being released from jail. “Six people have been released since 4 pm. We expect to be out here for many more hours tonight,” a protester called Gabriel told Liberation News at 9 pm. “The frequency of releases has increased since the larger crowd showed up,” she said.
Later in the rally, Atkins told Liberation News: “People are tired, they’re tired of being poor, they’re tired of being hungry, they’re tired of being ignored and unheard.” Expressing the widespread failures of the city to protect its residents Atkins continued: “The City has shown us over and over again that they do not care, that they would rather put money and time and effort into protecting property over actual people in the city who are suffering in the middle of a devastating pandemic.”