Protesters gathered at the Chicago Police Department headquarters on April 16 to demand justice for Patrick Lyoya. Lyoya was a Black man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who was killed by a police officer on April 4. Chicago Activist Coalition for Justice and the Party for Socialism and Liberation hosted the event.
The protest was a part of nationwide outrage over the killing of Lyoya, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The currently unnamed officer unnecessarily escalated the situation and shot Lyoya in the head while he was subdued on the ground.
Members of the two organizations met at the headquarters of the Chicago Police Department at 3510 S. Michigan Ave. They led chants demanding justice for Lyoya, and speeches were given by Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef of CACFJ and by Patrick McWilliams and Don Gross of the PSL.
“What drove me out here today is that I saw myself in that situation,” Ben Yosef told Liberation News. “I’m so sick and tired of seeing our mothers going through the pain and suffering of this terror. It’s not right. [Lyoya’s mother] said, ‘I thought he was going to bury me.’ But now she’s gonna bury her son. So we are demanding the highest accountability possible.”
Also present were roughly 40 to 50 police officers who lined up behind the protesters at the entrance to the headquarters and were stationed on every corner of the block. Some of the police carried riot helmets. Their excessive presence in response to a peaceful gathering of roughly 10 to 15 activists only lent credence to McWilliams’ speech, which criticized the prioritization of war and policing over education and health care.
“Our tax money is going to propping up these institutions and supporting these cops who claim to protect and serve us,” McWilliams told Liberation News in an interview. “And yet almost daily, we find evidence that really, they are just there to terrorize, to brutalize and to protect private property over the lives of the people.”
McWilliams’ speech also touched upon the victimization of Lyoya’s home country by imperialism. The United States backed the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the anti-colonial leader of the DRC, in 1961. The Congo was then turned into a corrupt, impoverished neo-colony for the purpose of exploitation by Western corporations.
McWilliams described the brutality toward Black people in African countries and in the United States as part of a single, global system of racist subjugation. “The United States and its imperialism created the conditions that Patrick was fleeing,” McWilliams said. “And then, when Patrick came here to the United States to escape what is really racist violence on an international scale, he found that very same racism here in the United States which unfortunately led to his death.”
Feature image: Protesters in Chicago speak out against the police killing of Patrick Lyoya in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Liberation photo