By Patrick Forrest
Following the shooting of a 20-year-old Englewood man by police, protests and looting once again hit Chicago streets Sunday night. In response Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced travel restrictions to the Loop area, with all bridges being raised and CTA service into the area ending at 9 p.m., only allowing access starting at 6 a.m. the following morning.
The restrictions, which are expected to last for the “foreseeable future” according to Lightfoot, came after a night of property damage downtown that police believe is connected to the police shooting and what they call “misinformation” that spread on social media.
It was originally believed the young man who was shot was an unarmed 15-year-old. The man shot has since been identified as 20-year-old Latrell Allen, who reportedly was armed and fired at police before they returned fire.
Allen reportedly suffered five gunshot wounds, four in his back and one in his face. It was announced by police that Allen fired shots at officers. That claim is disputed by family members and at least one eyewitness.
“He said: ‘Mom, the police shot me!’ I said, ‘They shot you?’ He said, ‘Yeah, they shot me five times!’” Larticsa Allen, Latrell’s mother said. “I said, ‘Latrell, did you shoot them?’ He said: ‘No mama, I did not shoot them. I was just running.’”
Officers also were not wearing body cameras at the time of the encounter, an apparent break of department policy which states “the Department member will activate the system to event mode at the beginning of an incident and will record the entire incident for all law-enforcement-related activities.”
Despite that stated policy the officers, who were assigned to the newly created Community Safety Team, were allowed to respond to a call about a man with a gun without the proper gear.
“In 2020, [CPD] can’t get cameras on these officers?” Assistant Public Defender Scott Finger said at Allen’s bond hearing. “I think there’s an expectation that every officer have a camera these days. The department is under a consent decree after the [U.S. Department of Justice] found a pattern of excessive force and civil rights violations. And they’re out there without cameras?”
Finger additionally noted that Allen was never tested for gun residue on his hands, despite a positive test being valuable to the police case against Allen. He has been charged with two felony counts of attempted first-degree murder and one felony count of possession of a concealed weapon. A $1 million bond was set. Allen is being treated for his gunshot wounds at the University of Chicago Medical Center and is expected to recover.
This latest occurrence of police violence has once again sparked the youth-led movement to defund the Chicago Police Department and invest at least part of the $1.7 billion budget into under resourced south and west side communities. The youth movement is even picking up support from a group of officials at the city, county and state levels who all coming out in support of the growing call to defund the police.
“Since Mayor Lightfoot took office, the city has spent over $2,982,985,000 on police who have protected a Tesla dealership and a Christopher Columbus statue instead of innocent children. That is enough to provide 1,193,194 Chicagoans with a cash payment of $2,500,” the letter which had been signed on by at least nine officials said.
“Police and prisons are designed to protect property and profit at the expense of providing Black and Brown communities with even the most basic livelihoods. It’s time for this cycle to end. It’s time to defund the police so that we can make real investments in Black and brown lives.”
Black Lives Matter Chicago, a group at the forefront of many of the planned events over the past few months, also released a statement demanding the push for the community police accountability commission, adding that they would “remain in the streets until our demands are met.”
“The demands for community control of the police have been ignored and actively resisted for years while CPD continues to murder and brutalize Black people and tear apart Black families.
Massive protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd have left Chicago the largest city in the country with no promise to defund the police,” the group’s statement reads.
“Righteous and justified anger – like the kind expressed after the police murder of Laquan McDonald and subsequent cover-up-has proven to be the only tool for police accountability that the public has at their disposal.”
The group planned to hold a rally outside the police station in Englewood Tuesday evening but received pushback from neighborhood residents who were concerned about what agitation outsiders could cause.
“They didn’t let the community know. They didn’t put flyers on peoples’ doors,” Duane Kidd, a lifelong Englewood resident said, referring to youth movement and Black Lives Matter organizers. “If they would’ve gotten something incited with the police, who’s gotta deal with it tomorrow? The community. Not them. They’ll be somewhere sipping sangria somewhere. I’m telling you like it is.”
Other neighborhood activists agreed, believing it would be more appropriate that the neighbors be the one to decide how they felt during this moment and not be led by outside forces that could be directed to other places.
“If your issue is with the police, take it to 35th and Michigan. Don’t come in Englewood with it,” Darryl Smith, president of the Englewood Political Task Force said. “If the people on 56th Street want to come over and protest the police, they can do it. But no one from the North Side or Indiana or any place other than Englewood can come here and do that.”
Black Lives Matter did complete its rally, however, it was moved following a heated discussion with neighborhood leaders.