CHICAGO — Community groups gathered across the street from Brickyard Mall Monday to ask government leaders to invest in their communities instead of the police.
The Northwest Side mall was the site of a violent arrest last week which drew outrage after it was caught on video. Two Chicago officers have been relieved of their police powers pending an investigation.
Religious leaders, affordable housing advocates, family services workers and civil rights activists gathered at a park across the street from the mall Monday to demand changes to police funding and tactics in Chicago.
“We are here to condemn police brutality against our black brother sand sisters,” said Rosa Reyes, Communities United.
Video of the arrest at Brickyard Mall on May 31 shows Chicago cops surround a car, bash the windows out with clubs and yank people out.
One of them was Mia Wright, who was pulled from the car by a white police officer who then slammed her to the pavement and held her down with a knee pinned on her neck. The incident took place less than a week after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis using a similar arrest tactic.
“When a police officer hurts or kills one of us, all of us are threatened,” said Anthony Stewart, Black Workers Matter.
Wright was in the car with her mother and cousin that Sunday, a day after violence and looting spread across the city. Wright says the three had gone to the mall not knowing it was closed because of looting.
Police say officers on the scene believed the three were at the mall to “disturb the peace,” but Wright contends police targeted the wrong person.
“They want everybody to get on the ground, and you ‘aint even done nothing. Let’s figure out what’s going on before you put guns in people’s face,” Stewart said Monday.
Now groups are asking for more resources in Chicago’s largely black, latino, and hispanic neighborhoods. They say tax dollars should prioritize housing, hunger and violence prevention programs — and less for the police department, which may help ease the racial tensions.
“When you think about the civil rights movement, doesn’t it feel like we’re taking too many steps back – general steps back – the only difference is today, it’s being filmed,” said Roxanne Nava, Metropolitan Family Services.