CHICAGO — Protesters gathered in West Town Tuesday, seeking justice for Nikitta Brown, a Black woman who was confronted and later grabbed by a Chicago Police Department officer, in a widely-shared video.
Bystanders and passersby rose their fists and honked their horns in solidarity with protesters outside the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) headquarters. Chants of “Walking your dog while Black, that’s when police attack” filled the air as activists called for an end to racist policing.
Keenan Saulter is Brown’s lawyer.
“The one person that she should’ve been able to count on to protect her was the very person that attacked her,” Saulter said.
Brown was walking her dog just after midnight Sunday morning near North Avenue Beach when an unnamed Chicago police officer approached her. In the video, recorded by witnesses, viewers see the police officer shoo her away initially. Her lawyer said she was trying to leave the beach – which had closed an hour earlier – but the officer wouldn’t let her go.
“The entire time, until he attacks her physically, she’s moving out of the park,” Saulter said. “She’s attempting to follow the exact command that he gave her.”
Brown asked the officer to keep his distance because he wasn’t wearing a mask. He told her he didn’t need to wear one because he was outside. That’s when she attempted to record him with her phone. Then things took a turn.
Brown is heard screaming, “let me go,” while the officer grabs at her, yanking her dog in the video.
When Chicago police learned about the now-viral video, the department referred the matter to COPA. On Monday, the officer was placed on paid desk duty.
Brown’s lawyer called Sunday’s incident an obvious case of racial profiling, adding that police ignored other white women walking in the same area.
“We’ve seen the video. The city is outraged,” one protester said.
On Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the video “concerning.” Chicago police Supt. David Brown asked for patience while the investigation continues. Yet one day later, protesters say enough is enough. Not impressed with COPA’s initial reaction to the matter, they have called for the officer’s immediate firing.
“We will not let you villainize, traumatize our women, and not say anything,” said activist Eric Russell.
Saulter added: “That kind of officer does not represent the best, the brightest, the bravest men and women of the Chicago Police Department. In fact, that kind gives them a bad name.”