A multiracial coalition gathered in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood to demand justice for 13-year-old Adam Toledo, killed by a Chicago police officer. Block Club Chicago reported a planned Friday rally grew to thousands marching through the streets. Some people watched from nearby stoops, cheering the marchers.
“No mother should have to bury a seventh-grader,” said one speaker during a break in the march. Some people showed solidarity from nearby vehicles holding signs like “My Hands Are Up Don’t Shoot.”
Grassroots organizations across the city have intensified calls for a community-driven police accountability system in the wake of Adam’s killing. Founded by Black and Brown youth in 2018 after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Good Kids MadCity (GKMC) is one of several organizations supporting a new proposal to address police violence.
Whether in schools or the streets, youth organizing in Chicago has been at the forefront of addressing public safety in Black and Brown communities. Police accountability is only one of the organization’s focal points, with several programs dedicated to youth leadership development and engagement.
The proposed Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance allows for direct community participation by creating District Councils around the city and a Community Commission on Public Safety. The District Councils are envisioned as elected positions that would serve in each of the city’s 22 police districts.
The Mayor would have the ability to choose the members of the community commission, but the nominees would come from a list provided by members of the 22 Districts. Part of the ordinance would allow a question to be placed on the 2022 ballot for residents to weigh in on whether this system should be created.
Black labor leaders in Chicago announced support for the proposed ordinance in early April. A broad coalition of faith, community, and political organizations support the Empower Communities ordinance, including the Chicago Teachers Union, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Trinity United Church of Christ, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and the Chicago Torture Justice Center.
Reports of the video released Thursday indicate 13-year-old Adam had his hands up in compliance with police commands before he was shot. With full knowledge of the video’s contents, Lightfoot and other officials set up a framing that would take the heat off the police.
An attorney in State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office failed to inform himself before telling a court that Adam had a gun in his hand before he was shot. “Errors like that cannot happen, and this has been addressed with the individual involved,” Sarah Sinovic, a spokesperson for Foxx, told local news.
That “error,” along with other characterizations from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials, colored the framing of the case in seeming justification of police action.
As mayor, Lightfoot had to deal with the revelation that she was not forthcoming in an earlier case involving a botched raid that had police entering the wrong person’s home. Anjanette Young fought for about a year to have a video released showing police busted up into her apart in another “error.”
Chicago police refused to release the video in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from both Young and local media. As a part of her lawsuit against the police, a court ordered the video on the wrongful raid on Young’s home.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported it is a precarious time for Lightfoot, who is almost at the halfway point of her first term. She ran on police accountability and public safety. Having served as co-chair of the Task Force on Police Accountability after the fallout from the Laquan McDonald case, some voters may have expected Lightfoot to handle events in the city better.