Revolution #72, December 10, 2006


Chicago: Police Murder of Michael Smith

November 18 on Chicago’s Southside, Michael Smith was waiting to get his hair cut and went into the convenience store to get some chips and a soda. As he came out of the store with two other young men, two men approached with hoods on and guns drawn. Moments later Michael lay dying with a bullet in his stomach. The hooded men turned out to be police officers

The police first claimed that Michael Smith “came toward them [the cops] with his hands in his pockets and wouldn’t take them out when ordered to.” Later, they claimed that Michael had “wrestled one of the officers for his gun.”

Witnesses on the scene tell a whole different story. One of the guys Michael was with described how the plainclothes cops, with guns already drawn, came up to them without identifying themselves. One of them pulled Michael to him, and the gun went off. Others at the scene confirm that this was what happened.

Michael was 22 years old and worked on and off at his uncle’s HVAC business. He was living with his fiancée and his two kids—a 4-year-old and a 14-month-old.

On Nov. 27, about 200 people gathered at the spot where Michael was killed and then marched through the neighborhood. According to people who were at the protest, the police began to follow the march—and more and more came. The cops ordered the news cameras to leave. After the media left, the cops jumped out of their cars and attacked the march. They knocked down a youth on a bike, picked up the bike and threw it into the middle of the march. People scattered, and the police chased them to the house of Michael’s family, where they began grabbing and beating young men and women—slamming them up against cars or onto the ground—and arrested 17.

Michael’s uncle spoke of his sorrow and outrage. “I put my nephew, who really had not begun to live his life, in the ground… You put a hood over your head, you and your partner come out with your guns drawn, and you surprise a group of young men coming out of the store. Now, all of a sudden, one of them is dead and it was justified. There’s a big problem with that.”

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