Standing Up to Stop Police Abuse at the Basketball Court

September 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Friday evening a Peace Festival was held at a park in the Chicago Westside neighborhood where Roshad McIntosh had been killed by police on August 24 and where a series of protests for Justice for Roshad had been held throughout the week. (See "Chicago West Side: Hundreds March for Justice for Roshad McIntosh and Against ALL Police Abuses") The festival was both a call for Justice and an encouragement to the youth in the area to come together to end the violence among the people.

There was a brief press conference where Roshad’s mother spoke, demanding the cop who killed her son be named and arrested and charged. After the press left the area people were kicking back, eating hotdogs and playing baseball and basketball. The baseball field had been padlocked all summer but now, following the angry protests for Justice in the community—and with the example of Ferguson, Missouri in the air, the park department decided that the field could be opened for the youth. 

At the festival lawyers from First Defense, a legal aid group that provides free interim lawyers for anybody right after an arrest, had a table set up letting people know about their services. Others who had been part of the Occupy movement and had been in the protest earlier in the week were there as well. Revolution newspaper, palm cards for the October Month of Resistance, the Chicago Revolution Club Proclamation and whistles were passed out to people at the festival.

One revolutionary was hanging out with people in the park just chatting when someone noticed that a couple police cars had pulled into the park and cops were messing with youth on the basketball court. 

The revolutionary began to head over to where the police were and someone said, “Look, he’s on business—I’m going too.” A crowd began to head over with the revolutionary while another crowd of people was coming from the other side of the park with some blowing whistles that had been passed out earlier.

In a very short time the police, their cars, and a young man they pulled off the basketball court and put in handcuffs were engulfed in a sea of people—a few blowing whistles while others were right up in the faces of the police demanding to know why they were messing with this young man—and demanding that they let him go. Lawyers from First Defense were in the crowd videoing and shouting out people’s rights.

The cops’ story, shouted out over the outrage of the crowd, was that they were “responding to a call that someone in a red and white shirt (which described a number of people at the event) had a gun.” The people, many of whom had been at protests against police brutality throughout the week, weren’t having it.

The pigs kept coming—more cars with blue lights flashing. And the people kept coming, too. One of the cops, with a young woman up in his face, unsnapped his holster. Someone yelled, “What you think you gonna do with that?  Shoot her?” A few people put their hands in the air chanting, “Hands up—don’t shoot.”

The people did not back down. They didn’t just go about their business. They stood together. In the face of the determined crowd (and, no doubt, with Ferguson on their minds) the police uncuffed the young man and pulled back. And people also pulled back with the young man safely in their midst.

As the police backed their cars out of the park and people talked about how this is what they needed to do every time cops came after the youth, including the need for more whistles, someone called for the basketball and the game started back up.


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