From the Revolution Club, Chicago:

University of Chicago Police Shoot Student and Charge HIM With Assault

April 9, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Tuesday night April 3, University of Chicago police shot a U of C student who was having a mental health crisis. The student, Charles Thomas, survived the shooting, but has been CHAINED TO HIS HOSPITAL BED with a broken shoulder and collapsed lung, and HE is being charged with multiple felonies. Students at the University of Chicago have been protesting his shooting, demanding that the university provide better mental health services, and condemning the UCPD for a known history of racism and violence.

Charles, who is Black and Asian and 21 years old, was walking in an alley off-campus with a metal rod and had allegedly smashed some windows with it. UCPD cars drove up on him, saying as they approached him that he was “a mental.” A pig jumped out of the car yelling “drop the weapon” and “don’t come at me,” and when Charles ran toward the pig, yelling at him, the pig shot. The university president issued a statement saying the UCPD followed protocol.

This police shooting has become a social question in the city, getting extensive media coverage, and on the U of C campus. The University of Chicago is a prestigious private university, known in some quarters as “The Harvard of the Midwest,” located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

Four members of the U of C faculty wrote an open letter to the school newspaper condemning the shooting and the role of the university police. They were unequivocal in their opposition. “As we write, many factual details regarding this incident remain unclear. As more details emerge, many in the observing public may focus on adjudicating the facts of the case and whether the shooting was justified. As tends to be the case in police shooting incidents, there will be divergent interpretations of police accounts and body camera footage. We argue that many of these details—whether the student charged the officer, whether the officers ordered him to drop the pipe he was holding—are in fact irrelevant to the undisputed facts and the crucial concerns they raise for our community. Three officers approached a civilian who was not armed with a deadly weapon, and they fired a gun at him, endangering his life. This horrifying fact should be the center of our discourse, and our efforts going forward should be focused on ensuring that such a thing can never happen again.”

Sure enough, just as the above open letter predicted, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn has a major piece in the Sunday print edition, “Frame by frame: Take aways from a careful look at the U of C police shooting video,” arguing that this shooting is justified. He ends his article by saying, “An email Thursday from the Revolution Club Chicago branded Tuesday’s shooting as ‘outrageous.’ I dissent. What’s outrageous is a knee-jerk response to all police shootings that ends up blunting the message and confusing the issue when police do cross the line.”

Well, Eric—the Revolution Club challenges you to a debate about this OUTRAGEOUS police shooting. Open up your column to us and others, and let’s get at the truth of the matter.

The day after Charles was shot, two previously planned protests against the university condemned the shooting as part of their actions. This included the protest demanding dropping the charges and ban against Maya, the Revolution Club member who was attacked by this same police force on March 1 after holding 11 minutes of silence for 11 million undocumented immigrants and has been indicted with two felonies. Supporters of Maya held 11 minutes of silence and spoke out in front of the building of the university president’s office. The other protest the same day was for a graduate student union, where 200 students chanted outside a discussion the university president was having on “free speech.”

The next day, more than 100 students attended a protest called directly in response to the shooting of Charles Thomas. Students spoke out, and those in the crowd were listening with tears streaming down their faces from students suffering from mental health issues. As a white student cried, she spoke about how the shooting of Charles Thomas going through a mental health crisis could well mean she could be shot. Students also spoke out against the UCPD being one of the largest private police forces in the world. People brought out the human life of Charles Thomas who needed help but was dealt with by police with guns.

The Revolution Club has been at all these protests taking out our statement on police murder and calling on people to get into Bob Avakian and to watch and promote the film The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible. We have also been linking this outrage to the UCPD’s attack on Maya and the battle to get her charges dropped. Both Maya and Charles Thomas are facing felony charges from the same campus police force.

A statement has been issued by a friend of Charles that reads in part, “Anyone, student or faculty, on this campus will tell you about the intense amount of emotional stress put on individuals to succeed. Charles was no stranger to this feeling, and with pressures mounting at the end of his undergraduate career, he did what he could to get himself help by visiting the Student Counseling Service at the end of winter quarter. Rather than being provided with a regular counselor on campus, SCS referred Charles off campus.”

The president of the university has justified this shooting as being a part of “protocol.” What kind of institutional protocol is it when the police are required to shoot down people who are suffering from a mental breakdown? What kind of system is this where police are called to the scene of someone in a crisis needing help and shooting him? Instead of offering critical care to someone who needs help, the enforcers of a worldwide system that bombs hospitals and access to clean water, shoots down protesters and intervenes with coup d’etats, and terrorizes whole peoples with its military might and wars for empire releases its thugs to bring down people, particularly of color, by shooting them. Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California. Decynthia Clements in Elgin, Illinois. Quintonio Legrier in Chicago. There are so many more names of people, many of them Black, who were suffering and when they needed help were instead gunned down by the police.

What kind of system is this where the shooting of a victim is put forward as a justifiable and reasonable solution? This has got to stop! As the Revolution Club, Chicago began in our recent statement: “How long will pigs keep murdering and walking free? How long will they enforce this system with its murder, brutality and oppression? UNTIL WE MAKE REVOLUTION TO GET RID OF IT! Get With the Revolution Club and Start Getting Ready for Revolution.”


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