Militant publishing schedule
The Militant will not publish next week. We will resume publication with the issue dated Jan. 14, 2008, which comes off the press January 3.
Killings by Chicago cops spark protests
Demonstrators: convict, jail guilty police
December 8 protest at site where Chicago cops killed Aaron Harrison August 6
BY LAURA ANDERSON
AND BETSY FARLEY
CHICAGOA series of fatal shootings by the police here has spurred protests calling for the conviction of the cops involved. Most of those killed have been Black; at least two were Latino.
Dozens protested December 8 to demand justice for Aaron Harrison, who killed by cops in August. A week earlier, friends and relatives of Freddie Wilson spoke out at a hearing to demand that police be held accountable for his killing.
Police claim they shot Wilson, 34, after he threatened them during a November 13 traffic stop. They say a gun was recovered. But witnesses report differently.
Grace Hazzard, who was leaving a nearby record shop, told the Chicago Sun-Times Wilson never made it to his car. She added that she did not see Wilson with a gun.
Andre Grant, an attorney for family members who have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, said witnesses report Wilson was walking to his car when he was confronted by police. He believed that he was being harassed and began to take pictures of them with his cell phone when shots rang out, Grant said.
Some 150 people turned out for a November 30 hearing before the Chicago city council to demand justice for Wilson. Corinthia Frederick, Wilsons former partner and mother of his son, pointed out that the Cook County medical examiners office found he had been shot 18 times, at least three times in the back. Police say they are given a reasonable doubt to shoot. How can you justify 18 shots? she asked.
Most police department officials demonstratively walked out of the hearing when their testimony ended and statements by representatives of the families began. Roshean Williams, Wilsons goddaughter, said, They walked out after all the rhetoric, when it was our turn. I felt absolutely terrible, thats why I stood up and asked Where are you going?
Also attending the hearing were relatives of Steve Womack, killed March 25; Hubert Burgs, killed June 29; Lester Spruill, who died in police custody after his arrest July 19; and Aaron Harrison, killed August 6.
Indict and lock up the cops
Ashunda Harris, the aunt of Aaron Harrison, testified that the Chicago police have declared that African American life, and Hispanic life, have no value, that it is justified to shoot when somebodys back is turned.
Annie Johnson, Harrisons mother, also testified. We demand the cops be indicted and locked up, she said. On December 8, nearly 70 people held a protest march to the site where 18-year-old Harrison was killed.
Also testifying was Janice Womack, demanding the truth be told about her son Steves death in a car crash. Police pushed the car he was riding in into a brick wall. Janice Womack and Carol Montgomery, Womacks grandmother, have organized protests as well as joining in actions called by families of other victims of cop violence.
At least 32 people were shot by cops here in 2007 according to the interim superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Dana Starks. Asked at the hearing if the 32 shot included people hit with Taser guns, police officials answered no.
At least two people in Chicago in the last two yearsGeoffrey Johnson, 42, and Ronald Hasse, 54died after being shocked with a Taser gun. Hasses case marks the first time that a medical examiner has listed a jolt from the electroshock weapon as the primary cause of death. The police commonly blame deaths from Tasering to be drugs in the victims system.
In recent weeks the city of Chicago has taken steps to quiet down protests against police abuse. Mayor Richard Daley announced November 29 the appointment of a new police superintendent, former FBI official J.P. Weis.
The city government also recently announced a $19.8 million settlement to be awarded to four former death row inmates pardoned in 2003 by former governor George Ryan.
The four are among scores of people, most of them African American, who were tortured into confessing to crimes between 1971 and 1992, under the direction of former police lieutenant Jon Burge. A special prosecutors report published in 2006 revealed that Burge and those under his command beat suspects, shocked their genitals with electricity, put plastic bags over their heads, stuck guns in their mouths, and inflicted radiator burns on them.
The Chicago Tribune ran a series on police abuse in December entitled Shielded from the Truth. The series reported that on average Chicago police shoot a civilian once every 10 days. More than 100 people have been killed in the last decade; 250 others have been injured. But only a tiny fraction of the shootingsless than 1 percenthave been ruled unjustified.