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Mother Will March Every Day Until Chicago Police Provide Answers on Police Shooting That Killed Her Son

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More than one week after Chicago police shot and killed 19-year-old Roshad McIntosh, his mother is still demanding the police provide basic information on what happened to her son. She has pledged to march to the local police station every day until she gets the answers she believes she deserves.

Cynthia Lane (also referred to as Dawn McIntosh) was joined by hundreds on Labor Day in an evening march from the 2800 West Block of Polk Avenue on the west side of Chicago. The block is where her son was shot by police on August 24.

The march went to the 11th Precinct Station, where McIntosh’s mother left demonstrators to enter the station and see if police were ready to provide: the name of the officer or officers who shot her son, autopsy report information, incident report information and details on whether there will be any punishment for the officer(s) or changes to police procedures in the aftermath.

She was only in the police station for 10-15 minutes before she reemerged in tears. The police had provided her no information.

There have been three marches to the police station since McIntosh was killed by police. Activists, supporters and eyewitnesses from the community have maintained that the black teen was on a porch surrendering and had his hands up when police fired the shots that killed him.

“My son was killed senselessly, and he shouldn’t have been. He was surrendering, and they shot him anyway,” Lane declared at a press conference on August 27.

It was not until August 26, two days after he was killed, that Lane was allowed to see her son’s body.

According to the police’s version of what happened, officers were “questioning” McIntosh “when he ran, turned and then pointed a gun at them.”

Police also apparently shared a “preliminary statement” with local news media that indicated “gang enforcement officers” responded after “someone reported seeing armed men on the block.” Officers “spotted people matching descriptions they had been given, and one of them began running when officers approached.” He was chased by an officer and later pulled out a weapon while running and “refused the officer’s order to drop it.”

Was Roshad either of the “armed suspects” who had been seen on the block? Did mistake him for someone else and did Roshad run because he was afraid? Did he even have a weapon, as police claim? What about the other people who “matched” descriptions given? What happened to them? Were any of them arrested or chased down?

The secrecy in McIntosh’s case is similar to the secrecy police employed in other recent cases, where officers shot and killed young black men.

In Los Angeles, Ezell Ford, who was mentally ill, was lying on the ground when police shot him. It was two weeks before police named the officers involved in the shooting. And, as the Los Angeles Times reported, police “placed a security hold on Ford’s autopsy to prevent coroner’s officials from publicly releasing information about Ford’s wounds.” Officials also “declined to provide information about why the officers approached Ford as he was walking home along West 65th Street near Broadway.”

The Ferguson police kept the name of the officer who shot and killed Mike Brown secret for one week. When Ferguson police named Officer Darren Wilson as the shooter, they would not release an incident report on the shooting. Instead, they released a report on a robbery they claimed Brown had been involved in moments before Wilson shot him. It was a calculated attempt to manipulate the press.

When police finally released some version of an incident report (because the ACLU had requested it), it was heavily censored and contained no description of the shooting, which legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, Tony Rothert, said violated the law.

Police in Chicago are rarely disciplined or punished for police crimes, and such secrecy stems from guarding a process known to vindicate officers in almost all “police-involved shootings.”

Chicago has an Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), which is supposed to investigate police crimes. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Of 176 police-involved shootings investigated by the review authority since November 2007 and posted on its website, officers were found to have violated department policies in just three cases.” That means in the past six to seven years the IPRA has affirmed allegations against police in only 1.7% of the cases.

As long as the IPRA is “investigating,” names of officers involved are typically not released and details on the investigation are kept secret. The police union and any other police-affiliated groups are free to say whatever they want about Roshad’s death based on whatever information they claim to have in order to exonerate officers accused of crimes in the court of public opinion.

Local news media outlets mostly seem to accept the level of secrecy and move on to the next news story. Or, in this instance when the community continues to protest, a line appears in every brief news report indicating what police say happened. The community is unlikely to have local news media balance the police version of events with a sentence indicating what family and friends believes happened. This can make it extremely difficult to maintain a concerted push for accountability because the public is likely to think nothing wrong happened; family and friends are just upset someone they knew and loved died tragically.

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The Chicago police will conceal any information related to Roshad’s death for weeks, if not months, unless pressure mounts and forces transparency because protecting one of their own is infinitely more important than giving a mother some semblance of closure by providing basic information. That makes Lane’s call to the community to join her in protesting every day until she gets the truth even more bold and courageous.

Lane is probably well aware that police will fight her and do everything they can to prevent her from having justice, but she refuses to accept the culture of impunity imposed on her by police and the city of Chicago because she is and will always be a parent who loves her son.

Mariame Naba of Prison Culture, who was at the Labor Day rally, has written eloquently about what it means to be a black parent like Lane.

Black parenting is, in part, about managing daily precarity and about the pain of borrowed time. But it’s also more importantly, I think, about love: the fierce & abiding kind born out of the knowledge that tomorrow is not promised. It’s a love mingled with pain that allows for a celebration of blackness in a profoundly anti-black world. My parents raised me here to love being black, to bask in it even while they understood that the rest of the world denied its beauty. My family members and friends are doing the same for their children today. This is our legacy and our triumph.

Even as the dominant culture sees and treats us as unpersons, we know that this is in fact the greatest of lies. And it is this truth that instills hope and provides the ultimate answer to the question: what will we tell our children? It’s simple actually, we’ll continue to tell them how much we love them. We’ll let love have the final say as we keep fighting for more justice. Because as Audre reminds us: “There is a world in which we all wish to live. That world is not attained lightly. We call it future.”

Protesting out of love creates the possibility of maintaining one’s humanity and overcoming what otherwise would be an insurmountable struggle.

Each day that she marches for truth and justice, she holds on to the love she still has for her son, Roshad, and continues to be a parent. She also provides a constructive way for a community to channel their anger and help her deal with the pain.

Flier created to promote the call for daily #JusticeforRoshad rallies

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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