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Rahm Emanuel Fails to Show Up for Meeting with Families of Victims Killed by Chicago Police

Over a week ago, on March 5, families of loved ones killed by Chicago police officers held a press conference and demanded a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. They requested that he address the issue of police violence. His office scheduled a meeting for March 16 in the early afternoon. However, when multiple families impacted by police violence came to his office for the meeting, they found out he was going to be a no show.

Emanuel is in the middle of a re-election campaign and in the middle of a runoff with Chuy Garcia. However, the families insisted he had plenty of time to arrange his schedule and prove that he cared.

“He couldn’t take out a mere hour out of his day to come talk to us. That’s unexcusable,” community activist and director of Christianaire, William Calloway, said. “Rahm Emanuel does not have our vote in the African American community and we’re going to stand together. We’re going to band together. And we’re going to make sure that man does not get re-elected come April 7.”

“I came here today to see Rahm Emanuel and he coward out and didn’t show up.,” Dorothy Holmes, mother of Ron Johnson, who was killed by police on October 12, 2014. “How do you figure he’s here for the people? He can’t even face us. And I’m not the only one feeling like he backed out on us. So, if he can’t face us, why should we vote him in office?”

Reggie Pittman, father of DeSean Pittman, who was killed by police on August 24, 2014, explained that he moved to Lafayette, Indiana after the incident.

“I moved my other three boys out of the city of Chicago because when police killed my son they continued to taunt us,” Pittman shared. He was “outraged” the mayor was a no show because he “had to travel across state lines and miss work to come today.”

Although family members were still able to meet with city officials, including a representative from the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), each one shared how they were once again denied access to basic information, such as police reports, which would tell them what happened to their children.

Panzy Edwards, mother of Dakota Bright, a 15-year-old killed by police in November 2012, explained that she was told it may take four years for an investigation into what happened to her son to be completed.

“So, you telling me I can’t get nothing for four years?” Edwards said. “I want to know what happened to my child.”

Edwards said her child lay dead in handcuffs with his face down in the backyard for four to five hours after police shot him. She explained she had heard three or four different stories in the media about her son and wants to know the truth.

“I’m his mother. I deserve to know what’s going on. I don’t know anything. I want to know something,” Edwards declared.

Pittman said, seven months later, he does not have the name of the officer, who killed his son. He has never received a police report. The autopsy on his son was finally made available two weeks ago. And, while the death certificate states “homicide,” the “smack in the face is that it states allegedly shot by police.”

Each of the family members was informed that they could not be provided answers because there were lawsuits pending. Officials in the meeting also informed family members that if they obtained copies of police reports with officers’ names and released their names to the media they would be violating state law.

“They said it is against state law. They cannot release the officer’s name. It’s against the law for them. They say even if I was to get a police report it’s against the law for me to release his name,” Edwards stated.

Media seemed a bit perplexed. “You mean if you had the police report and told media, you’d be breaking the law?” She answered, “Yes, sir.”

For what it’s worth, all residents of Chicago are routinely denied basic information about the Chicago Police Department. The Ilinois attorney general’s office has a “public access counselor” to review appeals by citizens when their public record requests are rejected. There are 288 appeals involving Chicago police, which the counselor has yet to resolve.

In April 2014, an Illinois appeals court ruled that Chicago police could no longer keep police misconduct files secret under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. It was believed to be a “watershed moment” for transparency, however, the communities most impacted still are dealing with an ultra-secretive police force deeply insensitive to the pain such police shootings cause in their communities.

Residents impacted by police violence do not feel safe in their communities.

“These families have been harassed by Chicago Police Department,” Calloway declared. After the shootings, police then appear to be targeting members of the family with citations and tickets. They feel endanger and seek to escape hostility from police.

Calloway added, “The families made clear what they wanted. They wanted police reports. They wanted these officers off the streets. They wanted recommended indictments of these police officers.”

“It’s not right that the man who was supposed to sit down with us didn’t sit down with us,” Edwards declared. “In all actuality, [Emanuel] doesn’t really care about the problems that’s really going on in our community. I feel like our kids’ lives don’t matter.”

“Well, guess what? We know their lives matter. And I want justice for my son, her son, her son, her brother, his son—We all need justice.”

Video from press conference outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

CommunityThe Dissenter

Rahm Emanuel Fails to Show Up for Meeting with Families of Victims Killed by Chicago Police

Over a week ago, on March 5, families of loved ones killed by Chicago police officers held a press conference and demanded a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. They requested that he address the issue of police violence. His office scheduled a meeting for March 16 in the early afternoon. However, when multiple families impacted by police violence came to his office for the meeting, they found out he was going to be a no show.

Emanuel is in the middle of a re-election campaign and in the middle of a runoff with Chuy Garcia. However, the families insisted he had plenty of time to arrange his schedule and prove that he cared.

“He couldn’t take out a mere hour out of his day to come talk to us. That’s unexcusable,” community activist and director of Christianaire, William Calloway, said. “Rahm Emanuel does not have our vote in the African American community and we’re going to stand together. We’re going to band together. And we’re going to make sure that man does not get re-elected come April 7.”

“I came here today to see Rahm Emanuel and he coward out and didn’t show up.,” Dorothy Holmes, mother of Ron Johnson, who was killed by police on October 12, 2014. “How do you figure he’s here for the people? He can’t even face us. And I’m not the only one feeling like he backed out on us. So, if he can’t face us, why should we vote him in office?”

Reggie Pittman, father of DeSean Pittman, who was killed by police on August 24, 2014, explained that he moved to Lafayette, Indiana after the incident.

“I moved my other three boys out of the city of Chicago because when police killed my son they continued to taunt us,” Pittman shared. He was “outraged” the mayor was a no show because he “had to travel across state lines and miss work to come today.”

Although family members were still able to meet with city officials, including a representative from the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), each one shared how they were once again denied access to basic information, such as police reports, which would tell them what happened to their children.

Panzy Edwards, mother of Dakota Bright, a 15-year-old killed by police in November 2012, explained that she was told it may take four years for an investigation into what happened to her son to be completed.

“So, you telling me I can’t get nothing for four years?” Edwards said. “I want to know what happened to my child.”

Edwards said her child lay dead in handcuffs with his face down in the backyard for four to five hours after police shot him. She explained she had heard three or four different stories in the media about her son and wants to know the truth.

“I’m his mother. I deserve to know what’s going on. I don’t know anything. I want to know something,” Edwards declared.

Pittman said, seven months later, he does not have the name of the officer, who killed his son. He has never received a police report. The autopsy on his son was finally made available two weeks ago. And, while the death certificate states “homicide,” the “smack in the face is that it states allegedly shot by police.” (more…)

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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."