CommunityThe Dissenter

Chicago Police Swarm DePaul Law School During Event on Acquitted Chicago Officer Who Killed Rekia Boyd

Dozens of Chicago police swarmed an evening event at DePaul Law University on the case of Chicago officer Dante Servin, who killed Rekia Boyd and was recently acquitted during a trial this month. Attendees were outraged by the climate of intimidation created by the police presence, and the police were apparently encouraged to escalate security by university administrators.

The event was a “legal teach-in” to highlight the legal basis for a judge’s rare decision to acquit Servin before he had even presented a defense. The event also discussed the possibility of a Justice Department prosecution against Servin and how supporters of Rekia Boyd and her family could take further action for some small semblance of justice.

Some of the organizations that co-sponsored were DePaul’s National Lawyers Guild Chapter, National Lawyers Guild Chicago, Project NIA, Uptown People’s Law Center, People’s Law Office and the Chicago chapters of Black Lives Matter and CAIR. Attorneys Rabya Khan of CAIR-Chicago, Joey Mogul of the People’s Law Office, Alan Mills of Uptown People’s Law Center and Cliff Nellis of Lawndale Christian Legal Center were each on the panel to discuss legal issues stemming from Servin’s case.

According to a statement from Mills, “A long series of panicked phone calls and emails” were directed by the university administration to DePaul’s NLG chapter prior to the event. An email was sent to professors urging them to clear the building by 4 pm for the event, which was scheduled at 6 pm. This was urged to “ensure the students ‘safety'” because of the “‘controversial’ event.”

The actions of the administration resulted in “dozens of police on bikes and scooters surrounding the entrance,” Mills wrote. There were “officers in the lobby where people waited for the elevator.” An officer was also stationed immediately outside an elevator on the 9th floor of the building where the event was held.

A SWAT team was reportedly deployed and about 100 cops for 200 people, who attended a peaceful teach-in event, according to Mariame Kaba of Project NIA, who attended the event.

Brad Thomson of the People’s Law Office said the administrators had even tried to erase Boyd from the event. Fliers for the event posted by organizers were taken down and replaced by signs that no longer featured her name.

Uptown People’s Law Center sent out a message suggesting that administrators were worried the event might turn into some kind of a protest.

Holly Sanchez-Perry, who attended the event, shared a photo of an officer who was stationed outside the university building entrance thirty minutes before the teach-in.

Transforming the immediate area around the site of a panel event at a university into a heavily policed zone is the quickest way to isolate a group and send a message to students that there is something potentially dangerous about engaging in open discussion about a certain issue. In this case, DePaul Law University sent a message to students, professors and staff that those concerned about a young black woman killed by a Chicago cop might cause a disturbance and they should be careful.

Yet, not only did it send up a red flag about supporters of Rekia Boyd in the Chicago community but it also encroached upon the academic freedom of everyone with a stake in the university.

The groups which co-sponsored the event consciously chose to have a conventional panel discussion that would be open to students and the public and be safe for anyone to attend, who simply wanted to be exposed to information and ideas. Unlike what members of these groups typically experience while on the streets protesting, there was to be no risks of arrest and the exchange of ideas was supposed to be free of any threat of a crackdown. But police were there to send a message to anyone in attendance they were radicals, who needed to be monitored because the administration was worried about a gathering of dissenters in one of their university rooms.

Mills declared, “DePaul’s actions were nothing short of disgusting. But DePaul’s actions were, on another level, completely predictable, and were symptomatic of the bigger problem with law schools.” For the most part, law schools have been absent from discussions of police violence in the last year.

“Why are they not sponsoring community forums nationwide, exploring creative legal approaches to re-exerting control over police? Why aren’t they in the lead demanding that the police respect the constitutional limits on their power? Why aren’t they educating the public in the disconnect which has grown into a chasm between the written law, and the law which applies in the streets of poor and minority communities?” Mills asked.

Then, Mills provided an answer. Law schools like DePaul are not connected to the community. “Law schools function as a source of supply to the 1%, which needs lawyers to make the law work for them. At worst, law schools are money-making machines, concerned above all else about ensuring a continued flow of dollars from wealthy alums.”

There could also be a more basic answer. The university sees it as its duty to enforce civility. Administrators are prejudiced against the Black Lives Matter movement and saw the presence of individuals from that movement as a potential threat. They deployed police to maintain order and treat everyone as a suspect because they believed activists and other community members would not remain civil. They were worried people would get loud. They were worried people might turn angry. They might act on that anger and then march out into the street. They did not want to be the launch pad of a protest action because they felt they would have to take responsibility.

In effect, administrators sought to control freedom of assembly because they are afraid of people who have survived and suffer from injustice. They did not want their university to be where people attempted to do something meaningful about police violence.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

Chicago Police Swarm DePaul Law School During Event on Acquitted Chicago Officer Who Killed Rekia Boyd

Dozens of Chicago police swarmed an evening event at DePaul Law University on the case of Chicago officer Dante Servin, who killed Rekia Boyd and was recently acquitted during a trial this month. Attendees were outraged by the climate of intimidation created by the police presence, and the police were apparently encouraged to escalate security by university administrators.

The event was a “legal teach-in” to highlight the legal basis for a judge’s rare decision to acquit Servin before he had even presented a defense. The event also discussed the possibility of a Justice Department prosecution against Servin and how supporters of Rekia Boyd and her family could take further action for some small semblance of justice.

Some of the organizations that co-sponsored were DePaul’s National Lawyers Guild Chapter, National Lawyers Guild Chicago, Project NIA, Uptown People’s Law Center, People’s Law Office and the Chicago chapters of Black Lives Matter and CAIR. Attorneys Rabya Khan of CAIR-Chicago, Joey Mogul of the People’s Law Office, Alan Mills of Uptown People’s Law Center and Cliff Nellis of Lawndale Christian Legal Center were each on the panel to discuss legal issues stemming from Servin’s case.

According to a statement from Mills, “A long series of panicked phone calls and emails” were directed by the university administration to DePaul’s NLG chapter prior to the event. An email was sent to professors urging them to clear the building by 4 pm for the event, which was scheduled at 6 pm. This was urged to “ensure the students ‘safety'” because of the “‘controversial’ event.”

The actions of the administration resulted in “dozens of police on bikes and scooters surrounding the entrance,” Mills wrote. There were “officers in the lobby where people waited for the elevator.” An officer was also stationed immediately outside an elevator on the 9th floor of the building where the event was held.

A SWAT team was reportedly deployed and about 100 cops for 200 people, who attended a peaceful teach-in event, according to Mariame Kaba of Project NIA.

Uptown People’s Law Center sent out a message suggesting that administrators were worried the event might turn into some kind of a protest.

Holly Sanchez-Perry, who attended the event, shared a photo of an officer who was stationed outside the university building entrance thirty minutes before the teach-in.

Transforming the immediate area around the site of a panel event at a university into a heavily policed zone is the quickest way to isolate a group and send a message to students that there is something potentially dangerous about engaging in open discussion about a certain issue. In this case, DePaul Law University sent a message to students, professors and staff that those concerned about a young black woman killed by a Chicago cop might cause a disturbance and they should be careful.

Yet, not only did it send up a red flag about supporters of Rekia Boyd in the Chicago community but it also encroached upon the academic freedom of everyone with a stake in the university. (more…)

Previous post

Opposition Amassing to 'Outdated and Unsound' Trade Policies

Next post

The Roundup for April 30th, 2015

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

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

11 Comments