WEST TOWN — A small group protested in West Town Tuesday to demand harsher sanctions for the officer who followed, confronted and grabbed a Black woman walking her dog along the lakefront Saturday night.
Organized by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, about two dozen people demonstrated outside the headquarters of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, urging the agency to quickly investigate the incident and called on Chicago Police Supt. David Brown to fire or suspend the officer without pay.
Chanting “walking your dog while Black, that’s when police attack,” protesters blocked part of the street in front of COPA’s headquarters at 1615 W. Chicago Ave. for almost two hours while dozens of cars and bus drivers blared their horns in support.
“We just want to make sure people are listening,” said Lamar Whitfield of No More Foundation. “Because normally in Chicago, if we don’t do this, we don’t get the [charges to the officer].”
Videos from the confrontation — which show an officer walking closely after Nikkita Brown, appearing to reach for her phone before grabbing her and holding her as she tried to leave the park near North Avenue Beach — have spread quickly on social media and drew criticism from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who said she was “disturbed by what I saw.”
The officer was put on desk duty, Brown said Tuesday. Protesters called it a “slap on the wrist.”
COPA, which probes use of force by officers, recommended the officer either be placed on administrative duty or relieved of his police powers — which Brown said he reserves for serious cases where it appears the officer could be fired.
“He’s now being paid for something that he’s done, which is definitely not right,” Whitfield said. “The tape was more than enough reason for him to not be employed at the moment.”
Mark Clements, who works with the Chicago Torture Justice Center, called for the case to be referred to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for criminal charges against the officer.
“We want justice for this young woman, Ms. Brown, and we want justice now,” Clements said. “This officer must be not only put behind a desk but he should be fired and he should be fired immediately. If you want to give him administrative sanctions, don’t sanction him with a paycheck.”
It’s up to Brown to decide the officer’s status, COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said.
“Although in the early stages of the investigation, COPA determined the officer should be removed from duties that would further result in interactions with the public and made a recommendation,” Eaddy said.
Whitfield pledged the group will be outside COPA headquarters every day until the officer’s name is released and he is stripped of his police powers.
“This cop thought he could get away with it, but look at all of us out here,” said Jaszime Salas, treasurer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression. “If we put pressure, if we keep fighting, we can and we will hold this cop accountable.”
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