On Nov. 24, a St. Louis County grand jury did not indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in August. The Chicago Reporter talked to advocates for greater police accountability and asked them, “What’s next?”
The shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., has resulted in calls for national data on how often police kill civilians. The Department of Justice and the FBI keep some numbers, but the nation’s nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies aren’t required to report the information or complaints against officers.
Some of Charlene Carruthers’ strongest memories from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago are of visiting the public aid office with her mother. Caseworkers spoke condescendingly from a desk so high it was difficult to see over. The desk reinforced the feeling of being talked down to. “I just remember as a child being very conscious of the differences when it came to class and race and even gender,” she said. “But I didn’t have those words at the time.”
Years later, Carruthers entered Illinois Wesleyan University as a pre-med student, hoping to become a surgeon.
Word out of Ferguson, Mo., this morning is that state and federal authorities are bringing a “softer” law enforcement approach, replacing local police officers who looked more like soldiers than cops over the past seven days. The military-style tanks, assault weapons and body armor used to intimidate demonstrators struck a nerve as the nation looked on at the equipment, which has been creeping into local police departments for decades. Chicago police didn’t use any of the military-grade tanks or assault weapons as hundreds gathered downtown yesterday to bring attention to overaggressive policing after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb. But according to an ABC I-Team investigation that aired last night, some of that equipment is within reach.