CHICAGO – Over sixty persons were arrested Saturday after protesting the 122nd International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual conference, continuing the efforts of activists across the country to seek a resolution to the problem of police violence, particularly in the month of October in what has been called Rise Up October.
According to ABC 7, a march began at Chicago Police headquarters at 35th and Michigan with several hundred protesters to McCormick Place, touted at the largest convention center in North America, where over 14,000 police officers were in attendance at the convention. The protest was organized by groups such as the Black Youth Project (BYP), Assata’s Daughters, We Charge Genocide and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), and in a statement they called on police departments nationwide to change the way they engage with communities of color.
“Together we’re organized to demand that our lives, our communities and our futures be made a priority,” the statement read. “The police chiefs who belong to the IACP and their local departments have a debt to pay for the lives and resources they’ve stolen and we’re here to collect.”
Maria Hadden of the Participatory Budgeting Project, an organization that works for more democratic participation in how public money is spent, reinforced the protest’s message when speaking to ABC 7. “What we’re looking for today is to have our voices heard, to show the coalition of voices, to show that black lives matter, to make our voices heard to this very powerful organization that sets policies,”she said. “We want less money for policing and more money for community services.”
Some of the demonstrators staged a sit-in blocking the road at Cermak and Indiana, the blockade lasting for five hours. A number of them were arrested when they would not move, although by Sunday all arrestees had been released. According to police, they face misdemeanor charges of obstruction of traffic by a non-motorist.
At one point a protester went up a flagpole, took down the U.S. Flag and replacing it with a banner reading “Unapologetically Black”, although it was quickly taken down – to boos – by a firefighter. This particular act is what set off right-wing bloggers and pundits with the Blaze.com and Breitbart.com writing stories about it and Milwaukee Sheriff and Fox News regular David Clarke, an African-American, tweeting, “I told you that we should not have caved on the confederate flag ban because Old Glory was next.”
The protests come a week after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel blamed his city’s higher murder rate on “the chilling effects of high-profile protests against police brutality and officers’ fear of cell phone videos of their actions going viral” while speaking at a meeting of elected officials and top law enforcement officials. “We have allowed our police department to get fetal and it is having a direct consequence.” he said. “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict … they don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”
Mayor Emmanuel’s former boss, President Barack Obama seemed to take an opposite view of that of his former Chief of Staff’s, defending the Black Lives Matter movement on Thursday[http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/obama-defends-black-lives-matter-movement/], coincidentally the annual “Day of Outrage” that is held across the country to draw attention to police violence. “(W)e as a society, particularly given our history, have to take this seriously,” Obama said. “And one of the ways of avoiding the politics of this and losing the moment is everybody just stepping back for a second and understanding that the African-American community is not just making this up…It’s not just something being politicized. It’s real and there’s a history behind it and we have to take it seriously.”
President Obama is scheduled to speak at the IACP convention on Thursday.
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