ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Youth Activism announced a coalition against police brutality, including other concerned community members. The group denounced law enforcement’s use of tear gas and pepper spray during Saturday’s protest.
The group also disputes the Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea statement that many of the violent protesters came from out of town, saying in part: “We believe that this statement was made to downplay the justified anger towards police violence that has been growing in the city due to deaths by police, brutality, corruption ,and misconduct.”
The group also listed steps to action that they are urging city leaders to consider.
1. Firstly, We called for police Chief Dan O’shea to rescind his insensitive language he
used during recent press conferences. We believe this language not only ignores a bigger
socioeconomic problem but also places a target on the backs of black youth.
(O’Shea’s comments were made at a May 18th news conference following several deadly nights of gun violence and murders in Rockford. See the full press conference here.)
2. We call on the Mayor and city leadership to make body cams a number one priority and provide local funding for equipment and software, and until said equipment is obtained and in use we call for the Mayor and city leadership to reign in/cease and desist the Rockford Police Department that began aggressively violating the human rights and racial profiling African Americans by pulling them over & searching them. One incident has been caught on tape.
3. We want an investigation into the violence at the hands of RPD during the protests near RPD District 1 on May 30th, 2020. There is a YouTube video in which an officer repeatedly kicked someone while the person was already detained. That must be investigated and the officers responsible should be fired.
4. We want the Federal Bureau of Investigation to re-examine the murders of Demetrius Bennet, Logan Bell, Kerry Blake, and Micheal Sago Jr.
5. The city must begin an initiative to demilitarize the police, by liquiding such assets, and diverting resources to areas that have been economically divested from. The police at this point from the photos on Saturday May 30th looked more like an occupying army than a group of people meant to keep people safe. That must change immediately.
6. Organizations and Community Leaders need to start having more serious conversations about moving beyond police as the only source of safety in our communities and try to imagine what community based forms of safety would look like. The basis of policing within this country has always been to maintain social control of black people.
To view the full statement, click here.