About 100 people gathered outside the Central District station on Monday evening in a demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago. Several protesters held a banner that read, “Our futures have been looted from us … loot back.”
Ariel Atkins, an organizer, said the demonstration was put together as a response to the police-involved shooting Sunday in Englewood, where a 20-year-old man was injured after police said he fired shots at officers, and to support and seek the release of those who were arrested during the downtown looting that followed.
“There’s no such thing as a bad protester,” Atkins said. “Also, (we’re) demanding that police be defunded. Police should not be here. They should not exist, especially because we’re giving them all this money to beat and terrorize us. We’re giving them all this money when it’s like we’re in an actual pandemic and people need care right now, but you’re giving them police.
“We don’t need police,” she said. “We need care.”
After the Englewood shooting, police said a gun was recovered from the scene.
However, word had spread throughout the neighborhood that a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed by police.
“I don’t even think that the misinformation matters when at the end of the day, police, who are supposed to protect, shot somebody who was not endangering somebody,” she said. “The neighborhood reacted exactly as they would whether that person was 15 or 20.”
When asked about the man firing shots at police before officers returned fire, Atkins said she does not trust the police account of the shooting and believes those in the neighborhood who said the man did not have a gun.
Atkins said people are also hungry, unemployed and need resources, which boiled over into people resorting to looting.
The Black Abolitionist Network for the defund the police campaign is asking Mayor Lori Lightfoot to take away 75% of the Chicago Police Department’s budget, with the goal of eventually getting rid of all funding and using that money for education, jobs, housing, health care and more, Atkins said.
“I think (the looting) is fine. People protest however they need to. People do whatever they need. These businesses have insurance. They can get it all back. We can’t get our lives back once they kill us. We can’t get rid of that trauma once you’ve been attacked by a police officer.”
“I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats,” Ariel Atkins, a BLM organizer, said. “That makes sure that person has clothes.”
“That is reparations,” Atkins said. “Anything they wanted to take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance.”
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