Chicago Police Arrest Photographer at Community Unity Rally Against Police Brutality and Misconduct
On August 6th 2007, 18-year-old Aaron Harrison was enjoying a summer night hanging out in front of the corner store at Roosevelt and Francisco on the West Side of Chicago when the police rolled up. A few minutes later, Aaron was dead, fatally shot in the back by the Chicago police, who claimed he pointed a gun at them. Witnesses insisted that Aaron didn’t have a gun, and multiple witnesses reported seeing police take a bag out of the trunk of a police car and plant a gun near Aaron’s body. Read more about the killing here and here and here. Community outrage over his killing, and that of several other police killings in recent weeks by the Chicago police, reached a boiling point. Many people from the community took to the streets, held rallies, and a group of about 100 people led by Fred Hampton Jr., son of the Black Panther leader murdered by the Chicago police (with assistance from the F.B.I.) in 1969, shut down a Police Board meeting on August 16th. A community unity rally and picnic against police brutality and misconduct took place in Douglas Park today (September 3rd 2007).
At around 1:45PM, people at the rally witnessed the police roll up to the exact spot in front of the corner store on Roosevelt and Francisco where the police started the confrontation that led to the murder of Aaron Harrison, and began to harass several men on the corner. Some of the people from the rally immediately took notice, and began to go over to find out why the police were harassing the men. A few people went all the way across the street directly to the spot where the police were at, including one photographer. Most remained in Douglass Park, observing what was happening. I stayed across from the police in Douglas Park, since I have an ankle monitor on my leg and am on electronic monitoring and parole, and took some photos with my cellphone. Shortly thereafter, an Illinois State Police car drove past, busted a u-turn, and joined the first Chicago police car.
In this photo you can see the initial Chicago PD car, with several men being forced to stand against it, and the Illinois State Police car as it made its u-turn to join the first cop. Several witnesses told me that they saw the first cop spit at the photographer that was right in front of the corner store. By the time the Illinois State Police car decided to get involved, a crowd of about 15 or 20 people from the rally had gathered on the Douglas Park side of Roosevelt, right across from where the harassment by the police was taking place.
Within a minute or so, numerous Chicago PD cars pulled up – probably at least 8, if not more, at the hight of the invasion, including a paddy wagon.
The police then started to harass the community members gathered there; as you can see in the next photo a large group of police began trying to push the people back over into the park, and threatening to issue fabricated tickets for “jaywalking” – which is what they eventually did to the initial group of men that the first policeman stopped.
The police began to threaten everyone who wanted to try to cross the street (to find out what was happening and get the police to stop harassing the men and everyone else) with “jaywalking”- even though we were standing right at a crosswalk going from Douglass Park across Roosevelt. Eventually the police said they were letting the men go, but issuing them the fabricated tickets for “jaywalking”. So the police started to leave, and the crowd of community members and supporters started to go back to the picnic and rally in the park. Only a few police cars remained, then finally only one was left.
After the police left, and even though we were initially informed that they had let everyone that they were harassing go (some with the fabricated “jaywalking” tickets), we learned that they had arrested the photographer who had gone over to document what was happening when the first cop arrived. According to witnesses, the photographer was named Jose Martin. I have attempted to contact Mr. Martin, though he still may be held in police custody, and once I hear back from him with further details, I’ll add more exact details of what transpired…
UPDATE – 12:05 AM 9/4/2007 – I just received a brief email from the man who was arrested by the police. Obviously he hasn’t had a chance to recount all of the exact details to me yet, but he did tell me that to his knowledge the police did not spit at him, “tho they did plenty else…”Posted in Thoughts