ROGERS PARK — A man who witnessed a boy's arrest for riding his bike on the sidewalk — after allegedly rapping N.W.A.'s "F--- the Police" — says he stopped to confront the officers because the arrest was "a clear-cut case of racism."
Shevale Evison, 34, said he "knew there was a whole legal matter going on" when he spotted a handcuffed young man standing over his bike in the 1500 block of West Morse Avenue on Aug. 13, so he decided to intervene. (Scroll down for video of the exchange)
"When he was initially being detained ... I asked him if he was OK and he was like, 'No, I'm not OK.' So that's when I decided I was gonna stop and I was gonna pay attention to what was going on, and I was gonna make sure they didn't do anything wrong to him," said Evison, who works at a pizza place in Rogers Park and was walking to the CTA Red Line at the time. "When I initially walked past, they were essentially trying to find something to lock him up for."
Evison said he began asking the youth why he was being detained, but the boy said he didn't know.
He said the boy looked "confused" more than anything, a feeling Evison said he could relate to because in his younger years he, too, had encountered situations with police in which he was "ignorant" of his rights.
Linze Rice discusses the incident:
Eventually, the boy, still handcuffed, was placed in the back of the police SUV while one of the officers checked his name, Evison said. He said he also heard one of the officers tell his partner that there had been no "hits" on the name, and that the name given to them by the youth was "clean."
According to police, the boy did not have any identification on him.
Chicago Police Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officers "observed a juvenile operating a bicycle in an unsafe fashion and traveling on a city sidewalk, which is not permitted by law."
He added that there had been "complaints regarding bicyclists involved in robbery incidents" in the area and that the juvenile was "taken into police custody to verify his identity and processed for ordinance violations."
According to city data, there have been no reports of robberies in the Rogers Park community area between Aug. 5-18, the time period in which the incident in the video occurred. There have been 10 reports of burglaries, with one taking place on those dates in the police beat where the youth was detained.
A bi-weekly crime report sent to 24th District residents states that three citations were issued for adults riding bikes on the sidewalk between Aug. 2-15.
Evison believes if the youth caught riding on the sidewalk had been white, the situation would have ended differently.
"That was a citation, he was supposed to get a ticket for that, not go all the way to jail. That's the same type of scenario that happened with Sandra Bland, she was supposed to have been given a ticket," he said, referring to a Naperville woman who was pulled over in Texas on a minor traffic violation and later died in police custody. "That was the same exact type of situation that happened with Sandra Bland that happened with him, the only thing is he didn't end up dead."
Watch Evison's exchange with officers here:
"You mean to tell me that you actually have the time to stop him from riding down the sidewalk on his bike when you could have simply told him, 'OK, did you know that it's illegal to ride your bike down the sidewalk?'" Evison said.
But Evison said the police officers in the video told him at the scene the boy was really being detained for saying, "F--- the police," the name of a popular N.W.A. song.
That's when Evison decided to "get loud" and create a scene, he said, something he said he wished more people would do when they feel they are seeing someone being mistreated.
"[Rapping] never even came up until the police officer ... said, 'Oh we're locking him up for saying, 'F the police,'" Evison said. "That's exactly what he told me."
But Rogers Park Police District Sgt. Shawn Sisk denied that.
"We don't charge people with rapping, though. That's not a charge," he said.
The youth in question is a boy Evison said he's familiar with from seeing him regularly ride his bike around the neighborhood for the past year or so.
He said the youth can be a "knucklehead" but was not a troublemaker.
"There are a lot of people who ride through this neighborhood on their bikes, and they ride down the sidewalk," he said. "There are also people who jog down the sidewalk. ... That was a clear-cut case of racism."
He said he ran into the boy about two days after the incident, at which point the youth told him he was fingerprinted and booked for the bicycle violation.
The incident happened in front of Howard Area Community Center's youth services building, 1527 W. Morse, a day after a 22-year-old man was shot on the same block.
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