DOWNTOWN — Enrique Valdez needed a question about his run-ins with police repeated a few times. That's because, he said, his hearing in one ear was damaged after Chicago Police officer beat him.
Valdez shared his story and his thoughts on police brutality at a rally calling for law enforcement accountability at the Federal Plaza downtown Saturday.
"This needs to be brought into the open," Valdez told the gathered crowd. "We need to talk about this so we can stop it."
Valdez was one of dozens of speakers at the rally organized by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Though it touched on a number of subjects related to police-community relations, those organizing the rally were specifically fighting for the creation of what they called a civilian police accountability council, or CPAC.
The council would allow for more formal input from communities on policing matters, as well as act as a check to police abuses of power, the group said.
"Fight back," rally leaders said in a call-and-response. "CPAC!"
The group was noisy but not unruly. The rally was flanked by a large police presence lining the corner of Adams Street and Dearborn Street. Across the street were at least a dozen officers on bikes.
Curly Johnson was another speaker who railed against police abuses of power. She said her son was once beaten by a police officer who was accused of more than one beating.
Johnson said her son's encounter with police has left her family shaken and confused as to who to turn to for future help. She said one way for police to restore their standing in the community is to more vigorously police and punish bad officers.
"Police officers teach you that they are the people who protect you when they don't," she said. "It's hard to teach the little ones who to trust."
The cries of injustice have been unheard for a long time, speakers said. But with recent, high-profile cases of police-community strife making headlines all over the country, some in the movement said they felt that change might be imminent.
Even still, they won't stop speaking out until reforms in community policing are made, speakers said.
"We've been fighting for years," Valdez said. "We'll be here until there is a change."
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