ENGLEWOOD — Community members angry over police misconduct in Chicago asked the Department of Justice Wednesday to help end racist police practices in the city.
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Department is conducting a "patterns and practices" investigation into the Chicago Police Department, the largest department under such an investigation. It held a community meeting in Englewood Wednesday to tell residents about the investigation, as well as hear about their issues with police.
Justice Department officials had planned to lead the meeting with a presentation on the investigation, but residents protested and demanded to be heard, cutting off the presentation just as it started. The meeting almost abruptly ended before officials decided to forego the presentation and let the community speak.
"Why should we put faith in this process, when all we've seen is political games?" asked Marlon Chamberlain, of Englewood. "People are upset, you see that here. It's because you guys just got here in December. This has been happening our whole lives."
DOJ meetin devolving fast: group shouting over presentation, screaming at Pastor Tory Barret. pic.twitter.com/BRGD0x68of— Joe Ward (@JayDubWard) June 23, 2016
Residents addressed personal encounters with police and asked pointed questions about what the Department of Justice would do about the city's contract with the police union, as well as the Independent Police Review Authority.
Christy Lopez, deputy chief of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Department, acknowledged that the department opened its investigation following the Laquan McDonald case, where a 17-year-old black teen was shot 16 times by a white officer. Though Lopez said her investigation does not revolve around that specific shooting.
"We're trying to investigate the Police Department as a whole," Lopez said. "We want to know, what's causing the violations?"
Lopez also said that the investigation was not criminal in nature, a point that didn't sit well with the 60 or so residents who came to the meeting at Kennedy King City College, 740 W. 63rd St. Many residents said the department would not reform unless criminal punishment forces it.
"Police kill and get immunity!" said Paul McKinney. "Start talking about civil rights. Start talking about criminal prosecution."
Meanwhile, the Justice Department will have its own suggestions for change at the Police Department. But before the investigation is closed, federal officials will hold three community meetings to discuss police practices in certain communities.
"I hope you can really help us," said Andre Smith, founder of Chicago Against Violence. "This has been going on for too long."
Two more meetings will be held:
• July 12 at Truman City College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave. from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
• July 14 at KROC Center Chapel, 1250 W. 119th St., from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
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