SOUTH LOOP — The widespread misconduct and racial discrimination federal officials say exists within the Chicago Police Department is no surprise to local black activists, but the Justice Department's new findings still embolden their cause.
A group of activists and relatives of Chicagoans killed by police officers gathered Friday outside the Central District police station, 1718 S. State St., to let the city know their thoughts and reaction to the Justice Department's new report on Chicago police misconduct.
The report "didn't tell any family, any person living on the South or West Side of Chicago anything new," activist Amika Tendaji said. "Our only hope is, instead of being told again and again we’re playing the race card, is maybe now people will understand there is some truth behind it."
The press conference came hours after Attorney General Loretta Lynch unveiled a lengthy report detailing instances of police abuse in Chicago. Among other things, the report says Chicago police regularly violate the constitutional rights of blacks and Latinos, allegations of abuse are improperly investigated, police officers post racist statements to social media without penalty, and new officers are woefully under-trained.
The activists were joined by relatives of Ronald Johnson, Rekia Boyd, Pierre Loury, and Joshua Beal — Chicagoans who were all killed by police officers.
"Our loved ones are nothing to (police) but a mountain of paperwork," Tendaji said.
Activist Kofi Ademola, who led Friday's press conference, said the Justice Department's report is meaningless unless city officials sign a consent decree, or a document binding police to reforms that could be enforced by a court of law.
Ademola said the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter is still reviewing the Justice Department's findings and will evaluate afterward its next steps to urge city officials to sign such an agreement. Activists also plan a "teach-in" at Northwestern Law School in Streeterville next Saturday, Jan. 21.
But the activists know, regardless, they won't stop protesting police brutality in their neighborhoods.
"We already understand ... more than anybody ever could, what is going on in the police department," Tendaji said. "We're not taking it anymore."
Watch the full press conference in the video above.
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