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Chicago Activists Hit OPS Decision in Russ Case

by Heather Truskowski |
October 28, 1999
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Village Vanguard denounces police brutality
Speaker from Village Vanguard denounces brutality of Chicago Police Department. (Fight Back! News/Chris Geovanis)

Chicago, IL - Over 50 activists in the anti-police brutality movement rallied at the Chicago Police Board September meeting. They confronted the Board members, slamming the decision that the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) made in response to the police murder of Northwestern student, Bobby Russ.

Russ, a football star, was killed by police earlier this summer after an alleged traffic violation. The OPS is the city agency charged with investigating police brutality charges.

After a "thorough investigation," OPS gave the officers involved a 15-day suspension for their actions. Family, friends, and supporters are outraged that the cops who murdered this young man got off with a slap on the wrist.

Christine Geovanis, of Neighbors Against Police Brutality, asked the Board why the witnesses who saw Russ outside his car were never mentioned in the report. She also pointed out that while the police report claimed Russ was shot in his car, no blood was found in the vehicle.

OPS director Callie Baird responded, saying that witnesses' accounts were taken into consideration. She also claimed and that there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for why there was no blood found anywhere in the car: Russ was only bleeding internally.

While this could have occurred with smaller bullets, Russ was shot with a 9mm hand gun, which causes a large wound. This fact, along with the report that Russ' shirt was blood-soaked around the gunshot wound and that blood was found on his jewelry, all indicate that Baird is covering up for the police.

The Police Board antics continued when Superintendent Hillard again attempted to deny any responsibility for the "sentencing" of the officers. He said the report had not yet come to his desk, that was not how the chain of command worked.

Chicago activists know that this is just another attempt by Chicago Police to protect their own from being punished for the brutal crimes they commit. The evidence shows that Bobby Russ was murdered. It was his life, not any officer's, that was in danger that night.

We will not stop until there is justice for Bobby Russ and all police brutality victims. Police brutality and protection for the officers who are responsible for it, will not be tolerated in Chicago!