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Marching against police crimes in Chicago’s Bud Billiken Parade

By Angelique Fullwood |
August 9, 2015
Marching for community control of police in Bud Billiken Parade
Marching for community control of police in Bud Billiken Parade (Photo by Monique)
The Stop Police Crimes float in Bud Billiken Parade
The Stop Police Crimes float in Bud Billiken Parade

Chicago, IL - On August 8, about 100 people marched to stop police crimes at the historic Bud Billiken Parade. The parade, the oldest and largest African American parade in the U.S. attracted thousands of residents in Chicago’s South Side.

The Stop Police Crimes float, featuring an eight-foot-tall red fist, along with the marchers, were organized by the Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression. Groups such as Fight 4 $15, BYP100, Anakbayan, Elephant Rebellion and other community members also joined in.

These community organizations and others are calling for a demonstration and march on City Hall on August 29 to demand the city create an elected civilian police accountability council to establish community control over the Chicago Police Department.

Field organizer and educational director of the Alliance, Frank Chapman, in an interview on public radio, spoke on the purpose behind the Stop Police Crimes float. “There’s already an acute awareness in the African American community about police crimes. We are not educating African Americans as to whether or not police crimes exist; they know it exists because we’re the victims of it. What we’re doing is talking about what we can do about it and how we can fight back.”

During the event, the group was stopped by marshals and Chicago Police Department (CPD) who ordered them to leave the parade because they were protesting.

The day before, parade chairman Colonel Eugene Scott went on the WBEZ Morning Shift show and commented on the Stop Police Crimes float saying, “We welcome their participation.”

But that didn’t stop the group from being approached and told they were not allowed to continue.

“We have the right to be here,” said Mike Siviwe Elliott, UAW Local 551 activist and chair of the Alliance labor committee. Elliott repeatedly refused their orders to leave the parade. The marshals then demanded that the contingent lower its main banner. After Elliott said the banners were staying, the marshals gave up and the group continued to march to the end of the parade with the overwhelming support of the attendants and spectators.

The contingent was also accompanied by Dorothy Holmes, the mother of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson, also known as “Ronnie Man” who was unarmed and murdered by CPD officer George Hernandez on Oct. 12, 2014. Today Holmes is still fighting the city to release the dash cam footage of the shooting.

The group stopped on the 5300 block of South Martin Luther King Drive for a moment of silence where Johnson was murdered.

“On August 29, I want to send a message out to the system to let them know that we are not going to tolerate police brutality any more in Chicago,” said Holmes. “I want to let other mothers and families of victims of police brutality know that they are not alone. This is a nationwide attack against our youth.”

This weekend also marks the one-year anniversary of Mike Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson and the subsequent uprising by Ferguson residents. “We consider murder a crime and it’s an extraordinary crime when the police do it. It’s even worse when they don’t get punished for it, and that’s what happened in Michael Brown’s case. That’s what happened in Chicago in the case for Rekia Boyd and Flint Farmer. What we’re saying is that the police need to be punished for the crimes that they commit,” said Chapman.

In the honor of the late teen, the group and parade goers joined together and chanted “Turn up, don’t turn down, we do this for Mike Brown!”