Hundreds gather in Loop to demand justice for Tyre Nichols and protest police violence
CHICAGO - Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Chicago on Monday night demanding justice for Tyre Nichols, who was beaten to death by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, and calling for swift police reforms across the country.
"Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell," the crowd chanted as they huddled against the frigid air at Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn. Protesters expressed frustration at having to once again demonstrate against what they said was yet another killing of a Black man at the hands of law enforcement officers.
"It’s been a long fight, and we see the same sh** year after year, the same thing. And that’s because the system has not changed," said Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. "It’s going to continue to murder us and kill us until we unite and get together and fight to stop this sh**."
After rallying at Federal Plaza for about an hour the group went on a brief march through the Loop, carrying signs and chanting the names of other people killed by police in recent years, including Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo and Keenan Anderson.
"We saw on Friday night one of America’s most brutal acts of institutionalized racism," said Bishop Tavis Grant of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. "As a native of Memphis, I know what it’s like to confront racism in the Memphis Police Department. We were raised and taught to be afraid of them, but tonight it stops. We are not afraid."
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Nichols, a 29-year-old father, was on his way home from taking pictures of the sky on Jan. 7, when police pulled him over for an alleged traffic violation. He was just a few minutes from the home he shared with his mother and stepfather when he was attacked by five Memphis police officers.
He died three days later at a hospital, and the officers have since been charged with second-degree murder and other offenses. Memphis police on Monday announced that two more officers involved in the incident have been disciplined. Fire department officials also announced the firing of three emergency medical technicians in connection with Nichols’ death.
Hundreds of people gather in streets in freezing temperatures Monday evening to protest the killing of Tyre Nichols, in Chicago, United States on January 30, 2023. (Photo by Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Speakers at Federal Plaza demanded cities across the country, including Chicago, cede control of law enforcement to the communities to hold officers accountable.
"The solution is us," Chapman said, adding that the next best thing residents in the city can do is vote in the upcoming municipal election. "Power is not what you beg for, power is what you take."
Arewa Karen Winters, who is running for a seat in the 15th police district council, said her fight for police reform is personal, having become involved after CPD shot and killed her nephew in 2016. She said that though strides had been made in recent years to bring justice to those brutalized by police, some problems are too entrenched to fix quickly.
"There is no law, training or policy to prevent what happens too often to Black men, women and children in this country," Winters said. "Our Black bodies have been used for vehicles of violence and hatred since the first enslaved Africans set foot here. No matter how much we think that we have achieved the American dream, we must continually confront systemic and institutional constructive racism in all forms."