Evanston's interim City Manager Erika Storlie, Cicely L. Fleming, 9th Ward Alderwoman, and Ald. Tom Suffredin, 6, have released statements about the video that has been circulating on social media showing Evanston police officers' use of force against 20-year-old Trent Hunt last week at the corner of Asbury and Church.
Here are their statements:
"As your Interim City Manager, I have a responsibility to ensure that members of our community feel safe and protected by the Evanston Police Department and that we constantly work to maintain a positive relationship with all of the people who call Evanston home.
I am aware of a video circulating on the Internet of an arrest that occurred earlier this week and that people are rightfully concerned about what happened and whether or not it was appropriate.
I have asked for the body camera video of the incident and I will be reviewing it with the City Council and Police Department leadership. This video will be made public. We take all use-of-force incidents seriously, and all such incidents are reviewed thoroughly by the Department’s Office of Professional Standards to determine if policies and procedures were followed and conduct was appropriate. Chief Cook has expedited the review of this incident. If conduct was not appropriate, please be assured that actions will be taken and individuals will be held accountable.
We are fortunate in Evanston to have many levels of police oversight and our officers are held to a high standard of conduct that is reinforced on a daily basis. Officer training and Department policies and procedures are continually reviewed and updated to ensure that they are in line with community standards and best practices, while providing police officers with the tools they need to do their jobs safely.
The Evanston Police Department deeply values its longstanding community policing partnership with all Evanstonians, and is committed to upholding the values and expectations of our city. The City of Evanston and more specifically, the Evanston Police Department, firmly believes that public safety is built on trust, transparency and cooperation between police officers and the community they serve. This trust has to be earned on a daily basis and nurtured over time, and we are proud of our officers and their commitment to this philosophy.
This incident happened during a time when we are all hurt and angered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. While one incident cannot be compared to the other, we cannot acknowledge one without acknowledging the other. What happened in Minneapolis is reprehensible, and we must do everything we can to ensure that history does not repeat itself. We may feel powerless and hopeless, but we each have a personal and collective responsibility to take action to change hearts, minds and behaviors."
"As an elected official I have the great responsibility to ensure that residents are safe, respected, and valued in our community. I also have the responsibility to ensure that our staff are safe, respected, and paid fairly.
Sometimes these two responsibilities come into conflict, both parties expect me to advocate on their behalf. I will always stand with residents but advocate for what is right.
The death of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests that followed are a continuation of years of oppression, abuse, and violence in the Black community as the result (and at the approval) of elected officials.
Police act in accordance with the rules (or lack of rules) they are being allowed to follow. Police are staff, they are to be held accountable for actions big and small; all staff are.
I would love to say that an event this egregious would never happen in Evanston but the truth is, every city is one step from a riot.
I will always continue to hold our police to the highest standards when it comes to citizen engagement. I will continue question every citizen complaint and watch every video.
I am very aware of a video circulating right now and very concerned about the visual and potential aftermath.
Just as you should hold me accountable, I will hold others accountable. I will not always win, but I will alway speak up.
If I don't, I do not deserve to hold my seat.
I hope that Mr. Floyd's family receives justice.
I hope that time will bring healing to their hearts.
I hope that Minneapolis will be able to recover.
I hope that Evanston never allows our citizens to reach this level of rage that comes from being ignored, abused, neglected, and oppressed.
Take care of yourselves today community."
Alderman Suffredin, who sent his statement to the Evanston RoundTable:
“I have seen the videos that are on social media of an arrest that occurred on May 27 at the intersection of Church and Asbury. I have also seen a 4:23 clip of body camera video from the camera worn by one of the officers involved.
“It is critical that a fair and thorough investigation that respects the rights of all involved, police officers and citizens, take place with transparency and immediacy. Our City government's credibility depends on its being honest and accountable to the citizens it serves.”
Remember there is a (socially distancing) march and rally for Black lives tomorrow organized by Evanston youth leaders. The march begins at 1:30 p.m. at the intersection of Church and Ridge; the rally will take place in the Evanston Township High School (ETHS) parking lot at 3 p.m. Everyone who attends MUST wear a mask and adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
For more information, click here.