More than 1,000 Evanston residents gathered at Fountain Square and spilled out into the surrounding streets last Sunday afternoon for a rally against police brutality and to support Black lives in the wake of George Floyd's murder by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25.
The event was emceed by Michael Nabors, president, and sponsored by the NAACP, Chessmen Club of the North Shore, Inc., Black Evanston Men, Kappa Alpha Psi/Evanston chapter, and the music group S.O.U.L Creations.
Hear their words. Read their words. Take action.
In order, the speakers were:
Keith D. Terry
Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste
Ayinde Jean Baptiste
Find a bio of each speaker following the transcripts.
Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors
To all of you we say good afternoon. We are grateful for your presence in this place.
We are here and here we are likely to be.
There is someone who called me yesterday and they said, 'Dr. Nabors, how many more rallies are you going to have in Evanston?' My response was, 'I don’t know, but we’re going to have as many as are necessary.'
The kind of change that is occurring now happens once in a lifetime. We are not just protesting in the United States of America, but protests are being held all around the world. In countries that are interested in freedom and justice and putting an end to racism. We are grateful for what is happening in England, in Switzerland, in Australia, in New Zealand, in Ghana and Kenya and Zimbabwe and so many more. In those different parts of the world, people are coming together and they are saying it is enough. Racism not only has to end, but it has to be killed. It has to be buried so that it will never rise again.
That’s why we are here today.
We are grateful for your presence ... And I want you to look around and see the number of people of color who are here in Fountain Square representing the very best in humanity. Representing the very best in Evanston, Illinois. Thank you so much.
... We have great challenges that are happening in Evanston, not the least of which so many people of color are being forced to move out because they cannot afford the property taxes. They cannot afford the homes. But we’re going to put a stop to that. We’re going to make sure that this town is not just diverse in the way we talk, but we’re diverse in the way we live.
We are grateful. Some people have asked what can we do, how can we show support? There are so many ways. If you look at some of the poles that are listed here in Fountain Square there are signs on those poles that have the names of black organizations and businesses that need your support. They’ve been hit doubly hard by two viruses. One of them is called Covid-19 and the other is called racism 400 years.
We want you to be supportive of these organizations, many of them already have Go Fund Me pages. C&W Market Ice Cream Parlor, Yo Fresh Café of Evanston, Jennifer’s Edibles, Good to Go Jamaica Cuisine, Ebony Barber Shop, Eye Candy Hair Studio, Church Street Barber Shop, the Magic Shop Hair Salon, the Executive Studio.
If you don’t get your hair done at one of these places, they will gladly accept a donation.
... We are here to support the families of those who have been killed. The families of George Floyd, of our Ahmaud Arbery and of Breonna Taylor and the countless others who have been killed over the last 400 years.
Dr. Gilo Kwesi Cornell Logan
To all of you who are sick and tired of being sick and tired, please make some noise. Let me hear you. Let me hear you.
We are here to be heard and not to be silenced. It’s been too long. How long? Too long.
Eric Garner, Michael Stewart, LaQuan McDonald, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Betty Jones, Travon Martin, Janet Wilson, Jermaine Reid, Philando Castille, Bothem Jean, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd.
It’s been how long? Too long.
From 1619 to today, 401 years of red, white, and blue: redlining, white supremacy, and blue walls. We need to change this.
It’s a multi-generational and seemingly hereditary trauma that we are experiencing in our community. The founding of the US was on thievery of land, on genocide, and on slavery. Let’s not be mistaken about that. That cannot be denied. And hence we must not only change people’s minds and hearts, but we must change systems. We must change structures and we must change the dominant ideology. Too many of us are stuck. Either we’re ignorant, we’re insecure, we’re confused, we’re oblivious, we’re fearful, or any combination of that.
But today we need to make a change. We are in a crisis. We have been in a crisis, a 401-year crisis. Covid-19 crisis, climate crisis, race crisis, opportunity-gap crisis, class crisis. We have an election coming up in November crisis. And we all have a choice to make.
Look at our white brothers and sisters out here. Look at our Latinx brothers and sisters out here. Look at our Asian brothers and sisters out here. Look at our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters out here. We are all here together. We thank you. We appreciate you. We see you, we feel you, and we need you all.
This is happening across the country; it’s happening in rural America. It’s happening in small towns. That’s how we know this is different this time. We are not going to go back. We are going forward. It’s happening in Ghana, in Amsterdam, in Australia. Our brothers and sisters in New Zealand - the Maori! They say Kia Kaha - stand strong, be firm in the struggle that we are fighting here today. We have a global community that has our backs. It’s happening organically. From the grassroots up is where the plant grows. That’s where the struggle begins, not from the top.
We are in great need y’all. We need prayer, but we cannot simply pray this away. We need votes, we need to vote, but we cannot merely vote this away.
We need police reform. But we cannot merely modify this away. We need an educational system reform, but we cannot purely educate this away. We need to protest, but we cannot merely march this away. We need dialogue, but we can’t talk this away. We need new systems, new institutions, new policy changes. We need new alliances and new relationships.
We need reparations.
We need a revolution as the solution. We need to not only dismantle the inequalities in our society, but we need to build up Black and Brown communities. This is constructive more than it is destructive. Starting right here in Evanston.
So, to my White brothers and sisters, Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern and others, I ask you how would you answer the cry and how will you respond to the call?
To all the non-Black people, you can focus on the reactions that you see in the streets and the destruction, or you can understand the conditions and the context that has created that.
Black folks, we need to focus on what will help us to build our communities constructively, our youth, and our institutions. As Dr. King preached in the 1960’s, we need a revolution of values. We need a revolution of what Sai Baba says are, human values. For not only are too many White people not seeing the humanity in Black and brown people, but they have lost their own humanity because of this virus we’re all inflicted with called racism. We’re all impacted by that.
We need a new mental construct of what it means to be Black, all of us. What it means to be American, what it means to be a human being. We need a new heart. We need love, and I don’t mean Romeo and Juliet kind of love. I’m talking about a love for life, a love for our planet, a love for one another, a love for something greater than our own hedonistic selfish desires.
We need a new spirit. We need new morality, a new ethic in terms of what it means to be a human. We need a new economy. We need financial revolution. We need a healthcare revolution. We need a culture revolution in this society, and may we all galvanize in this moment.
And in closing, I say yes, we’re angry, but let’s have a righteous anger. Let’s have a righteous indignation. Let’s be tired, but righteously. Let’s do that so we don’t alienate our allies and our brothers and sisters that are out there. This is not about burning down buildings, it’s about building our own communities. But time is not our ally folks. We cannot wait. There is no longer time. This may not happen in our lifetime, but we cannot be discouraged. For our ancestors who fought and died for what we have did not see it in their lifetime, we may not see it in ours, but we must fight for our ancestors and for those future generations.
We have to remember them.
So, who are we to state we are too tired to fight? Who are we to say we are too discouraged to fight? We can’t afford to do that. There is no choice. So out of chaos, after the hurricane, after the tornado it lays ground for new order. So something constructive can come out of this destruction and it’s going to be ground for new order in our society.
We need to rebuild this new order. We need a new president, new coalitions, new relationships and a new way into our futures. Right now, 2020 has brought around 2020 vision. And for those who could not see before, maybe you can see now the multi-generational anguish and pain that our people have been feeling for over 400 years, for over 2,000 years. This was happening in Africa before we came to the US.
So, I say this time it’s different. It’s been too long. How long? Too long. Thank you, my brothers and sisters, everybody who’s out there.
Mr. Keith Terry
Evanston! Evanston. I want to thank you all for coming out. This rally was put together to show support for Black families and the protesters across America and the world. Aren’t you sick and tired? I’m sick and tired and I’m here to show support. I know that you’re here to show support and I’m just telling you that we need to fight for change in this country. I am going to say it again, we need to continue to fight for change in this country.
Am I talking a little too loud? Cause I’m going to scream a couple times while I’m up here. Y’all, for those that know me know, I’m going to say, my name is Keith Terry and I’ve lived in Evanston for 25 years. I am a father, I’m an uncle, I’m a nephew, I’m a Black man.
Evanston is a good city. Evanston is a welcoming city, but Evanston has problems too. And I thank you all for coming out here right now. So, let me just say this, when I saw the video of George Floyd begging for his life, I got mad, I got scared, I got angry. When I saw the video and heard him asking for his mother, his dead mother, I got pissed off. Because guess what, I have sons, I have a daughter, as well as you do too. And my mother called me crying because she was afraid for me and her grandchildren.
How despicable is that to look at someone, the life just leaving his body. So, I’m just telling you that it was despicable and rallies are good, but I’m going to talk a little bit about what else we can do. But before I say that, I want to say George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the hundreds of other Black folks killed by injustice, they mattered. They mattered.
I want to take a minute, and I want you to look at the person to your left and right. Look, don’t look at me look at them. It could be the last time you see this person alive. And I want you to think about that. George woke up, he didn’t think that he was going to die. Breonna Taylor went to bed thinking that she was not going to die. And I’m just telling you that the anger that’s boiling up from all of you here Black, white, brown, Asian, Hispanic, it’s real. It’s real.
You all know that there’s injustices in this country, in this world, in the legal system, socioeconomically, police, education, healthcare and business. It’s real. But I want to take the time, a moment to talk about Covid-19.
I grew up in healthcare. I’m a 'suit,' not a doctor, not a healthcare provider, but health disparities are real. And in 2020 it has ripped the bandages off of this country and the wounds are exposed.
Covid-19 has hit the Black community hard. It is exposing health disparities. We all know that, so here’s my ask of you: the first thing that I think you could do is, you’ve got to take care of yourself. You’ve got to take care of your personal health. You’ve got to sleep right, you’ve got to advocate for yourself.
Second, if you get sick and you will, you’ve got to engage the healthcare system properly. What do I mean by that? You’ve got to call and advocate for yourself. You’ve got to talk to the healthcare provider, the hospital, the doctor, and tell them what you’re dealing with. Now is not the time to be embarrassed of ill health. That person swore an oath to take care of you.
You’ve got to put a system of support around you ... We have to look out for each other. We have to call community organizations to support you. And I don’t just mean, 'hey how ya doing,' because mental illness, mental disparity and racism is real, and it wears the body down. Am I wrong?
The last thing that I’m going to say here on Covid-19 and health disparities: you’ve got to call your local officials, your elected officials, and demand better healthcare. And demand that we have a better system to cover the cost of Covid-19, because it has gone rampant.
Let me just take a moment to talk about the socio-economic impact, because we all know that businesses have been impacted by Covid-19 as well. Folks have lost their jobs, but there is more that we can do. For those of you who hold jobs, senior jobs, you’ve got to look for ways to bring more Black and brown people into your company.
For those of you, all of us within the sound of my voice, there’s more that you can do. I say call the CEO and demand better representation. We all spend money and if you’re spending money at a place and you don’t know the makeup of their employment practices, stop. Yeah we need to eat, but stop. This is a consumer-rich country. There are things that we can do to invoke change ... We get together in a rally, but we also have the power of the purse. The power of the purse.
And the last thing I’m going to say here is we’ve got to vote. We have to vote.
You know, I’ll say most of us get up and ready to fight in a presidential election. But local politics matter. As a former school board president, I can tell you that educational policy is a local thing. Your alderman, you should know him. Your mayor, you should know him. Your elected officials, you should know them. And you’ve got to push them, push them, push them. Listen, this is about a free country, and if we don’t push, things get rolled back.
Let me end by saying this: you know I don’t want to die a senseless death. But death is coming to us all. I certainly have visions of living out life like my grandmother who lived to be 114. I certainly don’t want to go out the way other Black brothers and sisters did through injustices. Either through police brutality or Covid-19 health disparities. So, I’m just going to say this: I will never accept a world that pushes me to live a weak, scared, and voiceless life. I will never accept that, and I know you won’t either.
So, I’m going to say to you fight, fight to change your neighborhood, fight to change your city, fight to change your world, fight. Because guess what, Black lives matter. Black family’s matter. Black men matter. Fight. Fight. Fight.
Mr. Corey Winchester
Hey good people. My name is Cory Winchester. I come to you from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thankful for my ancestors who came before me, to allow me to be here to stand before you.
I’m a high school history teacher at ETHS. What is it like teaching about a country that doesn’t see you as a human being? What is it like teaching about people that saw your body as a labor source? 'Hey, Mr. Winchester, what is it like teaching about systems and institutions that we’re supposed to put our faith in like schools, police, government in the court systems that continue to harm you?' 'Hey, Winnie, by the way can you grade this? Will you round me up to an A, I have a 92.46 percent and I really want an A.'
I am tired. As an educator we’re pulled in so many different directions: make sure you differentiate instruction; don’t forget to call the parents of failing students; be sure that your teaching is not too political. How can it not be when people that look like me are constantly murdered at the hands of the state? We're living in a nation that exists because of anti-Blackness and settler colonialism. How do I stand before young people and families with this as a reality? How would you teach about racism in the United States? How do you try to help young people of color, especially Black youth, understand that their life matters? When the reality of this world and how we live, when our histories tells us otherwise. How do you try to get white youth to understand the responsibility they have inherited to be co-conspirators in the struggle against anti-Blackness, racism, and white supremacy? We live in a society that doesn’t value the work of educators, especially Black educators. This is what I carry daily.
I have a lot of work to do, you have a lot of work to do. But what makes teaching during this context so difficult is that our community hasn’t fully owned the magnitude of the work that needs to be done. We’re seeing the reverse of a struggle for our liberation. I am Black, I am a man. Those are things that you can see about me. I’m also queer. At times I exist in a movement that tells me still that my life does not matter.
On Monday, June 1st, 2020, a mob of Black men attacked Iyanna Dior, a 21-year old Black trans woman in Minneapolis. The same city where this movement for Black lives started as a result of the death of George Floyd. In the same city. I’ve been following posts and bear witness to the ways that Black trans women have continued to defend themselves against the transphobia and homophobia that is present in our community. And this isn’t to say that this is exclusive to the Black community, because homophobia and transphobia exist in many spaces. However, if we are to be one community in this movement for Black lives, then every black life must matter.
We need to honor the voices, histories, and names of our Black women. But more specifically about our Black queer family. We cannot talk about George Floyd without talking about Breonna Taylor. And we cannot talk about Breonna Taylor without talking about Tony McDade, a black trans man killed by police in Florida earlier this year.
Breonna Taylor would’ve celebrated her 27th birthday this past Friday. In both shootings no action has been taken. We need to move with all deliberate speed and rallying for the Breonna Taylors, the Tony McDades and the Iyanna Diors in the same way we have mobilized for Travon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and George Floyd. All of whom have been killed at the hands of state anti-Blackness and white supremacy.
I have a message for Black men: take responsibility for your actions. Examine your masculinity. Realize how toxic masculinity functions through the guise of white supremacy. Work on your own trauma and healing so that we can be liberated together. We, and I’ll say that again, Black men, we need healing. We need love. We have been through so much trauma that it blinds us often and we need to do better. Even with the identities I hold--a queer Black person, as a queer Black man--I am guilty. I am guilty of often being silent about Black trans lives. I am also guilty of being silent about other Black queer lives. I’m also guilty of being silent about the lives of Black women. I have my own actions in this work and need to be an actual co-conspirator. Even though I am tired. But this is hard work.
I must fight for all the Black lives who have come before, who are here now, and who will come after. If you’re about this movement, you must be a co-conspirator for all the Black lives who have come before you, who are here now, and who will come after you. And this message extends to white folks too. We have to make a decision to be in the struggle. Because I am tired. I don’t want to have to teach and continue to answer these questions about racial oppression and trauma in the United States. Let’s change that reality especially for our youth and future generations.
Let’s change that reality for me and others like Iyanna Dior and for our Black trans family who is 195 times higher than the average person to be a victim of a homicide. 195. We cannot be here in this room for Black lives if we are not here for all Black lives.
To any white person in this audience, take up this fight. While the impact of racism seems like it’s just my reality, it’s not. It’s not just my fight. I did not cause it, I did not start it. I didn’t ask for it. Your ancestors did. And it’s the inheritance that we all have. This is yours to help solve. You have a choice and a choice that can continue to leave our entire society in a perpetual state of dehumanization. Think about the questions I began with and imagine having that conversation with your children year in and year out. 'Hey mom, what’s it like for us to sit by and live in a country that doesn’t see Mr. Winchester as a human being?' 'Hey dad, what’s it like to sit by and live in a country that sees Mr. Winchester as an object only good for making our family financially wealthier, for letting our family live in this house, have these things, this community and travel the world?' 'Hey uncle, what’s it like for you to sit by and watch the systems in our country like capitalism, like the schools, like the prisons, like our government, like the police, like the military, like our healthcare, things that we have the luxury of trusting, continue to hurt people like Mr. Winchester.' 'Oh, by the way mom, can you email him and ask him to bump my grade up to an A?'
No thank you to that reality. I want a better reality. I am tired of this, you should be too. We have a lot of work to do. What will you do?
Mr. Carlis Sutton
Good afternoon, participants in this rally and the Evanston United Committee. First let me commend all of your families who came out here today and took a risk to be exposed to Corona-19 Virus. You brought your families so thank you for coming out here to support us at this pandemic time.
In the Bible, the Old Testament, we find these words, Amos Fifth Chapter, 13th verse. 'Therefore, the prudent shall keep silent in that time for it is an evil time.' The message explains it a little different way. It says, justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic. Decent people throw up their hands, protests and rebuke are useless. It’s all a waste of breath.
If we listen to the prophet Amos, we should all shut up and go home. If we are smart, all of us, and all of our rallies, our marches and demonstrations are a waste of time. But wait a minute here. Amos had a good friend and they didn’t include his remarks in the Scriptures. By the way, his friend was Andy. Andy was wise. Ask your grandparents on the way home.
Brothers and sisters, Andy had another perspective. He explained it this way, Thomas Jefferson was writing diligently in his study. He told his sons he couldn’t be disturbed at this time for he was writing something very important. The younger brother could not read, so he asked his older brother to come into the study after Thomas left to read to him what was so important. The older brother looked at what was on the desk and it says something about a preamble. The younger brother asked, well, what does it say? Was daddy thinking about us? the younger brother asked. The older brother said he certainly was. We the property of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, we are no longer property. But we must change the things that are here today.
Why is this different? Why is this different from any other time? The significance of this time is we now demand enforcement. We ain’t begging, we’re asking for you to give us the same things that you get. All the laws, all the rhetoric, and policy will change because universally now, as I look on the TV, every hamlet, every city in America and in Europe, Black lives matter. They matter here too. And in fact, if you want to request justice, we have to go down to 26th and California.
Now the one thing I notice when I went down there on jury duty, it was just us there. So now there’s diversity and security in demanding these changes.
Well, what part does Evanston play? We have a history of getting things done. Evanston added an amendment to the Constitution. Although it eventually was repealed, but women who did not make up the majority in Congress at that time, accomplished their goal. No, we’re talking about and we’ll use the same format again W W W, no not the worldwide web, wealthy white women. And we’re asking the others in this community that changes made you’re now wise white women or referred to as suburban moms.
Women marched at the inauguration. At the greatest numbers of any appearance that we’ve ever had in Washington DC. I’m asking you to accomplish this one more time. I’m asking for one more miracle. I’m asking you to ride that blue wave and ride it to replace every racist Republican in the Senate.
This November, I have another request: that not only do you elect Biden but make sure there’s a sister standing by him.
In Evanston, we have saved Harley Clark. We are asking you locally to implement now and fund the restoration of the mansion and to contribute generously to the CNP.
Why am I so optimistic that this will have a positive affect in Evanston? Because I've seen it occurring already. I’ve asked my young students that I taught here the first thing I want you to do is get rid of that electoral college. Why do 535 people choose the president for 300 million? I’m a little confused. Are we a democracy or an oligarchy? Who runs this country? The 535 people on Capitol Hill or the 500 who sit on Fortune 500 on Wall Street.
I see the students at the high school having rallies to stop the violence in our schools. I see the three M’s in this community making a significant contribution. And I want to thank those, Brother Mayne, Brother Meo, Brother Morangne, Brother Rucker, the Shockley’s, the Pierres and other brothers too numerous to name. Thank you, young brothers, keep the fight up.
Don’t suffocate this opportunity for change. Don’t let this opportunity go. We are trying to form a more perfect union.
I can’t breathe. Change the community.
I can’t breathe. Find affordable housing.
I can’t breathe. Not gentrification.
I can’t breathe. Fund reparations.
I can’t breathe. Thank you.
Mr. Nic Davis
Any system established during the institution of American slavery can never truly serve those who are oppressed. The criminal justice system is no exception. Early law enforcement in the US was used to complete the genocide of indigenous peoples, protect private land, suppress working families fighting for fair wages and safe working conditions, and to preserve slavery. Since the end of enslavement, this country has orchestrated political campaigns such as the war on the crime, the war on drugs, and enacted laws on federal, state, and local levels to criminalize this solely based on race. The proof is in the data which is indisputable, even here in Evanston.
Black Evanstonians, while being only 18 percent of the population and declining, made up 73 percent of all police pat downs last year. This is not the fault of any one individual officer, it is the fault of a system succeeding at what it was designed to do which is create and maintain barriers for Black and brown people.
Dr. Angela Davis said, it is not enough to be non-racist, you have to be anti-racist. That means if you want to consider yourself an ally you can’t ignore it, you must act in the fight against it. When it comes to policing, this means it’s not enough to simply not be a bad cop. You must be actively ridding system of bad police. You cannot wash your hands of culpability if you’re not doing everything you can to rid us of the racist, murderous colleagues and unjust laws that you swore an oath to uphold.
How many non-lethal use of force incidents against Black Evanstonians need to happen before one of us gets killed? Or can we do something that yields tangible results before then? Not a conversation, not a seat at the table where we get talked over but real decision-making power. Why is no one from the community involved in the final say so of who does and doesn’t get to protect our community? The people of Evanston, Black people especially who are forced to interact with officers more than anybody else, needs to decide the fate of the officers who harm us. It is the community whose trust they break every time they unnecessarily stop us, unnecessarily arrest us, unnecessarily harass us, unnecessarily abuse us. Black and brown cops do not equate to justice. Three out of the six people who killed Freddie Gray in Baltimore were Black. Unfortunately, all skin folk ain’t kin folk.
There was a point in time when I thought a good cop could create changes in the system and I even wanted to be a part of that change. So, I’m not here to tell anybody what to believe, but I do believe in educating us. I especially want our schools to teach our kids lessons that reinforce white supremacy and devalue their ancestor’s contribution to society.
America is in debt to us, the Black community as Dr. King said, 'we’re coming to get our check.' The 2020/ 2021 Evanston Police Department budget does not need to be $20 million more than the budget for the library, parks and rec, community service, and health and human services budgets combined. Divest from policing, defund policing, and give Black people the money, the programs, and the support white people have been giving yourselves for forever.
When you hear people say, 'abolish the police,' we’re not saying take all the jails and the cops away tomorrow. This system was built over centuries, so we can’t expect it to be destroyed and have a fool-proof alternative the next day. However, we can seek meaningful methods of dismantling it and not settle for crumbs of reform.
NYPD banning choke holds in 1993 was a police reform, and as evidenced by the murder of Eric Garner, it’s still used over 20 years later with impunity. A recent study of the nation’s 37 largest police departments show that 24 percent of officers nationwide--that’s 1 in 4--are rehired after losing their job due to misconduct. This is why we say dismantle, divest, and defund rather than reform.
Reform looks like three strikes laws. Reform looks like mandatory minimum sentences. Reform looks like life without parole. All of these are promoted to us, the American people, and passed under the guise of deterring crime. When in reality they've resulted in the further persecution and execution of the Black community. We don’t need reform, what we need is to dismantle the system that has been against Black people since inception.
What helps the most marginalized of us can only advance us as a whole. Equity is only threatening when you have something to lose, and you only have something to lose because it never belonged to you in the first place.
EPD Chief Demitrous Cook
I didn’t give up my Blackness for this white shirt. I didn’t give up my Blackness for a bureaucratic society either. And I didn’t give up my Blackness to my people in this community. I got high respect for everybody in this town.
My job is to serve and protect.
Now, how we go about doing that means a lot to me. You know when I first came to this town I was in a car with a white policeman who was my field training officer. And he took me to the 1400 block of Foster and he said, 'Watch it over here. Those people that live over there are animals.'
Well that couldn't be further from the truth. And it couldn't be further from the truth to think that the good men and women of the Evanston Police Department don’t have fault. It couldn't be further from the truth to think that they didn’t analyze Mr. Floyd’s death. Everybody that I know in that police department is upset over it. But they continue to come to work and do a good job.
A couple of months ago I had a great conversation with Dr. Felicia Parsons of District 65. And she came into my office and educated me about trauma. Trauma to the young children. And she said, 'Chief Cook, you know everything that you all do as law enforcement officers affects our children.'
And I say, 'Well how so Dr. Parsons?'
She says, 'Every time a siren comes down the street and the kids are playing and cops get out with their handguns, that’s trauma.' She said, 'Every time the police do a raid on a narcotics spot and they knock the door in and its children in there, that’s trauma.'
Now I grew up in this town from some real heavy hitters. And they ain’t famous in this town. They were just good people in this town that meant serious business. And you know I’ve been a policeman for 40 years so I’m going back a minute.
It was, Mr. Marshall Giles told me going in his barber shop at Church and Dodge. He told me, 'Don’t come in my barber shop if you ain’t about treating people with respect.' So, I’m shocked about that. So I go around the corner, and I go in to Mr. Sam Johnson’s barber shop. He said, 'Oh, you the new foot patrolman out here? Sit down I got to talk to you.' And the conversation was about me being out in the community doing a good job and treating people with respect.
Now people in this town that know me know that that’s what I’m about. I didn’t come here to play games with the police officers. If a police officer is correct under the law, I’m going to stand up for him. But if he’s wrong, I’m going to do what I'm supposed to do in terms of discipline.
Now, the Congressional Black Caucus, which is being led by Democrat from California Karen Bass, they coming out with a new reform act, a police reform act. You need to go home and take a look at that. The time has been passed for reform ... Up to this point we have not persevered in making true police reform. We did a few good things along the way, you know, with the independent commission on the Rodney King event. President Barack Obama came out with 21st Century Policing which was a great article. But why do we fall off? Ask yourself that. Ask yourself, why do we fall off in the midst of what’s going on today in the world with holding everybody accountable? This is a pervasive injustice to Black people that has been going on ... My mama come from Alabama. She can tell you some great stories.
I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. We left there to come up here. Now, it’s your duty, as well as the police officer’s duty, to make things right. I want to see things right in our neighborhoods--Black on Black. I want to see things done right in our neighborhood white on Black. I want people to stand up for our Hispanic brothers and for my Hispanic brothers that’s in this gang war in Chicago, I ask the leaders of those gangs to reconsider what they doing to each other.
I want good, wholesome, kind policing for gays and lesbians in this world. And so your perseverance is definitely needed. We don’t get this that often. This is the first time I’ve seen this magnitude of protests in my life.
The police department can’t run from police reform. The police department can’t run from citizen involvement. The police department can’t run from injustice. Let me tell you something that was said, and this rings true today: The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions. When you look at the organizational structure of government, it ain’t the mayor that’s at the top, it ain’t the city manager that’s at the top. It’s the people that’s at the top. And I’m asking for your approval as a police officer to continue and to work to do a better job. That is my mission.
Ms. Liana Wallace
I am tired. The collective breath they took out of us. I can’t breathe. I am sick. Tired no more hope to give.
Tired of knowing that I will have to feed my Black children survival before their Cheerios.
Our founding fathers left us with this: “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
That it will look in the mirror today Dig up the soil and stare at the bodies it stands upon
That this is America
And her name was America
When you stripped us naked like animals
And heard the clincking of our chains
When you raped my aunties
And then forced them to nurse the babies your wife didn't have time to
And then erased that part from the history book
And screamed at a Black man kneeling during a football game
And watched white students walk on campuses
Dropping banana peels in front of Black affinity spaces
That this is America
And her name was America
When you burned Rosewood and Black Wall Street to the ground
When you told members of the KKK that they would be more powerful In white suits and blue uniforms Policing
That this is America
And her name was America
Maybe Emmet Till told us we were already sick and we never listened
We’ve been coughing ever since Medger Evers James Byrd Natasha Harlins Rodney King Trayvon Martin Eric Garner Sandra Bland Tamir Rice Aiyana Jones Freddie Gray Philando Castile Ahmaud Arbery Breonna Taylor George Floyd
And the child I will someday have with Black death imprinted like barcode on brown skin
And her name was America
And her name is America
And her name will be America
When I am shouting into this microphone
Standing here Jewish and Black
Spanish randomly rolling off my tongue
From stolen people Immigrant people
That her name will be America
Even when we can’t stand her
Even when we burn her flag
When we set fire to corporations
That this is America
That this is America
That we have nothing to lose but our chains
Gagging on a story that keeps repeating
That this is America
That this will be America
Even as we re-write her
Even as we take your seats in office
Even as we tell your grandchildren what you failed to tell them
Even as we uplift trans voices and read Black lives matter like bedtime stories to our children
Even as you beat us in the head over
And over and over
And act confused as we remain screaming
Even as we stop dancing for you
Even as we stop performing for you and your white daughters who want Black men and Black babies without knowing how to comb their hair
Even as we defund police
Even as the movement you thought would last a week turns into a lifetime
That this is America
And her name is America
That we are
That I am
As we say no more minor reforms
As we defund police
As we reclaim our own communities
And stop placing policing like a bandaid
That policing could never be the bandaid for failing education systems
That policing could never be the bandaid for poverty
That policing could never be the bandaid for Black women facing domestic violence who face the dual dichotomy of wanting help but know that calling the police could bring Black death to the community
That when we scream revolution
When we say that policing is inherently racist
That this too shall be American
That her name is America
That Revolutionaries are American
That we are
That I am American
Sincerely our founding fathers,
“When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Objective evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”