At least 10 people were arrested during a protest outside of the controversial Homan Square police facility in North Lawndale last Wednesday.
The July 20 demonstration, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, started at Douglas Park in “front of the home of Chicago police officer Dante Servin,” before moving down side streets toward Homan Square at the corner of South Homan Avenue and West Fillmore Street.
When protestors arrived at the site, they “chained their bodies together and blocked the entrance to” the Homan Square center, the Tribune reports.
The facility has been reported as an “off the books” detention and interrogation center used by the Chicago Police Department where those detained were allegedly shackled for long periods of time and held without legal counsel, among other constitutional violations allegedly committed by Chicago police, according to a report by the Guardian newspaper last year.
The protest was organized by a local activist group called the Let Us Breathe Collective in collaboration with groups such as Black Youth Project 100. The action comes less than a month after the controversial shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police officers sent the country spiraling into fear and mourning.
In the same week, five Dallas police officers were murdered during a peaceful protest held in response to the deaths of Sterling and Castile.
South Sider Camesha Jones, 24, told the Tribune that the protesters are “imagining a world without police,” before criticizing the city’s practice of spending millions of dollars on police misconduct settlements.
“I’m here to imagine a world where that money would be spent on education, mental health, to open school, clinics, create jobs,” she said.
Thea activists called for a “full divestment from policing and a full investment in our communities,” BYP 100 national director Charlene Carruthers told the Tribune. “We want a world where we don’t deal with conflict with police and prisons. It’s a process. It’s not just about tearing things down but building up alternatives, institutions and practices that deal with conflict and harm without punishment.”
Kristiana Rae Colon, the Let Us Breathe Collective’s co-founder, told the Tribune, “Almost 40 percent of Chicago’s budget goes to CPD right now, while we claim we’re too broke to fund our schools or pay for mental health services. There is a myth that Chicago is broke. Chicago is investing in what it deems necessary, which is different from what the people deem as necessary.”