The city of Chicago has received a lot of media attention in 2017. Recently, Chance The Rapper’s historic night at the Grammy’s has put Chi-town back on everyone’s map. Meanwhile, something tragic happened in downtown Chicago on February 8th that has not gotten much national attention: the shooting, paralysis, and death of a Black father—Chad Robertson—at the hands of an Amtrak police officer.
Admittedly, Chad’s death hits close to home for a number of reasons. I’ve known his sister since college, and we have many mutual friends. My girlfriend is her Alpha Kappa Alpha soror and close friend. I am a Black male in my late 20’s, not too much older than Chad. I frequently travel through Chicago and often use Amtrak or Union Station as a mode of travel when visiting friends and family. Chad isn’t even from Chicago, and yet he became the recipient of the same police brutality that has taken the lives of Laquan McDonald and countless other men, women, and children across the city every year. As Black people, this is part of our lived reality—no matter where we go, we run the risk of engaging with individuals or institutions that might “accidentally” alter the course of our lives forever.
Robertson’s death and the continuation of systematic police brutality—with unchecked accountability for those perpetuating state violence—is nothing short of devastating. Yet, what concerns me more is the inclination that justice may not prevail in this case. It took over a year for former CPD officer Jason Van Dyke to be charged with first-degree murder for the death of Laquan McDonald, and he still is awaiting trial and has yet to be convicted. Likewise, the six Baltimore police officers that murdered Freddie Grey in 2015 were all acquitted in 2016 just over a year after his death. While the Cook County State’s Attorney pressed murder charges against the officer responsible for Chad’s death this week, there is still a long road ahead to ensure that #JusticeForChad comes to fruition.
To that end, there are a few easy steps that can be taken to ensure that Chad—and future victims of police brutality—receive due process and justice:
1) Hold news outlets accountable to not publish #AlternativeFacts about the deaths of men and women at the hands of police
In the era of #AlternativeFacts and #FakeNews that we find ourselves in, the media is exploiting the fear, anxieties, and vulnerabilities of people living in America. Whenever possible, it is important to not consume this information and resist the temptation to disseminate it across your networks as “real news.” If you find something that is incorrect or damning, call the media out on their bluff and make them fix it. Period. Even with Chad’s case, news sources have published inaccurate information about the scenario that led to his death, and CBS (in)advertently posted an image of Chad in an orange jumpsuit following his death. While CBS has since rectified their mistake, we must remain vigilant and hold all outlets accountable to the highest level of integrity when reporting on sensitive issues.
2) Put pressure on local/state politicians and political actors to act for justice
Not everyone is an organizer or has the desire to protest, but there other ways to put pressure on decision makers that have influence on high profile police brutality cases. Don’t be afraid to call your city council members, mayors, state representatives, and governors to ensure that they are monitoring the progress of these cases. Contact local organizers and advocacy organizations in your community to get them on board to fight for the cause. The more people engaged in the fight for justice, the better.
3) Talk to your people
If your friends, family, or colleagues are unaware of what is happening with police brutality across the U.S., break it down for them. Talk with them about your thoughts and opinions on the deaths of Black men and women on the news, particularly if they hit close to home. While these conversations are not always easy to conduct, they are absolutely essential for helping us as a society recognize the humanity (and innocence) of men and women who have negative interactions with police officers and are subjugated to fatal violence unnecessarily.
Until justice prevails for Chad, Laquan, and countless other victims of police brutality, we must continue to bring attention to the American cities that are suffering at the hands of police officers—civil servants hired to protect the interests of the civilians that they serve. Thus, in the spirit of Richard Fowler’s recent op-ed, let’s talk about Chicago…again.
If you are interested in supporting Chad and his family during this challenging time, you may make a donation here.
This guest article was written for Watch The Yard by a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. who goes by the Pseudonym Du Bois’ Protégé.
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