Even before Atlanta police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, the killings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and George Floyd in Minneapolis gave rise to visceral protests, marches and rallies across the country. In just days, many protests intensified from protesting police brutality to demanding the money spent on police departments be reallocated to social services that address some of the root causes of crime and violence.
Evanston police were not exempt from these protests. On May 25, three police officers wrestled a 20-year-old black youth to the ground after he first refused commands by a police officer to “get off the street” and then began to run. At least one speaker at the May 31 rally alluded to that incident and other incidents where the police were said to have acted improperly.
On June 11, organizers of Evanston Fight for Black Lives held an open-air town hall meeting to discuss policing and funding of police in Evanston and the dual needs of public safety and social services. About 250 people attended the meeting.
The next day, June 12, Pastor Michael James of Second Baptist Church presented Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook with copies of two books he had written, “Black America in the 21st Century” and “Absent.”
Dr. James said the books, which contained “20-25 years of critical, in-depth research on the plight of black people in this country,” can be used for “cultural sensitivity trading for all law enforcement officers. … We must begin to address that a different form of training is needed,”
Chief Cook said, “The Police Department will work with Dr. James and with any other group that wants to bring about real change in this community. I’m a public servant, and my job is to listen. “
At 6 p.m. on June 16, City Clerk Devon Reid is hosting a FaceBook discussion on policing and race in Evanston.