On Monday, July 2nd, Chicago Police Department officers shot and critically injured 17-year-old Kevon Purell just after 9:30 p.m. in the 7900 block of South Yates Boulevard in the South Chicago neighborhood as the teenager went out for dinner. Just before the shooting occurred, Kevon’s mother, Irma Burrage, gave him a McDonald’s gift card to get some food.
On Tuesday, July 3rd, Chicago Police Department officers shot and killed Terrell Eason, a father of four, who worked as a supervisor at the local Salvation Army. Friends of Terrell’s family described Terrell as someone who loved his children and was excited about spending time with them this summer. Terrell was the youngest of two siblings. While police officials claim they were “forced” to open fire, other witnesses describe how Eason was shot six times in the back. Two CPD officers were sent to the hospital for “stress and mental duress” after the shooting.
These instances of police violence serve as a terrible reminder that the institution of policing has always been rooted in anti-Blackness, and has historically served to surveil, control, and target communities of color, especially Black communities. Recent headlines in which authorities describe Eason as an “armed offender” illustrate how police-backed narratives have already convicted Eason before actual details around the situation have surfaced. The City of Chicago’s response further highlights how the City prioritizes the safety, security, and health of its police officers over the lives of black Chicagoans: while families impacted by police violence are steadily denied access to mental health resources, the City readily provides killer-cops with access to mental health services. Even further, while families impacted by police violence continually struggle for support and resources, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes forward with plans to build a $95 Million dollar police academy, only 1.4 miles away from the site of Terrell Eason’s death.
Black Lives Matter: Chicago is an intersectional vehicle that values Black people and their right to self-determination, by fighting for justice with families most impacted while working to create just and equitable systems. The People’s Response Team works toward centering and uplifting the narratives of families affected by police violence amidst a common, biased alignment of mainstream media and law enforcement narratives.
Despite continued spin alleging deep changes in the operating of the Chicago police force, and "improved" training, again we see that the on the ground reality remains the same. Police continue to act as judge, jury and executioner and continually follow their pre-established response protocol to allege that the deceased had a gun and therefore deserved to be killed. On the eve of this country's anniversary of "independence," it is unjust irony that Black humanity continues to be devalued, discarded and denied in this country. The countless reports of armed white men who are successfully apprehended alive makes clear that the narrative of an officer "thinking" there was a gun is really racialized double speak to legitimize murder of Black people by the police.
On this 242nd year of "independence," we do not celebrate the liberty that we do not have. We mourn again for another young Black life, too soon taken by Chicago's biggest and most powerful gang, the Chicago Police Department. While the calls ring increasingly loud for abolition of ICE, we echo that call and demand the abolition of policing as we know it. We need fully funded and lead-free schools. We need fully funded teachers. We need mental healthcare centers for our communities. We need a jobs plan. We need universal healthcare. We need pay equity. We do not need more killer cops.
As community members dedicated to providing direct support to the families and communities impacted by police violence, we encourage everyone to follow the BLM: Chicago and People’s Response Team FaceBook pages for updates and ways to provide support.
In love, rage, and solidarity,