Things That Matter

Support Grows For Police Accountability Oversight Committee In Chicago Following Adam Toledo’s Death

Update April 28, 2021

The Latino Caucus of the Chicago City Council endorsed the civilian police oversight ordinance to oversee the police. The Latino Caucus joins other Chicago-based organizations and boards endorsing the ordinance after the killing of Adam Toledo.

The people of Chicago will have a chance to vote on an ordinance to hold police accountable.

There have been rival civilian oversight plans in Chicago as community leaders seek to hold the Chicago Police Department accountable. There was the Civilian Police Accountability Council, or CPAC, and the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability, or GAPA. The two oversight boards had differing views on how to proceed with holding police accountable.

Supporters from each oversight board have come together to come up with a compromise ordinance. The result was what has been called the people’s ordinance that will hold police accountable for deaths like that of Adam Toledo.

Chicago residents will have a chance to vote on a binding referendum on the 2022 primary ballot. Part of the ordinance would take power away from Mayor Lori Lightfoot in that she would not be able to hire and fire the police superintendent. The Law Department and hand-picked negotiators would also lose the power to negotiate police contracts.

“The Toledo family — they’ve been left in the dark, according to the reports that I have seen or read,” Ald. Roberto Maldonado, chair of the Hispanic Caucus, told Chicago Sun-Times. “In other instances last year and previous years, victims and families of victims — primarily families of color — they are left in the dark when a loved one is shot and killed by police. Justifiable or not. But they don’t know. They have no information. They are not providing to the families any information.”

Original

The Latino community is grieving the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Police officer Eric Stillman Toledo and killed Adam Toledo on March 29th after chasing him on foot. When Toledo put his hands up in surrender, Stillman shot and killed him.

Adam Toledo was the youngest person to be shot in Chicago since 2015.

Initially, the Chicago PD claimed that Adam Toledo was armed when Officer Stillman open fired on him. But the officer’s body cam footage proved otherwise.

At first, Chicago’s police accountability group COPA refused to release the body cam footage, citing juvenile privacy concerns. But COPA ended up releasing the footage after mounting civilian pressure as well as pressure from Chicago’s mayor.

In the body cam footage, it appears that Toledo had a handgun when he was running away from Stillman. Stillman asked him to surrender and put his hands up. Toledo threw his handgun to the ground, and put his hands up to surrender. Then, Officer Stillman shot him to death.

It took days for police to inform Adam Toledo’s mother that her son was dead.

Police officers contacted 44-year-old Elizabeth Toledo on March 31st about her son. Ms. Toledo assumed that they were there to talk to her about a missing person’s report she filed for her son. Instead, the police asked her to identify a young boy’s body at the coroner’s office.

Elizabeth Toledo is still looking for answers. How police could be so negligent to shoot and kill an unarmed 13-year-old child. “I just want to know what really happened to my baby,” Ms. Toledo said at a news conference on April 2nd.

In the Chicago community, people of color know that the broken system killed Adam Toledo.

“As a father, grandfather and community member of La Villita . . . I feel grief, anger and pain. Despite repeated calls for police accountability and systemic reform, Latino and Black youth continue to be killed by police.

“We must acknowledge decades of policies that perpetuate systemic racism, sanction police brutality and fail our youth,” said Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. “We need stronger police oversight and accountability, as well as more funding for restorative justice, schools, housing, health care and jobs, so that youth have opportunities to live and succeed.”

“This tragedy is about dehumanization of people of color, inability to see us as full human beings,” said Maricela Garcia, the CEO of Gads Hill Center, a nonprofit for immigrant. “We can’t keep going back to strategies that don’t work — more training, more equipment — without addressing institutionalized racism.”

Now, the Chicago community hoping that the city and police department will do the right thing and give Adam Toledo justice.

As of now, Officer Eric Stillman is on administrative leave for 30 days while the investigation proceeds. Since starting work as a police officer in 2015, Stillman has had three formal complaints filed against him. He was not disciplined for any of them.

Since his death, the people of Chicago have organized marches and rallies to commemorate a young life that was taken from this world too soon. “We are not going to stand for it. That is why we are all here. It takes all of us,” said a demonstrator named Brayhan Martinez to WLS Chicago.

“This did not have happen. This was completely avoidable and Officer Stillman is a product of his training, whether we like it or not,” said Alison Flowers, Director of Investigations for the Invisible Institute.

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Charley Gallay / Getty Images for New York Magazine

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Courtesy of Timothy Pollard

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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