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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