This public comment is being submitted on behalf of the Democratic Women of McDonough County. We wish to alert our community to pay attention and respond to a miscarriage of justice in progress against a disabled, traumatized Black mother who is a victim of what we believe to have been possible excessive force, assault, police cover-up, McDonough County jail negligence, and possible prosecutorial misconduct or incompetence (at best).
Ariel Harrison is a petite woman who is blind in one eye. For a suspected DUI, FOIA’d evidence suggests she was brutally yanked out of her vehicle, man-handled by the Macomb Police Department officers, and taken to jail.
Evidence strongly suggests she sustained an apparent closed head injury during the takedown. She was left unconscious in the jail for an undetermined amount of time, awakening with 5 taser marks on her body, bruises, and a closed head wound visibly apparent on her forehead, which wasn’t even mentioned in the report.
The jail failed to provide nor seek ANY medical aid for her, failing to even ensure she was safe from risk of developing intracranial bleeding, concussion, or more serious traumatic brain injury. Refusal of medical attention is a severe human rights violation and must be investigated.
SHE COULD HAVE DIED.
ALL persons rendered UNCONSCIOUS in the jail MUST be properly evaluated by qualified medical professionals in the nearest healthcare facility. This was NOT done.
Now she is being pressured to accept a bad plea deal by her public defender, a pattern against Black community members for whom we have submitted credible evidence of police brutality against them to the Illinois Attorney General.
We believe a cover-up threatens to allow our justice system send this partially blind, traumatized Black mother to jail to hide the truth from the public. We asked the County Board to investigate the allegations. They have failed to do so. The IL Attorney General’s Office is investigating, but that will take time, and time has run out for this Black victim of police brutality.
We demand the Macomb Police Department be investigated for this and the many other complaints being shared with the Illinois Attorney General, the ACLU of Illinois, and we demand that all charges be dropped.
Please consider joining us this Tuesday as we demand JUSTICE for Ariel by gathering outside the McDonough County Courthouse at 8:00 a.m. to witness this case.
Our petition calling for Chief Barker to step down and the Macomb Police Department to be investigated is approaching 10.5 thousand signatures today. When can we expect the City Council and Mayor to even acknowledge it?
Our community deserves answers. The Macomb Police Department’s refusal to hold press briefings nor answer journalist’s questions for over two weeks represents a disgraceful lack of transparency and allows the Chief to evade any accountability. Chief Barker must step down and the Macomb Police Department must stop obstructing journalist’s questions on this and other issues.
Heather McMeekan, PresidentDemocratic Women of McDonough County