Our Complaint to MPD…

This is being submitted as a public comment to the Macomb City Council tonight.

Nov 2,  2020

***Public Comment***

Three weeks ago, Democratic Women of McDonough County President Heather McMeekan submitted a complaint to Chief Barker about a Macomb police detective’s online behavior making derogatory and incendiary comments about Black Lives Matter protestors on his tactical/concealed carry business’s Facebook wall.

Last week was the meeting for this complaint. You were all sent an email with the link to the audio file and transcript. We hope to hear in your reports an acknowledgement you received it.

The complaint process DWMC President Heather McMeekan was subjected to was inappropriate, unprofessional, and unacceptable.

For more than a year, we’ve been asking the Mayor and this city council to address the multiple concerns we have brought to you about the process. 

She was bringing serious concerns from our organization to your departmental leadership’s attention on OUR BEHALF. That she received such maltreatment says much about this city’s police and city hall leadership. You all owe her – and us – an apology.

Photo ops and signing statements from MPD and city leadership trying to portray a police culture of professionalism and respect are still just performative feel-good actions without substance. NO community members can safely make a complaint about the police to our police.

Allowing a department to police itself is failure of oversight. A police leadership permitted to treat community members bringing complaints to them with such outdated, traumatizing, & inappropriate tactics sends a chilling message.

The Macomb Police Department must be investigated, Chief Barker must go, and the department must be de-militarized AND re-structured. 

A transparent complaint system OUTSIDE of Macomb Police Leadership must be established and be independent of the police and city leadership’s disruption. Trauma-informed interview practices should always be employed. Psychologically traumatizing interview techniques should have been banned from this process decades ago.

Despite all your assurances, signing statements, photo ops, this process is NO BETTER for our community. This is only allowed by your complicity. We hope you remember this as you repeatedly ignore our leaders while demanding our “respect” for your part in upholding this unacceptable status quo.

Repeated attempts to get you, our elected representatives, to hold your Mayor accountable and fix these issues have yielded no progress. The list of job duties claimed as racial justice hasn’t addressed this problem. Produce actual progress on fixing these basic tools and structures of good government. Hold a public town hall on the record for us to discuss our police department.

Sincerely,

Verna Parkins, 1st Vice-President
Becky Danner, 2nd Vice-President
Regina Matthews, Racial Justice Coalition Leadership Team
Robin Johnson, Secretary
Democratic Women of McDonough County

Our Latest Public Comment

“It’s long past time for you, our elected officials, to provide the oft-requested Town Hall for community members to share experiences and concerns about the racism in our community. Since you’ve refused to put the discussion about it on the agenda (despite multiple requests to do so), we will continue bringing up our concerns in the ONLY format you white city council members & Mayor have allowed, and that is the 3 minute public comment.

Content Warning for Racial Trauma: This past weekend, some white republicans allegedly celebrated a birthday by hanging some democratic candidate’s signs from a tree in their yard, ostensibly as some kind of sick, twisted “joke.”

We hope our fellow white people in our community listen up. Displays, jokes, comments, references etc. regarding HANGING or LYNCHING of human beings are NEVER OK.

Such behavior triggers historical racial trauma and creates new racial trauma, here and now, which harms our Black community members. It demonstrates profound ignorance and/or indifference to the pain of those who live in this community and have had ancestors hanged by white folks.
This event, and the many racist, hateful comments continuing to be posted online via social media by community members and yelled at Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrates that the structural racism in our community is not confined to any particular agency, institution, process, policy. It’s our local culture.

It is pervasive, lives in the hearts of our white community members, and is expressed on a tragic, hurtful spectrum of racial trauma ranging from indifference and silencing to deliberate acts of hatred and violence. Our Black community members have reported many are experiencing racism in housing, employment, education, healthcare, finances, and religion.

Lack of representation, transparency, and oversight in white-designed and white-led agencies allows these problems to persist. You have the power to work on these structures. Please step up in your humanity and service as elected and appointed city officials and take on this work now.

Silencing, centering of white feelings, misusing power to thwart transparency and accountability is what structural racism looks like in the north. Mayor Inman, we are your citizens too and we need you to do your job and schedule a Town Hall to discuss these problems before the quality of life for our Black and other community members of Color gets worse.

Sincerely,

Heather McMeekan, President
Democratic Women of McDonough County
#BlackLivesMatter #BlackAtWIU
Source: https://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/news/20201015/public-comment-mayor-inman-give-us-town-hall-on-race-issues-in-macomb

Of Bushnell and Black Lives Matter Pop-Ups

Today, a Bushnell Pastor Dave Eden posted a blatant falsehood about our events on Facebook. He claimed that at one of our protests, one of our posters said “The only good cop is a dead cop.”

We have no such sign, have never displayed such a sign, would never be a part of an org that would display such a sign. That was a falsehood, and when we attempted to correct him, he doubled down on the lie, and added more.

We would never allow such a sentiment to be a part of our protests. We have police officers in our families, friends, and as work colleagues. To claim we’d ever be about death or violence is bearing false witness against us, Pastor Dave. You owe us an apology for spreading such a despicable lie.

Also, it puts us at greater risk as such an incendiary falsehood is likely to further inflame reactive racists with a propensity for violence, particularly against women. Shame on any pastor who would do this.

Why Are We In Bushnell?

We have members in Bushnell with concerns, and we’ve received complaints. We’ve done a few low-energy pop-ups. Just 2-3 people, silent, with 2-3 #BlackLivesMatter flags and 2-3 racial justice posters.

Just that low energy, low impact display on behalf of our Black community members is still too much for some people.

Tonight’s example:

Bushnell, IL – Oct 15, 2020 – Black Lives Matter

Vehicle Harassment of Protestors

This red truck has done this to our #BlackLivesMatter protestors several times. This time, the men were filming our faces for their sick twisted enjoyment later, no doubt. They scared an elderly disabled woman and her service animal, encasing them in the black smoke.

These white men are just some of the many who think this behavior is perfectly acceptable here, and it clearly is. There are no letters to the editor calling all the men like these out, except from us.

It has been eye-opening to our members to discover over the past several months that apparently no local churches, faith orgs, feminist orgs, community orgs, service agencies, or white elected officials care enough about the growing violence to publicly push back against this despicable behavior.

Hate has a comfortable home in Macomb, Ill, especially from white men who are rarely held accountable. And it is kept safe from accountability by white people’s calls for manners, civility, and racial justice progress at a rate we are comfortable with, which is white privilege.

But this guy got a ticket – this time. May he learn some decency and manners.

https://youtu.be/FDdtj_p00hk

Guest Blog Post: Amaya Isabel

Amaya Isabel is an activist living in Macomb who believes Black Lives Matter and wants to address systemic racism.

I would like to start by dedicating this post to my people. This is for all the people who can’t read this post because their freedom and lives have been stolen from them. This is dedicated to all my people sitting in jails and prisons because the police state decided to steal their freedom to generate profit. This is for immigrants and refugees sitting in ICE detention centers only because they have been declared “illegal” on stolen land. This is for black womxn, for black people with disabilities, and for the black LGBT+ and Afro Latinx community that are all too often left out of the conversation on justice. This is for everyone who has been brutalized and murdered at the hands of police and vigilantes. I am here to use my privilege of freedom and education to write when others cannot because they have been silenced by systems of racism in Amerikkka.

I would like to ask you all to join me in a moment of silence to honor those who have lost their lives to violent systems of white supremacy. During this moment of silence, please reflect on the lives lost and the work that needs to be done to ensure not one more life is taken.  Thank you.

I would like to share with you all a piece of Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. King wrote this letter while sitting in a jail cell when he was arrested for taking direct action against white supremacy. I want to share this letter because King believed it was our responsibility to stand up to unjust laws and systems.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the Ku Klux Klan, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

I share this piece because much of Martin Luther King Jr’s work has been whitewashed over the years, and I believe it’s important to keep his true thoughts and feelings alive. I am not interested in maintaining a negative peace- the absence of tension. Maintaining a negative peace only works to uphold the status quo, and the status quo is killing us. I am interested in making a change. I am interested in creating a positive peace- the presence of justice.

When we say No Justice- No Peace, it’s not just a trendy chant. It’s our reality. We say it because we’ve experienced it. We say it because our ancestors have lived it. We have seen No Justice and No Peace from Amerikkka. There is No Peace for our community when we’re being targeted, beaten, and shot by police. There is No Justice for our community when the legal system steals our freedom and refuses to hold officers accountable for their brutality.

Please don’t let Black Lives Matter become a trend. Black Lives Matter every single day, not just when the movement is trending on social media and in the news. Protests help to spread awareness and gain support from the community, but the work does not stop here. We must use this traction to move forward. I am working with local activists and organizers to develop an Action Plan to address systemic racism. This plan will detail direct action that can be taken to end this system of injustice. If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of creating positive peace, please reach out to me.

In closing, I would like to leave you with the words of Angela Davis, an American political activist. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

Thank you. 

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackInMacomb #WhiteSilenceIsViolence

Black Lives Matter Speakout: Belinda Carr, Chair of the McDonough County Democrats

We wish to thank McDonough Democratic Central Committee Chair Belinda Carr for her dedication, hard work, service and leadership. We look forward to building a #BlueWave in McDonough County under her leadership!

We are grateful for Belinda Carr’s decades of service to this community and at WIU. From serving as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center to serving on the Police and Fire Commission, Ms. Carr has been a force for racial equity and justice, and we are all in her debt. It’s time for us white allies to step up and do our part.

Here is Belinda Carr’s speech from our speak-out on July 16, 2020. 

#BlackLivesMatter #UniteBlue #CivilRights #MakeItMacomb #ChiefBarkerMustGo #BeLikeIllinois #ElectBlackWomen

#Justice4Ariel Harrison

Please help us bring #Justice4Ariel Harrison.

***CONTENT WARNING: This video contains very disturbing information regarding what we believe is a horrific miscarriage of justice by the Macomb Police Department and the McDonough County Jail against this courageous, young Black Mom.********

Facts:

– Ariel Harrison had no prior legal issues ever with the police before moving here

– Ariel Harrison is disabled, as she is blind in her left eye.

– She is a petite woman.

– Her vehicle had a broken drivers side window, so she COULD NOT ROLL IT DOWN to hear what the officers were yelling at her until she opened the door.

– Following her release from the McDonough County Jail, She had a clear soft tissue head wound on her forehead, many bruises, and at least 4-5 taser marks on her back and elsewhere.

– She suffers PTSD and struggles with feelings of fear of further targeting/retaliation by the police.

– The McDonough County State’s Attorney is trying to send her to prison.

– Her next court date is August 4th, 2020 and all she has is a public defender. We need a lawyer for her, but she cannot afford one.

– We first brought this case to light BACK IN MARCH, AND NO NEWS AGENCIES IN MCDONOUGH COUNTY HAVE COVERED THIS STORY. Only the McDonough Voice has been attempting to get the info from the Police to tell this news.

– We also think people should contact County Board Chair Scott Swearer, and ask him why he promised to investigate this case BACK IN EARLY MARCH, and did NOTHING.

Questions/Concerns

What we think may have happened, based upon FOIA, pattern of injuries, and preliminary interviews

– Because she is blind in her left eye, and could not hear nor see the officer, when she tried to open the door to communicate, the officers apparently took it as an aggressive act, and she was tackled to the ground – BECAUSE THEY FAILED TO RECOGNIZE, MUCH LESS ACCOMMODATE HER DISABILITY.

– It appears that the vehicle she was driving did NOT match the description of the vehicle originally called into 911. Was she pulled over as a case of mistaken identity?

– The police SHOULD HAVE KNOWN she was blind in her left eye when they ran her plate. Yet, they failed to note it in their report, claiming “her eyes appeared glazed…” – WHY did that officer not notice AT ALL?!

– The head injury, period of unconsciousness, injuries were not accounted for AT ALL in the reports.

– The McDonough County Jail FAILED TO RENDER ANY MEDICAL AID to Ms. Harrison while she lay unconscious. WHY was an ambulance not called? WHY was she NOT TREATED AT THE HOSPITAL?

We believe this should be investigated as a case of human and civil rights violations, excessive force, assault/battery, and medical neglect, and possibly more.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1) “Like” this post to help more people see it.

2) Share this post to your wall and comment with #Justice4Ariel

3) Send a public comment demanding an investigation of the Macomb Police Department to the City Council of Macomb by sending an email (less than 3 minutes long reading time) to publiccomments@cityofmacomb.com

4) Sign the petition to force Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker to step down or be removed: http://chng.it/bGk28tcxdY

5) Contact the State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala and ask that he DROP all charges.

State’s Attorney
Matthew P. Kwacala
#1 Courthouse Square
Macomb, IL 61455
Kwacala@statesattorney.mcdonough.il.us
Phone: (309) 837-2309
Fax: (309) 836-3013

Assistant State’s Attorney
Susan M. Maxwell
#1 Courthouse Square
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: (309) 837-2309
Fax: (309) 836-3013

Please help us save Ariel. Time is very short.

Tagging: ACLU of Illinois ACLU of IL – Peoria Area Chapter NAACP PEORIA BRANCH

#BlackLivesMatter #ACLU #BLM #Mac185 #NAACP #MADDOW #PoliceBrutality #Disability #HumanRights #CivilRights #WIU #BlackAtWIU #BlackInMacomb

***Content Warning: This video contains accounting of police brutality and violence against a Black citizen at the hands of Officers of the Macomb Police Department.

Why Have You Heard Nothing About This Before?

The radio and tv stations have shown little to no interest whatsoever, so we need social media friends to help get this info out into the public. Indeed, some of our local stations stopped covering any of our events/actions after we began our racial justice work last summer.

The barrage of angry letters, emails, and threats and actual canceling of subscriptions from white people in the community for the paper’s printing of our letters and press conferences has had a chilling effect on the news journalists willingness to even show up to any of our events.

Even if they thought we were making these things up, we are calling for investigations every time. A call for an investigation into public servants should always be newsworthy. Not when it’s about racial injustice in our community, however.

Journalists may have appeased their white subscribers/supporters, but shamefully this greatly hampers our ability to help those coming to us as a last resort for help – because nobody else is helping them.

We should be asking our community members who claim to care about racial justice where these other groups are? Where are all the white people who went to all those sessions put on by the city? “White moderates…” indeed.

Black Lives Matter Pop-up, Rally, & Speak-out 7.16.20

We invite all members of the community to peacefully experience the unfiltered narratives of the lived experiences from Black individuals in our community, participate in restorative action for racial justice, and support our members of the community as they speak with concerns and hopes during our speak-out.

Donations for Mt. Calvary Church of God In Christ: During this event, donations of diapers, period products, formula, children’s summer clothes. food are being accepted on the east side of the park. ALL donations will go to Mt. Calvary Church of God in Christ, for their members and their families hit so hard by our many structural inequities and injustice. All park attendees are encouraged to also sign our poster-sized “card” from our community to their members.

***********
As COVID is especially risky and disproportionately dangerous for our Black community, masks and distancing are expected, and will be enforced. Please keep our attendees and volunteers safe.

++++Please bring your own chair.++++

Noon-5:00 pm – Pop-up Immersive experience – Chandler Park

How white people can make the most of this experience: This is a peaceful, low-interaction event which centers Black people’s feelings, experiences, needs, history, voices, and rights.

We as white allies have found that our feelings were very uncomfortable at first when we began doing this event. As many of us white people have not been in such a space very often, this experience tends to create discomfort.

We have found it helpful to remind ourselves as white allies that our feelings of discomfort, shame, sorrow, anger…whatever those feelings are in us as we experience this event, they do not compare to the lifetime of racial trauma borne by those living without our white privilege. While we as privileged white people can choose to leave a Black-centered space if we think it is causing our discomfort, Black people can never escape living in our white supremacist society.

We challenge all our white community members to brave the discomfort of this experience, and learn some profound truths about our community.

Those feelings subside as we move through the experience. We do ask our white attendees to attend to feelings discreetly, without burdening Black attendees with public venting or projection of feelings on others.

We ask that conversations be kept to a minimum to discourage gathering.

Feel free to stroll through at your own pace, looking at whatever elements you wish, for as long or short as you choose to, ignoring any elements you don’t wish to view.

Our volunteers are there for support and aid, not for discussion nor debate. Please do not engage with our volunteers unless you have a question about the event or need assistance. We appreciate your cooperation to keep all safe and healthy at our peaceful event.

– Poetry walk
– Poster-making station
– Poster displays from Black community members past and present
– Card Shower for Mt. Calvary COGIC
– Diaper/Period Product/Formula/Kids Summer Clothing drive to benefit Mt. Calvary
– Water, mask, sanitizer stations
#BlackAtWIU Tweets
– Microaggression FAQs

Tabling:

  • Voter registration
  • Black Mental Health Support Info
  • Learn your elected reps
  • How to submit complaints to IL AG, DHS
  • Housing and shelter info
  • WIRC
  • Census Info
  • Free Black Lives Matter buttons to the first 150 attendees

5:00 – Peaceful Solidarity March Around the square (begins in Chandler park, south on Lafayette, around the square to North Randoph, back to Chandler Park.

6:00 – Program & Speak-Out

Speak-Out Info: If you wish to submit your experiences for a white ally to read, please message our page. Otherwise, we will keep an open microphone as long as people wish to speak.

Speakers

  • Belinda Carr, Chair, Democratic Party of McDonough County IL, former Director, Gwendolyn Brooks Multicultural Center
  • Dr. Essie Rutledge, Sociologist, Faculty Emeritus, WIU Department of Sociology
  • Tammie Leigh Brown-Edwards, Alderwoman-at-Large, Macomb City Council, and Chair, McDonough County Democratic Coalition

Donations of foam core poster-board and bottled water, sanitizer, masks welcome.

Town Hall on Macomb Police w/Special Guest, Renato Mariotti

****CONTENT WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS NARRATIVES FROM BLACK VICTIMS OF POLICE AND JUSTICE SYSTEM ABUSE****

This is the video from our Town Hall today.

Special thanks to all those who attended, planned, and/or presented at our Town Hall on the #Macomb#Illinois Police Department.

We wish to specially acknowledge the courage of the many Black victims who shared their painful traumas in the hopes of helping prevent other such tragedies. Nobody should have to go through what this community is putting them through.

We are extremely grateful to special guest, Renato Mariotti, for his generousity in sharing his time, expertise, and wisdom that we might be effective in helping our Black community members past and present receive some justice.

We appreciate Pastor Allen Henderson of Mt. Calvary COGIC for joining us today. His perspective should be heard by city hall, and we hope they invite him to speak.

Special thanks to the ACLU of IllinoisACLU of IL – Peoria Area Chapter for their resources, time, and wisdom.

To all the Black community members who live in fear in our city, we see you. Let our work someday reflect the true apology you all deserve.

We will begin finding a way to dismantle the conditions that lead us white community members to uphold structural racism. We must. Our community is but a hollow shell of what it was even two years ago, and the disgusting, pervasive racism is in part to blame.

We wish to apologize for not getting to Raleigh Mitchell’s presentation. We will be reaching out and hope to help spread the news of the programs the are offering to Black men in our community.

As always, we offer our page for helping expand their outreach and networking efforts, and we encourage the Republican women to do so as well.

#BlackLivesMatter #ChiefBarkerMustGo #MissingByDesign #InvestigateMacombPD #Justice4Ariel #Justice4Keianna