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.

RJC Town Hall 7.6.20

At noon-2 pm, we’re hosting a Town Hall on the Macomb Police Department, good community government transparency practices, and some updates to our efforts to fix structural issues in our local government.

We’ll be joined by special guest, former U.S. Dist Renato Mariotti, who will open with some information about how local communities such as ours generally function with regards to government and oversight.

No disruptions will be tolerated.

Racial Justice Coalition Press Conference/Town Hall

Join Zoom Meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87184435328…

Meeting ID: 871 8443 5328 Password: 808816

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Dial by your location

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Our website info: https://www.democratic-women.org/

Public Comment: #Justice4Ariel

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.

Submitted by:
Heather McMeekan, PresidentDemocratic Women of McDonough County

Disrupted Justice

RJC Group Witness Summary: This is a summary of what our Racial Justice Coalition witnessed at the Macomb City Council on Monday, June 15 2020.

Several of our members and community members who have experienced police brutality from MPD had submitted comments per the Council’s posted rules, but which were not read AT ALL nor reported in the paper. [City claims tech incompetence.]

We have submitted a complaint to the Illinois Attorney General based upon the racist disruption techniques and silencing we witnessed, which we believe to be possible violations of the Open Meetings Act, and because they were silencing crime victims of police harassment, possibly a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

Our Observer’s Grouped Summary

What transpired at the City Council Meeting Monday night was a travesty of justice against those desperately trying to be heard about their traumatizing, frightening, and abusive experiences at the hands of far too many officers of the Macomb Police Department and Chief Barker.

We have a Black community in need of our elected officials to step up and hear them. Instead, tonight, we watched many of them be silenced.

Dr. Rutledge honored us all with her attendance during the city council meeting. The honored doctor attempted to call for the mayor to publicly address his concerns with the current events of police brutality in America. The council responded by telling Dr. Rutledge she has used all her time for public comment and effectively silenced the issue.

An attendee of the meeting, Celeste, asked in the online chat “Question on this: will this ever spill over to a policy for the community?” when the council was voting on the Drug & Alcohol-Free policy. This question was not addressed by the council.

It is unfortunate to witness the city council members not address the concerns of a community member. Concern over this policy should have been addressed because it is possible for this policy to be used as additional grounds to target community members of color who are already deemed “suspicious” through racial profiling.

Celeste also raised her hand in the meeting to ask further questions and was again ignored by the council. Celeste pointed out that she was never given the opportunity by the council to ask her question. The council responded that the meeting was adjourned. Celeste pointed out that she had her hand raised for several minutes and the council failed to address her, and they even went as far as putting her hand down in the Zoom meeting.

When members of our Racial Justice Coalition tried to counter the factually inaccurate statements being made by the white city council members to move them to discussing actions, they disabled the chat.

The city council claims we can come to them to report instances of racism in the community, but this proved to be an empty and misinformed sentiment. Maya Lee attempted to ask the council “What are the concrete ways community members can report racism?” The council failed to answer the question, but continued making claims that we can go to them to report racism.

This was an important question that deserved to be addressed during the official council meeting because it serves to educate the public on how to document discrimination and call for change. Becky Danner attempted to inform the council “What you do not understand is that because of abuse, those being mistreated will not come to you.”

The city council failed to address her concern. This is a valid concern because the city council is predominately white and holds power in the community.

It is not the responsibility of the oppressed to make the council aware of racism when that further puts their lives at risk. Marginalized populations don’t feel safe talking to people in their position because they have the power to retaliate. It is the job of public servants to address the racism in their community rather than turning a blind eye to it and simply pretending it doesn’t exist because they don’t experience it firsthand.

Racial Justice never looks like white people in power proclaiming themselves approachable & willing to “help.”

Offering up assurances, they’ll “work with” the marginalized, traumatized community members they have steadfastly turned their backs on – repeatedly – is more white power controlling who gets heard, by whom, under what conditions.

The facts are that the city council is aware of racism in Macomb, they just fail to take action to address it and keep vulnerable people in their community safe. Heather McMeekan made the bold statement “We’ve been telling you all this for over a year. And you’ve done nothing at all. Talk.” in reference to how the city council has repeatedly been informed for racism in the community.

Despite their awareness, they continue to pretend they don’t know about the deep seeded issues with racism in Macomb, and they continue to place the responsibility on the victims of racism to make them “aware.”

Mimi requested from the council “Let’s do more than just talk. Let’s TAKE ACTION.” A city council should be requested to act when there is racism in their area because they are public servants in the position to generate systemic change. They should not respond to calls for action by silencing the public. It is instead the job of city officials to serve the public.

Another tactic the council used during the meeting to silence discussion on racial injustice in Macomb was allowing for racist interference. Kathy Olesen-Tracey, another attendee of the city council meeting, tried to raise awareness on this issue during the meeting by commenting “In case the people calling in, this speech is being disrupted with profanity and videos.” This was to make all the attendees aware of interference in the online meeting during Dr. Abraham’s speech on racial injustice in the Macomb community.

The meeting was repeatedly spammed with media containing slurs from racist attendees who intended to silence the experiences of black people living in Macomb.

This interference issue was not adequately addressed by the host of the meeting. A host can mute the cameras and microphones of all attendees. Muting attendees during Dr. Abraham’s speech would have stopped the racist attacks.

Mimi, an attendee of the meeting, requested “Can you guys please momentarily mute the other participants? It’s not that hard to do. Thank you, Dr. Abraham, for speaking the truth.” The council did not meet her request. Dr. Abraham was repeatedly interrupted while trying to amplify the black voices of our community. There is reason to believe that the decision to allow interference was not based on technological difficulties.

Remember, when public officials were called to action to address the racism present in Macomb, the council responded by disabling the chat. This effectively stopped the public from being able to call for change from the city and shows that the council is willing to act on their ability to silence people. Yet the council failed to act to prohibit racist interference and allowed an important speech on racial injustice to be derailed.

White city councilpersons who, for over a year, have steadfastly refused to engage in any meaningful outreach to the Black community should not proclaim themselves approachable and willing to address anything but protecting the existing unacceptable status quo of white privilege and power deciding which community members they deem acceptable to be heard.

Instead of discussing concrete actions, they offered up their feelings about racism. The Mayor and white City Council members feelings are immaterial to dismantling structural racism and holding racist police officers accountable. When white feelings are being discussed by white people in power, Black voices are silenced. As happened here again.

Elected officials silencing, pivoting to white feelings and white experiences, and disruption of the voices speaking their truths being hidden from the public is unacceptable.

The city council’s behavior is deeply offensive and hurtful to our members and the many, MANY Black victims of the Macomb Police Department who have been trying to get him to even acknowledge the harm.

They stopped the public from being made aware of concerns about police harassment of Black youths just this past weekend by a Macomb Police Officer. The victim’s email was not read into the public record as promised, nor were the emails in support of our petition calling for Chief Barker’s removal.

Apparently, a City Council meeting is not the place to be heard if you want to stop a police officer from misusing their power and authority against Black people here still waiting for public audience from a white city hall who clearly doesn’t intend to grant it.

  • In summary, attendees of the meeting watched on as the council repeatedly manipulated procedural guidelines to silence public comment using what appears to be disruption techniques.
  • The council failed to address the public’s concerns on issues with racism in Macomb.
  • They failed to read accounts of police misconduct into public record.
  • The host permitted repeated interference containing racial slurs to silence a speech detailing racial injustice in Macomb by failing to temporarily mute the attendees of the meeting upon request.
  • There is a double standard when it comes to who public officials choose to silence.

Community members calling for action from the city to address racism are expeditiously shut down by the council. Interference from racist attendees is enabled countless times through failure to act.

Accounts are accurate to best of our knowledge from firsthand experience and saved chat files from the Zoom meeting.

The City Council can help ensure accuracy by doing their job to provide the public of minutes from the city hall meetings as it is stated they will do on their website.

Saved Chat

17:46:05 From Celeste : Question on this; will this ever spill over to a policy for the community?
17:49:22 From h_mcmeekan : #BlackAtWIU is the Twitter Hashtag to see the other posts.
17:49:32 From Becky Danner : very true, Racism is all too real in Macomb
17:49:53 From h_mcmeekan : https://www.change.org/p/mayor-michael-inman-macomb-police-chief-barker-must-go-investigate-macomb-p-d/dashboard
17:51:55 From kathy olesen-tracey : In case the people calling in, this speech is being disrupted with profanity and videos.
17:52:23 From kathy olesen-tracey : Thank you Dr. Abraham
17:53:46 From Maya Lee : Thank you for continuing despite interruption. Your message and the stories you are sharing are important
17:54:40 From Mimi : Can you guys please momentarily mute the other participants? It’s not that hard to do. Thank you Dr. Abraham for speaking the truth.
17:55:10 From h_mcmeekan : Thank you Dr. Abraham. #BlackLivesMatter
17:55:17 From Becky Danner : Your so right Dr Abraham!
17:55:29 From Mimi : Let’s do more than just talk. Let’s TAKE ACTION.
17:56:15 From Morrow Owens : Yes thank you Dr. Abraham, we appreciate you speaking out about your experiences. It’s incredibly important that we hear these stories and understand enough to recognize the racism in our own community.
17:58:20 From h_mcmeekan : We tried to tell you that YOU are NOT SEEN AS RACIAL JUSTICE ALLIES. White people in power should NOT demand “private conversations” instead of adequate regulations, policies, oversight
17:58:40 From Maya Lee : What are the concrete ways community members can report racism?
17:58:51 From h_mcmeekan : We’ve been telling you all this for over a year. And you’ve done nothing at all. Talk.
17:58:59 From Becky Danner : What you do not understand is that because of abuse, those being mistreated will not come to you.
17:59:43 From Becky Danner : Thank you Tammie Leigh

Disrupted Justice

We tried to have public comments read into the public record at the Macomb City Council Meeting last week, and well …this happened. *sigh.

  • Pat Stout’s article which neglects to mention any of the disruption nor the public comments

…and we’ve already filed the report and complaint with the Illinois Attorney General.

Meanwhile, our petition is over 8,8k. Really, City of Macomb?

Racial Justice Coalition Town Hall 3/4/20

We greatly appreciate the members of the County Board who attended our Town Hall on Racism on March 4, 2020.

Content warning: Affidavits contain traumatic narratives with implicit bias, racism.

  1. “Pregnant Black WIU Student Arrested for Fearfully Asking for Help”
  2. “Black Mom Rendered Unconscious in McDonough County Jail”
  3. “Black Mother Submitted Complaint Against Officer Who Called Her a Black Bitch”
  4. Macomb Police Department Refusal to Take Report of Red Truck Attempting To Run Her Daughter off the Road
  5. “MPD Refusal To Call for Qualified Medical Professionals for Traumatized Black Girl”
  6. “Black Male Assault Victim of Police Excessive Force, Possible Obstruction of Justice Languishing in Jail” [Witness Summaries]
  7. Affidavit #7: Black Man Fired From Housing Following Racial Insult from Executive Director Bill Jacobs, Harassment by MPD Officer Lindsey May