Questions re: Treatment of two Black Macomb citizens by Macomb P.D.

We held a press conference on 1/17/20 at which the information on this page was read into the public record on our Facebook page. We wish to thank all those who participated, supported us, provided affidavits, witness, and to the people in the community who found the courage to relate disturbing information despite the risk of job loss and/or retaliation.

We wish to state clearly that we support most of the Macomb Police Department officers and employees, and are grateful for their service to our community. Their leadership and certain police officers must be investigated, however, and we will continue shedding light on these case until the facts of these events are known.

Questions for Mayor Inman, City Administrator, and City Council Members re: Macomb P.D. Role in Disappearance of a Disabled Black Man

January 17, 2020

[Note: Based upon interviews and collaboration and input from multiple sources in our city, we believe the following to be accurate based upon our understanding at this time. As we are volunteers, community members, and concerned human beings, we believe the overall picture of this situation emerging from these preliminary findings is of sufficient concern to warrant a demand for action.]

Situation: A mentally disabled, traumatized Black man with intellectual challenges went missing a few weeks ago in our community. He has a legal guardian, his brother, who is also Black.

The guardian brother, worried and desperate to find him, tried to make a report about his missing brother at the police station. They refused to help him, claiming that since his brother was an adult, they couldn’t take a report. The brother kept trying to locate him on his own, without any police help. 

More days passed. The brother asked yet another police officer to take a report, and he refused as well. But one of the police officers told the brother that another officer had given his brother a one-way ticket to Chicago. The statement was witnessed.

The brother continued his search without any assistance nor even support from the Macomb Police Department.

A few days later, the police officer then changed his story and stated they hadn’t given him a ticket and sent him away. Frantic and traumatized, the brother, who is his guardian, finally received aid from a professional health provider who went with him to the police station to insist they finally report his brother as missing and endangered.

The Macomb P.D. finally, approximately two weeks later, filed the missing persons report, neglecting to mention in that report he was missing because they had given him a one-way ticket to a city where he has nobody to help him. The Chicago Police Department located him, sitting on a stoop, with frostbitten feet, in the same clothes he had left Macomb with two weeks prior.

The brother who is the guardian of this man not only wasn’t offered any assistance nor apology, he had to drive up to get his brother and bring him back to his home community at his own expense, with no assistance from the Macomb police, who had created this emergency in the first place through their own actions.

When we became aware of the situation, we notified the paper, who began asking questions of the police. The police responded with an article reminding people to register in a database to assist with location services, BUT completely ignored the fact that this man was harmed, and could have died, due to their actions and then their failures to help locate him in a timely manner.

Worse, the police appear to have decided to make the man go “missing by design”, a practice so-called “leaders” in our community have used in the past to “get rid of” persons they deemed unwanted and/or unwelcome in our community. Basically, they give a person a one-way bus or train ticket to anywhere they want to go, to encourage them to leave our community and not return. We wish to know if this is indeed what happened in this case, as nothing else seems to explain the bizarre behavior of the Macomb Police Department.

In lieu of exculpatory evidence or proper, public acknowledgement of a mistake, we think this is likely what happened here. When the police officers knew they had sent a person out of this community who had a legal guardian, instead of doing the right thing, they closed ranks and tried to lay the groundwork for blaming the victim or ignoring the danger and harm they caused.

Because of the way this situation has played out, and the apparent lack of remorse nor even acknowledgement of harm done, the Democratic Women of McDonough County call for:

• Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker to immediately STEP DOWN or BE REMOVED by the man who appointed him, Mayor Mike Inman.

• an investigation be launched by McDonough County State’s Attorney, Matt Kwacala

 • an explanation, with full apology, be read into the public record at a city council meeting

• written answers to our questions from Mayor Inman and the Macomb Police Department

• A commitment from Mayor Inman and the City Council that the “one-way ticket” program be ENDED permanently.

RE: The “one-way ticket to Chicago”

Issue: A mentally disabled, impoverished Black man was given a “one way ticket” to Chicago without his family being informed. 

  • How many of these “one way tickets” are given out by the police or any Macomb government officials or public servants? In 2019? In 2018?
    • Are all the City Council members informed of each of these cases? 
  • Which officer gave him a ticket? 
    • Why? What circumstances let the officer to believe THAT was the action to take?
  • What funds were used?
    • Where can the public see these funds being used in this manner?
  • What policies, processes, and procedures were followed in the determination that this disabled man should be given a ticket to a city in which there was no one to watch out for him?
    • What attempts were made to connect him to services at the destination?
  • What attempts were made to contact his legal guardian?
    • What attempts were made to connect him to agencies where he could receive help?
    • Was he given sufficient funds to get a CTA ticket also to get where he can receive help, or just to get to union station?
    • What follow-up was done to ensure his safety? To inform his family? His caretaker?
  • What agencies participate in this formally or informally? Who are the contact persons?
  • What paperwork is filled out?
  • What metrics are used in the decision process for who gets these “offers?
  • Why did this mentally disabled, poor black man WITH a LEGAL GUARDIAN in the city, BOTH of whom are well known to the police, get offered a ticket instead of a ride home or to his caregiver’s residence?

RE: The Police Officer who gave the brother the “one-way ticket to Chicago”

  • How did he come across the man in town?
  • Why didn’t he realized the man is obviously developmentally disabled, as it’s quite apparent even to those with no training?
  • What was his motivation for purchasing and giving him a ticket to Chicago?
  • Why didn’t he tell the guardian?
  • Why didn’t he apologize?
  • Why didn’t the Chief and Mayor make him apologize?
  • What training has he had?

RE: Why the changing story about the ticket?

  • First they admitte it exists
  • Then change their story, saying it didn’t happen, they have no record of it and Amtrak has no record of it. 
  • Now suddenly they have a receipt for it, and gave yet another non-sensical story claiming the MPD hands out one-way tickets to Chicago to Black men who claim they don’t have housing.

RE: Failure to help the family file a missing person’s report. 

Issue: Once the guardian realized the brother was gone, he tried to get a missing persons report filed from the Macomb Police, and was turned away. 

  • Are missing persons reports OPTIONAL for the police agency?
  • Why wasn’t he told AT THAT TIME his brother was missing because the POLICE HAD SENT HIM OUT OF THIS COMMUNITY?!
  • Why did yet ANOTHER officer REFUSE to help him file a missing person’s report?
  • Why did it require the intervention of a working professional in this community BEFORE the police would finally file a missing person’s report?
  • Once it was filed, why didn’t the department hold a press conference, with an apology, explaining what they did and how they would ensure it would NEVER happen again?

RE: Failure to assist the brothers and provide restorative justice

Issue: After the missing man was discovered, the Macomb Police refused to take any responsibility for his absence, refused to help bring him back, failed to notify the public that their actions caused trauma and physical neglect/injury to this victim, which could have cost him his life

  • Why no acknowledgement of the mistake once the caregiver made it known the man was missing from the community? 
  • Where is the acknowledgement of wrongdoing? 
  • Where is the apology?
  • Why didn’t the police officers give accurate info in the missing person’s report to other departments?
  • Why was the family given NO help bringing him home? Why no offers of assistance for harm done?
  • Why a press release NOW only about the database, yet no mention of this case?

RE: Overpolicing of Black people by Macomb officers

[Affadavits to be read: Adult who grew up here, traumatized repeatedly as a child by Officer Lindsey May’s harassment of this resident’s parents]

  • End the ongoing harassment of Black men and women by officers who go to their workplaces apparently with the intention of trying to get supervisors/employers to distrust them, even fire them, depriving them of opportunities at rehabilitation.

RE: Failures of Leadership – questions for Mayor Mike Inman

  • Why have you not issued an apology to this family?
  • How many people have been given tickets out of this city under your leadership?
  • How can you expect Black people to feel safe in this city, given your police department’s leadership would have let this man die? They didn’t know he WASN’T dead already when they REFUSED to help his brother find him.
  • How can you allow your police department’s leadership behave with such callousness, unprofessionalism, and indifference to this family’s suffering?
  • What assurances do we have that ANY of our developmentally disabled adults in our community are safe from the police officers doing the same thing to them and their loved ones?
  • What specific ACTIONS will you take to ensure this situation never happens again?
  • How does this align with the recently signed statement against discrimination?
  • Would you be ok with your police department treating a member of your family this way?
  • Would you be silent if the missing person had been white?