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 mental 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?

Affidavit: This raw, unfiltered narrative is from a local Macomb Black Resident who grew up here in Macomb and suffered repeated trauma from Macomb Police (especially Officer Linsey May) by the long-term harassment of her parents in our community. [*note from DWMC: We have received several credible, similiar reports describing similar patterns of harassment by Officer Linsey May against Black people, especially Black men in our community. These reports are verified by some white allies working in the community who are fearful of being targeted, but they were able to confirm the pattern, severity, and pervasiveness of the behaviors from the Macomb Police Officers, which is why we demand this harassment end, the department be investigated, and especially that Lindsey May be be taken off the streets pending the outcome of an investigation into his arriving at workplaces to try to get Black people in trouble with their employers.]

“I am a black member of Macomb, IL, who has been living here on and off for many years. I have never felt welcomed into this community in my skin and growing up here has been a traumatic experience with the help of the Macomb Police Department.

My family members have had nothing but bad experiences with Lindsey May. He harasses, profiles, intimidates, manipulates, and stalks the people of color in this town. Specifically, he has been constantly harassing my black parent since the 90s. When my father became free, he got himself a great job and was supporting himself just fine. Lindsey May did not like this and took it upon himself to approach my father’s employer and disclose the details of his troubled past, in an attempt to disenfranchise this black man who was simply trying to get back on his feet. 

I remember being a young child and being absolutely terrified of Lindsey May and the Macomb Police Department because of the harassment and abuse of power they put us through. I understood from a young age that they were corrupt. 

Being pulled over and seeing my mother wrongfully arrested, while I was a helpless five-year-old in the back of the car unknowing of where my protector was going, was emotionally scarring. 

It was ritual for them to harass my mother, pull her over, and find any reason they could to bring her to the station and question her about my father. One day, they arrested her when I was with her. I felt so panicked and devastated as they took her out of the vehicle and put handcuffs on her. Needlessly tight, might I add. 

As I watched her from the inside of the car, tears rolled down my cheeks. “Mommy, mommy” I would plead, hoping she could hear me and save me. Imagine being so young and seeing your mother torn from you. Your only present guardian and protector is gone, and you are alone in the back of their car. Your adolescent mind races, trying to rationalize and understand what’s going on. 

My thoughts in those moments were, “Am I ever going to see my mom again?” “Where are they taking her?” “Am I going to be taken away?” One of the police officers got in my mother’s car, which made me panic, but I was so terrified that my cries were silent. I buried my face in my coat to muffle the whimpers that managed to escape my mouth. I thought I was being kidnapped. I was met with no compassion. I saw the cop glance at me through the mirror, but he said not one word to me. He didn’t try to explain what was going on, not so much as “It’s going to be okay.” I was clearly distressed and frightened, but my existence was barely acknowledged in the back of that car. 

No child should ever have to experience or witness such misconduct and abuse of power. But the truth is many children of color are traumatized by law enforcement, the ones who are supposed to “serve and protect.” The MPD wanted nothing more but to disenfranchise my black father, and they didn’t care what they had to do or who they had to damage to get there.

Even to this day, my anxiety immediately sets off when I see an MPD car, despite knowing I have done nothing wrong. Although their actions were directed at my father and mother, witnessing such abuse and hearing about it as a child traumatized me and instilled me with fear that I feel to this day.

It is time we stop allowing Lindsey May and the Macomb Police Department to terrorize the minorities of this community.”