By LINDSAY WELBERS
A protest in January ended with a reignited the call for a trauma care center on the South Side of Chicago. It also created calls from University of Chicago staff, faculty and students to review the university’s police department’s policies and practices after four were arrested and many treated roughly.
Patricia Brown Holmes, a partner attorney with Schiff Hardin, has been hired to conduct a review of the events on Jan. 27, when protestors were arrested and, they say, treated brutally by UCPD. Holmes will also review the events on Feb. 23 when a UCPD officer was assigned to march with protestors in plain clothes. Two officers were later put on administrative leave following the discovery.
The scope of Holmes’ investigation will include the responses of the security officers, deans on call, UCPD as well as the demonstrations themselves and their planning and protocol.
Toussant Losier was arrested at the Jan. 27 protest and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest. The resisting arrest charge was later dropped and he pled guilty to trespassing and was given one day of probation.
Losier said the university should take a broader look at the UCPD beyond the events on those two days.
“I think there are serious questions in their policies regarding how they police demonstrations,” Losier said. “But also their complaint process and how their complaint process remains completely internal rather than providing an opportunity for students, professors and members of the community to be more involved in collecting evidence and reviewing complaints that have been made.”
Victoria Morris-Moore was also at the Jan. 27 protest and said UCPD officers need better training on how to appropriately treat women and minority protestors.
“I think their training lacks. Just based on the experience I’ve had with them I don’t understand what type of training would make them feel that type of behavior was appropriate or necessary,” Morris-Moore said. “The police officers were very aggressive with the females, myself included, … it was as if they didn’t have any care or concern for how they were treating women.”
Morris-Moore said the officers treated women very aggressively, tossing them around by their arms and using nightsticks. She also said the officers showed similar behavior towards minorities who were there to protest.
“It was troublesome to me. I would think that it would be a smart idea of the university … be to utilize (their minority police officers) in a way that they could relate to the Black and brown people that come in contact with the university and often to come in and diffuse the situation,” Morris-Moore said.
Jacob Klippenstein was also arrested following the January protest. He thinks the investigation is just a diversion that keeps the university from addressing its real problem, not enough conversation with the community.
“We want any attention on the UCPD to point back at the administration, and the lack of community engagement on the part of the administration, in response to the petitioning by community groups for trauma care on the South Side, which preceded the egregious actions of UCPD officers toward peaceful protesters,” Klippenstein said.
He said the first big step in showing they have plans to engage in good faith with Hyde Parkers and the South Side would be to raise the age of patients who can be admitted to the Comer Children’s Hospital to 21.
“This will save lives and be the first stage in meeting the immediate needs of the community. This can set the foundation for a broadening of discussion and open up pathways through which to shift strategies from outward growth to inward growth and reducing harm both institutionally and interpersonally in our communities,” Klippenstein said.