UCPD protesters challenge U. of C.-backed findings

By LINDSAY WELBERS
Staff Writer

The University of Chicago released the final report following the investigation after a trauma care protest in January resulted in four arrests and another in February where a police officer went undercover posing as a protestor.

Patricia Brown Holmes at Schiff Hardin LLP was contracted as an independent body to review the University of Chicago Police Department’s conduct in both the January and February protests.

On Jan. 27, four protesters from Students for Health Equity (SHE) and Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) were arrested following an attempted sit-in at the then-unopened Center for Care and Discovery. The protesters are demanding that the university open a trauma care center on campus that would treat adults and save lives following gun violence and other traumatic injuries.

Regarding the Jan. 27 protest, Schiff Hardin found “no evidence that the conduct of University officials and members of the UCPD … violated any formal University or UCPD policy. In fact, the evidence revealed that the protesters, the majority of whom were not University students, were intentionally violating the law and had planned for civil unrest and for certain protestors to be arrested.”

Toussiant Losier was arrested that day. He was charged with resisting arrest, a charge that was later dropped, and he pled guilty to trespassing and was given one day of court supervision. Losier said the report contains a number of inaccuracies.

“The conclusions that cast the university in the best light are the conclusions that are reached,” Losier said. “I think there are some things the report gets right there are some things the report gets wrong.”

While the report said UCPD did not act inappropriately or use excessive force, it did note that when police arrived on scene that day “a student protestor introduced himself to one of the first UCPD officers who arrived on the scene and indicated he was a ‘police liaison,’ a term unknown to the UCPD officer.”

Losier was the police liaison that day.

“It doesn’t quite make sense. If the officer didn’t know what that meant I’m sure the officer, being a police officer, would say ‘I don’t know what that means. You need to do this or that’ and that’s not how the police responded. If the officer didn’t know what a police liaison meant he probably wouldn’t have called for the Dean on Call to be called to the scene.”

At the February protest, a UCPD officer was told by her supervisor to “blend in and get intel” on the February 23 protest. The officer dressed in street clothes, wore no markers identifying her as a police officer and participated in the protest with the other protestors. She was photographed texting her supervisor updates.

Schiff Hardin found “the orders given, while arguably against University philosophy, were not unlawful and were not recognized by the detective to be in violation of a known UCPD policy, procedure, or general order.”

Schiff Hardin recommended that UCPD clarify its “policies, procedures, and protocols regarding the use of [terms like] ‘plain clothes,’ ‘undercover,’ or ‘covert’ operations followed by appropriate training and education of all involved parties.”

In response to the report, SHE released a statement condemning the university’s inaction in creating a trauma care center.

“If that means fomenting ‘civil unrest’ in the language of Schiff Hardin, then so be it. Unfortunately in the fallout of the unprofessional response by the UCPD the significance of these acts of civil disobedience has been overlooked, and four months later the University is still no closer to doing its part in bringing trauma care to the South Side,” SHE said.

l.welbers@hpherald.com