In the aftermath of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police, a group of Chicago-based activists have come together to raise awareness against police brutality. Their findings were released Wednesday in a report titled “Police Violence Against Chicago’s Youth of Color,” according to DNAinfo Chicago.
For years Chicago has been spotlighted as one of the nation’s most violent cities. Members of We Charge Genocide and their supporters say that a portion of that violence comes at the hands of the Chicago Police Department.
According to the report, although black people make up 32.3 percent of Chicago’s population, they accounted for roughly 75 percent of police shooting victims from 2009 to 2013. The report also notes that black Chicagoans are 10 times more likely than white residents to be shot by the police.
We Charge Genocide submitted the report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture and will present it at the committee’s 53rd session in Geneva in November. The name ‘We Charge Genocide” comes from a 1951 petition filed with the U.N. that documented 153 “racial killings and other human rights abuses in the United States, mostly by the local police,” according to the group’s website. Then, as now, police brutality has remained a concern for African Americans.
The group behind the modern iteration of the name came together in June, bolstered by the death of Dominique “Damo” Franklin, 23, who fell into a coma after police used a stun gun on him. Consisting of nearly 70 members, the group includes affiliates of organizations such as Black Youth Project 100 and Black and Pink’s Chicago chapter.
Having raised more than $20,000, We Charge Genocide will be able to send eight members to the U.N. meeting: Asha Rosa, Malcolm London, Breanna Champion, Todd St. Hill, Monica Trinidad, Ric Wilson, Ethan Viets-VanLear and Page May.
May told DNAinfo that there has been contention surrounding the use of the word “genocide,” but she maintains that they are not comparing police brutality to the atrocities of the Holocaust or Rwanda. However, she says that the violence that people of color face at the hands of the police fall into the definition of genocide, which she describes as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group,” according to DNAinfo.
Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, dismisses claims made by We Charge Genocide. “These are just general allegations. If they have specific allegations, the police [department] has a process in place to address that,” he told DNAinfo.
Rosa, 20, a student at Columbia University, told The Root, “I hope that this can shift the narrative about young people of color in Chicago. This idea of black-on-black crime that everyone likes to talk about is totally spun out of context without recognizing where the real violence comes from. It comes from the police, it’s from the state, it’s from the mayor closing 50 schools in one day. The conversation about violence shouldn’t be something that’s criminalizing black and brown youth in Chicago. It needs to be about state violence.”