A South Side Chicago neighborhood was the site of violent clashes between police and residents of a community where an officer fatally shot an African-American man on Saturday evening.
Chicago activists have identified the man as Harith Augustus, better known as “Snoop,” a popular barber and proud father who worked in the South Shore community.
According to police (take this with a grain of salt), officers on foot saw “a man exhibiting characteristics of an armed person,” and when they tried to question him, a “confrontation” ensued. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that an officer then opened fire.
Augustus, thought to be in his 30s, was pronounced dead at Jackson Park Hospital, according to a Chicago Fire Department spokesperson.
Within minutes of the fatal shooting, a crowd had gathered at the site of the killing to chant, “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?”
According to a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Nader Issa, who was reporting live from South Shore, “people outside the crime scene after the shooting claimed a female officer shot the man, a neighborhood barber, at least five times in the back as he ran away, and that the officer was taken away from the scene in a police vehicle afterward as the crowd formed.”
South Shore resident Gloria Rainge says Snoop had been her barber for five years and was usually seen in the neighborhood with his 5-year-old daughter. Rainge said she watched him get shot. “He was cool, laid back, very intelligent,” she said, according to Issa.
By evening, Issa reports that 80-to-100 officers were on the scene, about the same amount or more protesters.
Four demonstrators were arrested late Saturday per Guglielmi; there are also reports that three or four officers were injured by rocks and bottles.
However, the violence was not just one-sided.
Issa himself reports that he was pushed to the ground by police, having his cell phone knocked away, even though he identified himself as press. He also posted a video of officers dragging a man and hitting others with batons.
According to USA Today, the Chicago Police Department has a documented history of using unmitigated and excessive force against black residents in Chicago. It reports:
A 2017 Justice Department review found Chicago officers used force nearly 10 times more in incidents involving black suspects than against white suspects. African-Americans were the subject of 80 percent of all police firearm uses and 81% of all Taser contact-stun uses between January 2011 and April 2016. Of incidents where use of force was used against a minor, 83% involved black children and 14% involved Latino children during the same time-period, the report notes.
Chicago has also spent about $709 million on settlements for police misconduct cases, according to a recent report from the Action Center on Race & the Economy.
There are also dispatches from the community saying that “Snoop” had a permit to carry his weapon, but as with the case of Philando Castile, legally carrying a weapon doesn’t fly (and gets you dead) when you’re black.
When police were questioned at a Saturday evening news conference about whether Augustus had a license to carry a concealed weapon, Fred Waller, chief of the department’s patrol division responded, “As we know now, he did not” (which sounds like cop-obfuscating-goobledegook to me. Are you saying you know for sure now, that he did not have a permit or are you saying as of now, that’s what you know, i.e., you don’t know yet?)
The AP reports that police say that a weapon was recovered at the scene but did not say where it was found or whether or not it was on the man killed by police.
One elder in the community summed it up best:
“We just want to live,” one woman said. “Our black kids keep getting killed. We just want to live.