A downtown Chicago rally to speak out against violence and police brutality drew hundreds of demonstrators, including Sen. Dick Durbin and mothers whose children have been impacted by violence.
The group that staged the event, “Mothers United for Justice,” are urging community and civil leaders to act to prevent violence, along with taking actions to punish police officers who are convicted of violent acts against residents.
Janet Legrier, whose son Quintonio was killed by a Chicago police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call in 2015, was one of the mothers who attended Saturday’s rally.
“I would like some peace. He would like some peace,” she said.
Beatrice Roberson, whose son Jemel was killed in a 2018 shooting at a bar in suburban Robbins, was also present at the rally.
“I don’t get rest. I do not get rest,” she said. “At 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. I’m wide awake. I talk to my son’s picture every day. I say ‘Jemel, mommy is fighting for you.’”
Jemel Roberson was working as a security guard at a bar in Robbins in 2018 when four people were shot at the bar. Roberson, who was armed, subdued the gunman, but was shot by a responding police officer after the incident.
The group of mothers and demonstrators gathered at Daley Plaza Saturday, each holding a picture of their child and each with a story to share, including the mother of Abel Rosiles Jr., who died in police custody after authorities in Round Lake Beach say he swallowed a bag of cocaine during an arrest.
“Abel had dreams and goals that he was working to achieve, and those dreams and goals were taken away from him,” his mother said through a translator.
Durbin, who is co-sponsoring a piece of legislation that would ban chokeholds and require all police departments in the U.S. to have body cameras, also spoke at the event about Rosiles’ death.
“We don’t have the official government documents that tell the story of his arrest and tell the story of his autopsy, that is inexcusable,” he said.
The overarching theme of the day, aside from sharing stories of violence and expressing hopes for action, was a call for residents to cast their votes for candidates who will address the issues facing communities across the Chicago area.
“You have to vote, you have to be very involved in your community and surroundings because it will continue to happen if we don’t. We have to be the answer to change,” LaToya Howell, whose son Justus was shot and killed by a police officer in suburban Zion, said.