Law enforcement officers are people who serve and protect our country. But if you walk down the streets of the South Side of Chicago, some residents there will tell a different story.
“They took my little brother and put him against the wall and roughed him up,” said Quentin Batteast.
Batteast, now 24, remembers the day six years ago when police violated his little brother.
Batteast was an 18-year-old boy waiting at the bus stop with his little brother, who was 12 at the time, when he experienced a run in with the Chicago police.
“It all happened when I gave my little brother some money for lunch,” Batteast said. “I guess the police thought I was giving him money for drugs because out of nowhere, they came and took my little brother against the wall, started swearing at him and roughed him up.”
“I kept trying to tell them that he didn’t have any drugs on him, but they just ignored me,” he said.
Batteast said the police left he and his brother alone after not finding any incriminating evidence.
Unfortunately, Batteast said that he “couldn’t do anything about it at the time because I didn’t know my rights.”
On Nov. 10, a group of Hyde Park community residents and nine police officers met at their monthly CAPS meeting at Treasure Island, their local supermarket.
CAPS, which stands for the Chicago Alternative Police Strategy, is a partnership between the police and members of the community to identify and solve neighborhood crimes together.
CAPS meetings are created for each district and allow citizens to speak with police officers and seek advice on neighborhood issues or problems they may have experienced personally.
Even with CAPS meetings, the issue of police misconduct continues to be a touchy one.
Jamie Kalven, a writer and a human activist, said he thinks the police need to be more transparent about these incidents of misconduct. “We have a broken system,” he said. “The Chicago Police Department and the city doesn’t allow information about police misconduct to be made public.”
Kalven said he believes the public should demand that those records be made available.
“We’re so used to government secrecy,” he said. “If public officials don’t turn their heads away and connect the dots, they would see various patterns jump out and they could fix it.”
Despite this need for transparency, there are South Side residents who think CAPS meetings are the key to a better relationship between police officers and residents.
Sandra Morrison, 72, is a current resident in Hyde Park who has been attending CAPS meetings for a little over a year.
She said one of the main reasons she attends the meetings is because she feels the officers “need encouragement.”
When asked what she thought about police misconduct and racial profiling, she said, “The police take so much crap all day and they are often provoked into misconduct.”
Jamie Kalven said he wants the public to take an active role with regard to police misconduct. He encourages the public to challenge the police and the city and to take stand by those who have been humiliated or hurt as a result of police misconduct.
“Citizens have so much power to say, look, this officer is doing so and so,” he said. “Public officials are publicly accountable.”