3rd lawsuit filed against CPD for alleged Nov. 4 abuse

November 21, 2008 4:19:58 PM PST
A third lawsuit is filed that claims Chicago police officers were involved in hate crimes on election night. Twenty-two people say they were targeted by officers who used pepper spray and shouted racial slurs at them as they celebrated Barack Obama's victory.

The more you probe, the more it seems people come forward with stories of police officers out of control after the election of the nation's first African American president.

The officers are accused of using intimidation, excessive force and racial epithets to mistreat residents on a historic night for many Chicagoans. The city's law department has no comment.

But the Independent Police Review Authority says they have heard from several people such as those that resorted to the courts Friday.

Brandishing video evidence of the after-effects of alleged pepper-spraying and beatings at the hands of Chicago police, more victims came forward Friday to demand justice.

"They done a drive-by and spray me in the face and say "f*** Obama,' so they kept going," said Leonard Suggs. He says he was jumped by several officers as he headed to his car. Seeing the beating, Christopher Cobbs went to his aid.

One minute it was cool, the next minute police is just going haywire, hitting everyone with batons, spraying you," Cobbs said.

Cobbs says he recovered a police baton and empty pepper spray canister that has been handed over to IPRA.

To a person, these people say they were simply outside November 4, basking in the history of the moment five miles away. Nothing was amiss.

"I was waving to the police cars as they rolled past, and I just felt some water come out of the car, all I did was throw my face in my hands. And I realized I couldn't see anymore and that's when I realized they maced me," said Laquita Bryant.

In the commotion, some victims of pepper spray ran into back yards for help. Rosalind Bell was sitting with friends, then jumped up to help strangers who she said couldn't see

"I was doing that. The police made me stop, and they hollered. And I was just like, 'Would you let me get them some water?' No, just, 'Everybody get in the f***ing back yard and everyone down on the ground!'" Bell said.

Attorney Blake Horwitz has named at least eight Chicago police officers in his criminal complaint. Beyond the criminal matters of battery and civil rights abuses, he says all citizens should be disturbed at the alleged events.

"First of all, it didn't happen in Grant Park where there are cameras all over the place. It didn't happen in other suburbs that are Caucasian. It happened in an African American neighborhood. And, yeah, to me it feels profoundly racist," Blake said.

"Basically, we have a whole neighborhood behind us saying what the police did, so we have over 200, 300 people say they was mistreated. I mean whose side are you going to believe?" Cobbs said.

The city's law department says it has no comment because it has not seen Friday's lawsuit.

The Independent Police Review Authority says it wants anyone with more information on this or similar situations to call 312.745.3594.


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