Protestors demand that police be defunded in Evanston, as mayor hosts series of talks about policing

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- Young people took to the streets in Evanston Monday, demanding that police be defunded- which they believe is a key step to eradicating racism.

In wake of the death of George Floyd and the growing Black Lives Matter movement, the City of Evanston held a question-and-answer series with the mayor about how to move forward.

Activists, mostly young, typically local students moved from the mayor's home to the Evanston City Center demanding to be heard as the mayor embarked on a series of talks about policing.

Along with the city's chief of police and an expert on police training, the seminar was broadcast on Facebook and the municipal TV channel. Hazel Crest police chief Mitchell Davis said addressing implicit police bias is key to improving outcomes.

The meeting came as workers washed away a painted "defund the police" banner on the street outside the Evanston police department.

"We had a situation in front of the station yesterday where we had children painting it would do more harm than good to intercede into that," said Demitrous Cook, Evanston Police Chief. "I think as long as people aren't harming each other and they are voicing their rights we try to manage it."

That incident came as a freshly painted "black lives matter" banner in front of Evanston Township High School also was partially defaced Saturday morning. Evanston police are investigating.

The mayor agreed the tension over the debate, and how to better police a city known to be progressive, boils down to addressing police culture.

"I think it is so ingrained and systemic and institutionalized, so it is hard despite being a progressive city and we probably do more training than other communities around this country and yet still you hear from the Black community that we feel over policed," Mayor Stephen Hagerty said.

The mayor has planned four more online question and answer sessions on the police budget, use of force and technology that promotes good community relations.
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