Chicago teens, cops meet in effort to repair trust

EMBED </>More Videos

On the two-year anniversary of Laquan McDonald's death, a frank discussion took place at a meeting between cops and kids in North Lawndale. (WLS)

October 20, 2016, marks two years since Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer.

The infamous video sent shock waves around the world and prompted major change in the Chicago Police Department, including murder charges against that office. But community leaders say that change isn't finished.

While the city and county have made some systemic changes in advance of a Department of Justice investigation, young people of color on the South and West sides said they still waiting for change.

The frank discussion took place at a meeting between cops and kids in North Lawndale. No one is in trouble. To the contrary, organizers hope to prevent trouble.

"It's not just happening to them. It's happening to everyone and we need to change the face of that," Officer Sharon Godbold said.

WATCH: Extended interviews with Chicago police
EMBED More News Videos

Watch more of the interview with Chicago Police Sgt. Maudessie Jointer and Officers Sharon Godbold and Anthoney Richardson.

The officers take part in Building Bridges on their own time. They are very aware of distrust of police.

"I grew up on the West Side of Chicago. I know what it's like to be pulled over by police," Officer Anthoney Richardson said.

Some students at Collins Academy High School were asked to be a part of this meeting - and they didn't hold back.

WATCH: Extended interviews with Collins Academy students
EMBED More News Videos

Watch more of the interview with four Chicago teens from Collins Academy High School.

"The police are a little too aggressive. Not all, but most officers I come into contact with are a little too aggressive," senior Debra'nae Matthews said.

In the year since we saw video of Laquan McDonald being shot and killed by an officer, there have been changes in leadership, laws and policy.

But on the West Side of Chicago, young people of color - especially young men - said they have not seen change as they walk through their neighborhoods, even on their way to school.

"To tell you the truth, they bad. I don't trust 'em," sophomore Willie Mullen said.

"They drive past, say insulting words, pull us over for no reason," junior Allen Herron said.

These kids participated in the peace circle and played some games as they got to really know these officers. They hope other officers would meet with them, so they can see kids who are trying to make good choices and are planning for their futures.

"They need to know I'm an educated student. I come to school every day," Herron said.

"We are all the same people. Why would treat us different," Mullen said.

"Come do peace circle, come help us with things," senior Lamont Mathews said.

Organizers and officers are under no illusion that one meeting will reverse generations of distrust, but they keep talking and keep trying in order to have better relationships and ultimately safer streets for citizens and officers.

"This is such a small part of it - a big part for the communities I work in, for folks who look like me, it's a big part. But in the grand scheme of things, so many other things have to happen at the same time," Sgt. Maudessie Jointer said.

"It's my community. It's my people. And it's going to be a lasting impression of my profession," Officer Anthoney Richardson said.

The North Lawndale Employment Workforce and Chicago Lamp Mentoring Program organized the gathering. Building Bridges began as meetings with officers and those with records, but more recently they expanded the program. They hope by starting with younger people some problems can be prevented.

Organizers and participants said that for this to really make a difference, more officers need to be involved to see the teens and young people with potential and dreams - not suspects.
Related Topics:
laquan mcdonaldchicago police departmentteenagersChicago - North Lawndale
(Copyright ©2018 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)