The death of Shawn Brider in Chicago police custody has led community activists to call for an immediate and meaningful response.
According to ABC 7 Chicago, Brider, 48, was found unresponsive at 12:15 a.m., April 10, in the lock-up of the 3rd District Police Station, 7040 S. Cottage Grove Ave., after being arrested for falling asleep in a parked car with his two-year-old daughter present. The Chicago Sun Times reported authorities pronounced him dead at the scene at 12:29 a.m. with the initial autopsy returning inconclusive results.
A spokesperson for Chicago Police Department (CPD) confirmed in a statement that area detectives are conducting a death investigation on an adult male fitting Brider’s description. The spokesperson said the male in question was in custody for the misdemeanor offense of child endangerment. A separate investigation into the matter is being conducted by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA).
However, despite the released information, some voices within Chicago’s African American community are not satisfied.
Pastor Gregg L. Greer, president of Freedom First International-SCLC, along with representatives from criminal justice reform and community activist organizations held a press conference in front of the 3rd District Police Station demanding further action take place.
“Shawn Brider did not have to die for falling asleep in a car with a two-year-old,” said Greer. “Even though we don’t know all of the circumstances, Chicago police still have not released any information, they’ve been insufficient with information and we want change in the community. We’re seeing police brutality and community violence and we’re not getting a fair deal from Chicago Police; CPD should be ashamed.”
Greer said he has spoken with Brider’s sisters who too are awaiting more details. He intends to launch a public moratorium calling for the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
“We will get as many as we can, but our goal is to get over a million signatures from an official public movement,” said Greer.
Although Greer acknowledges the efforts made by Superintendent Johnson to build bridges to the African American community, Greer stated the community may need to look in a new direction. He didn’t offer any recommendations for a replacement.
“There’s dissatisfaction with CPD and the average person says they don’t care about us so we have to change that dynamic, and that’s why we are here,” said Greer. “CPD ain’t doing it and there’s so much distrust you would think that they would want to put out correct information, you would think they would want to quell public dissatisfaction.”
Several voices at the press conference likened the death of Brider to that of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found dead in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, in July 2015 after being stopped by local law enforcement officers three days prior.
Tio Hardiman, executive director of Violence Interrupters, referenced reports of hundreds of complaints of police brutality submitted to IPRA that saw a low percentage of additional action.
“You’ve probably had several Sandra Bland incidents in Chicago that’s gone under reported or reported as something strange happen but a real complete investigation was never conducted,” said Hardiman.
“Whether you have a young man killed on the streets, [in] police custody, or by the police, we must stand up and raise our voices until we get solid answers,” said Hardiman, who called CPD’s handling of the case “mysterious.”
Greer and Hardiman suggested Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the situation may prove to be pivotal given the statements made by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding federal involvement in local police issues. Sessions suggests municipalities will have to reach their own conclusions.
Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a probe into the Chicago Police Department where evidence of racist practices was unearthed. However, neither Greer nor Hardiman believe the consent decrees issued in recent months will have an impact while President Donald Trump is in office.