A Southside Chicago man claims that Chicago police stormed his home, placed him in a chokehold and arrested him for doing nothing more than walking down the street. Police arrested the man on misdemeanor counts of battery, resisting arrest, and possession of a deadly weapon. The man’s niece captured the incident on her iPad.
Unlawful Chicago Search and Seizures
I have discussed extensively on this blog before about the right of Chicago residents to be free from unlawful search and seizures, or stop and frisk. While police have the right to address anybody on the street – even asking a person to “come here” – unless they have a reasonable belief that the individual has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, the person approached has the absolute right to completely ignore the police.
If this man’s story is true – that he did nothing more than ignore the police’s request that he “come here” after they pulled up alongside him – then the police grossly exceeded their authority. Ignoring a police inquiry does not give them the authority to conduct a stop and frisk. It certainly does not give them the right to follow the person to his home, storm his residence, and then charge him with resisting arrest. If the initial stop was unlawful which, if the facts alleged here are true, it was, then any search and arrest that followed were illegal, and all charges against the defendant must be dismissed.
Racial Profiling by Chicago Police
It is an unfortunate fact that racial profiling exists. Studies show that Chicago police officers repeatedly engage in racial profiling, particularly when it comes to traffic stops. The American Civil Liberties Union’s review of traffic stop data collected by the Illinois Department of Transportation shows that Chicago police officers are four times more likely to ask to search vehicles driven by African-American and Hispanic drivers than those driven by white motorists, despite the fact that illegal drugs or guns are found more frequently in the vehicles of white motorists.
Numerous anecdotal reports of racial profiling exist as well. Even the University of Chicago police department, a private force that has the full power of local police for the area it serves, has been accused of engaging in racial profiling.
Stopping an African-American, Hispanic or other ethnic minority based on a reasonable suspicion that he is engaged in illegal activity does not constitute racial profiling. Stopping an African-American, Hispanic or other ethnic minority simply because they are black and “all black men are criminals”, which appears to be the case in this incident, is racial profiling. A stop that is based solely on the color of one’s skin, without any other evidence to support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, is illegal, and any search and arrest that follows must be dismissed.