Aug 20, 2007
On August 6, 18-year old Aaron Harrison was murdered by a Chicago cop, shot in the back. Only minutes before, he had been standing with friends on a corner in the West Side black community, playing around and dancing. When two squad cars drove up, and police got out, most of the young people ran away, including Harrison.
Franella McDaniel, 26, who was on the corner with Harrison, told the press, “they’re terrified of the police over here. They run from them.” It’s understandable why people run. This year Chicago police have already shot to death 10 people, all in poor areas like the West Side, most of them black.
Four cops chased Aaron Harrison through an empty lot, across an alley and into another dark lot, where one of the cops shot him in the back.
After he was gunned down, the police claimed he had a gun. But, as everybody well knows, cops come prepared with a throwaway to back up their claim. Who in Aaron Harrison’s neighborhood believed it?
In fact, this murder-by-cop was so blatant that many people marched to the local police station after the shooting. Pushed and insulted by the police, some in the crowd responded with bottles, rocks and bricks, and smashed squad car windows. To prevent a light from being shone on what they did, the police smashed two cameras of a Chicago Tribune photographer. In the following days, there were small but angry marches of around 100 people.
The police tried to justify the shooting by releasing Aaron’s record – arrested 13 times by the police, with only one conviction on a lesser charge of possessing a controlled substance. Thirteen arrests, but only one trial – and what does that prove? Only that cops had been harassing young Harrison, just as they harass young black men as a matter of course.
One protester wore a T-shirt saying, “Danger. Police in Area.” It expressed a widespread sentiment in the black community, shared by the near thousand people who attended Harrison’s funeral.
The other widespread sentiment, according to one resident, was “rage.” With good reason.