Apr 26, 2021
On March 29, a Chicago cop chased 13-year-old Adam Toledo down an alley at 2:30 in the morning before shooting him dead.
The bodycam video shows that Toledo had his empty hands raised as he was shot. The head of the Chicago police union still called the shooting “100% justified” because the cops say Toledo had a gun in his hand that he threw away at the last second. But the argument over whether or not this shooting was “justified” misses the fact that if this cop was not sent to chase him down and provoke an “armed confrontation,” Adam Toledo would still be alive.
And Toledo is not alone. Just two days after he was killed, Chicago cops chased 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, though they haven’t said why. Again, they shot him dead on the street, after they claim he pulled a gun.
Police always justify killings like these by the violence of the streets. And it’s true that in places like Adam Toledo’s Little Village, there is plenty of violence. Who can be surprised by that, given the poverty of so many of Chicago’s black and Latino neighborhoods? Huge numbers of young people are thrown out, offered barely an education, with few if any jobs on offer.
This society’s basic functioning creates the poverty that breeds violence. It cannot offer 13-year-olds like Adam Toledo a real future.
Instead, this society’s only answer to the violence it creates is more violence, more men with guns chasing children down dark alleys—except this time with the authority of the police.