Four African-American North Chicago police officers are furious about demeaning stereotypes that were published in the academy’s brochure. The brochure features Tyrone Biggums, the crackhead character from Chappelle’s Show, a mug shot of a black man with bug eyes, a photo of a smiling African-American man in an orange prison jumpsuit surrounded by cops. This is one of many complaints against the department regarding racism.
Just last year, the North Chicago Police Department was accused of racial profiling and brutality. The department is currently a defender in a federal wrongful death lawsuit over Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna — a man who was beaten to death by North Chicago police officers during an arrest. Lake County prosecutors declined to charge three officers in Hanna’s death, arguing the officers acted “reasonably and responsibly.”
When challenged about the brochure, current North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson said it was produced by an African-American officer and wasn’t authorized for distribution. “We should have caught it,” James said. African-American officer Ron Montgomery said the brochure “set us back 60 years.” He added: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say, ‘Look, the city already has racial problems, why add to it?’ — knowing good and well that this was something that would fuel the fire.” Another African-American officer, Lt. Curtis Brame, said Police Chief Jackson’s “blanket statement” smeared all African-American officers in the department by association. “We have longevity, we have respect in this community,” Brame said. “I got calls asking if I had anything to do with it. No, I didn’t. I’m sure other officers got calls, too.”
Although Jackson has accepted full responsibility for the mishap, North Chicago’s City Council may take drastic measures to rectify the issue. 3rd Ward Ald. Valerie DeVost called for a reprimand, possibly including firing the officer or officers responsible for producing the brochure.
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Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.