Guest speaker and activist Todd St. Hill spoke Thursday at University of Wisconsin’s chapter of the International Socialist Organization to address the ongoing problem of police brutality in the United States.
St. Hill spoke on how activists from Chicago, including himself, initiated a call to bring anti-racist organizations from across the city to try and deal with police brutality happening predominately to young African American children.
St. Hill pointed to several specific examples of police brutality, including Rakia Boyd, a Chicago woman who was “murdered by an off-duty Chicago cop,” St. Hill said.
“The cop shot into a crowd for making too much noise,” St. Hill said. “She was shot and bled in an alleyway for thirty minutes before paramedics came.”
St. Hill works with a Chicago-based organization called We Charge Genocide, which set into motion a project that focuses on describing activities of the U.S. government and police against black people.
“We needed to put [police misconduct] on the world stage,” St. Hill said. “There is overwhelming evidence of police torture in Chicago. U.S. prosecuted over 500 cases of misconduct over the past five years. Police murdered over 500 black people in 2014 alone.”
In November 2014, WCG sent a delegation of eight youth to Switzerland to present evidence of police violence at the United Nations Committee Against Torture, a WCG statement said. The goal of addressing the United Nations, in line with the WCG mission, was to increase visibility of police violence in Chicago and call out the continued impunity of police officers who abuse, harass and kill youth of color in Chicago every year, the statement said.
The WCG UN report stressed statistics on the brutality and use of excessive force that the Chicago police used primarily against black and Latino residents.
“From 2009-11, 92 percent of the taser uses involved black or Latino targets, including 49 youth ages 8-16,” the report said. “Black males are 10 times more likely to be murdered by police than their white counterparts. From 2009-13, 75 percent of police shooting victims in Chicago were black.”
The discussion of police violence and brutality is not limited to Chicago. Recently a community organization in Madison, the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, wrote an open letter to Madison Police Chief Koval that addressed issues including “the racial disparity in arrest rates” between black and white people, and implementing “community-led alternatives to incarceration.”
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Koval responded to the letter in his blog, saying he did not dispute the harmful impacts of racial disparity in Dane County, but that the coalition’s demands were outside of MPD’s jurisdiction.
St. Hill said he understands the disorientation people feel about police unions but as the struggle continues people have to look to Ferguson and “take back the streets.”
“Who do the police ultimately answer to, is the question,” St. Hill said. “They answer to the ruling class, not the working class.”