ICOY Responds to Recent Police Brutality Involving Youth
We share in the anger, frustration, and grief felt across Illinois and the country in the wake of the killings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, a child and Chicago resident. We mourn the loss of their lives and potential and send love and light to their families, loved ones, and communities.
People of color continue to be killed by police in situations that challenge and exceed any justification of the use of force. We contrast the killing of young people like Daunte and Adam with the experience of violent offenders like Kyle Rittenhouse. Our current system of policing continues to perpetuate harm and trauma against Black and Brown people and communities. This harm and trauma is not isolated, but instead reverberates through families and communities, and across generations.
We need to reimagine public safety and come to a new understanding, one that values and protects the lives of Black and Brown people in the same way that White people are valued and protected. This redefined approach to public safety should prioritize investing in communities and families with education, health care, jobs, housing, childcare, and other resources that help people thrive. This reimagined public safety must include safety from a system of policing that continues to harm and kill people, and that is not adequately held accountable.
The narrative over the last few weeks from prominent media has only contributed to the harm. Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn acknowledged adolescent brain development as the foundation for our juvenile justice system and said that is exactly what makes a child more dangerous. Cherry-picking the concept of childhood to indicate how children’s brain development makes them more dangerous and leaving out the core tenet of our legal and social understanding that children are a protected, vulnerable group is an example of the adultification of Black and Brown children. Research shows that Black and Brown children are perceived as less innocent, more culpable, and older than their actual age. This kind of implicit dehumanization is a predicter of racial disparities and can have mortal consequences.
Healing and justice require accountability and transparency first. Through this repeated pattern of harm and killing of Black and Brown people, law enforcement has betrayed the public trust.
As a coalition, we represent more than 100 community-based agencies and advocates across the state collectively serving more than 1.5 children and individuals each year. ICOY will continue to advocate for children and families across Illinois, for their health, safety, and success. We commit to doing our part to ensure safety and justice by advocating for policies, practices, and resources that help families and communities thrive, and by actively working to become an anti-racist organization. We ask that our elected officials and members of the law enforcement community commit to doing the same.
In memory of Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, Christian Hall, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice and all other youth and young adults who have lost their lives at the hands of the police.