Six Chicago activists want to convince the United Nations that police interaction with youth of color in Chicago is torture.
Stories of sexual harassment, excessive force and violence, coupled with data showing disproportionate numbers of penalties against police with numerous complaints prompted the new grassroots organization We Charge Genocide to bring international attention to police violence in Chicago.
Page May is an organizer with the group and one of the young activists planning to address the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland next month.
“The youth testimonies and [Chicago Police Department] data analyzed in our report to the UN reveals a pattern of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of young people of color by the CPD,” May mentions in a statement about the trip. “This abuse occurs at extraordinary rates, disproportionately against youth of color, and with impunity.”
But the United States Department of Justice has not acted, May told Chi-Town Review. So We Charge Genocide is going international with its mission.
“It’s a wake up call to the Department of Justice,” May said.
If the United Nations committee classifies Chicago police violence as torture, the federal government will have to intervene. The Chicago Police Department will also have to draft a plan to make changes to its methods and compensate so-called victims, May said.
We Charge Genocide’s report outlines several stories from young people of color who say they’ve been harassed, beaten or abused by Chicago police. Meanwhile the report highlights thousands of complaints against Chicago Police that have resulted in few penalties.
It’s evidence of torture, May said–excessive police force the United Nations has condemned the U.S. for in the past.
“We use the definition [of toture] the UN set out,” May said. “What we’re adding is that torture is occurring at a more regular basis.”
This year, the United States is under the UN’s periodic universal review, a process in which the UN analyzes human rights issues in its member countries. Organizations like We Charge Genocide will be at the UN’s 53rd Session in Geneva to present shadow reports and add to the UN’s probe.
The group has already raised more than $17,000 for the trip, $2,000 more than its goal, thanks to an online fundraising campaign and a strong reaction from community members.
“We were really, really surprised to see so much community support,” May said.
The group continues to fund raise and will use the surplus to fund the organization, which is looking for more members, May said.
For now We Charge Genocide is preparing for its trip and the public release of its report in late October.