Content warning: child death, police violence
The policeman who murdered a Latino boy named Adam in the city of Chicago will probably get away with it. The Chicago Police Department’s own footage, which shows a Latino boy who shares my name putting his hands in the air, is unlikely to be enough to get justice. We will go out and protest; the police will arrest some protesters, brutalize others, and may even use chemical weapons, as the police in my hometown of Iowa City did this summer. Then we’ll all wait for a conviction that won’t come.
I’m ashamed to say that this time I fell for their lie. Despite the lies we’ve been told by police departments time and time again, I believed them when I heard on WBEZ that Adam Toledo was holding a gun when they shot him. Now the CPD has been exposed yet again. They will show that it does not matter to them when they make up some other excuse for how the officer felt threatened and why he “had” to shoot a child who had his hands up in the air. I won’t believe CPD next time but the jury probably will.
These events have started to feel like a ritual. We play our parts. Things go back to normal and then it all happens again, sometimes literally the next day. But the murder of Adam Toledo has affected me differently. I am a Latino man named Adam. I used to be a 13-year-old Latino boy named Adam. When I watch the video, I ask myself *why not me?* Because my skin is a little lighter and I can pass as white? Because my dad is a doctor and I grew up in a well-off neighborhood in Iowa? Dumb luck?
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? It’s time for action. We cannot continue to live in a city where Black people and Latinos are killed at much higher rates than white people. It is time for action. The University of Chicago cannot continue to be a community where a huge part of the budget is spent on a private police force whose job is to create a violent barrier between campus and the south side community. It is time for action. We cannot continue to allow our most powerful institutions to enforce racist policies, deny opportunities to Black and Latino community members, and to show utter disrespect for the continued loss of life. As a community privileged with the resources of a multi-billion-dollar institution, we have an opportunity to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. We must take action for an anti-racist University budget. We must take action for the city to deploy resources in the South and West Sides instead of deploying police. We must take action to ensure justice for Adam Toledo. It is time for action.
Adam Zabner is a third-year in the College.