Stateway Gardens Local Advisory Council

3653 S. Federal, Chicago, IL 60609         Telephone: 312-791-888

March 22, 2001

Supt. Terry Hillard
Chicago Police Superintendent
Chicago Police Department Headquarters
3510 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60653

Dear Superintendent Hillard:

The residents of Stateway Gardens are outraged by the recent Chicago police raid of the Stateway Roundball Classic basketball tournament at the Stateway Field House on the evening of February 22, 2001.  We demand to know why this organized raid occurred.

On the evening of February 22, 2001, over 250 people from our community—young men, women, children, families—had gathered at the Field House to participate in this tournament.  At around 8:00 pm, more than 30 Chicago police officers, including at least five police sergeants, invaded this community gathering.  Police officers blocked each exit of the Field House, imprisoning us at our own community affair.  Your officers refused to allow people to leave without being subjected to full searches.  Everyone in the building was treated as a criminal, even young children.  The police searches were thorough and degrading.  Police searched our entire bodies, went through our clothes, and ransacked our personal belongings.  Parents were searched in front of their children.  And children were searched in front of their helpless parents.

The police raid was even more destructive, in view of the role that this tournament plays in our community.  As you know, the tournament continues a longstanding tradition, widely celebrated for its success in creating an organized setting for our young men to engage in constructive activities.  It is a family event at which people from different developments around the city unite as a community.  What message are you sending to our young people by authorizing this police raid?  That our children do not deserve to engage in positive community activities without being treated as criminals?  This is unacceptable.

My question, and the question of the entire Stateway community, is why.  Why did you allow this raid to occur at our community event?  What was the goal of this raid?  What were you trying to accomplish?  Who ordered the raid?  Who organized it?  We did not recognize the majority of the officers there as our regular beat officers.  Which police units invaded our community and why?  Who were the five supervising sergeants who led this attack?  Who shall be held accountable for the damage that the police have done in our community?

When I raised these issues with you at the last Police Board meeting on March 15, 2001, I was taken aback when you stated that this was the first you had heard of the raid.  You further informed us that you were surprised that a raid of this magnitude occurred without your knowledge.  You then promised immediately to investigate the circumstances of the raid and to answer our questions.  How could this happen?  How could you allow a raid of this size to occur without your approval?  What are the usual procedures for operations of this nature?  Wouldn’t the officers who executed the raid have been required to report to you and to generate reports to explain the circumstances of the raid?

You also referred me to the Chief of Patrol, John Richardson, at the Police Board meeting.  He told us that he was unaware of the February 22 raid, but promised to investigate the matter and report back to me the following day.  As of today, no member of the Chicago Police Department has provided us with a sufficient explanation for this assault on our community.

Especially with the Police Headquarters just across the street from where we live, we hope to work together with the Department to make our community safe for all of our peole, young and old.  A true partnership between the police and our community will never exist, unless the police are accountable to us—the community.  Supt. Hillard, we demand that you personally account for why you allowed this coordinated multi-unit raid to occur.  We demand that you answer all of the questions raised in this letter.

Sincerely,

Francine Washington

President, Stateway Gardens Local Advisory Council