re-cap -Your Sib, Liv
Friday morning, February 26th, over 60 protesters gathered to take stage at the Champaign County Courthouse after hearing that no charges were filed against Matt Rush who has a track record of using excessive force and abusing his power as a police officer. There was also call for Illinois State’s Attorney, Julia Rietz to be removed for the decision to not prosecute Rush. The march was vocal with expressive chants demanding the two out of their positions and heart-aching stories were shared, specifically those of local activist, Martel and his son, Calvin Miller’s experiences with the Champaign County’s police force.
When making way inside the courthouse, we were met with unwelcoming hesitance by law enforcement. Before reaching the main lobby we had to go through security measures- cameras or cellular devices, belts, potential weapons, which even meant an afro-pic for one of our comrades, Sunny Ture(co-leader of Black Students for a Revolution at the University)-were not permitted.
The “Black Lives Matter” chants pulsed their way louder inside the main lobby which lead to protesters being forcibly shoved out of the courthouse doors by guards; leaving demonstrators further upset and shaken. Protesters: Martel Miller, Brian Dolinar (scholar), and Danielle Chynoweth (UCIMC Co-founder) confronted Rietz about the decision, who remained evasive to their pleas, but suggested that she would talk to individuals later. Rietz’s bodyguard, Dale Rawdin, aggressively made his way to challenge Miller. However, protesters made a wall between the two to keep the simmering tensions from boiling over.
Protesters: Martel Miller, Augustus Wood and Karen Olowu (co-leaders from Black Students for a Revolution), and Sundiata Cha-Jua (University of Illinois professor and member of North End Breakfast Club) spoke their statements to the press; demanding answers and change in how the law responds unjustly for black victims of police violence. After turning in the petition to Rietz, we left without further escalation. In the meantime, according to Reitz’s requests, Matt Rush will not be involved as a witness in criminal cases and is currently on unpaid leave from the department.