CHICAGO, IL — One hundred people huddled together in the severe cold, gaining little comfort from the tiny candles cradled in their hands. The Hermosa neighborhood held a vigil for Jose “Cheo” Nieves, called by Parents for Peace and Justice, a Chicago group formed to organize for an end to violence and for justice for the families of youth cut down by shootings in the streets.
Mr. Nieves, 38, was moving furniture with his girlfriend when an off duty cop, Lowell Houser, gunned him down in the street. The police in the Chicago area have killed two unarmed young men in the first week of 2017. Apparently, all the calls to clamp down on violence by the Mayor and the police department do not pertain to police officers. In the media, Chicago is now characterized as home to criminals—a city gone wild with lawlessness. Working class families and youth are characterized as gangbangers. If a cop kills an unarmed person, they are seldom punished. These killings are often recounted in the news as if an “investigation” will exonerate the police and prove that the individual must have done something to “deserve” being killed in this fashion.
Why are the police a law unto themselves and not held accountable to the citizens? The police are used to enforce the ever-growing inequality in the city. With jobs disappearing because of new technologies, our neighborhoods are falling into decay or turned into moneymaking projects for property developers. Our struggling neighborhoods, deprived of good jobs, resources and funds, are being ruled more and more by an “iron fist.” With such police terror on top of the poverty, one way or another, working class families are being driven out of the city.
Community people, forced to grieve yet another loss— have had enough! They call for an end to police terror and justice for Jose “Cheo” Nieves!
Breaking news: As the People’s Tribune goes to press, Officer Lowell Houser has been charged with murder. This charge comes in the midst of a scathing report on Chicago police violence made public by the Justice Department. This charge of murder is a step in the right direction, but we will have to remain vigilant until justice is served in this case, and until we end the police terror plaguing our city once and for all.