The Purdue University Calumet Social Justice Club, along with concerned citizens and other civil rights activists, protested the Hammond Police Department’s actions during a Sept. 24 traffic stop that has led to a civil lawsuit against the city and officers involved.
About 15 protesters held signs and chanted outside City Hall, with passing vehicles occasionally honking horns in support.
Chris Radjenovich, the club’s president, said the club sees the local incident as a worrying trend.
“We don’t believe this is a simple administrative error,” he said. “We feel it’s part of a general trend nationwide.”
A video of the September traffic stop, recorded by the son of the stopped vehicle’s driver, shows a police officer breaking the passenger-side window of the car, Tasering passenger Jamal Jones, and pulling him from the vehicle. The suit names Hammond officers Patrick Vicari and Charles Turner, as well as the city.
The traffic stop originated as a seat-belt violation. Jones and driver Lisa Mahone allege in their lawsuit that the officers used excessive force against Jones and claim false arrest, assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The department said that Jones repeatedly refused to provide identification and exit the vehicle, and caused the officers to fear for their safety by reaching behind the vehicle’s center console.
Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. expressed his support for the officers’ actions, releasing the following statement on the city’s website:
“While I hope that situations, like this one, can be avoided in the future, I am standing solidly behind the actions of these police officers,” McDermott wrote in the Oct. 7 statement.
The protesters cited other lawsuits involving the department and alleged excessive force, as an indication that the department has issues that go well beyond this single incident.
Kudos to these young activists for demanding justice.
Black lives matter.
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