More than 150 people gathered at the entrance to Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood (4100 N. Long Avenue) in protest just days after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) released bodycam footage of police shooting and killing 20-year-old Anthony Alvarez.
Alvarez was shot and killed by police March 31 while he was running away from them. He had a weapon in his hand but doesn’t appear to point it at police in the videos released by COPA.
One of the organizers, Shabbir Manjee, a member of the party for socialism and liberation, said they organized the protest to “demand justice for Anthony Alvarez.”
“We want that cop charged,” Manjee said to The Phoenix. “We want the police defunded and that money put back into the communities.”
Manjee spoke as a crowd gathered at the northeast corner of West Irving Park Road and North Central Avenue to hear other organizers and Alvarez’s family members speak.
One of the speakers was Candice Choo-Kang, a project coordinator in Loyola’s Public Health Sciences department and member of People United Albany Park. She spoke to the crowd about Lori Lightfoot’s redirection of nearly $282 million in federal COVID relief funds to the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
Choo-Kang said racism has affected her field, bridging the issues of race-based police brutality and the medical field.
“Racism has come up as a public health issue,” Choo-Kang told the Phoenix. “Fighting against racist police terror is very connected to the fight for COVID vaccinations for me.”
After several other organizers addressed the crowd, Alvarez’s aunt, Teresa Martinez, spoke — telling the crowd how she remembered him.
“Anthony was the kind of boy that would always offer to help you,” Martinez said. “He didn’t deserve to get killed this way. He didn’t deserve to get killed.”
The crowd had amassed to more than 130 by the time the speakers finished and the march began. The demonstrators headed east down West Irving Park Road, with Alvarez’s relatives and 2-year-old daughter at the front.
The group then turned down North Laramie Avenue and headed toward the site where Alvarez was killed. They stopped several times to hear from more speakers, including a teacher from Alvarez’s elementary school.
Once the demonstrators reached the place where Alvarez was killed, 5202 W. Eddy St., they gathered around the intersection to hear more organizers speak, including more of Alvarez’s relatives.
“Now you’re not here,” one of Alvarez’s cousins said. “And that aches my heart everyday since you’ve been gone, I can’t tell you that I’m so proud of you. I’m so proud of you Anthony.”
After other organizers addressed the crowd, the group headed west down West Addison Street where officers attempted to stop the march, citing the fact the protesters would eventually block a street in front of Community First Medical Center (5645 W. Addison St.). The demonstrators continued on, marching down North Central Avenue back to the intersection where it began.
Manjee addressed the crowd once again, and after a group photo, the demonstrators dispersed.