Chicago Illinois — The shooting by Chicago Police of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, is yet another reminder to our community that much critical work remains to be done to prevent the use of lethal force through policies focusing on community outreach and police training
There are no words that can console Adam's mother because she will never see "su hijo" again. She will never hear him saying the words "Happy Mother's Day." She will never hear his words or feel his embraces. She will never see Adam's true potential, to get on the right path and to become "un hombre de bien." Her loss is immensurable and unfathomable. We can only hope she finds the peace in her heart and the strength to move on.
We will leave to others who are more qualified, to address the socio and economic circumstances and inequalities that tragically converged or otherwise conspired to end Adam's life.
Today we speak as members of the legal community. We became lawyers not because our parents were lawyers, or because our parents had the financial resources to pay for college and law school. Most of us became lawyers because someone along the way extended a helping hand or we simply, through shear determination, broke down the barriers and somehow managed to make it to law school even if it meant becoming indebted for many years to come. Adam did not have a helping hand, never had the chance to find himself, correct course and become the good man his mother dreamed about. And that is a travesty.
To those who profess "to serve and protect our community," the Police, and the City of Chicago, it is high time to recognize the meaning of the phrase "El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz," The respect for the rights of others brings peace. Words of Benito Juarez, a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln. The Latino Community has long hungered for a little respect and equal treatment under the law.
It is imperative that the City and the Police Department develop and implement clear procedures and policies to address foot chases, car chases and other interactions between citizens and police. Such policies and procedures should be designed to minimize lethal interactions with police and residents, especially when it comes to minor traffic offenses, minor crimes, and crimes involving children. Wherever the facts lead in the case of Adam Toledo, the video apparently shows a scared 13-year-old boy running away from police, tossing a gun, raising his hands in the air and then instantly getting shot in the chest. Should the officer who pulled the trigger have de-escalated the situation instead of shooting when Adam already had his hands in the air and no longer posed a threat to the safety of the officers? We believe this shooting could and should have been avoided. It is certainly a teachable moment.
Just last August, another Little Village resident was killed by the driver of a car that was being chased by the police. In that case, the police officers engaged in a dangerous chase in a densely populated neighborhood because the car allegedly had a faulty turning signal and no left side mirror. That minor traffic violation cost the life of Little Village resident Mr. Jose Almanza, affectionately known in the community as "El Senor de Los Cacahuates," when the driver lost control of his vehicle and killed Mr. Almanzan in front of Walgreens at Pulaski and 26th Streets. The Pilsen Law Center is currently litigating that case against the City and the Police Department.
As the case of Adam Toledo moves through the legal system, we challenge all involved to acknowledge that the future of our system depends on the faith of those who are impacted by its rulings. Our legal system must act in a just and fair manner and rise to the occasion to ensure that the Toledo Family has justice.
Finally, we remind our Latino brothers and sister that violence is never the right answer. We know how you feel. You have a constitutional right to demonstrate and to seek redress and you should exercise those rights. But you must do so peacefully out of respect for Adam's Family wishes.
Pilsen Law Center Attorneys
Edward J. Santiago