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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Rockford Activist Calls for More Transparency with Local Law Enforcement

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Sign for Tyris Jones outside of Rockford City Hall

In the wake of the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict, Rockford activists continue calling for transparency in local police encounters.


For some the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial hasn’t provided the resolution they were hoping for. Rockford activists say they’re still reeling from the list of deadly encounters with the police since the death of George Floyd in their own back yard. For Leslie Rolfe, an activist with the May 30th Alliance, the guilty verdict hasn’t translated to improved police accountability in the city. 


“In Rockford specifically, one of our biggest issues is that nobody knows about these things happening,” said Rolfe. “Whether it be inside of Rockford or [in]side of Winnebago county or outside, you know.” 



Rolfe said he’s concerned about the way law enforcement frames these incidents when releasing information to the public. He cited the case of Faustin Guetigo, shot by a Winnebago County sheriff’s deputy. Body cam footage was edited with a voiceover from Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana. 


“They like to have a narrative,” Rolfe said. “They don't want to just tell you, they don't want to just put out this what happened and put out all the information and let you decide they want to shape the story that they give to you.”


A spokesperson for the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department confirmed plans to release full tapes of the incident down the line. Winnebago County State's Attorney Jay Hanley says the investigation into the shootings will take months. Rolfe and other activists said they’re not going anywhere, and are already planning to resume the weekly protests outside of the Rockford City Market.


  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.
Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.