NIU students and DeKalb community members demanded accountability this Saturday with a protest. It was a follow up to a controversial arrest this summer.
Elonte McDowell was arrested in August by officers with the DeKalb Police Department and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. Video of the arrest prompted some to allege use of excessive force by police officers. Soon after the incident, community members voiced concerns with local policing policy at a public meeting and the Illinois State Police began an investigation into the actions of the responding officers at the request of local departments. The investigation is still ongoing.
On Saturday, November 9, the Northern Illinois University chapter of the NAACP, Black Student Union, Black Male Initiative, and DeKalb's New Hope Missionary Baptist Church came together for a demonstration. Leaders said not enough is being done to make be sure an arrest like McDowell's doesn't happen in the future. Organizers aimed to give the DeKalb Police Department a list of demands and marched from the NIU campus to the station to deliver them. Protesters held signs that read “color-coded” and “policy changes."
Markus Smith, a demonstrator, said he's attended to show solidarity with others.
“We're going to stay unified. Until we get what we want, we’re going to continue to put on that pressure. If we got to constantly do this every week, we will. We will keep coming with demands until we see we want,” said Smith.
The demands delivered during Saturday's march include setting a date for mandatory diversity training, policy changes regarding use of force, and a humans relations committee representative of the community.
The crowd of over 100 marchers were met at the station by Interim Police Chief John Petragallo and DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith. Smith told protesters he would look over demands.
In the meantime, the DeKalb Police Department created a new community relations team, which launched in October 2019.