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Asian-American group speaks out against police brutality

Asian-Americans Advancing Justice Chicago discusses police brutality at their office in Uptown.
Asian-Americans Advancing Justice Chicago discusses police brutality at their office in Uptown.

An Asian-American activist organization called last week on Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to fire three officers involved in raid at a West Town tanning salon in 2013.

The Independent Police Review Authority recommended the officers’ suspensions in June in connection with the raid at the Copper Tan and Spa. They were caught on security cameras physically and verbally abusing a woman employee, Jessica Klyzek.

The officer who was verbally abusive was suspended for 25 days, and the officer found to be physically abusive was suspended for eight days. A third officer who did not report the incident was suspended for one day.

In a press conference in Uptown, representatives of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) called the suspensions an “inadequate response” to the incident.

“The entire thing was caught on video,” said Vi Ray-Mazumder, manager of youth organizing at AAAJ. “The things that the officers were saying to [Klyzek] were really upsetting and hit a historical nerve in the Asian-American community.”

The security footage of the raid was released in 2014, and AAAJ held a town hall meeting demanding that the officers be fired, said Brandon Lee, the organization’s communications manager.

“In this case, as with all recommendations from the Independent Police Review Authority, McCarthy has the ability to adjust their sentence as he sees fit,” Lee said.

In the video of the incident, an officer identified as Gerald DiPasquale threatened to kill Klyzek and her family. He also said he could put her in a UPS box and ship her back to “wherever the f— she came from,” according to Ray-Mazumder.

Kristina Tendilla, community organizer at AAAJ, said what happened to Klyzek is not an isolated issue, but a systemic one.

“One of the things we are working on is policy change,” Tendilla said. “One of the amendments we are pushing is saying that if any city employee threatens deportation there will be a harsh punishment for that.”

She said the organization is working on an amendment to the city’s Welcoming City Ordinance.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that he wants to make Chicago the most immigrant friendly city in America and the suspension of these officers contradicts that, Ray-Mazumder said.

Residents are calling for a civilian police review board that is elected and not made up of retired police officers who have a bias in favor of the police, she added.

“There’s a larger movement to create increased accountability and make sure the community can be a part of that process,” Tendilla said. “That’s what folks are pushing for and we want to support that.”

WBEZ reported that the police review board’s recommendations are pending final approval. The CPD also said two of the officers are on active duty and one is retired, WBEZ reported.

Klyzek filed a federal civil suit against the city and received a settlement of $150,000.  She is an American citizen and has lived in the United States for 10 years, according to WBEZ.

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