Justice prevailed in Chicago municipal court when charges were dropped against two young men arrested last March 31 while canvassing the Garfield Park neighborhood to encourage residents to sign up for Obamacare. Kevin Tapia (19) and Felip Hernandez (20), community outreach activists with Grassroots Collaborative, were stopped, searched and arrested on charges of “soliciting unlawful business.” Though a judge dismissed the case, unlawful stop and frisk police-tactics are employed by the Chicago Police Department; but how often and in which city neighborhoods remains unverifiable because police contact sheets are not made public. Hernandez and Tapia’s case directed public focus to the controversial, usually racially loaded, policing measure. The ACLU of Illinois advocates for police disclosure of stop and frisk data so that the public has the information needed to assess the use of this policing tactic. ACLU of Illinois staff attorney Lindsay Miller maintains that the Chicago Police Department’s stop and frisk policies result in thousands of unlawful detentions of young male minorities every year.
“Police should be forced to answer two very simple questions: why is someone being stopped on the streets of Chicago, and why are they being searched by the police,” Miller said.