On May 10th, 2021, the Rock Island Police Department occupied the council chambers of the city of Rock Island to intimidate the public and city council. The police, led by Executive Director Shawn Rosenlieb of the Illinois Fraternal Order of the Police and RIPD Chief Jeff VenHuizen, surrounded the back of the chamber, blocking the doors. RIPD officers, with hands near their holsters, stood guard as Rosenlieb demanded the uncritical support of city council and implied that if council took any action towards police reform that officers would be killed by their hands.
The police’s show of force was in response to Alderman Dylan Parker, fellow DSA member, making a comment on social media saying that police are “agents of state violence.” Ald. Parker’s comment came in the wake of State Attorney Dora Villarreal’s announcement that RIPD officers would not face criminal charges or disciplinary procedures after killing DeShawn Tatum, a Black man, on April 1st, 2021.
RIPD’s show of force at the slightest amount of criticism says one thing: the police do not want to be reformed, criticized, critiqued, or even accurately labeled and will do anything to ensure they can operate with impunity. The fact that a crowd of over 50 RIPD officers and enabling sycophants can show up at a public meeting all over the comments of one person should anger everyone. The only good thing about those officers’ intimidation tactics was that they were not out on the streets killing anyone. If the city and people of Rock Island finally decides to rein in the police, what will RIPD do next?
In the wake of the conviction of Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd, it is not unexpected that police across this country will attempt to retaliate to anything and anyone that threatens their power or privilege. We must show that they will never be allowed to reign unchecked. We must build a coalition that unites Black, Brown, indigenous, LGBTQIA+ and disabled working class people towards the abolition of the police and the prisons they fill everywhere.
Quad Cities Democratic Socialists of America