More than a dozen speakers claimed at a Human Services Committee meeting Wednesday night that Evanston police discriminate against blacks.

The Rev. Michael Nabors, pastor of Second Baptist Church, said a black male minister at his church was stopped by police within the past month while walking on Hinman Avenue a block from his home.

“The police officer said he was detained because he fit the description of a suspect,” Nabors said.

Nabors insisted that couldn’t possibly have been the case, because the minister “is one of the most unique-looking young men that I have ever seen.” 

The minister, Nabors said, is 5-feet-5-inches tall, weighs 95 pounds and has “a beard that comes down to here” — as he gestured half way down his chest.

Nabors went on to distribute to committee members copies of a Community Dialogue Guide for conducting discussions on race prepared by the U.S. Department of Justice, and suggested the city should begin such a dialogue.

Rina Campbell.

Rina Campbell, a diversity consultant, said recently released data on juvenile arrests show “numbers that cannot be refuted that there’s real bias at work here.”

Peggy Tarr.

Peggy Tarr, a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable, called the arrest of 12-year-old Iain Bady “abominable” and said it made her think “this is Evanston, Mississippi.”

She suggested the state attorney general should sue Evanston, as she has sued Chicago, over police abuses.

Cicely Fleming.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, said she recognized there’s a lot of frustration in the community and a sense that there is “over-policing.”

But she noted that police are expected to respond when they’re called.

“We have people in the community who may be more likely to call police when they see African American youth than others,” Fleming said.

Some merchants, and shoppers, in business districts, she suggested, may be too quick to complain about behavior of black youths.

“That’s not necessarily a police issue, but a community issue,” Fleming added.

Fleming also asked for additional data from the department about police handling of stop and frisk incidents.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Police bias?

    I am interested in discussing further diversity consultantents Rina Campbells remark that the juvenile arrest records indicate a bias in policing.  How does she know this?  Maybe the police are simply arresting the people who commit the crimes.  If more African-American youth are being arrested maybe this indicates the crime rate is higher in this population.  

    1. Possible Police bias / youth arrests

      Evanston Now on September 5th printed a graph of arrests for all youth. To re print this information might be helpful for all readers.

        1. Youth arrest stats

          Missed it in the story so thanks Bill for making it easier to read about the youth arrest stats,

  2. The diversity consultant

    The diversity consultant states the juvenile arrest numbers can’t be refuted.  You can’t base anything certain from the statistics that were shown.  This form of thinking is getting so out of hand.  Could it possibly be that black juveniles in Evanston just commit more crime?  Is that so bad to say or even comprehend?  Now this is not saying there is absolutely no issue, it is just stating that a logical person knows you have to go much deeper than that before coming to an actual conclusion.  So sick of people not having honest conversations about these type of “race issues”.  They are more part of the problem but they just can’t see it.  Now, if you have SPECIFIC examples of documented police calls/involvement with black youths and white youths in Evanston doing the exact same crime with different outcomes please share them.  I can get behind that and think these types of causes would get a lot more support.  Again, until I see such specific examples I continue to stand by the EPD and thank them for their HARD work!

    1. The police in Evanston are

      The police in Evanston are mistreating white youth as well…at least in comparision to Asian kids.  We really need to do something to combat this bias.

    2. Double-blind experiment…

      Well… Isn’t it nice that a “diversity consultant” said that you can’t have all of the information from the arrest records… And we can’t very well compare crime in Evanston with crime in Englewood or in Lake Forest. Although why not. Does my stolen bike hurt more or less because I live in Evanston?

      But we can compare crime rate for black children who are adopted by white families vs crime rate for all black children. Arresting officer would not have access to the identity of the parents at the time of the arrest.

    3. Testing assertions

      The way to test assertions is always to drill down into the details.  73 percent of the arrests fall into the 16 categories that I would describe as from relatively serious to serious – from theft through burglary, mob action and on to auto theft, aggravated battery and aggravated assault.  With the exception of retail theft, the arrestees are overwhelmingly black in every category.  Is the assertion that people are being arrested wrongfully in connection with these crimes?  Which ones?  Or is the assertion that these crimes are not being pursued when the alleged perpetrator is white?  Or that they’re being pursued, but that police are disproportionately unable to identify suspects where the perpetrator white?  Or that the bias shows up primarily in the 27% of arrests that aren’t listed here?

      I could most easily believe the last idea – that the bias shows up primarily among the 27%.  But we don’t seem to have those statistics.  Could we get that information, ideally alongside the existing graphs, so that we could see all the information at once.

      I also want to ask a follow-up about an assertion above, that a 5′ 5″, 90 lb., gnome-bearded minister was ‘detained’ in relation to some supposed crime whose perpetrator he may or may not have resembled.  That is a particular claim.  It would seem it could be tested – what citizen allegation led to that stop?  Is ‘detain’ being used as a technical term here, or did the police simply say, hey, can you show us your ID and let us know why you’re walking here?  How long did the detention last? 

      While it sounds like this minister would be unlikely to be mistaken for someone else, surely the police retain records on such stops.  I’d like to know the description of the person they were looking for and the crime it was in relation to.  Did the police approach a short man from behind in relation to a real crime where witnesses said the perpetrator was a short black man, and then quickly dismiss the idea that he was involved after he turned around and they saw his beard, his tiny physique?  Or did they detain an implausible defendant and hold him for a while because they couldn’t let go of bias long enough to realize he didn’t really fit the description? Did they suspect a fake beard, and if so could they sustain the idea that it was reasonable to think it was fake?

  3. We all know who the real victims are

    Once again, everything in Evanston is about race. Diversity consultant Rina Campbell claims the data of juvenile arrsts show bias. Hmmm, bias. Sunday in Evanston, a 15 year old was beaten and robbed by an 18 year old and a 16 year old juvenile. Was there bias when the teen robbers targeted the 15 year old? Was there bias when police caught them by simply using the locator ap from a stolen phone and having the victim ID the offenders?

    Since everything is about race,  I’d love to know the breakdown of races between victims and offenders. I know there are plenty of black on black crime but betcha anything there are more white victims of black offenders than the reverse. If true, this “abominable” and as a white person I demand something be done!!  

    Police go in areas with high crime rates. It’s that simple. If there was crime in my neighborhood I would not mind if on ocassion I get stopped or even frisked by police for suspicion. I have nothing to hide and I want to cooperate to get the bad guys off the street and deter anyone from getting the wrong idea.

    Let’s not forget for one second that we all know who the real victims are – CRIME VICTIMS!!

  4. Support the Police

    I support the Evanston Police.  They protect my family and my home.  The police statistics are my experience with crime in Evanston. 2 black teenager tried to hold up my 68 father-in-law at gun point after he left St. Francis.  An Evanston police car scared them away.  2 adult black brothers harass the people in my neighborhood and steal property from backyards. Police arested them and it doesnt stop them.  A black couple was smoking marijuana in Clark Square on Sunday.  They were so close my daughter and I could hear their conversation.  If they were white, I would have called the police and insisted on arrest. I dont want my dughter to think public drug use is ever acceptable.  The police are responding to the crime in our town. Blaming the police for enforcing the law is wrong.

  5. Would respectfully suggest

    Would respectfully suggest replacing the verb “claim” with “assert”. We all know “claim” carries with it the suggestion of lack of validity. “Assert” is more neutral and more appropriate. 

    1. Not true

      Had you checked the definition of “claim” and “assert” you would see that they are close synonyms — so close that each is used in the definition of the other.

      The assertion that police in Evanston engage in a pattern of mistreating blacks is in dispute. So “claim” is entirely appropriate.

      — Bill

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