Protest targets Illinois officer’s force against Black teens

State News

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — Activists are calling for officials to reinvestigate an incident where a southern Illinois police officer used force against two Black teenagers while breaking up a fight at a trampoline park.

Nearly 20 people held a protest march Sunday through the streets of Fairview Heights in the Metro East region to call for accountability following the June 26 incident at the Sky Zone Trampoline Park, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

Fairview Heights police and officers from other agencies were sent to the park to disperse a crowd of more than 200 young patrons. Videos of the police response were posted on social media, with one showing a Fairview Heights officer punching downward to break up a fight between two girls.

An internal police investigation, which was reviewed by Illinois State Police and the O’Fallon-Metro East NAACP branch, found that the officer’s use of force was appropriate.

But JD Dixon, an organizer of the protest held by Empire 13, a Belleville-based grassroots activist organization, said officers are trying to cover up their use of excessive force.

“We’re out here seeking justice because the families and the teens deserve justice, due process,” he said Sunday.

The police investigation found that officers’ response to the “volatile and dangerous” situation exhibited a “tremendous amount of restraint.” It states that the officer involved in breaking up the fight between the two girls was using his fists to break one girl’s grip on the other girl’s braided hair.

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