The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

PSL holds protest for Azaan Lee, Jordan Richardson

Protestors+gather+in+front+of+the+Alma+Mater+statue+on+Thursday.
Thomas Cai
Protestors gather in front of the Alma Mater statue on Thursday.

On Sunday, the Champaign-Urbana branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation held a protest at the Champaign County Courthouse for the deaths of Azaan Lee and Jordan Richardson, as well as the conditions at the Champaign County jail. 

Lee died in February this year after an encounter with Rantoul police resulted in a gun discharge. 

According to a statement from the Rantoul Police Department, Lee was shot by his gun during a struggle for the weapon. Although an officer discharged his weapon three times, the investigation found that none of the three injured Lee. 

However, Derek Briles, spokesperson for PSL, said “officers approached (Lee) for no reason” and “searched him illegally for no reason.”

In June, Jordan Richardson was shot by a Rantoul officer while running from police as police commanded him to drop his gun. 

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    Both officer-involved shootings were ruled as a justified use of force by Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz. 

    In a statement released after the investigation into Richardson’s death, Rietz said “Sgt. Jerry King’s use of deadly force in firing his weapon in Richardson’s direction while Richardson was in possession of a firearm and disobeying commands to drop the weapon were legally justifiable given the totality of the circumstances.” 

    Briles disputes claims made in Richardson’s ruling and demands accountability from Rantoul police and Rietz. A petition for Rietz to rescind her rulings and remove the officers involved has reached over 700 signatures, Briles said. 

    “These are unjustified killings and State’s Attorney Julia Rietz ruled them both justified,” Briles said. “They’re serving their own interests and they’re protecting themselves from accountability.”

    The movement has had considerable support from the community but met some opposition from police. 

    “The armed police hid in their police station when we tried to give them the petition,” Briles said. “The same with Julia Rietz. We’ve sent her the petition. Zero responses.” 

    The protestors gathered in hopes of getting more community involvement, particularly in C-U. 

    Jayde Ray, former Rantoul resident, attended the protest because she knew Richardson, who was a friend of her brother. She said the officer who shot Richardson “had time to think about how to de-escalate the situation.”

    “I will be advocating for Azaan, for Jordan, for their justice until we get it,” Ray said. 

    A community member who wished to remain anonymous said he attended the protest because he was new to town and wanted to get involved with the activist scene. 

    He noted interest in justice for marginalized communities around the issue of police has increased since the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. 

    “I think this is a sort of continuation of (the) struggle of identifying the explicitly repressive role that beliefs play within society, particularly for the black community,” he said.  

     

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