Local group voices displeasure against the Champaign police

Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice say it wants change in the Champaign Police Department and it brought its claims right to the department’s doorstep. The group held a press conference in front of the department Thursday.

Martell Miller was one prominent speaker at the conference. His son, 18-year-old Calvin Miller, was arrested early Monday morning and allegedly beaten and pepper-sprayed by police.

The footage of the chase has not been released to the public but has been reported to not include Calvin’s actual arrest. Martell said the allegations that he told his son to run from the police was “the biggest lie ever told.” However, Martell responded to the reports that the tape shows his son does indeed run a red light, something Martell has previously denied his son ever did.

“My son is scared and he was trying to get somewhere safe,” Martell said.

Despite claims, Miller has yet to file a formal complaint. He said he has 30 days to file a complaint. He said there are other issues he wants to clear up before an official complaint is made.

Martell reiterated the fact that his son feels intimidated by the police because he grew up knowing Kiwane Carrington, the 15-year-old African American boy that was killed in an incident with Champaign police in 2009. The shooting was ruled an accident by the state’s attorney.

“He grew up in the ‘Kiwane era.’ He played in the same place as Kiwane. My oldest daughter was a tutor for Kiwane,” Martell said. “He asked me ‘Will the police kill me?’”

Aaron Ammons, co-founder of Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, joined Martell and called the city a “powder keg that can erupt at any moment.” He was not concerned with the issue of whether Calvin ran a red light or stop sign.

“You don’t deserve to have your head busted and your eye swollen and your ankle fractured because you ran a red light,” Ammons said. “If (tensions between police and the community) do not change, there will be major problems in this city. The writing is on the wall.”

Ammons said he is asking for and demanding new officers come in and replace officers who have had complaints filed against them.

“Nobody’s doing anything about it,” Ammons said. “You’re getting a slap on the wrist, a 30-day vacation or you get to retire with your full pension, so you’re sending a message to the community that black children are not safe in the street … When is the community going to do something about that? That is the question.”