How the Teen Killed by Chicago Police Could’ve Been Me

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I, too, as a 19 year-old Chicagoan struggled with mental illness and often confronted my father.

BLACK IN THE DAY™
Government
Downtown
December 31, 2015
Quintonio LeGrier

 

 

 

CLICK HERE to read the stories from #TheWeekThatWas (11/16-11/20).

CLICK HERE to read the stories from #TheWeekThatWas (12/21-12/25).

 

By Richard Taylor

12.31.15: National – (Politics): Since the killing of Mr. Quintonio LeGrier, a 19 year-old college student from Chicago, I’ve remained quiet about the situation, silently reflecting on how the mentally-ill teenager could’ve been me.

Mr. LeGrier and I not only went to the same university (Northern Illinois University), but we resided in the same dorm. Like I, the deceased was a productive student who suffered from mental-illness.

At the age of 19, I was at my peak in struggling with depression and suicide; my mental health had been severely diminished.

And just like Mr. LeGrier, I, too, at times, would get confrontational with my father, who, unlike Mr. LeGrier’s dad, didn’t know I was mentally-ill.

As I watched Mr. LeGrier’s grieving father on CNN, an American cable news network, I wondered what would’ve happened if one of our domestic disputes resulted in a call to the Chicago Police Department.

I think about what type of force the police could have used on me in my broken mental state. Police were called on me once, though, back in January of 2008, when I, in my dorm, took a 12 inch blade to my wrist while standing in front of my then girlfriend.

 

 

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CLICK HERE to read “A Grieving Mother Who Pushed Passed the Pain to Protest.”

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CLICK HERE to read “Activists Confront Police and Patrons during Wrongful Death Protest.”

 

 

 

I can’t fully remember how the police handled me, but I’m alive, which means the use of force was minimal compared to that which was applied to Mr. LeGrier.

 “Richard, you have such an amazing testimony,” many people say to me when they hear my story.

I’m grateful for my testimony, but anger consumes me today because Mr. LeGrier never got a chance to speak his testimony, he was gunned down during his test, a test he didn’t fully comprehend.

Moving forward, to prevent tragedies like this, we as a people must understand that black people also deal with mental health issues – word on the street is that mental illness is a “white thing” – and killing them because of it is not the answer.

We must put pressure on our governments to invest heavily in crisis intervention training. According to the Chicago Tribune, the police department here has a solid CIT program, but “support for it has withered.”

We cannot continue to overlook these issues and think that societal progress will come about. The death of Mr. LeGrier was absolutely avoidable and we must all take responsibility to ensure another situation like this doesn’t happen.

 

 

Keep a look out in January 2016 for a NPR Music documentary starring Grammy Award-Winner Mr. Christian McBride and co-starring Mr. Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris.

              

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About Richard Taylor

B.O.L.D member Richard Taylor, considered the voice of Chicago, is an activist, best-selling author and motivational speaker. Mr. Taylor's newest book, entitled "Between the Dream,"  is available for purchase HERE.

B.O.L.D member Richard Taylor, considered the voice of Chicago, is an activist, best-selling author and motivational speaker. Mr. Taylor’s newest book, entitled “Between the Dream,” is available for purchase HERE.

 

 

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