Covering George Floyd Protests

On today’s show we discuss covering the George Floyd protests from the streets with a former Marine that brings with him a unique perspective on the freedoms being exercised by protestors and what it meant to him to be one of the people that put his life on the line to fight for those rights.

Our conversation is framed both from what our guest reported during the protests and some of findings of a report recently released by the Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety on the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) handling of the protests. It is pretty remarkable how much of our guest’s experiences seem to mimic the findings in the report.

If you read the report you will see just how unprepared the CPD was and how that served to cause confusion throughout the ranks w1ithin the Department. This type of confusion within the chain of command as well as what tactics had or had not been authorized creates environment where misconduct and abuse can spread unchecked. The CPD seemed particularly unable to understand from the open source intelligence available to them that the protests stemming from the murder of George Floyd were going to be large and unruly. All of these mistakes combined for an atmosphere where police were going to be highly likely to use force that was not inline with CPD guidelines.

Our guest today is freelance journalist and now 1L law student Jonathan Ballew. Jonathan hit the streets for the first major protests responding to the murder of George Floyd. Jonathan continued to go out and report on protests across the city night after night, documented the actions of the CPD in real time through his Twitter account. Jonathan not only documented abuse by officers but was a victim himself as he was pepper sprayed live on Twitter by a CPD officer despite him showing his press credentials to the officer before being assaulted.

Being that Jonathan served for several years in the US Marine Corps he has a unique perspective on the George Floyd protests and the rights protestors were exercising right in front of him. Unlike most reporters Jonathan has put his life on the line protecting the very rights the protests were exercising during the George Floyd protests. This leads us to discuss Jonathan’s response to seeing the American flag burned on the streets during the protests.

This episode of our podcast comes directly from our Chicago Justice Show that is streamed live every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on our Facebook Page, Twitter Page, YouTube Channel, and Twitch Channel. You can watch archived versions of our show on our YouTube Channel. Below is the video from our interview with Jonathan.

Author: Tracy SiskaTracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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