Northwestern students say they were mistreated by police in Wrigleyville on night of Cubs’ clincher


Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern

Police stand outside Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. Three Northwestern students say police grabbed them from the crowd near the stadium just before the Cubs won the World Series.

Julia Jacobs and Shane McKeon

Three Northwestern students said they were handled, searched and interrogated by Chicago police for no expressed reason other than looking “suspicious” while in Wrigleyville on Wednesday night.

Communication sophomore Linkon Pickus said he and his two friends had spent hours watching the scoreboard outside Wrigley Field before three police officers grabbed and led them from the crowd for about half an hour as fans celebrated the Cubs’ historic World Series win. Pickus, along with McCormick senior Michael Martínez and Weinberg senior Daniel Isaacson, said they were put up against the wall of the stadium as police patted them down, searched their belongings and questioned them as to why they were there that night.

“I just felt so violated and so embarrassed,” Pickus said. “I was trying to be as calm and compliant as possible and still understand why I was being detained.”

Hundreds had gathered outside Wrigley Field to await the result of the game, which took place in Cleveland. Fans clogged the streets outside the stadium, climbing on each other’s shoulders and on top of traffic lights. The Chicago Police Department said 14 people were arrested in Wrigleyville as of Thursday at 3 a.m., mostly for “disorderly and reckless conduct.”

Pickus said the police officer who handled him repeatedly called him a “spic,” which is a derogatory slur against Hispanic people, and continued to tug the collar of his jacket despite him saying he was choking. While sitting with his back against the stadium, Pickus said he asked multiple officers why he was being kept but did not get a specific answer.

He also said he asked for the police officer’s name and badge number, but did not get a response. Martínez said officers were wearing rain jackets and neon vests that blocked their badges.

Although Pickus said police eventually returned his wallet and phone, he said the officers never returned his keys.

Isaacson said he did not know why he and his friends were grabbed by police but speculated that it could have been because the trio was criticizing police during conversations with others in the crowd.

Martínez said that after he saw about eight police officers swarming one man outside the stadium, he began asking why so many officers responded to the situation, while Pickus filmed the confrontation with his phone. Martínez said his comment led to a conversation about police violence with a young woman whom they did not know.

Later in the night, Isaacson said he alerted the group that nearby police appeared to be looking at them and gesturing toward their group.

Martínez said three officers then pushed through the crowd, grabbed them from behind and led them into the center of a circle of police before taking them past a barricade by the stadium. After the three students were patted down, they said they sat with their backs against the wall of the stadium without communicating with one another, for fear of drawing further suspicion.

It was during that time the Cubs recorded their final out, and the crowd went wild.

“It was sort of a cinematic moment,” Isaacson said. “As the fireworks went off, we were just sitting there, staring ahead, watching other people celebrating.”

Pickus and Martínez said the police officer who used a racial slur also referred to Martínez, who identifies as mixed Latino, as “Malcolm X” throughout the incident. Pickus said the officer asked him about Isaacson, who is white, asking, “What’s a nice kid doing hanging out with a spic and Malcolm X?”

The students said they were later released one by one.

The Chicago Police Department’s Office of News Affairs told The Daily in an email that if individuals feel they have been mistreated by police, they should report the incident to the Independent Police Review Authority, which reviews alleged police misconduct.

IPRA’s public information officer Mia Sissac reiterated that suggestion, declining to comment on a situation with which she was not familiar.

Martínez said he’s not sure if he’ll report the incident to IPRA, citing a lack of confidence in the office.

He also said he plans to reach out to some administrators about the incident, saying he would like to get some sort of official statement from the University about its students being “mistreated and racially profiled” by police.

Vice president for student affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin and Dean of Students Todd Adams were not immediately available for comment. University spokesman Al Cubbage did not respond to a request for comment.

Pickus said his neck hurt after the incident, but otherwise, he felt no lasting harm was done. Similarly, Isaacson said the group was lucky the incident wasn’t worse than it was because “that’s not the case for most people.”

“As Northwestern students, we usually get away with a lot things that people in a lot of different parts of the city don’t,” Isaacson said. “It’s odd that this is the first time a majority of my social circle at Northwestern is hearing about someone they know having this kind of encounter.”

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