Two police officers were placed on administrative leave after an Evanston man running for city clerk was arrested Sunday evening while petitioning for the office in downtown Evanston.
Devon Reid, 24, was arrested at the corner of Sherman Avenue and Church Street after refusing to give specific personal information to an officer. He was initially charged with violating a city ordinance, but the charge is being dropped and the Evanston Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into the situation.
Reid said he believes he was arrested because of his race.
“I am a 24-year-old black male, who is running for public office and is very well aware of my rights under the law as a citizen of the United States,” he said. “I wasn’t breaking any laws. I wasn’t breaking a city ordinance, nor was I breaking any state laws.”
Evanston police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan said the arrest was “an error” on the officer’s part, but that he currently has no evidence showing race was a factor in the officer’s decision to arrest Reid.
“The officer thought she was acting in her capacity … we reviewed it and definitely not,” Dugan said. “He should not have been arrested.”
Reid was standing outside of Panera Bread, 1700 Sherman Ave., with another man at about 5:45 p.m. asking passerby to sign their names to the petition. Reid said he was approached by an officer who alleged he was in violation of a city ordinance that prohibits soliciting on Sundays. After Reid explained he was not soliciting, but rather petitioning, the officer asked for his name and middle initial, which he provided.
The officer then asked for his date of birth, which Reid said he refused to give because he felt he was not breaking any laws and was concerned it would allow the officer to look him up in their system. The 23-year-old white Chicago resident who accompanied Reid provided contact information to the police officer, an Evanston Police Department news release said.
Reid said he continued to petition while the officer remained present. After another EPD officer arrived, he said he was charged with violation of a city ordinance.
City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he spoke with Reid this morning and apologized for the situation. The two officers will be on administrative leave pending the internal investigation, Bobkiewicz said.
“We take it very seriously,” he said. “The facts as I see them at this point certainly don’t point that this was done in a way consistent with EPD policies and procedures, so we will conduct an appropriate investigation and take appropriate measures for the two officers involved.”
Reid said he wasn’t looking for an apology, but for action to be taken on the broader issue of police discrimination. He said he has had negative run-ins with police in the past and has concerns about similar instances in the community.
“I’m a young black male who is politically involved and who is able to explain the law to these guys, and they still arrested me,” he said. “Imagine what is happening out in the community to the young guys who aren’t able to hold the law the way I was.”
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