Suit alleges abuse by police at CHA site

Kenya Richmond was trained by civil rights lawyers on how to document police abuse at the Stateway Gardens public housing development: stand back keep your eyes wide open and watch for details.

But when he tried to do just that, jotting down squad car numbers in his notebook, he found himself called racially derogatory names by white cops and ultimately arrested, Richmond charged in a federal lawsuit against six police officers Monday.

The suit was filed on Richmond's behalf by attorneys form the University of Chicago Law School's Mandel Legal Aid Clinic on the first anniversary of the incident.

Richmond, 26, who works for the Neighborhood Conservation Corps, an organization that provides social services and job training at Stateway, was interviewing residents about their plans for what should happen after the high-rises are demolished. He noticed a crowd had gathered where police had hit a suspect they were chasing, according tot he lawsuit.

Many residents were demanding the teenager be taken to the hospital. Richmond said he couldn't help but join in the crowd's demands. "He just looked real dizzy," Richmond said.

A few minutes later, a group of about three officers closed in on Richmond and grabbed his arm, he said.

"They started saying, 'Do you want a piece of me?' and 'Who do you think you are?' Later, in a squad car, Richmond was called a "f------ nigger" and "f------ monkey," according to the lawsuit.

Police charged Richmond with soliciting drug business from passerby, but the charges were later dropped.

Richmond spent his first 20 years at Stateway. He served a year in boot camp in 1885 for a drug-related charge, but Craig Futterman, Richmond's attorney, and Jamie Kalven, his boss at the Neighborhood Conservation Corps, say Richmond has not been in trouble for a long time.

Futterman said the alleged civil rights violations touch al residents at Stateway.

"It sends a strong message to people that they don't have the same rights as other citizens," Futterman said. "If people like Kenya didn't stand up and put a stop to this, it would just keep going on."

Stateway residents want police protection, but they want to be treated with respect, Richmond and Kalven said.

"We need police officers, but we don't need crooked cops coming in," Richmond agreed. "That brings the neighborhood down."

The city's Law Department was not available for comment.