CHICAGO (STMW) – Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) filed a complaint accusing a Chicago Police officer of racism after he was ticketed for illegally passing a turning a vehicle.
The incident that triggered Maldonado’s complaint occurred shortly after 9 p.m. on May 1 after Maldonado picked his children up from swimming practice.
The aldermen said he was stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of North and Leavitt when the car in front of him was turning left. Instead of waiting for the turn to be completed, Maldonado said he drove his 2004 Honda Pilot around the turning car on the right.
Maldonado said he was pulled over by a Chicago Police squad car about a mile west of the intersection.
Maldonado said a Hispanic officer got out of the car and asked for his driver’s license, which the alderman provided. When the alderman asked what he did wrong, the officer told him that he had passed two cars on the right.
Maldonado said he told the officer he was simply going around a turning car “like most people do.” Maldonado said he mentioned that he held a news conference that morning about a murder at a social club across the street from his aldermanic office.
“This was after three or four or five minutes. At that point, I identified myself. I said, ‘This is what I’m thinking about and this is who I am.’ I said, ‘Officer, you have a lot of time on your hands. The violence we have in our community, yet you have to stop me for this minor traffic violation?’ ”Maldonado said.
“I was being stopped for a petty offense. I thought my tax dollars should be better used going after serious crime. I said, ‘I’m going to call the commander because I think that’s wrong.’ At that point, the Latino officer said, ‘I just wanted to point out what you did wrong.’ I said, ‘Thank you, officer.’ And he gave me my driver’s license back.”
Maldonado said he was starting to leave when a second officer knocked on the driver’s side window and opened up the door of the alderman’s SUV.
“This was a white officer. He was belligerent and disrespectful. He said, ‘No. Give me your driver’s license back. I’m going give you as many tickets as I can,’” Maldonado recalled.
“I said, ‘You’re being completely disrespectful. I settled with the other officer and now you’re coming with this? You’re acting racist. I feel discriminated by you.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to get out of the car. I’m going to call the commander.’ ”
Maldonado said a sergeant arrived on the scene after he left a message for the commander. The alderman said he became more incensed when the sergeant told him the two officers were on a team of 100 deployed to the Humboldt Park, Logan Square and West Town areas to tamp down shootings and other violent crime.
“That’s why the police have so little credibility in communities of color. With this kind of belligerent behavior, who can trust the police?” Maldonado said.
“I’m not complaining about the fact that I got a ticket. I’m complaining about a white officer, his racist attitude and about the way he mistreated me. I was with my kids. It was very delicate and very uncomfortable for me. I felt belittled by this officer. When I asked his name, he covered his badge with his hand against police rules. He should be moved away from any area where people of color are protected. Maybe he should go to Lincoln Park. Maybe he’ll treat them with greater respect.”
Maldonado was appointed to the City Council in July 2009 after then-Ald. Billy Ocasio (26th) resigned to join Gov. Pat Quinn’s staff. Maldonado had spent the previous 15 years on the Cook County Board.
The commander of the Humboldt Park District, where the traffic stop occurred, did not return a call seeking comment. The Chicago Police Department declined comment.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)