CHICAGO (CBS) — Parents took to the streets Wednesday in memory of children who died from drug overdoses. They marched from the Cook County morgue to the criminal courthouse to call on police to keep their promise to make sure drug dealers are prosecuted for drug-induced homicide.
“We are not going to be silenced,” Sylvia Schafer said.
She and other parents who have experienced the pain of losing a child to drug overdoses gathered outside the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office on Wednesday. Photos of their loved ones lined the wall.
Theresa Almanza’s stepdaughter was among 2,600 people in Cook County who have died of drug overdoses since 2015.
“These cases should be classified as homicides,” she said.
Almanza has been leading the fight to get police and prosecutors to enforce a 1989 law that allows drug dealers to be charged with homicide when someone who uses their product dies of an overdose.
“Only one drug dealer has gone to jail for drug-induced homicide. What about the other 2,599 lives?” she said.
In April, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson told CBS 2 the department was forming a task force to address the problem.
“If you ask anybody where this task force is, nobody knows,” Schafer said.
Schafer is understandably impatient. Her son, Joshua Bloomfield, overdosed in May.
“He was a joy. He was quick-witted, and funny, and a beautiful, beautiful face. I mean, and it’s gone,” she said.
On behalf of those still grieving, and braving 90-degree heat to demand justice, CBS 2 asked Chicago police for an update on the task force. An email described a partnership among “state and federal prosecutors,” “county and suburban partners,” and “Chicago police detectives who are cross-sworn as DEA” officers.
“Why are drug dealers getting away with murdering our children?” Almanza said.
The goal of the task force is to look at creative ways to prosecute drug-induced homicides. When? “In the coming months.”
Now would be a better answer for the parents who organized Wednesday’s march.
“I think it’s a shame that you have to beg, and you have to do all the work. You have to do all of the pulling of teeth, and the law is there. You just have to enforce it,” Schafer said.
The same parents plan another rally next month. This one will involve parents around the world.