Justice for Anthony Alvarez rally met by counter protesters in Jefferson Park

A rally to bring attention to the fatal police shooting of Anthony Alvarez drew counterprotesters Saturday, leading to one arrest amid verbal sparring between the two groups outside a police station in Jefferson Park.

Protesters, including members of Alvarez’s family, held their rally outside the Jefferson Park district station, at 5152 N. Milwaukee Ave., to call for greater police oversight and for charges to be filed against the officer who fatally shot the 22-year-old man in March.

“All we want is justice for [Alvarez] and they saw this as a threat and decided to rally their troops to try to counter us,” said Shabbir Manjee, a member of Party for Socialism and Liberation, who helped organize the protest. “Well, we’re not going to accept that, we’re not going to be silenced, and we’re not going to be intimidated.”

Northwest Side Alds. Anthony Napolitano (41st), Nick Sposato (38th) and Jim Gardiner (45th) organized the counterprotest to the rally.

“It’s not a [counter] protest … it’s just our rally to show [police officers] that this world is not about these people,” Sposato said about people who protest police. “It’s about our kind of people.”

Protesters demand justice for Anthony Alvarez as police supporters gather on the opposite side of Milwaukee Avenue Saturday in front of the Jefferson Park district police station.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Both sides drew around 100 supporters, with Milwaukee Avenue serving as a porous barrier between the two groups. On at least three occasions, members of the Back the Blue rally crossed police barricades put in place to keep them off the street and got into verbal altercations with members of the protest.

A man, who had a confederate flag patched on his leather vest, blared a loud horn as he repeatedly rode his motorcycle by the group supporting the Alvarez family. After several passes by the protesters, some began throwing water at him.

Brian Ceja, 19, was taken into custody after he allegedly hurled a blue Gatorade bottle at the motorcyclist and was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery and reckless conduct, police said.

A protester splashes police supporters who were taunting and flipping off protesters with juice in front of the Jefferson Park district police station Saturday.

A protester splashes police supporters who were taunting and flipping off protesters with juice in front of the Jefferson Park district police station Saturday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Video of the Alvarez shooting released last month by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates police shootings, shows an officer shoot Alvarez in the back as he ran from police while holding a gun in his hand.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara stood alongside the police supporters, occasionally mocking the opposing crowd from across the street.

“They’re out here with a narrative that police kill people, it’s bulls—-,” Catanzara said.

Protesters also pointed to a recent altercation involving the same officer after he was recorded on video last week pulling a gun on a motorist during an apparent road rage incident in Logan Square.

The officer, whom the Sun-Times is not naming because he hasn’t been charged, is being investigated in both incidents.

Manjee said the second incident showed the officer’s conduct was part of a pattern of behavior and that he should be fired and charged in both cases.

Alvarez’s cousin, Roxana Figueroa, said she was angry when she saw video of the officer’s encounter with the motorist.

“I’m in shock that they still have a person like that working with a badge and a gun,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to me why you want somebody like that working for our city and to protect our city.

“We need him to get arrested and we need to finally get some peace in our family, and for Anthony to finally rest in peace because I know for a fact that he is not resting in peace right now,” she added.

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