Community activists chase ‘bait truck’ out of Black neighborhood
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 8/9/2018, 9:41 a.m.
Police are under fire in Englewood, a Chicago neighborhood, for leaving a so-called “bait truck” filled with Nike brand shoes and left open to lure potential thieves, reports USA Today. Community members confronted officers in a circle around the truck. “Y'all dirty, man,” a man tells officers in an online video of the incident published Thursday, Aug. 9. “Y'all see kids playing ball and you pull a fuing Nike truck into the ghetto.” Charles McKenzie, an anti-crime activist who put the video on Facebook, told Vox that the truck appeared next to a basketball court frequented by young people in the largely Black neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago. And while both local and federal agencies conduct such “bait” operations, the site reported, neither Chicago police nor the FBI offered comment on the truck. Authorities use everything from fake drugs and modified cars to GPS-affixed packages and bikes to weed out thieves nationwide. Theft of in-transit property, known as cargo theft, caused nearly $27 million in losses in 2016, according to FBI data. But some community members perceived an alleged bait truck, left in an impoverished neighborhood near a basketball court, as an obvious attempt to target Black youth as racially lopsided arrests unfold nationwide. “The police parked a truck with boxes of Nike shoes in front of kids, lifted up,” McKenzie, the activist, said on Facebook, “and when people hop in the truck, the police hopping out on them.” McKenzie founded God’s Gorillas, a group promoting job assistance and alternatives to violence in Chicago. His video, which has more than 630,000 views on Facebook, later picked up another 290,000 views on the WorldStar website. In another video, YouTuber Martin G. Johnson allegedly depicts the bait truck traveling between locations with “plainclothes, FBI-looking type guys.” Once parked, he films community members telling authorities to remove the vehicle from their neighborhood. After the confrontation, however, the white truck was driven away. “That's what advocacy looks like,” one man says. “Good job, people.”