Chicago Reporter | "For People With Disabilities, Chicago Police Consent Decree Takes First Steps Toward Reform"

When Eric J. Wilkins was pulled over by the Chicago police in the spring of 2002, he was on edge.

His older brother was sitting in prison at the time, a victim of Jon Burge-era police torture. And Wilkins, himself, says the police had roughed him up after he had been shot in the back and leg, just three years prior.

The officers who pulled his car over in 2002 told him to get out. Wilkins asked them if he could get his wheelchair from the backseat. The officers, Wilkins says, told him there was no need. And then they picked him up like a baby.

“They just got me out like I was their brat and sat me on the curb,” recalls Wilkins, who now runs the Broken Winggz Foundation for people paralyzed by gunshot wounds. “It made me feel defenseless and angry.”

People with physical or mental disabilities, like Wilkins, are one of the most over-policed groups in the country. They are 44 percent more likely to be arrested by the age of 28 than individuals without disabilities, according to a 2017 Cornell University study.

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