An interview with ILLA ILLS
Jeff: So ILLA, as you know, there’s been a lot of things going on with police brutality and harassment in different communities. Living in the Chi, what’s your experience with this?
ILLA ILLS: There’s been a lot of situations where the police personally harassed me. Now it wasn’t brutality or anything like that, but definitely harassed for no reason. Last year actually, it was a day when I was looking to shoot a music video and we were just driving around in Wicker Park looking for some nice spots. One place I wanted to shoot at was in front of Uprise Skatepark. If you don’t know the area, parking is sometimes really hard to find so we make a couple rounds to look for a spot and out of nowhere 2 policemen stop us in an unmarked vehicle. They pull us over and ask what we’re doing. Obviously, I tell them, “We’re just trying to look for parking to shoot for a music video.” They reply, “Oh okay, can we see your licenses? Also, do you have proof of ownership of the camera equipment in your car?”
Jeff: Wait, I don’t get it. How do you show proof that the camera equipment is yours?
ILLA ILLS: I don’t know, but I just decided to just show him my photography business card. At this point, I was just complying with whatever they asked for, but then I asked him, “Officer, so what’s the problem?” He responds and just said, “You guys looked suspicious because you were just driving around.” I couldn’t believe his answer because everyone is always driving around looking for parking in this area. It’s a really hard place to park! I couldn’t believe it.
Jeff: Yeah man, I know what you’re talking about. I gotta turn around like 4 or 5 times minimum before I find a spot out there.
ILLA ILLS: It ended bogus because I asked for his badge number because he stopped us for no reason. He responded, “Well since you’re going to be ——, I’m going to give you a ticket anyway!” We weren’t doing anything wrong and then he gave my friend a ticket for parking in the bus area, when we weren’t even parked there, but that started a whole other story.
Jeff: Man, that’s something right there… So what’s your view, then, on the reactions from the media that are showing police taking advantage of their authority?
ILLA ILLS: I personally feel like the media does not help at all. All they’ve been doing is adding fuel to the fire. They are just trying to get people to watch. They honestly don’t really care and I think there are still a lot of people that don’t get it. There’s always another side that’s not being covered. For the people viewing the media, don’t forget that it’s only a small group of people rioting and looting, while there are many people out there also being peaceful. There’s still peaceful protesting going on and we need to recognize that.
Jeff: What about the community? What are your thoughts on their reaction?
ILLA ILLS: It’s been like this for a long time, Jeff. I honestly don’t think it’s going to get any better. This stems from the history of cops harassing the people in the community and not being as responsible when the community actually needs you. From what I’ve personally seen is that they’re either not either protecting you or they’re harassing you in these communities. The community is standing up and saying that we’re tired of this. The police are supposed to be protecting you and they should be last person trying to kill you. We’ve been protesting since when? It happened way before all the things that are popping up in the media, today. It’s hard to be optimistic about something that’s not changing. How many wake up calls do we need for it to actually become better
Jeff: So what do you want to say our response should be?
ILLA ILLS: Let’s create more unity amongst ourselves. Know what I’m saying? There’s bad people in every community, but it’s up to us, as a community, to really keep our heads up and keep going for a real sense of progress rather than staying stuck in this cycle. We’re all human and people just want to be viewed that way whether or not their skin is one color or another. We’re. All. Human.