Demonstrators gathered Saturday in Joliet to again protest the death of Eric Lurry, who overdosed on drugs in the back of a squad car, and some even attempted to demonstrate outside of the home of the city's police chief.
Stringer Harris, an activist from Chicago who has helped organize several demonstrations to demand police accountability for Lurry's January death, said as many as over 200 people joined Saturday's protest.
"We showed numbers out here today that we haven't showed ever since we've been out here," he said.
Harris lauded several demonstrators who were part of a Mexican independence cruise who joined up with the Lurry protest near the intersection of Larkin Avenue and Jefferson Street. He said the largely Latino demonstrators "came in droves" to lend support to the protest to bring more awareness to Lurry's case.
Harris and others have argued the Joliet Police Department covered up Lurry's death and an attorney for Lurry's family said he hired a medical examiner to perform a second autopsy on him. The Will County Coroner's Office determined Lurry's death was accidental and due to fatal intoxication from heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.
Lurry died at AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet while in police custody.
Some of the protesters decided to take their demonstration over to the home of Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner in a subdivision off Essington Road. Harris said shortly after he arrived in Roechner's neighborhood, Joliet police officers showed up.
After Harris told the officers why they were there, he said, the officers told him they could not demonstrate there because of "something about residential picketing." Harris said he didn't want anyone in his group to be "antagonized or bullied" by police, so they left.
"I want things to be peaceful here in Joliet and I want to do things within the law, but they have to understand that ... we have rights to protest peacefully," Harris said. "And when you try to infringe on those rights, basically, it's a problem."
He pointed to previous demonstrations outside of the homes of specific city officials. Protesters have gathered outside of the homes of Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk and City Councilman Pat Mudron earlier this summer.
Harris said Roechner never came out to speak to the protesters. Roechner failed to return multiple calls from The Herald-News on Saturday.
Even after several demonstrations over the summer, Harris said he and others will continue to protest, attend City Council meetings and demand justice for Lurry.
"We will be back," he said.