Earlier this month, the Chicago Police Department and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police teamed up for a cruel experiment: They parked a truck full of Nike sneakers and Louboutin shoes—expensive, coveted items usually far out of the reach of residents—in an impoverished, majority black area of Chicago, and then waited to arrest anyone who climbed into the truck to see what was in there. Who took the bait, in other words.
Three men, including a deaf man who said he was simply looking for food, were arrested in the “bait truck” sting, which was caught live on video by community members and was met with outrage from local politicians and the ACLU, among others. Although the railroad later apologized and prosecutors dropped charges against the three men, the CPD—which has been using bait trucks in Chicago for years—continues to defend its use of the tactic, with Supt. Eddie Johnson saying the department will take a “hard look” at the policy but not making any promises.
In response to the sting, Chicago hip-hop artist Vic Mensa has organized an event through his SaveMoneySaveLife foundation, giving away shoes in the same neighborhood where the sting took place. SaveMoneySaveLife executive director Laundi Keepseagle told The Chicago Sun-Times yesterday that calls to donate from Mensa and activist Shaun King have resulted in the donation of 10,000 pairs of shoes ranging from toddler to adult sizes, including large donations from athletes and musicians who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s amazing. I spent the last half hour crying,” she says. “It’s been overwhelming.”
The shoes will be given away, along with free haircuts and appearances by Mensa and Chance the Rapper—who wrote yesterday on Instagram, “Vic’s nonprofit @savemoneysavelife collected literally THOUSANDS of shoes to GIVE AWAY in Englewood in response to that racist ass fucking Bait Truck ... it sickens me to think about it but we must do for our own. Bring your cousins and siblings and whatnot to come and receive a free pair of shoes and repost this to tell someone who may be in need”—at the Englewood Community Center (2050 W. 59th St) this coming Sunday, August 26, from 4-6 p.m.