On a balmy day in February, Jedidiah Brown drove onto a busy expressway in the heart of Chicago, firearm in tow, with the intention of killing himself. The South Side activist, now 30 years old, sat in his parked car holding the gun to his head while he broadcast over Facebook Live. He cited the death of a family member and living in a city rocked by police violence and political corruption as reasons for the episode.
While Brown sat weeping, a team from the Chicago Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics division was deployed to the scene. The SWAT team rammed Brown’s car from the front and back with two large armored vehicles, which he says looked like “tanks.” Video footage of the incident, which Brown captured on Facebook Live, shows him growing increasingly agitated and pleading with the police. “Fucking stop it,” he said at one point, to the sound of more crashing.
“It made everything race, made everything chaotic,” Brown said of the SWAT team, comprised of several heavily armed officers. “I went from having the desire to commit suicide to thinking, ‘Now I’m going to be killed by the police.’”
Brown’s friend Alicia Spikes, who says she witnessed the incident, was troubled by the SWAT team’s actions. “I believe,” she said, “they escalated the situation more than it had to be.”