URBANA, Ill (WCIA) — 21-year-old Aleyah Lewis says she plans to fight charges of resisting arrest and aggravated battery of an officer.
This is from an incident that happened in Urbana back in April.
Currently, the NAACP is working with the mayor to conduct an independent investigation of it.
“Justice for Aleyah! Justice for Aleyah!” chanted dozens of community members.
They were gathered outside the Champaign County Courthouse Tuesday morning to stand in solidarity with Lewis.
On April 10th, Urbana police responded to a shots fired call near the corner of Cottage Grove Ave. and Glenwood Oaks Court, arresting Lewis’ boyfriend for reckless discharge of a firearm toward an apartment complex.
Police say the gunfire started as an argument between the two that spilled outside. When officers went to arrest Lewis too, they say she fought back. A video widley shared on social media showed officers hitting Lewis in the process.
“If you can watch it and not see it as horrifying and [Lewis] as the victim, then imagine her as a white woman because she was victimized brutally,” says supporter River Andres.
Now, community members are rallying around lewis, demanding that the chargers be dropped.
A group backing Lewis called Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) says she is facing up to 12 years in prison.
“[It is] a really powerful example from very recently in our community of exactly what police do in this country,” said supporter Marshall Allston.
Lewis says she went to her hearing to find out if her charges would be dropped. The Champaign County State’s attorney decided against it, but Lewis says it doesn’t end here.
She spoke out publicly for the first time after her hearing.
“I’m disappointed, really, but I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to keep trying because because I’m not a bad person, and that’s what they’re trying to make me out to be,” said Lewis. “I just want to let the mayor know, the sheriff know, the police department know…this fight isn’t over.”
In an initial investigation in April, the State’s Attorney and Urbana Police Department ruled that the officers’ use-of-force was justified. The re-opened, independent investigation is ongoing.