Par­ents of slain tod­dler com­plain about treat­ment by Chicago po­lice

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY JADE YAN, STAFF RE­PORTER jyan@sun­times.com | @jadelu­ci­ayan

A cloud of he­lium bal­loons and three white doves filled the air above a South Side street on Wed­nes­day, along with sobs, ex­pres­sions of love for a slain tod­dler, de­mands for an end to the vi­o­lence — and calls for a more com­pas­sion­ate po­lice re­sponse.

“Enough is Enough,” some chanted as they held signs with pho­tos of Sin­cere Gas­ton, the 20-month-old boy slain Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The tear­ful vigil was held near the cor­ner of 61st and South Hal­sted, not far from the spot where Sin­cere was shot and killed as his mother drove to an En­gle­wood laun­dro­mat.

“Love you Sin­cere,” cried his fa­ther. “Love you Doodie,” called his mother.

The vigil drew a large crowd. It was or­ga­nized by Chicago CRED, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ad­vo­cat­ing re­duc­ing gun vi­o­lence through in­vest­ment in re­sources and coun­sel­ing for peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced trauma. Other groups that par­tic­i­pated in­cluded IMAN, I Am Able, FLIP, and Pur­pose Over Pain.

Sin­cere’s par­ents and grand­mother Eve Bin­ion spoke.

Sin­cere’s fa­ther, Thomas Gas­ton, told the crowd he had been treated “wrong” by the po­lice, “like I’m the sus­pect.” He was re­fer­ring to the­o­riz­ing by the po­lice that he, not his child, had been the in­tended tar­get, be­cause he of­ten drove the same car.

Steve Gates, who works with CRED, said he has known Thomas Gas­ton since 2009. He took is­sue with Gas­ton be­ing called the “in­tended tar­get.”

He said those ask­ing whether Gas­ton was “the tar­get” need to “stop de­hu­man­iz­ing African Amer­i­can men. Let [Thomas Gas­ton] be a vic­tim.”

Gates said such treat­ment con­tin­ued when Thomas Gas­ton and Sin­cere’s mother went to pick up their prop­erty af­ter the shoot­ing. The cou­ple were told by the po­lice that they first had to give state­ments, said Gates, who likened this to a “threat.”

“It’s al­most like the CPD crim­i­nal­izes loss,” said Gates, who said he has spent 10 to 12 hours a day with the fam­ily since the shoot­ing.

When the child’s mother, Yas­mine Miller, 22, spoke at the vigil, she called for the po­lice to help.

“We are not pleased on how y’all treated us,” she said. “We need y’all help . . . I don’t want not an­other mother to feel my pain.”

Asked to re­spond to the par­ents’ re­marks, the po­lice is­sued a state­ment.

“The Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment ex­presses its con­do­lences to the par­ents of Sin­cere Gas­ton for their pro­found loss of their young son,” the state­ment read.

“Our de­tec­tives are con­duct­ing a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der of an in­no­cent child, work­ing dili­gently to iden­tify and ap­pre­hend the in­di­vid­ual or in­di­vid­u­als re­spon­si­ble.”

Miller, a day care teacher, had been driv­ing to the laun­dro­mat with her son when he was shot. Miller suf­fered a graze wound to her own head.

Sin­cere’s fu­neral ser­vices next Mon­day will be paid for by Leak and Sons Fu­neral Homes.

AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES Thomas Gas­ton (left) and Yas­mine Miller, at a vigil for their son Wed­nes­day, said they were “not pleased” with the po­lice han­dling of the case.

Sin­cere Gas­ton FACE­BOOK

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