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Chicago law enforcement officers allegedly set up a 'bait truck' with Nike shoes in black neighborhoods

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A Chicago resident confronts law enforcement over what appears to be a “bait truck” planted in the neighborhood.Martin G. Johnson/YouTube

Law enforcement officers in Chicago allegedly brought a “bait truck” filled with Nike sneakers and Christian Louboutin shoes to predominantly black neighborhoods to attract potential thieves, according to local activists.

And it’s not the first time they’ve used this strategy.

A viral video first posted to Facebook by Charles Mckenzie, a member of the local crime prevention group God’s Gorillas, appeared to show a “bait truck” parked near a public basketball court frequented by teenagers in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood on August 2. It spread on platforms like World Star Hip Hop and the Atlanta Black Star.

Another video, taken by the local activist Martin G. Johnson, showed Johnson tailing the “bait truck” around Chicago for an hour, also earlier in August.

In both videos, local residents apparently recognized the truck, warned people to stay away from it, and told police officers nearby to remove it from the area.

It’s not clear if the alleged bait truck stings were run by local police or federal or state forces operating in Chicago. Representatives for the Chicago police department didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.

The concept of crime-baiting strategies are not new, but they have drawn increased scrutiny in the past few years as more people pay attention to anti-black policing, according to Vox. Basically, law enforcement authorities are said to fill a truck with valuables — like coveted shoes — and leave them in neighborhoods with high crime. But the devices are rigged with surveillance equipment so authorities can easily catch thieves.

Critics see bait trucks as a hostile form of policing because they create a potential for crime when one wouldn’t otherwise occur. They argue they’re a form of entrapment.

Residents in the videos with the alleged bait truck argued it was an attempt to trap vulnerable young people rather than focus on actual criminals.

Using baiting devices, Mckenzie told Vox, only sows mistrust between police and local residents.

“There were a lot of young guys playing basketball,” he said. “Why would they do that in the poorest communities to people who don’t have anything better? … How do we supposed to trust [police] if they setting us up like this?”

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