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ECPS Coalition urges Chicagoans to run for District Council elections

By Kobi Guillory |
September 2, 2022
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Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) Coalition press conference.
Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) Coalition press conference. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Chicago, IL - The Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) Coalition held a press conference on Tuesday morning, August 30, in response to Mayor Lightfoot's Monday appointment of the citywide Interim Commission for Public Safety. According to the ECPS ordinance, the commission should have been appointed in January. The coalition held a press conference on July 20 demanding that the mayor end the delays and appoint the Interim Commission. With the appointments made, the coalition set its eyes towards the local District Council elections coming up in February 2023.

"This ordinance is a step towards giving the people the democratic right to decide who policies their communities and how their communities are policed," said Frank Chapman, field organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) and executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR). 

The commission's powers include the ability to set policies and goals for the Chicago Police Department and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability; the mandate to give votes of no confidence to the superintendent, and input into the CPD budget. The seven newly appointed commissioners are Anthony Driver, Oswaldo Gomez, Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, Yvette Loizon, Cliff Nellis, Remel Terry and Isaac Troncoso.

"Four of the seven commissioners were involved in the work to bring about police oversight," said Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa, a longtime advocate of community control of the police. Notably absent from the commission is former alderman and Vrdolyak 29 member Patrick O Connor, whose nomination to the commission was denounced by the ECPS Coalition.

The Interim Commission will be in place until the end of 2023, when it will be replaced by a permanent commission nominated by the local District Councils. Petitioning to get on the ballot for District Council elections in February 2023 started on Tuesday and the petitioning window is open until November 30. There are three council positions in each of the city's 22 police districts, and candidates will need at least 0.5% of the registered voters in their district to sign their petition in order to get on the ballot.

"District Council members will serve four-year terms and take on key roles to implementing this ordinance. They will be the eyes and ears of the community," explained Jackie Baldwin, a leader in the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. Baldwin continued, "this is the time that we need people to step up and run for one of these 66 positions, make sure you are registered, and most importantly, be prepared to vote in February."

"On April 11, 2016, my 16-year-young nephew, Pierre Loury, was shot and killed by the Chicago Police Department, and on April 12, 2016, I became active as an organizer and freedom fighter because I wanted and needed change," said Arewa Karen Winters, founder of the 411 Movement for Pierre Loury and former cochair of the police use of force working group, before she announced her candidacy for council member of the 15th District in the Austin neighborhood.

Winters is one of many candidates who have been directly impacted by police violence, and the ECPS Coalition has already started helping these candidates with education, training and support in the petitioning process. While the coalition is not endorsing any particular candidates, it is assisting candidates who are committed to fighting for community control of the police. Winters went on to say, "The District Council positions will afford us the chance to not only speak truth to power, but power to power."

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