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Chicago: Now is the time for real community control of police.

Now is the time for CPAC!
By staff |
October 9, 2020
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Chicago, IL - Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made it official: she will not support any form of police reform that takes any power from her office. She declared the “negotiations have broken down” with aldermen who supported a proposal called the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) because they insisted on giving it the power to set policy for the Chicago Police Department. The CCPSA would add a convoluted layer of bureaucracy over the already broken system of ‘oversight.’

Desmon Yancy, staff coordinator of the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA), the author of the CCPSA, has called for pushing that proposal through the council over mayoral objections, and Alderman Chris Taliafero, chair of the council Public Safety Committee, has echoed those calls. There are 29 aldermen who have signed on as sponsors of this legislation.

They have a problem, however. Eleven of the 29 are also sponsors of the ordinance for real community control of police, a proposal supported by an overwhelming majority of Chicagoans. That proposal gives an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) powers much greater than those of the GAPA proposal, including the power to hire and fire the police chief and to discipline police officers for violations of civilian civil rights.

35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said, in the wake of the mayor’s obstinacy, “If the supporters of CPAC hold firm and do not vote for the GAPA proposal, it cannot pass. And if the supporters of GAPA support CPAC, that ordinance will pass. Instead of focusing on a bill designed for a mayor who has no interest in sharing power with communities, we urge the GAPA coalition to join the broadest and longest-standing movement for true democratic control of the Chicago police: CPAC. “

Rosa added, “The CCPSA/GAPA proposal offers only a fig leaf of reform over a racist and corrupt system of policing in Chicago. Its elected body has no power except to nominate another body that has virtually no power over the CPD, and those nominations must be approved by the mayor and the city council. The people of Chicago demand and deserve an elected body that has the authority to establish policies, rules and regulations for the CPD that respect the rights of civilians, especially Black and brown civilians, that are routinely violated by police steeped in a culture of white supremacy and racism.”

Jazmine Salas, Koby Guillory and Regina Russell, co-chairs of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, called on all who support real community control of the police to call their aldermen now, and demand that they support CPAC. "Nothing short of CPAC offers any hope of ending police crimes in Chicago and empowering the people to determine what safety looks like in their communities," they said in a joint statement.