Judge Hears Testimony on Chicago Police Consent Decree
A judge will hear testimony for a second day from people wishing to comment on the proposed consent decree that would govern reforms within the Chicago Police Department.
Testimony from members of the public wishing to comment on the agreement began Wednesday at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse where nearly 50 people gave their thoughts on the agreement to U.S. District Judge Robert Dow.
The consent decree is a proposed order that would change policies within the department, along with requiring more training and accountability. Opponents argue that it’s a political stunt that allegedly stymies police from doing their jobs, while supporters say it’s a much needed step in reforming the department and ensuring more accountability, with some arguing it doesn’t go far enough.
“We’ve hit a point of crisis in the city where policing has been unconstitutional for far too long. And without oversight, that won’t be remedied,” Karen Scheley, of the Illinois ACLU told ABC7.
The consent decree was partly born out of the fallout from the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who earlier this month was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery – one for each shot he fired at McDonald. Under then President Barack Obama, the US Justice Department launched an investigation of the Department, which found a systemic pattern of abuse and misconduct. Lawyers for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan worked out a draft of the 236-page agreement last month.
“I have always said I didn’t want to reduce the death of my great nephew to just getting a conviction for Jason Van Dyke,” said Pastor Marvin Hunter, McDonald’s uncle. “I believe we need real change and police reform in the City of Chicago.”
Inside the hearing many who testified gave their personal experiences or talked about the experiences of people they knew who faced abuse by police. According to the Sun-Times, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli spoke of myriad physical abuse her clients faced at the hands of police over the years. “Each story was so similar, so consistent, I knew they were true,” Campanelli said.
Opponents also testified, including John Catanzara, a 24-year veteran of the Department. Catanzara, who wore a Trump sweatshirt over his uniform at the courthouse, told reporters that people need to comply with police orders. “Until we start explaining to these kids that their personal choices have consequences, no consent decree is going to change anything,” he said.
Thursday will be the second and last day of public comment. Those who signed up to speak but may not get an opportunity due to time constraints still have until November 2nd to file written comments. “You can literally just file the speech with the clerk’s office,” Dow said Thursday morning, according to the Sun-Times.
Ald. Rosa to Call for Full City Council Vote on CPAC
Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa says he plans to use Rule 41, a procedural method in the Chicago City Council, to call for a full vote for a civilian police accountability council.
“To end the history of harmful policing in our communities that has killed black and brown children, to end the torture of our people, to ensure that we have a system that is truly working to keep all of us safe, we demand civilian control of the police,” Rosa said at a Tuesday press conference at City Hall.
The proposed ordinance, which has languished in various committees within the City Council for years, would establish a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), an elected body that would oversee the department. It would have the power to appoint a superintendent, adopt rules and regulations governing the police, serve as a disciplinary board for cops accused of misconduct, and review and submit the annual budget for the Chicago Police to the City Council.
The ordinance has 8 sponsors listed, including Rosa.
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which has championed the ordinance, celebrated the move.
“These brave Council members are saying that they will agree no more to multi-million settlements and legal fees for police crime coverups,” CAARPR said in a statement emailed to press. “They will demand that the facts of police crimes be publicly known, facts that have always been hidden even from them by the Mayor and the City Law Department…They are taking a stand for an end to a system that classifies Black and Brown people as profiles in criminality.”
Should the ordinance not pass, Rosa said he and others will continue to fight for it in the next term.
“We’re going to continue to fight for it to pass it in the next term with some new alderman that are actually listening to the people,” he said.
Mayoral Forum Scheduled on West Side for November 10
Chicagoans looking to hear more from potential 2019 mayoral candidates will have another chance in early November.
Community groups on the West Side plan to host a mayoral forum at Greater St. John’s Bible Church at 1256 North Waller Avenue, from 1:00 to 4:00pm on Saturday November 10th.
“The purpose of the Candidate Forum is to give Westside voters, historically the most engaged and from the area of Chicago with the highest voter turnout, an opportunity to hear candidates discuss the issues of importance to them in this election,” said Jonathan Todd of First Place Campaigns, a community group that’s organizing the forum alongside Citizens for Civic Education.
According to Todd, candidates will participate in an interactive panel that will solicit questions from a blue-ribbon panel, written questions from the public and an online audience.
According to organizers, confirmed candidates so far include Amara Enyia, Troy Laraviere, Willie Wilson, Garry McCarthy, Lori Lightfoot, Paul Vallas, Neal Sales-Griffin, and William ‘Dock’ Walls. Todd says the groups are working to reach out to and confirm other declared candidates, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The forum will be moderated by ABC7 Chicago journalist Evelyn Holmes.
Rauner, Roskam Blow Anti-LGBTQ ‘Dog Whistle’ – Ted Cox/One Illinois
Locked Basketball Hoop At Near West Side Apartments Outrages Residents: ‘We’re Not Animals’ – Mauricio Pena/Block Club Chicago
Explore Racial Disparities in Hundreds of Illinois Schools and Districts – David Eads/Propublica Illinois