Chicago aldermen got an earful from residents about police accountability at a public hearing held Tuesday night on the city's North Side.
The meeting at Senn High School in Chicago's Edgewater community was the second of five neighborhood hearings being held on proposed Chicago police reforms.
In attendance were Chicago Alds. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Tom Tunney (44th), Harry Osterman (48th), James Cappleman (46th) and Joe Moore (49th).
The city wants to replace the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), which investigates police-involved shootings, with a new civilian investigative agency and create a new Public Safety Auditor.
The proposals, expected to be considered at the September Chicago City Council meeting, piggyback off recommendations issued by the mayor's Police Accountability Task Force, which deemed IPRA as "badly broken" and in need of being replaced with an independent civilian-led agency.
In the weeks ahead, Chicago community groups will also spearhead a separate public engagement process on establishing a new Community Safety Oversight Board in the city.
The city's police reform efforts come as the U.S. Justice Department investigates the Chicago Police Department's practices and as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel tries to rebuild public trust in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting and subsequent handling of the case. Emanuel fought against releasing the dashcam video of the McDonald shooting for 13 months, until a judge ordered its release.
The Chicago Police Department has come under additional scrutiny over last month's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Paul O'Neal, who was shot in the back as he fled from a stolen car.
Tuesday's hearing was dominated by city residents who support "community control" of the police by way of an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) has led a multi-year campaign in support of CPAC, a proposal that was introduced in the City Council last month. If passed, the civilian-led council would investigate and prosecute claims of Chicago police crimes.
CPAC supporters say they will not settle for another city-appointed board to oversee policing issues.
"We reject all appointments," said CAARPR's Mike Siviwe Elliott. "Your appointments throughout the decades have proven to be total failures. ... Your appointments, your ideas of creating this appointed board and these appointed people, are totally rejected by the community. And you're gonna be hearing us call for community control of the police through an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council at every single hearing that you have."
Marc Kaplan with Northside Action for Justice echoed Elliott's sentiments, saying the city's appointed bodies have "less than zero credibility to the people of the city of Chicago."
"We need an elected civilian police accountability commission," he said, adding that "anything less is not going to be accepted. We don't need any more shams. We need to put the power of accountability into the hands of the people."
Some hearing attendees advocated for another proposal, the "FAIR Cops" ordinance, including the Rev. Marcus Tabb of the Granville Avenue United Methodist Church. His church is hosting a town hall meeting August 23 about the FAIR Cops ordinance, which would establish a deputy inspector general of police oversight within the Inspector General's Office.
The Community Renewal Society crafted the proposal, which has been pending in the City Council since April.
Tabb, who is African American, went on to give an impassioned testimony about raising his three sons in the city. His sons are aged 14, 17 and 19.
"I raised my children in CAPS [the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program], teaching them to respect the police, teaching them that they should be running to the police instead of running away from the police when they see them," he said. "But all that was taken away when 16 shots were put into Laquan McDonald. Nineteen years of hard work was taken away when their friend, a young man who used to play in my backyard, Paul O'Neal, was gunned down for running away from the police.
"So I'm asking you to put yourself in my shoes. What do I tell my children?" Tabb continued. "I am concerned about my children. ... Now I see them tense up when they see the police, even when they're in the car with me."
Tabb's oldest son now attends Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, where "they still hang the Confederate flag."
Tabb said his son "feels more comfortable in a city like Jackson, Mississippi than he does in Chicago, Illinois -- and that's a shame."
Andy Thayer with the Gay Liberation Network and the Uptown Tent City Organizers followed Tabb's testimony.
"There's a reason why this man's son feels safer down in the heart of the South than he does here in Chicago," Thayer said. "It's because we have too many police officers, and they drain the money away from the schools, the mental health clinics that would have been serving people like Laquan McDonald."
Another speaker, Barbara Waller with Showing Up for Racial Justice, told the aldermen that she has biracial grandsons and is "scared for them."
"The Chicago Police Department needs to become an anti-racist police department," she said. "This goes way beyond diversity training. The Chicago Police Department, and anyone who deals with them, must realize the systemic problems in our institution -- that this is what must be changed. It's not about individual bad cops."
The next three neighborhood hearings on police accountability will take place August 11 at Little Village Lawndale High School, August 16 at Westinghouse College Prep and August 22 at North Grand High School. Each meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.