The Arc of History Just Bent a Little Toward Justice

Today, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was found GUILTY. Network 49’s Ted Miin, who is on our consent decree team, notes that this conviction does not mean that the system “works,” or that true justice was served. The jury found Van Dyke not guilty of official misconduct, meaning he was acting in accordance with official police procedures.

Laquan McDonald
Laquan McDonald was killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke was convicted of aggravated battery and murder in the second degree on October 5, 2018.

There is a preponderance of evidence that Van Dyke shot LaQuan McDonald – without thinking, without justification, and clearly without fear of accountability. Had video of the shooting not been captured and not surfaced, McDonald would be just another dead black teen and Van Dyke would be in uniform and on patrol.

Our hearts break for McDonald’s family and the city as a whole, who have yet to experience real justice.
Van Dyke’s conviction is not cause for celebration. There is no victory in receiving the least we should expect. That it might be a cause for celebration is an indictment of how rotten this city is when it comes to safety and accountability.

Let’s not forget the infamous video that led to Van Dyke’s trial also led to the investigation of CPD, which led to a lawsuit and negotiations for a strong federal court consent decree to achieve better police accountability. Network 49’s Ted Miin, Emilie Junge and Michael Harrington all spent – and will spend, countless hours to ensure that the consent decree leads to real change. The verdict does not change that.

We should remember the video was withheld by Mayor Emanuel, until a judge forced him to release it.
We should remember the cover-up was supported by compliant public officials and police leadership that knew of its existence and its contents, yet hewed to the line that McDonald’s shooting was justified. Justice awaits for those people, if justice is to be served.

Van Dyke’s conviction not does not remove the fact that police leadership and the political establishment all conspired to obstruct justice. We have much work to do.

Proposed city/state Police Consent Decree draft misses key reforms

Network 49 calls on members to speak up for safety

Network 49 has reviewed the proposed consent decree released by the City of Chicago/State of Illinois as part of the ongoing effort to reform the Chicago Police Department. We find the document leaves out critically important protections that community organizations fought for and which can be found in similar reform decrees in other cities. We need all our members to take action TODAY. Here’s how:

ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL

Attn: Civil Rights Bureau
100 West Randolph St., 12th Floor
Chicago, IL 60601
Fax: 312.814.3212

We have included a sample comment below, which you can simply copy and paste in the comment box. Be sure to add your contact information when you do.

 

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Hon. Lisa Madigan
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL
Attn: Civil Rights Bureau
100 West Randolph St., 12th Floor
Chicago, IL 60601

August 12, 2018

Dear AG Madigan:

The State of Illinois and City of Chicago released a proposed consent decree regarding the Chicago Police Department. The proposed decree is incomplete and lacks critical provisions in order to provide meaningful protections against police violence and bias. The final consent decree must include the following:

1.    Ensure transparency and public accountability and provide meaningful opportunities for community feedback on CPD related plans and policies.  The Consent Decree must explicitly provide the community with the opportunity to provide feedback on plans, analyses and reports related to CPD operations and all of these items must be made public.  Further, CPD must be required to make public comprehensive data related to complaints, uses of force, and other law enforcement activities implicated by the consent decree.

2.    Address hostile police-community interactions by developing diversion programs, ending the financial incentives CPD officers have to make arrests and reducing arrests for minor, often pre-textual offenses. Rather than funneling people into the criminal-legal system, CPD must create diversion partnerships, including restorative justice and community mediation. Successful diversion requires that officers receive supervisory authority prior to making minor (often pre-textual) arrests, and prohibits trolling (escalating incidents at the end of a shift).  These efforts will help decrease racially discriminatory policing and reduce the number of minor incidents that escalate into uses of force.

3.    Ensure that people harmed by CPD and their families receive support and information. CPD must provide accurate information on the whereabouts of people injured as a result of police action, and CPD must immediately contact an injured person’s next of kin and/or emergency contact.  The City must provide police-violence survivors and their families with psychosocial supportive services independent from CPD.

4.    Strengthen protections against unlawful use of force by mandating de-escalation, restricting foot pursuits, lethal force and the use of Tasers and ensuring accountability.
•    Limit exceptions to mandatory de-escalation: The decree authorizes officers to take action (or refrain from action) when “safe and feasible.”  This term should be defined ensure that de-escalation is the rule and not the exception.
•    Ensure that officers are not penalized for using de-escalation tactics: Officers should not be penalized for taking sufficient time to resolve an incident without using force.
•    Prohibit officers from escalating incidents: Officers must be prohibited from using tactics that escalate an incident, including but not limited to by taunting, humiliating or threatening individuals and using racial or gendered slurs.
•    Prohibit the un-holstering of firearms unless lethal force may become necessary. Officers must not un-holster and display a firearm unless there is an objectively reasonable belief that lethal force may become necessary.
•    Require reporting every time an officer points a gun or Taser or observes a use of force: CPD has to file a report each time an officer points a gun or Taser at a person and each CPD member who observes a use of force must file a separate report.

5.    Impartial policing—meaningfully address the police violence and misconduct targeted at Black people, women, Latinx people and people with disabilities:  The proposed decree does not contain any data-driven efforts to identify and root out bias, or address gender- or disability-bias in policing.  CPD should develop and implement, with input from the Monitor and the community, a comprehensive strategic plan to eliminate racial profiling and discriminatory policing, including an express prohibition on racial profiling.  Community feedback must be incorporated as to all policies related to impartial policing.

6.    Gender: CPD must protect people who are gender-non-conforming from harassment and transgender people from invasive searches, and CPD policy on sexual misconduct should be defined clearly and adhere to professional-accepted standards. The Monitor—with community input—must conduct an assessment of CPD policy and practice to determine impact on women and girls. COPA’s jurisdiction must be expanded to encompass sexual assault, not just misconduct.

7.    Disability: Use of force training should include the importance of considering whether a subject may be noncompliant due to disability, a medical condition, behavioral health crisis, etc., and CPD must not assess dangerousness based on an individual’s disability.

8.    Protect the rights of Children and Youth, including in Schools: CPD should not station officers in schools. But to the extent that CPD officers continue to be assigned to schools, the decree must ensure that it addresses the school-to-prison pipeline, including by: mandated de-escalation tactics for school officers, prohibitions on using handcuffs and force in schools except in exigent circumstances, a prohibition on carrying firearms, a duty not to intervene in incidents on school grounds (absent a real and immediate threat), a prohibition on interviewing and interrogating youth on school grounds, and a prohibition on collecting law enforcement data on youth in schools. In addition, Taser use in schools should be prohibited, and parents and guardians must be notified immediately if their children are arrested, on or off school grounds.

9.    Ensure that CPD hires officers who reflect Chicago’s diversity and can police in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Decree. Require that CPD recruit a diverse police force that, through extensive testing and evaluations, has demonstrated the ability to police in a way that is non-biased, where officers are capable of de-escalating encounters with community members and using diversion resources.

10.    Develop and implement officer performance metrics based on measures of non-biased policing, diversion and de-escalation.  Provide incentives to officers who refuse to use excessive force, de-escalate and solve problems without resorting to arrest.  Make promotions dependent on these variables.

Sincerely,

Campbell Police Reform Plaintiffs Announce Proposed Consent Agreement

Network 49 joined representatives of other Campbell lawsuit plaintiff organizations to announce a proposed consent agreement regarding reforms to the Chicago Police Department. The reforms aim to curb police violence and improve police accountability. Read a summary of the proposed agreement here Summary of Consent Decree for Reforming the Chicago Police Department (214 downloads) .

campbell-plaintiff-presser
Plaintiffs announce the proposed consent agreement over reforming the Chicago Police Department.

WGN TV News covered the press conference. See footage here. The proposed agreement was also covered in the Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Tribune.

Attorney Sheila Bedi provided an overview of the consent agreement at the May 16 general membership meeting. A video of that meeting’s presentation is here.

Network 49 Shares By-laws and Endorsement Process for 2018

At its November 15 General Membership Meeting, Network 49 shared its inaugural bylaws and membership structure, and proposed candidate endorsement process. These materials have been developed by resident leaders on the Steering Committee and working committees. 25 residents joined at the November meeting and paid their $30 annual dues. A membership form for those who could not attend the meeting is available here.

Kathleen Dillon presents the Network 49 bylaws at the November 15 meeting.

 

 

At its January 2018 meeting, Network 49 will welcome nominations to and then elect members to serve on a new Steering Committee AND make endorsements for the March 2018 Illinois Gubernatorial Primary, as well as other races that will be decided in March.

All of these activities are part of our work to create an independent, progressive, and resident-led organization for promoting progressive policies and elected leadership.

Network 49 Stands with Victims of Police Misconduct

Have you – or any other 49th Ward/Rogers Park community resident you know – been physically abused or subjected to racist acts by the police, particularly in the last couple of years?

In June, Network 49 was invited and agreed to join in a class action lawsuit as a plaintiff with several other Chicago community organizations and individuals who are concerned about the need for improved Chicago police accountability and the many issues related to that. The City of Chicago, the Police Department, and individual officers are defendants in the case. The aims of the lawsuit are to get a federal judge to:

  1. Enjoin the Chicago Police Department (CPD) from use of excessive use of force
  2. Enjoin CPD from use of force in a racially discriminatory manner
  3. Appoint a CPD Monitoring Team that reflects the diversity of Chicago
  4. Oversee a transformation in CPD policies and practices related to use of force, accountability and supervision, discriminatory policing, data and transparency, and support services for survivors of police violence and misconduct.

Along with Network 49, the other class action lawsuit plaintiffs include Black Lives Matter Chicago, Blocks Together, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Urban League, Justice For Families, Black Lives Matter, Chicago NAACP, Women’s All Points Bulletin, and 411 Movement For Pierre Loury. Attorney Sheila Bedi and other lawyers affiliated with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law are representing us.

Network 49 is looking for any neighbors who fit this description and would be willing to share their stories to help support our organization’s participation in a class action lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. Declarations from residents in the 49th Ward/Rogers Park community served by Network 49 will be very important in surviving upcoming moves by Chicago’s law department to get the lawsuit dismissed.

Please ask any residents described above to call Network Community Safety Task Force Chair Michael Harrington at 773-971-1215 or email Michael.

N49 Survey Says: Political Mobilization is Needed

At our May general membership meeting, we were pleased to share the results of our recent member survey. By way of background, we sent an 8-question survey to our members and asked them to evaluate some of our recent priorities and share ideas for what is concerning them right now. We also asked for their feedback on whether our organization should start collecting dues and if so, what amount.

We found that our members affirmed in large part what we are currently focused on:

  • “Maintaining Rogers Park’s economic and racial diversity in housing and community development” came in first, with a weighted average of 4.56/5.0;
  • “Helping progressive candidates win elections” was next, at 4.52/5.0;
  • “Making Rogers Park a safe and just community for all” was a close third at 4.50/5.0;
  • “Protecting our Public, Neighborhood Schools” was right next, at 4.46/5.0.

So where do we take up these concerns?

  • Housing & Community Development is tackling the first one.
  • Safe Community Task Force is working on the third, along with our partners at Protect RP.
  • The Education Committee has been tackling the fourth and is an issue with which Network 49 is strongly identified, thanks to the success of the Charter Freeze referendum on Nov. 9, 2017. Their ongoing leadership at work in Sanctuary schools, the fight for elected school board and more provide a model to the rest of our committee work.
  • The Politics Committee takes on the largest issue of members’ discontent: voter dissatisfaction with current politicians, from the Ward to the National level.

Frankly, our respondents are irate about a whole host of issues that involve political change. Network 49 will be engaging in voter education through a planned Community Canvass, beginning in June (look for details on Network 49 facebook and Web pages), ongoing Forums addressing the key issues, Voter Registration, and continued organizing with our neighbors.

Some respondents want Network 49 to field candidates, but our focus is on organizing our members to resist, expose and fight hypocrisy, lack of transparency, and elected officials simply not doing their jobs for the people wherever and whenever we can. But we are not just about resisting. We are working to affirm our values and help our members engage constructively in pushing for what we want, not just what we oppose.

We welcome people interested in running for elected office to share their interests to us and to speak before our members. If the survey is any indication, they will be well-received!

Network 49 Organizes Teach-in on DOJ Report on Chicago Police

Network 49 will host a teach-in on Monday February 27  for community residents to learn about what the US Department of Justice concluded in its investigation into Chicago Police Department abuses. The DOJ report was released earlier this year and validates long-held concerns by residents, especially minority youth, about the Chicago Police Department.

February 27 N49 Teach-in on DOJ and CPD (214 downloads)

 

Network 49 has invited Sheila Bedi, attorney and clinical professor of law at Northwestern University’s MacArthur Justice Center, to help put the report and findings in context. Ms. Bedi was previously Deputy Legal Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization addressing hate crimes in the United States.

The teach-in is the first in a series of events Network 49 is hosting on safety in our community.

Protect Our Community – Rogers Park Neighborhood Action Meeting

~450 residents attended our co-hosted event. Photo courtesy Michael Harrington.
Photo courtesy Maricela Graciosa

Protect Our Community: Rogers Park Neighborhood Action Meeting

Mon, Feb 13 from 7pm – 8:30pm

Living Waters Church, 6808 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

(corner of Pratt and Ashland)

Are you a resident of Rogers Park who is deeply concerned about the actions taken by the new President against Muslims, immigrants, and refugees in America? Are you worried about how your neighbors, friends, and loved ones might be targeted?

Join with other Rogers Park neighbors for a community-wide meeting. We’ll learn more about the implications of these new executive orders and brainstorm ways we can join together to keep our neighbors and neighborhood safe. One aspect of this will be creating a rapid response network aimed at protecting residents from unwanted incursions by government agencies. This network will:

1) Warn people if there is an incursion by law enforcement aimed at vulnerable communities.

2) Create and activate a safe harbor network for people needing sanctuary or help.

3) Mobilize the community to oppose the incursion and resolve it peacefully.

Organized by concerned Rogers Park neighbors, Network 49, Reclaim Chicago, A Just Harvest, and ONE Northside.