Faith leaders and community residents who have been victims of police abuse marked Ash Wednesday by calling for the City of Chicago to repent for police violence at the Mayor’s office today.
More than 50 pastors and community residents delivered sack cloth and ashes to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, following the Mayor’s refusal over the past month to respond to our calls to meet and enact real police accountability reforms to the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Since the Mayor has refused, we held a prayer vigil at his door and called for the Mayor and CPD to show that black lives matter by taking action.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season, observed by many Christians with penance, reflection, and fasting. Both the Jewish and Christian traditions use sack cloth and ashes to represent repentance, demonstrating a determination to turn from our current actions and take a new course. That repentance and turning towards justice is exactly what our city needs right now.
We call for the Mayor of Chicago and Police Superintendent to reform the police body worn camera pilot program, end “stop and frisk” tactics, and transform the oversight of police misconduct.
More specifically, we call for the current police body worn camera pilot program to ensure that officers are held accountable if they turn their cameras off during an incident, that people who are recorded have a right to access the recordings, and that there is public transparency in reviewing the program. Additionally, we call for the end of police “stop and frisk” tactics, which overwhelmingly target communities of color. Finally, we demand that the city overhaul the system for reviewing complaints of police abuse.
The city of Chicago has paid out nearly half a billion dollars over the past decade to settle police brutality lawsuits. In Chicago, African Americans were subject to an estimated 69% of stops by the police, but are just 33% of the City’s population. People of color are being harassed by the very people who are supposed to protect. It is time to end the CPD’s “code of silence” culture that protects abusers and rewards violent conduct.
Community Renewal Society unveiled the Platform for Police reform at a public meeting of more than 1,500 people on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. All the mayoral candidates attended and pledged their support, except for Mayor Emanuel, who also refused to meet with delegations in the intervening weeks.