"How long, O Lord, how long?" As we continue to lament the devastating deaths across the nation resulting from interactions between police and black victims, we turn to action.
We know the police accountability system in Chicago remains broken even after countless town hall meetings, testimonies from victims and families of the fallen, and the dire cries of frustrated communities. This system has not only violated us physically, but also financially. The Chicago Reporter's latest investigation found that Chicago spends millions annually settling lawsuits against the Police Department, at an average rate of one lawsuit almost every other day. To settle police misconduct cases, the city borrows money through long-term bonds, increasing the toll on all Chicago residents as we shoulder city debt.
Yet, Chicago, unlike other major cities, does not try to stop police brutality by investigating patterns and practices of misconduct, inefficiency, or racial bias in order to improve the policing system. In 2014, we mourned the deaths of Eric Gardner and Michael Brown; shortly after, a video was released that captured the murder of Laquan McDonald. Today we mourn the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two more black men murdered at the hands of the police. We cannot allow history to repeat itself. That is why Community Renewal Society and our partners have introduced the FAIR COPS (Freedom through Accountability, Investigation and Reform for Civilian Oversight of Policing Services) Ordinance with Alderman Jason Ervin.
FAIR COPS will reform all three of the existing city agencies in Chicago responsible for policing and police oversight by creating the Police Functions Office (PFO) within the Office of the Inspector General. Unlike any other police oversight agency in Chicago, the PFO will have a public process to gather community input and hold aldermen accountable for stopping systemic patterns of police misconduct.
FAIR COPS is currently pending before the Chicago City Council. You can take 3 actions now to help advance FAIR COPS:
- Rally: join us on Sunday, July 24 as we remember the lives of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and all of the victims that had fatal encounters with abusive police. We will remember our brothers and sisters by demanding justice and by taking concrete steps that will create the reform needed to hold police accountable for their abusive practices and violence against black communities.
- Canvass: sign up to canvass and share with our neighbors why we need FAIR COPS; ask everyone to talk with their aldermen about supporting FAIR COPS.
- Endorse: If you are part of an organization that supports FAIR COPS, let us know. As an organization, you can also talk with your alderman about supporting FAIR COPS.
Join us in the streets, talk with your neighbors, come to town hall meetings, and urge your alderman to support FAIR COPS so that we can protect our community from abusive police practices. As people of faith, we cannot remain silent. We cannot allow this to happen again.
The time is now to take action and demand justice. #BlackLivesMatter