Chicago celebrates a people’s victory in the struggle against police crimes
Fight Back News Service is circulating this July 21 statement from the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression celebrates the passage in City Council today of the historic Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance, which will give communities in Chicago more power over their police department than any city in the United States has ever seen. We salute and cherish this people’s victory and the truly mass movement that created this moment, through constant grassroots pressure and the unrelenting, iron will to fight for power for the oppressed – which is the first footfall on the path to justice. We extend the warm embrace of gratitude to all our allies in this struggle, who have never faltered at our side, and with whom we share this great day.
In a history-defining moment, ECPS was passed in City Council by a vote of 36-13 after a years-long and sometimes bitter struggle. Early this year, our campaign for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) formed a united front with the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) out of the tactical imperative to defeat Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has done nothing since taking office but stall and obstruct police reform and the people’s demand for justice and freedom from police abuse and tyranny. Left unchecked, Lightfoot would have set back the movement to end police crimes by years if not decades. We salute our coalition allies from GAPA for their steadfastness and solidarity in this struggle against the Mayor and their commitment to putting Chicago on the path to justice through community control of the police.
Today’s victory proves the correctness of our decision to form this united front, which has seen our alliance and our coalition swell to include over 100 organizations, 18 labor unions comprising nearly 200,000 members, some 26 houses of worship across the city – and today 36 aldermen who supported the fundamental right of communities to decide who polices us and how are communities are policed.
Speaking at a People’s Celebration outside City Hall immediately following today’s historic vote, Frank Chapman, Field Organizer for the Chicago Alliance and a long-time leader in the CPAC and ECPS campaigns said, “This is the only kind of coalition that could have won this fight. Now, we in the communities that have been abused and occupied by the police, now we have a voice in saying how we are policed and we’re going to keep that voice.”
In the final version voted on today, ECPS will create a Community Commission, nominated by elected residents, who will have the power to make and approve police department, police board, and police investigation policy in addition to the power to appoint the head of the police misconduct investigation agency (colloquially known as COPA) and to initiate the firing of the police superintendent. Because of the strength and breadth of our movement, Mayor Lightfoot was forced to come to the negotiating table and create a version of ECPS with our coalition that kept all of our fundamental priorities including that policymaking, and the appointment of the COPA chief, be in the hands of the community commission and with the people.
Jazmine Salas, co-chair of the Chicago Alliance said, “This victory belongs to the people of Chicago, who fought and struggled and bled for this. And it belongs to the victims of police murder and violence who we continue to fight for every day.”
While we celebrate today in the glow of victory, we are clear-eyed about the tasks that lay ahead. Those include passing the accompaniment bill to ECPS, an ordinance calling for a citywide referendum to allow the voters of Chicago to decide if they want to directly elect the members of the Community Commission established by ECPS and expand its powers to grant full community control of the police as originally envisioned by CPAC. And it includes campaigning and organizing to ensure that voters support their right to community control and turn out in decisive numbers to approve the referendum.
These are our tasks in the days and months ahead. As a movement, we are compelled to act by the people’s unrelenting demands for justice and we will not stop until we win the power the people deserve.
Victory to the courageous! All power to the people.