Chicago city council candidates support community control of police
Chicago, IL – There are 212 candidates for the 50 seats in the February 19, 2019 Chicago city council elections. Of this total, 38 came out to a December 20 forum in support of an elected civilian police accountability council (CPAC). It’s unusual for so many candidates to be together in one room unless they’re seeking the support of a powerful union or political organization. But this wasn’t an endorsement session. The candidates came to join the movement establish community control over the Chicago Police Department.
The forum was convened by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the organizers of the campaign for CPAC; and by Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the alderman who submitted the legislation into city council in 2016. Frank Chapman of the Alliance explained the significance of the turnout of candidates, “We have gone from one CPAC candidate in the last city-wide elections to more than 30 in this election. We are turning these elections into a people’s forum for justice and a demand for decisive political power.”
The system of policing in Chicago is in crisis, with no end in sight. Even the chief prosecutor for Cook County, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, was elected in 2016 calling Chicago “the wrongful conviction capital of America.” All the officials who were in power when the heinous murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was covered up by the police, including the mayor and the state’s attorney at the time, have been forced out.
In the past four years, the communities most impacted by police crimes have united around elected civilian control. First the Black Lives Matter movement supported CPAC. Then the most powerful union in the city, the Chicago Teachers Union, and its president, the beloved Karen Lewis, came out in support of the legislation. The Alliance has gathered over 55,000 signatures in the occupied Black, Chicano/Mexicano and Puerto Rican neighborhoods.
At the forum on Chicago’s West Side, one after another candidate rose to explain why they came to support CPAC, and about their communities’ experiences with police terror. The other major theme was anger over the remaining 34 city council members who voted for the money to cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald in 2015.
Jazmine Salas, co-chair of the Alliance campaign, summed up the direction of the struggle. “The movement for #Justice4Laquan has declared war on the members of the Chicago city council for their role in the system of racist policing.”
Finally, the activists running for office pledged come back together on January 9, 2019, for a press conference at City Hall to announce that they will campaign for CPAC during their campaigns, and fight for it once the new city council is seated in May.