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Chicago: Packed house welcomes first Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability meeting

By Kobi Guillory

First meeting of the Interim Community Commission for Public Safety and Accounta

Chicago, IL – The first meeting of the Interim Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) took place on the evening of Thursday September 29 at Malcolm X College. The meeting was attended by almost 200 people, most of who were members or supporters of the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) coalition. The CCPSA introduced itself to the community, set up committees to do its work, and elected Anthony Driver and Oswaldo Gomez as its president and vice president. The public comments were filled with support for the CCPSA and demands that the mayor and city council give the Interim Commission the staff and budget necessary to transform the city’s public safety system.

“This commission has a lot of work ahead of it,” said newly elected CCPSA president Anthony Driver, “and we plan to be accountable to the community in all that we do.” According to the ECPS legislation passed on July 21, 2021, the Interim CCPSA should have been appointed in January of 2022 and active in February. Due to obstruction of the movement for police accountability by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and some alderpersons, the commission was appointed at the end of August. It now has to review the proposed 2023 Chicago Police Department budget of $1.9 billion, investigate CPD policies, enact alternatives to policing, and increase outreach for the district council elections in February 2023.

“Chicago residents expect and know that you will be agents of change,” said Jackie Baldwin, a member of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and member of the ECPS Coalition, during the public comments section of the meeting. Other speakers raised the same expectations of the CCPSA and promised to be involved as community members in ensuring that the police are truly held accountable.

“You can’t have change without the community being involved,” said Coston Plummer, SEIU Local 73 member, brother of incarcerated survivor of police torture Johnnie Plummer, and 2nd District Council candidate. “It’s about time the community has a voice. This is the first time in a long time we’re gonna have some change so everybody should get on board.”

“We know there are serious forces opposed to your work who want to maintain the status quo,” said Michael Harrington, member of Network49 and the ECPS Coalition. Harrington and other speakers demanded that the city provide the funds and staff necessary for adequate outreach regarding the district council elections.

“As someone who’s been hitting the pavements in Back of the Yards, Pilsen and Lawndale, not a lot of people in my neighborhood know about ECPS,” said Rosemarie Dominguez, a 10th District Council candidate. Dominguez challenged the CCPSA to reach out to all of Chicago’s communities, particularly by translating its literature into Spanish and by doing direct outreach. Commission President Driver responded with a commitment to provide Spanish translations of all printed materials from the commission going forward.

Other district council candidates spoke in the public comments, including Josh D’Antonio and Cassandra Guice, who both expressed ways that the CCPSA could enact restorative conflict resolution policies.

“We crossed rivers of blood to get this ordinance passed,” said Frank Chapman, executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and field organizer of the Chicago chapter. “We didn’t do all this work to have a lame duck commission, so we are demanding the mayor and city council to get off their rusty dusties and give the commission the staff and the budget it needs to do its work.

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