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Chicagoans demand police policy changes at first permanent CCPSA meeting

By Gabriel Miller

Meeting of the newly appointed Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.  | Staff/Fight Back! News

Chicago, IL – Chicagoans demanded action to stop police crimes on Thursday, June 30, at the first official meeting of the newly appointed Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA), a citywide body charged with holding the Chicago Police Department accountable.

50 community members, organizers, police district councilors and family members of those lost to police violence showed up at Saint Sabina Church on the Southside to demand an end to pretextual traffic stops and so-called “tactical teams.” Nine of the ten speakers who gave public comments raised the demand to end these racist police practices which have caused the murders of Dexter Reed and Reginald Clay Jr among many others, as well as the daily harassment of Black and brown people.

While pretextual traffic stops are extremely ineffective at preventing crime, they do “lead to an increased number of unnecessary encounters between everyday unarmed civilians and special militarized tactical units,” said District Councilor David Boykin of the 6th District on Chicago’s South Side in the Auburn Gresham and Chatham neighborhoods.

“Any one of these interactions could easily escalate into a vicious killing like the one that we all witnessed in the case of Dexter Reed,” Boykin added.

Roosevelt Banks is the uncle of Dexter Reed, who was killed by five plainclothes police officers who fired 96 shots at him in March. Banks deplored the fact that the five offending officers had a total of 41 complaints for misconduct stemming from previous traffic stops before the one that led to the execution-style murder of his 26-year-old nephew.

“Why is it five tactical officers with 41 complaints on them when it should have been something after two or three,” Banks said.

None of the five officers involved in the murder have faced any consequences and all remain on paid administrative leave.

Andy Williams Jr. further urged the commissioners to abolish pretextual traffic stops, speaking from his own experience of having been pulled over and held for over an hour by four undercover officers in 2019.

“If pretextual stops are for safety, then why do we lose our lives with a pretextual stop?” Williams asked. “You’re trying to save my life for not wearing a seatbelt? That life is not here no more.”

After the public comments, Anthony Driver, an organizer with SEIU Local HCII, was elected by the other six commissioners to his second term as president of the CCPSA.

“I've been fighting for justice for years and I'm committed to fighting for justice for the rest of my time as president of this commission,” Driver said.

The CCPSA was created in 2021 by the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) Ordinance, a measure fought for and won by the movement to stop police crimes in Chicago. The CCPSA was originally seated with an interim commission appointed by the mayor and city councilors, but on Thursday met for the first time with commissioners nominated by the directly-elected district councilors and selected by movement-elected Mayor Brandon Johnson, as the ordinance requires.

Some people in attendance called for the CCPSA itself to be directly elected. This question will be put before the people of Chicago in November if the city council passes the referendum for Community Power Over Policing, a referendum that would also give the CCPSA a voice in the police budget, staffing, and negotiations with the anti-accountability Fraternal Order of Police.

“The people of Chicago have the democratic right to decide who polices their communities and how,” Frank Chapman, field organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR), said after the meeting. CAARPR was a leading organization in the coalition which got ECPS passed in 2021 and is leading the fight for the CPOP referendum.

“This referendum is a crucial step towards the people having the power to stop police crimes and racist policies,” Chapman added.

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