Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle


By Gabriel Miller

Chicago press conference demands City Council vote down an FOP-aligned arbitrator's decision.

Chicago, IL – In Chicago, the movement to stop police crimes is demanding city hall act to block the most recent attempt by the Fraternal Order of Police to undermine police accountability. Chicago organizers, district councilors and alderpersons spoke in a press conference Thursday September 14, to demand the Chicago City Council vote down an FOP-aligned arbitrator's decision to give officers accused of serious misconduct the choice of behind-closed-doors arbitration instead of going before the Chicago Police Board.

The arbitrator's decision in June comes on the heels of historic democratic gains won by the people of Chicago when they voted in February to elect three district councilors in every police district. The Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance created the 66 directly-elected district-level positions designed to hold the police accountable on a local level, as well as the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA), tasked with drafting policy and hiring the heads of Chicago Police Department and Police Board, among other powers.

The police board was previously the designated decision-making body for any case of alleged police misconduct that was severe enough to warrant firing or suspension of a year or more. It's no accident the FOP is trying to get around the board now that it falls under the purview of the CCPSA, according to Frank Chapman, field organizer for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

“The FOP is invoking arbitration at this particular juncture to undermine the inalienable democratic right of our people to say who polices our communities and how our communities are policed,” Chapman said.

3rd District Councilor Anthony David Bryant agreed with Chapman and emphasized the importance of transparency and community oversight.

The CCPSA and Chicago District Councils are “not led by the mayor’s office, not led by wanna-be politicians. This body is community-driven and community-led,” Bryant said. “The role of transparency is crucial to ensure the system of police accountability is fully functional to address the harm and brutality caused by CPD onto our neighbors.”

20th Ward Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor spoke on the need for real police accountability in light of huge payouts for police crime settlements. “Every city council meeting, we're spending millions and millions of dollars on police misconduct,” Taylor said. The Chicago Tribune reported last week that the Chicago city council has approved $220 million to settle police misconduct lawsuits since 2021.

Edwin Benn, the arbitrator responsible for the June decision, has worked with the FOP since 1978 and has often ruled to promote officers accused of misconduct instead of holding them accountable.

The movement to stop police crimes and its allies have shown their ability to beat the FOP time and again. The movement won at the ballot box in the district council elections, securing 35 district council seats to the FOP's six, and again in the mayoral runoff election, when voters from the South and West Sides showed out in force to defeat the FOP-backed candidate, Paul Vallas.


By staff

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from Kobi Guillory, Co-Chair of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

On Thursday, September 7, the people's movements won another historic victory with the removal of the gang database by a unanimous vote of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA). We express our utmost congratulations and gratitude to all the organizations and community members who fought for years to erase the gang database, and to everyone who fought to pass the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance which made the CCPSA a reality. Our movement is powerful and it is growing.

The gang database was a tool of racial profiling which targeted Black and brown people as young as 9 years old by labeling them as gang members, creating barriers to housing and employment and increasing the frequency of violent interactions with police. Youth organizations have led the struggle against the gang database since 2017 and managed to stop earlier iterations of the database from being implemented by the previous mayor, Lori Lightfoot.

Erasing the gang database is exactly the kind of policy change ECPS was intended to enact and make permanent. When Lightfoot tried to instate a new version of the database in 2022, the newly formed CCPSA put a stop to it, and that same Commission, led by community and labor organizer Anthony Driver, scrapped the database altogether on September 7th.

In recent years we have seen monumental wins in the struggle for police accountability such as the passage of ECPS in July.

2021; the elections of Brandon Johnson, progressive alderpersons and a majority of pro accountability District Councilors in February and April this year; and freedom for survivors of police torture and wrongful conviction such as the Hernandez brothers. However, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which fights tooth and nail to maintain police impunity, will try to undo all our victories. We encourage all our allies in the movement to stay ready for the police to try reinstating the gang database through some other avenue, and to fight against the FOP's current attempts to bypass accountability by referring even the most severe cases of misconduct to private arbitration instead of the public Police Board.

As we celebrate this win, now is also the time to further consolidate the gains of ECPS by getting more people to engage with the CCPSA and their local District Councilors, pushing policies such as the Peace Book and Treatment Not Trauma, and opposing all efforts of the FOP to undermine the new system of police accountability. This victory, like all people's victories, has come through unity in the struggles of many diverse communities across the city. We need to maintain this unity as we continue to struggle for the empowerment of the people to truly hold the police accountable.

#ChicagoIL #CAARPR #ECPS #GangDatabase

By staff

Chicago, IL – Last week, Black labor leaders representing seven unions with a combined membership of 126,000 members, most of whom live in the city of Chicago, published a statement, “Community and Faith Leaders Support the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance (ECPS).”