A Historic Win for Police Accountability in Chicago!
After five years of intense community conversations, city council advocacy and critical negotiation, IMAN and its partners have finally passed the most robust police oversight legislation in the country–a new joint ordinance called the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability!
Though police reform efforts have been ongoing since before Dr. King’s time in Chicago, renewed energy was sparked in the wake of the 2014 police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in the same district as IMAN’s headquarters. Two years later, IMAN and its allies formed the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA).
In March 2021, GAPA and Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression–two coalitions that represent over 100 citywide organizations and tens of thousands of people–joined forces to form Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS), also known as the People’s Ordinance. Following several months of uncertainty and agitation of the mayor’s office, the City reached out to ECPS representatives a few days ago to work on a compromise and the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability was born.
This historic win builds on the years of organizing IMAN and its allies have led around police accountability and criminal justice reform in Chicago and recalls the list of demands tacked onto the door of Chicago’s City Hall 55 years ago by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Among that list of demands was the creation of a citizens’ review board for grievances against police brutality and false arrests or stops and seizures. The new ordinance goes a few steps further than that and instead creates a citywide commission that can:
• Encourage non-policing solutions for community issues
• Give the community a role in the selection and removal of the CPD Superintendent, Police Board,
Though no one piece of legislation will be a panacea to the racist and unjust systems that hold so many in our community down, this ordinance represents a huge win in the fight to make our institutions more accountable to the people they purport to serve and protect. We are grateful for the hundreds of community members across the city who participated in this process over the years and congratulate the City of Chicago for taking an important step towards making our city and country live up to its highest ideals.
We pray that this win will serve as a model for all other cities and that this is only the beginning of substantive and meaningful police reform in Chicago.
IMAN & its allies in 2015 at a vigil for Laquan McDonald near the
intersection where he was killed the previous year.