Chicago Lawyers' Committee Joins Coalition to Push Chicago Police Reform

CHICAGO (June 8, 2016)—Speaking at a press conference convened at City Hall this morning, Bonnie Allen, Executive Director of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (CLC) and Impact Litigation Director Paul Strauss joined other coalition members in calling on the Mayor and members of the City Council to implement a fully public and transparent process to carry out the recent recommendations of the Police Accountability Task Force.
“Real reform must happen now,” said Ms. Allen. “The status quo is literally breaking the heart, soul, and bodies of our beloved city.”

Over the past six months, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has convened a broad coalition of organizations and civil society leaders to monitor and assist with police reforms in Chicago. Today, members of that group joined with the Coalition to Follow Up On the Police Accountability Task Force to deliver a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in calling for fulsome public engagement and transparency before a proposed ordinance is presented to the City Council later this month.

 “An ordinance that is introduced without prior discussion or debate will not be seen as legitimate,” said Mr. Strauss. “We strongly urge the Mayor to rethink his approach and release his draft ordinance for public discussion and debate before the administration’s position is hardened by introduction of an ordinance to the city council.”

The ordinance, described by Mayor Emanuel in a letter to the Sun-Times, would address three issues from the Task Force recommendations: a civilian oversight board, a new organization to replace IPRA, and a public safety inspector general.

Former Chair of the Task Force Lori Lightfoot told reporters gathered at City Hall that the Mayor had missed a critical opportunity to engage members of the public and develop a strategic plan for implementing the remaining Task Force recommendations.

“We are in an historic time in our city,” said Ms. Lightfoot. “The old ways of doing business and the status quo have failed us and must be abandoned. The demands and expectations around real civic engagement have been raised, and we are not going to tolerate going backward.”
The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee has a deep interest in police reform, informed by the people who live in communities of our city that are most impacted by poverty, racial injustice, and disinvestment in housing, education, policing, voting rights, and community economic development. Police violence and misconduct are closely related to problems of systemic racism that must be addressed. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee stands ready and willing to support full implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations, as well as broader reforms needed to ensure ongoing reform and accountability in policing in Chicago.