On Wednesday, March 22nd, ONE Northside and our partners at the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability held a press conference to announce the release of our report on the citywide community conversations held in the fall and winter of 2016.
At the press conference at City Hall, ONE Northside leader, Broderick Hill had this to say, “I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been stopped by the police in my own neighborhood. Being stopped numerous times by the police has made me wonder whether they’re protecting me or targeting me.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I’m afraid of the effects ignorance in Chicago’s police department has on members of my community and me. Daily interactions with police officers around something as basic as refusing to acknowledge someone’s preferred pronoun is a sign of disrespect that almost no one else has to experience.
Sensitivity training should be put in place for anyone who goes out to serve the public. That’s literally their job. Respect is where any genuine conversation starts. Police should treat the LGBTQ community with the same respect they want us to treat them. Speak to us as if we are any other regular human beings, because we are.”
Besides Broderick, press conference attendee got to hear from community members from other neighborhoods across the city, including a mother whose son was shot by Chicago police officers and a formerly incarcerated person. Mecole Jordan, coordinator for GAPA reminded press and others in attendence, “As GAPA we are more interested in community-lead processes, which will allow for a more genuine input from community members.”
Read the press release below and see the media links after the press release for more coverage.
Contact Anna Mangahas at 773 769 3232 ext 21 / firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved with ONE Northside’s police accountabilty work.
GRASSROOTS ALLIANCE FOR POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY ISSUES
COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS REPORT
More than 300 suggestions generated by residents citywide
The Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability is releasing its Community Conversations Report after listening to the concerns of more than 1,650 Chicago residents about police misconduct and community relations.
GAPA is a broad-based coalition of community organizations committed to making neighborhoods safer, improving police practices and accountability and transforming the relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the city’s various communities. The organizations in GAPA touch more than 30 wards—including neighborhoods directly impacted by violence and police brutality.
GAPA came together in the summer of 2016, in direct response to the Police Accountability Task Force’s recommendation to develop a Community Safety Oversight Board, allowing the community to have a powerful platform and role in the police oversight system. “If the community board is to earn the legitimacy it requires and deserves, its precise powers and makeup should not be set by the task force, but should be developed with broad public input,” the report states.
GAPA took that as both a challenge and a goal. Consequently, the alliance’s focus is to “make neighborhoods safer through improving the practices, accountability and community relationships of CPD, as well as involving affected residents in shaping and advancing lasting solutions,” said Mecole Jordan, GAPA coordinator.
Roxanne Smith, a leader with Communities United, is one of many parents who believe police should be more accountable. “In 2004, my son was shot by two Chicago police officers. He was wrongfully accused of having a gun,” explained Smith. “My story is one of many that we see in our city and enough is enough.”
Those attending the citywide community conversations generated nearly 300 different suggestions on how to develop and advocate for plans to improve police accountability and community-police relations. Chicago Lawn resident, Faye Dickerson, read three that most capture community suggestions:
- We need to fundamentally rethink the role of the police officer and restructure the way in which police officers interact with residents.
- Current police practices have created deep mistrust and fear. Especially in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, too many police officers engage with residents in ways that are degrading, dehumanizing and probably illegal. As a result, many law-abiding residents don’t just mistrust the police, but fear them.
- We need to abandon overly aggressive police tactics. They don’t just harm its direct victims, they also make it harder for police to address real problems and solve crime. Police officers who are disrespectful, biased and violent poison the communities in which they work and make it impossible to build the trust and working relationships that both residents and police need to fight crime, reduce violence and keep peace.
At the news conference, SOUL organizer, Willie Preston, said one major thing the alliance noticed during community conversations was a lack of information and/or understanding as it relates to current police accountability agencies. “GAPA is committed to engaging, educating, and empowering the communities we serve so community members can guide recommendations for a community oversight board,” said Preston, an Auburn Gresham resident.
GAPA said it plans to continue the process of community education and to work with community leaders and other stakeholders beyond the current group to facilitate a community-driven process as the task force describes in its report. Over the next weeks and months, the alliance also will be working with organizations, both locally and nationally, to exchange ideas, learn best practices, and craft how a community oversight board should look and operate.
Action Now Institute
Community Renewal Society
Inner-city Muslim Action Network
Southwest Organizing Project
Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation
Target Area Development Corporation
United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations