Community Policing and the DOJ

On June 8, 2016, three members of a We Charge Genocide working group, Real Community Accountability for People’s Safety (RCAPS) met with the Department of Justice. As part of their investigation into police use of deadly force in Chicago, the DOJ wanted to discuss The Counter-CAPS Report: The Community Engagement Arm of the Police State. Community policing is currently an important plank in proposals for criminal justice reform. Through our independent, collaborative and grassroots research, we found that community policing mobilizes a self-selecting group to work with police and insulate them from scrutiny. It’s a way to generate some support for and increase the legitimacy of the police, not a serious solution to problems with state violence. We wrote the Counter-CAPS report to challenge the emerging common sense on police reform. In the past two years, the Obama administration has advocated community policing as a key part of the solution to the “Post-Ferguson” crisis of police legitimacy. When Obama traveled to Chicago to address the annual meeting of International Association of Chiefs of Police, he advocated community policing. Anticipating as much, a group of radical black organizations—the Workers Center for Racial Justice, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and BYP 100, among others—organized “I Shocked the Sheriff,” a people’s congress and series of direct actions, to counter the ICAP meeting. A few days later, RCAPS released The Counter-CAPS Report as a complement to these actions and expression of the movement’s rejection of false solutions like community policing. Our discussion with the DOJ was a continuation of this confrontation. We met with a DOJ lawyer and Scott Thomson, Chief of Camden County Police Department. Thomson is credited with using community policing to drive down the outsized crime rates of Camden, NJ, which, in 2012, held the infamous designation as the most violent and impoverished city in the United States. In May 2015, President Obama used Camden and its community policing programs as a backdrop to announce the findings of the post-Ferguson Commission on 21st Century Policing. Thomson has since become the president of the Police Executive Research Foundation, an influential reform-minded police association. Of course, the reforms proposed by the Commission on 21st Century Policing and championed by people like Obama and Thomson are perfectly compatible with the aggressive policing that’s ostensibly being curtailed. Camden’s celebrated community policing operations, for example, exist alongside (and feed into) ubiquitous surveillance and intelligence gathering that enable police raids within criminalized and disinvested communities. Chicago’s community policing program—the oldest and largest of its kind in the nation—did nothing to prevent stop-and-frisk, off-the-books detention and interrogation, other abuses that have led to $521 million in settlements over the last decade; and a series of scandals that have tarnished (the already minimal) credibility of Chicago Police Department and existing oversight mechanisms. Our Counter-CAPS Reports shows community policing can coexist with these aggressive police operations because it does not create meaningful public accountability over the police. Instead of creating some kind meaningful involvement of “the community” in the provisioning of “security,” community policing is a liberal euphemism that hides a nefarious purpose--the political work of the police to organize the population and produce order, not just enforce it." The unacknowledged politics of community politicking were quickly laid bare to us. During the summer of 2015, RCAPS members began observing regular meetings between police and community members. While these meetings are meant to involve the public in collaborative problem solving with the police, we found them to be places where police organize micro-local political power. At community policing meetings, officers set the agenda and determine the appropriate response. Working in concert with a volunteer beat facilitator (a quasi-official position often connected to aldermen), officers organize residents into block groups and phone trees to report “suspicious” behavior. They encourage residents to call the police for nearly any perceived problem they experience, including minor issues such as profanity–providing cover for aggressive policing of quality of life issues. They direct the residents to focus on “problem properties” and build the case for investigation or eviction through their consistent monitoring and reporting. These programs reduce social problems—poverty, inequality, segregation, homelessness—and transform them into technical “quality of life” problems that can be redressed by police action. In mobilizing residents as intelligence collectors for the police and political advocates for a punitive criminal justice (http://home.chicagopolice.org/get-involved-with-caps/how-can-i-get-involved/become-a-court-advocate/), community policing enlists us in the work of our domination. In exchange for a meaningless “seat at the table” in the police precinct, we can become junior partners in the operations of our local police state. In other words, community policing is being offered at this moment precisely because it offers the promise of blunting grievances of radical movements and co-opting some of their leaders. Within this context, radicals are repressed. Potentially rebellious groups—such as the ever-increasing surplus populations warehoused in prisons—are incapacitated. Moderates are accommodated. The loyal opposition—such as the liberal NGOs that routinely undercut the work of autonomous grassroots—are politically incorporated as junior partners of the political elite. The iron first and the velvet glove operate hand-in-hand to pacify restive populations and mollify rebellion. With this research and analysis informing our comments, the members of RCAPS hesitated to offer Thomson and the DOJ lawyer the pat suggestions for “reform” that they desired. We do not want “better” policing. We want to transform the institutions that mediate disputes, restore victims, and rehabilitate and reintegrate people who cause harm. Instead, we asked them “act with courage” and recognize that community policing is part of the problem, not the part of the solution. This refusal to offer suggested reforms is not an attempt to avoid the difficult work wielding political power. Instead, it reflects a radical analysis that sees policing as institution beyond reform. With this mind, our suggestions—a rejection of community of policing and reduction of police budget—are our non-reformist reforms that seek to transform the balance of power in Chicago to the benefit of the people. At the end of the meeting, we left the DOJ lawyer and Thomson with the annotated bibliography appended to the end of this write up. The bibliography extends and elaborates the arguments we made to the DOJ, adding further weight and context to the findings of the RCAPS report. The bibliography starts with a series of critical perspective on community policing. These studies show the historical and practical affinities between community policing and counterinsurgency, dispelling the commonly held notion that community policing is a demilitarizing reform. Annie Laure Paradise’s dissertation takes this critique a step further, contrasting state security initiatives with autonomous grassroots projects for community safety. This heavily theorized work provides some context to our refusal to engage in the reform process. The DOJ wants a better, more professional, and re-legimitatized policing. RCAPS, We Charge Genocide and similar groups are working to building alternative institutions. From here, the annotated bibliography covers relevant empirical research on community policing, with specific focus on Chicago. This work questions the efficacy of community policing: casting doubt on its impact on crime, its ability to meaningfully involve the community, and officer’s faith in the strategy. The final two articles further support our findings about gentrification and detail the shift of community development from a largely grassroots effort to a much smaller and fragmented one led by professionalized groups. This historical context provides interesting parallels to and perspective on the present. We share this experience and these sources to document Chicago’s resistance to community policing. We call on other groups in similar struggles to question community policing and resist the larger efforts to pacify our movement.

Annotated Bibliography on Community Policing A Supplement to The Counter-CAPS Report

Critical Perspectives Kienscherf, M. (2014). Beyond militarization and repression: Liberal social control as pacification. Critical Sociology, DOI: 0896920514565485.

A critique of the concept of militarization that argues community policing is compatible with the more punitive policing strategies associated with “militarized” police. A challenge to the notion that community policing is a viable way to reform policing post-Ferguson.

Williams, K. (2011). The other side of the COIN: Counterinsurgency and community policing. Interface, 3(1), 81-117.

An analysis of community policing as the domestic application of counterinsurgency or the political work of law enforcement to rebuild legitimacy of the state. In these operations, police will often work with and through faith leaders and civic to channel and control opposition. Community policing does not build “good governance.” It is the work of public diplomacy and outreach that complements the use of state’s repressive force.

Paradise, A. L. (2015). Militarized policing and resistance in the social factory: The battle for community safety in the Silicon Valley. Doctoral dissertation, California Institute of Integral Studies San Francisco, CA.

This heavily theorized PhD dissertation contrasts autonomous projects for community safety against state security initiatives. Grounded in a feminist politics of care, projects for community safety construct “common” relations of social reproduction, providing ways to address social needs, share information, and link communities. These efforts represent a sharp contrast to community policing, theorized as a technique of state power conditioned by colonial histories (such as counterinsurgency) that operates today to manage precarity and disrupt challenges to the racialized and gendered relations that enable the exploitation of labor and accumulation of capital to proceed.

Relevant Empirical and Historical Studies MacDonald, J. M. (2002). The effectiveness of community policing in reducing urban violence. Crime & Delinquency, 48(4), 592-618.

A statistical analysis of homicide and robbery in164 American cities that finds community policing had little effect on the decline in violent crime.

Skogan, W. G. (2006). Police and community in Chicago: A tale of three cities. New York: Oxford University Press.

The culmination of twelve years of study, the definitive account of CAPS concludes that the program failed to produce meaningful community control over police. Officers retain control of decision making and agenda-setting. Proportional to population, participation in beat meetings is abysmally low, typically less than half a percent of the neighborhood. The result is depoliticized representation: limited participation without binding votes or any mechanism for public accountability.

Lurigio, A. J., & Skogan, W. G. (1994). Winning the hearts and minds of police officers: An assessment of staff perceptions of community policing in Chicago. Crime & Delinquency, 40(3), 315-330.

Survey of CPD officers that found ambivalent opinions about CAPS and doubts concerning its impact on crime rates.

Nyden, P. W., Edlynn, E., & Davis, J. (2006). The differential impact of gentrification on communities in Chicago. Chicago, IL: Loyola University Chicago Center for Urban Research and Learning.

This focus group study on the impact of gentrification finds that many respondents contend that crime and community policing are being manipulated to control or displace low-income residents. Residents community areas where tensions around gentrification are high (Uptown and West Town/Humboldt Park) felt that CAPS is promoting the power of wealthier, incoming residents, while disempowering the less affluent, current residents. Notably, the research team did not explicitly ask about CAPS. Instead, the issue emerged organically as an unexpected finding of the study.

Betancur, J. J., & Gills, D. C. (2004). Community Development in Chicago: From Harold Washington to Richard M. Daley. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 594(1), 92-108.

This article details the transformation of community development in Chicago from a predominately grass roots movement for social change to a much smaller and fragmented one led by professionalized groups. Community development has been absconded to serve the interests of progrowth and corporate interests rather than used as a tool to promote fairness, access, and equity in low-income neighborhoods. As part of this shift, the rise of community policing empowered most conservative community elements to work with the police and criminalized poverty. In particular, community policing has changed the city’s approach to homelessness and youth, replacing social workers and individual focus on treatment and care with policing and an emphasis on risk management.

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Announcement: Sunsetting We Charge Genocide

On the heels of the second annual #DamoDay, it is fitting to share news about the end of We Charge Genocide. We Charge Genocide (WCG), an intergenerational effort to center the voices of the young people most impacted by police violence, launched two years ago in June 2014. We were inspired by the 1951 We Charge Genocide petition to the United Nations to document the violence and torture to which young Chicagoans of color (in particular Black youth) were subjected. We came together in the wake of the Chicago Police Department’s killing of Dominique Franklin Jr (known as Damo to his friends). We could not imagine what the past two years would bring when we began. We started with the intention of sending a delegation of 6 young people of color to the United Nations Committee Against Torture to share Damo and other young Chicagoans of color’s stories of police violence. With the support of many of you, we raised over $20,000 in just a few days and were able to send 8 incredible young people to Geneva in November 2014. The story of their successful organizing has been chronicled across the world and an archive can be found at the WCG website for posterity. In the two years that we were active, there were many accomplishments. We took the time after our first year of collective work to list some of those accomplishments: http://wechargegenocide.org/one-year-of-we-charge-genocide/ We continued to organize together over the next year to push for data transparency in stops and frisks through the youth-led #ChiStops campaign. We published a well-received report about the failures of community policing (http://wechargegenocide.org/press-release-community-policing-is-not-the-answer-countercaps-report/). We raised awareness about how much of Chicago’s operational budget is consumed by policing through the Chicago For The People campaign (http://www.chicago4thepeople.com). We worked in communities across Chicago to marry art, peace circles and conversations about transformative justice through the Gone But Not Forgotten Quilt Project (https://wcgmemorialquilt.com). We engaged Chicagoans through a safety beyond policing campaign. Finally, we worked in solidarity with our comrades and co-strugglers across the city to support the ongoing mobilizations against police violence (http://byp100.org/young-black-organizers-decline-private-meeting-with-mayor-to-discuss-the-video-of-the-execution-of-laquan-mcdonald/). So there was a lot of work done through WCG. But the most important accomplishment is that WCG provided a space and container at a critical time in Chicago for disparate people to learn, grow and build together. The evidence of this success exists in the current interventions that were born out of relationships that were built through WCG. Over the next few days and weeks, WCG’s social media will change to accommodate the end of our work together. Some past WCG members are building a People’s Response Team that will work to document and provide needed support after police shootings. Please also keep an eye out for the Gone But Not Forgotten quilt to be exhibited across Chicago this Fall. We are planning to keep the We Charge Genocide website up for posterity so that our work is archived online. We will also find other ways to document our efforts. We thank every single person who contributed to our work. We are so grateful for the support we received. We are proud of the work that we did together. The struggle continues and WCG members continue to struggle in multiple spaces across Chicago and beyond. We dedicate everything that we accomplished to our beloved friend and comrade Damo. Your life mattered. We love you. You’ll never be forgotten. #Onwards

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Press Release: Community Policing Is Not the Answer--#CounterCAPS Report

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2015 CONTACT:  Eva Nagao, (312) 505-8327 WHEN: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 12:30 PM WHERE: City Hall, 2nd Floor PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS: We Charge Genocide, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Black Lives Matter-Chicago, Black Youth Project 100, Showing Up for Racial Justice-Chicago

Community Policing is Not the Answer

Activists and Community Organizations Release Report on Community Policing in Response to President's Recommendations For Policing

(Chicago, IL)- On Wed. Oc. 28 at 12:30 pm, community organizations will convene at City Hall to release a report on Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS). The report is a response to President Obama’s call, in his speech at the meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), to increase funding for police agencies and to renew the commitment to community policing. The report, titled “The Counter-CAPS Report: The Community Engagement Arm of the Police State,” finds that data gathered at CAPS meetings in several neighborhoods around the city shows that CAPS further strengthens divisions within mixed-income communities. The report found CAPS meetings permeated with racially coded language, where police officials inappropriately encourage small groups of self-selected residents to harass young people of color and target low-income housing. The report challenges the president’s claim that community policing can improve the relationships between the police departments and minority communities. It shows that community policing mobilizes residents already committed to police involvement, increasing police surveillance of a community’s most vulnerable residents or visitors. The solution is not, as President Obama suggests, renewed commitment to community policing and further investment in law enforcement. Instead, the appropriate response is to reduce funding for police agencies and reinvest that money in social services like education and public health that will meet real community needs. The release of the “Counter-CAPs Report” comes on the heels of a series of non-violent direction actions organized around the IACP meeting. On Saturday, October 24th, 60 activists, from the same organizations releasing this report, were arrested after they blocked intersections and entrances of the IACP meeting. FOR MORE INFO: #CounterCAPS DOWNLOAD THE REPORT  

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We Charge Genocide's first 3,000 tweets: organizing and the role social media

Slideshow by @plussone.  

Link Here: http://tinyurl.com/wcgstory2

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We Charge Genocide Supports the Dyett Hunger Strikers

Education Not Criminalization

We Charge Genocide Supports the Dyett Hunger Strikers

August 25, 2015

  Today is the ninth day of the Dyett hunger strike, and grandmother Irene Robinson is now in Provident Hospital. Ms. Robinson is just one of the dozen parents, grandparents, teachers, and community members who have put their bodies on the line to #FightForDyett--a successful community school in Bronzeville that over the years was disinvested in and targeted for closure by Chicago Public Schools until it was phased out. The school now sits shuttered. The continued assault on high quality public education in Black communities is another form of violence against Black youth in Chicago. Like arbitrary and invasive stops and frisks on Chicago streetsthe same streets on which these schools are being closededucational inequities serve as a reminder that young Black people are not valued by the City of Chicago. It also sends the message that Black neighborhoods do not deserve the same development opportunities as other neighborhoods, even while they are heavily policed.
It is deeply powerful that the Dyett hunger strike, led primarily by Black women, is happening during Black August, a month of study and action that often includes fasting in solidarity with political prisoners and Black people killed by state violence.
Dyett’s slated closure is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed CPS Board’s ongoing effort to undermine high quality public education, community schools, and the Chicago Teachers Union. This was most dramatically displayed by the 2012 teachers’ strike and the 2013 closure of 50 neighborhood schools serving mostly Black students and employing mostly Black teachers and staff. The mayor’s undermining of public schools and preference for privatization and wresting school decisions away from communities of color is racist educational policy meant to reshape Chicago for the wealthy and the white.  The neglect and punishment of youth through inadequate educational access in Black neighborhoods is all part of a slow genocide of our communities.
We Charge Genocide recognizes that abolishing systems of oppression, including prisons and police, also requires continued investment in strong community institutions -- including strong neighborhood community schools.
 We rise in solidarity with the community leaders at Dyett, and urge you to join us in supporting them however you are able. The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School helped develop a proposal for a Global Leadership and Green Technology High School that we would love to see in action. Dyett has hosted successful community-run initiatives before, including when it was a leader in Restorative Justice, decreasing student arrests by 83% in one year. Restorative justice in schools is an essential part of dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and building the world without police that we long to see.
Dyett_Hunger_Strikers-1200x906

The twelve Dyett Hunger Strikers (from top left): Dr. Aisha Wade-Bey, Anna Jones, April Stogner, Cathy Dale, Irene Robinson, Jeanette Taylor-Ramann, Jitu Brown, Marc Kaplan, Dr. Monique Redeaux-Smith, Nelson Soza, Prudence Browne, and Rev. Robert Jones. Photos by Phillip Cantor.

CALL TO ACTION

Call Mayor Emanuel at (312) 744-3300, Alderman Will Burns at (773) 536-8103, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool at (773) 553-1500 and tell them that you support the Dyett hunger strikers and demand that they meet with them and support the community's wishes for the Dyett Global Leadership & Green Technology HS. Along with political education and demonstration, Black August is traditionally a time for fasting and sacrifice in solidarity. Please visit the Dyett hunger strikers and consider joining them in solidarity fastsalready being participated in by hundreds of individuals around the country today. Search the hashtags #FightForDyett and #WeAreDyett, and spread news of the hunger strike far and wide. Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about the connections between strong community-run schools and all forms of state violence against Black people.    

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Press Release: Aldermen and Organizers Continue to Push For the Passage of the STOP Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 13, 2015 CONTACT: Christian Diaz, Chicago Votes, christian@chicagovotes.com, 773.657.0102

Aldermen and Organizers Continue to Push For the Passage of the STOP Act: ACLU’s Agreement with the CPD on Stop and Frisk Fails to Provide Necessary Transparency

CHICAGO — Today, aldermen Proco Joe Moreno, Roderick Sawyer and organizers with We Charge Genocide and ChicagoVotes announced their intention to continue their campaign to pass the Stops Transparency Oversight Protection Act (the STOP Act) in Chicago’s City Council. The STOP Act requires the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to collect data on all stops and frisks conducted by the CPD and publish this data on the City of Chicago’s website on a quarterly basis, similar to processes used in New York City and in other cities across the nation. The aldermen and organizers intended to file the STOP Act at the July 29, 2015 Chicago City Council meeting after announcing they were doing so at a packed press conference. The aldermen delayed filing the ordinance after learning for the first time that the CPD and City were on the verge of reaching an agreement with the ACLU-Illinois as a result of secret, exclusive negotiations on the collection of stop and frisk data. On Friday, August 7th, ACLU’s deal with the CPD was disclosed to the public. It indicates that the CPD will collect data on stops and frisk conducted by its members, but this information will not be disclosed to the public. Contrary to the provisions of the STOP Act, only the CPD, ACLU and designated Consultant, former Federal Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys, will have access to the pertinent data and relevant information, and they are bound to keep this information confidential under an attorney’s eyes only agreement. After studying the CPD’s agreement with the ACLU, aldermanic sponsor Proco Joe Moreno found: “The CPD’s agreement with the ACLU is wholly unacceptable. The public has a right to know who is being stopped and frisked and how often these tactics are is being used. People should have the opportunity to make up their own minds as to whether stop and frisk tactics are racially discriminatory or fairly used.” In addition to requiring the CPD to collect data on all stop and frisks performed by the CPD, the STOP Act would require police officers to give receipts to all who were stopped and frisked, thereby allowing a person to challenge the basis of the encounter if he or she believes it was unfair. The STOP Act also requires CPD members to inform people that they have the right to refuse a search if there is no legal basis for doing so. The agreement with the ACLU does not specify that all people stopped and frisked will receive such necessary receipts and it does not provide that people will be given these warnings. “Young people have been organizing around stop and frisk tactics and need to have data collected to ensure that stop and frisk is not used as a form of discrimination against people of color.  We need more transparency in respect to how these police practices are used in the city of Chicago and we look forward to working with the Mayor to ensure that Chicago continues to be a national leader in responding to the passionate hard work of young activists, not just in Chicago, but all across this nation,” said Alderman Roderick Sawyer. The STOP Act would help Chicago comply with recommendations made by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to publicly publish data on stop and frisk practices. New York City collects and analyzes its stop data and shares it on the NYPD’s website. Using this data, the police have reduced the number of unnecessary stops and frisks performed, and continue to reform their policies as new data becomes available. According to Page May, an organizer with We Charge Genocide, "Being randomly stopped and frisked is a traumatizing and unfair experience.  Studies show that stop and frisk also becomes a tool for profiling individuals based on race, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. Collecting and publishing the data is the first step on the road to eradicating this egregious harm." Chicago Votes Democracy Corps fellows spent several weeks this summer collecting over 2,500 comment cards in support of the STOP ACT. According to ChicagoVotes executive director Christian Diaz, "Chicago Votes is committed to the goals outlined in the STOP Act. We will continue to educate and engage young voters on the issues that impact their lives. Racial profiling by CPD is a near universal experience for the young black and brown people we train in our programs." Recently, Chicago Votes Fellow Robert Moses was stopped and frisked at the Roosevelt Green Line on this way to the Chicago Votes office on suspicion that he was using a stolen Ventra card. “Luckily I had my school ID and state ID to prove it was mine,” said Moses. “I was frisked in that process. They told me that the picture on my U-pass was blurry and that I needed a new one immediately. I responded ‘ok’ and went about my business. There was a group of white students in front of me, and they weren’t stopped simply for trying to board the train. I was racially profiled and stopped and frisked." Over 30 other community groups have signed on in support of the STOP Act, including Black Youth Project 100, Moms United Against Violence & Incarceration, and Black Lives Matter – Chicago. For more information about the STOP Act, see: wechargegenocide.org/stop.act We Charge Genocide is volunteer-run by Chicago residents concerned that the epidemic of police violence continues uninterrupted in Chicago and who seek to equip individuals across the city with tools to more proactively hold police accountable. The name We Charge Genocide comes from a petition filed to the United Nations in 1951, which documented 153 racial killings and other human rights abuses, mostly by the police. Chicago Votes is a non-partisan organization that increases democratic participation among young people. We are training the next generation of civic leaders through hands on experience like registering voters, canvassing door to door and organizing civic education events. In 2014 Chicago Votes registered 15,000  people to vote and passed landmark legislation for election day voter registration. - END -

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An Open Letter to the ACLU of Illinois Regarding Stop & Frisk

Comparison of STOP Act to ACLU-IL deal with CPD and SB1304 (Click on image for larger version)

Comparison of STOP Act to ACLU-IL deal with CPD and SB1304 (Click on image for larger version)

In light of the announcement of the ACLU of Illinois’s agreement with the City of Chicago, and in the interest of transparency with the people of Chicago affected by this agreement and the Chicago Police Department’s stop and frisk practices, we are sharing the following open letter to the ACLU. The letter outlines the process through which the ACLU negotiated its agreement—a process that excluded and undermined Black youth leadership around stop and frisk; it describes the fundamental differences between the substance of the ACLU/CPD agreement and the STOP Act developed by WCG; and reaffirms our commitment to the struggle against all forms of police violence. WCG does not naively believe that our communities are harassed, brutalized, and abused by the police simply because there is insufficient data, or because there are not enough laws on the books. We understand police violence to be rooted in historical and systemic anti-blackness that seeks to control, contain, and repress Black bodies through acts of repeated violence. Stop and frisk should be understood as a tool police use to punish Black people just for being. Police violence is always state-sanctioned violence, and further strengthening narrow supervision of police action by elites will never address that. This is why any legislative or law-based campaign to address police violence requires not just policy change, but an actual transformation of power relations between communities of color and the police. The ACLU’s settlement—focused on your own access—does not and cannot accomplish this. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

An Open Letter to the ACLU of Illinois Regarding Stop and Frisk

American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois 180 N. Michigan Avenue, Ste. 2300 Chicago, Illinois 60601   Dear ACLU of Illinois: We are writing in complete dismay and utter disgust upon learning—on the very day we were filing the Stops Transparency Oversight and Protection Act (“STOP Act”) in Chicago’s City Council—that you were in the midst of finalizing a “settlement” with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Mayor Emanuel’s office on the collection of stop and frisk data by the CPD. As a result of these secret negotiations, Mayor Emanuel requested that our aldermanic sponsors Proco Joe Moreno, Roderick Sawyer and Roberto Maldonado delay filing our ordinance until the September City Council meeting. In light of the Mayor’s request, after consulting with our aldermanic sponsors, we did not file the STOP Act despite We Charge Genocide (WCG) and Chicago Votes’ announcement that we would at a packed press conference that very morning. The press conference itself was built upon several months of organizing and outreach by and to scores of youth of color in the City of Chicago in anticipation of the STOP Act’s introduction at City Council. The ACLU’s unprincipled failure to inform WCG about these negotiations as soon as they were initiated and invite WCG to participate in them has directly undermined and undercut the organizing and advocacy efforts of Black youth who are targeted by stop and frisk and discriminatory policing in Chicago. You failed to be transparent that these negotiations were taking place and excluded the input of community partners—especially the youth directly impacted by the issue that is the subject of the legislation and who are fighting for their lives. This letter uplifts their critical work and serves as a warning to others who consider the ACLU a collaborator or partner. It is precisely this unprincipled and frankly shameful betrayal of impacted communities and grassroots organizing efforts that the ACLU claims to fight for that gives the organization its reputation for undercutting rather than supporting movements for change across the country. Now, we learn that as a result of your secret and exclusive negotiations with the City you have reached an agreement with the CPD and Mayor Emanuel’s office on the collection of stop and frisk data, and your agreement does not provide the public with access to that data. Rather, under your agreement, only the ACLU and the designated “Consultant” will receive CPD stop and frisk data and other relevant information. Under your agreement, you are required to keep the information you receive confidential under an “attorney’s eyes only” standard. This result flies in the face of the public transparency and accountability that the STOP Act sought to secure—principles the ACLU allegedly propounds. We want to be clear: We are not in support of your work with the city or its result, which harms our existing work and undermines the broader campaign to end stop and frisk in Chicago. WCG’s Campaign on Stop and Frisk WCG raised the issue of racially discriminatory stop and frisk practices in September 2014 in its shadow report to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT). After the CAT issued its profoundly favorable findings in response to the WCG’s all youth-of-color delegation and the shadow report they drafted, WCG began developing our next steps, including advocating for the collection and publication of all stop and frisk data by the CPD. Over the course of the last ten months, WCG began a broad campaign to educate and mobilize youth of color across Chicago to end CPD’s racially discriminatory stop and frisk practices, which has included launching the #ChiStops campaign, recruiting Chicago Votes to work alongside WCG in seeking the passage of the STOP Act, and going to classrooms and schools across the City to do the hard and essential work of building knowledge and support for the legislation among Black youth as young as eight who face discriminatory stops and abuse at the hands of the CPD every single day. WCG’s Communications with ACLU-Illinois The ACLU Illinois has known for several months that WCG intended to seek mandated collection and publication of CPD’s stop and frisk data through Chicago’s City Council. It was first raised to the ACLU-Illinois in November, 2014, and later when WCG members met with the ACLU-Illinois at your office on April 7, 2015. At that meeting, WCG shared a draft of the proposed ordinance, and you indicated the ACLU’s plan was to amend Illinois state law. You also informed us that you supported the STOP Act. You never suggested that WCG should not pursue the campaign to pass the STOP Act in Chicago’s City Council or that the ACLU was interested in working with the City to address this issue. You only asked us to refer any potential plaintiffs to you for a hypothetical lawsuit regarding stop and frisk. We subsequently emailed the ordinance to you and you provided us with feedback and edits which we wholeheartedly accepted. The Illinois legislature then passed a bill, SB1304, on the collection of stop and frisk data that provided only half of what the STOP Act sought to achieve. WCG reached out to an ACLU-Illinois member on June 5, 2015 to discuss the SB 1304 and discussed the continuing need for the STOP Act. WCG then followed up with you ACLU to get your official endorsement of the STOP Act, which you provided and we informed you on July 1, 2015 that WCG would send out a press release and file the STOP Act on Wednesday, July 29 at the City Council meeting. In light of this history, it was mind-boggling to learn that you have been in negotiations with the City without informing us prior to July 29th. Common decency—let alone respect for the communities’ interests you claim to represent—would compel you to inform us of these developments. True solidarity, however, would have required you to not only inform us of your negotiations, but reach out to WCG’s youth members before even initiating or participating in them to discuss whether such negotiations should even be entered into, and on what terms. Instead, you have chosen to shut us out of these negotiations entirely and even initially refused to disclose the possible terms of the “settlement” after the July 29th press conference. You only disclosed the terms of your deal to us on August 6th, the day you signed off on the deal with the CPD and Corporation Counsel, which was the same day you chose to meet with us. It was only then did we learn the true extent in which you undermined and undercut the efforts of WCG, Chicago Votes and Black youth who have been organizing against stop and frisk. Your actions evince a clear lack of respect and disregard for WCG and the communities impacted by the issue, and have completely disrespected and disregarded the many hours of work by the youth of color who are, in fact, those most impacted by stop and frisk. The ACLU-Illinois’ Unacceptable Deal with the CPD We Charge Genocide's STOP Act is rooted in the experiences and ideas of those most directly impacted—young Black and Brown people. It is the strong desire of the youth we work with that data on stops and frisks be not only collected, but be made publicly available on a City website every three months as a guarantee of actual transparency. The settlement you agreed to with the City fails to do this. Now, only you and the Consultant are provided with the relevant data and information—and on a confidential attorney’s eyes only basis. All other members of the public must seek the information through the FOIA process, which makes the information both inaccessible and hard to decipher if obtained. Your agreement with the City thus maintains the status quo, in which an elite knowledge of the FOIA process is required to access and review stop and frisk data. This is unacceptable. Additionally, we prioritized mechanisms in the STOP Act that would immediately reduce some of the harm caused by stop and frisk practices, e.g. issuing receipts after a stop that include the name and badge number of the police officers and requiring police officers to obtain written documentation of someone’s consent to search. These components of the STOP Act are critical parts of addressing the injustices experienced by young Black Chicagoans every day. They provide people with necessary information to complain about their encounters and attempt to hold the officers responsible while also being provided information as to their rights. Your settlement, however, does not include these pieces; it instead places more power, trust, and responsibility in the hands of those who brutalize us: the cops and the courts. If you had informed us of your negotiations with the City and respected the leadership of young Black people, the ACLU-Illinois would have known that we consider these elements to be non-negotiable aspects of any legislative measures regarding stop and frisk.
We do not naively believe that our communities are harassed, brutalized, and abused by the police simply because there is insufficient data, or because there are not enough laws on the books.
We understand police violence to be rooted in historical and systemic anti-blackness that seeks to control, contain, and repress Black bodies through acts of repeated violence. Stop and frisk should be understood as a tool police use to punish Black people just for being. Police violence is always state-sanctioned violence, and further strengthening narrow supervision of police action by elites will never address that. This is why any legislative or law-based campaign to address police violence requires not just policy change, but an actual transformation of power relations between communities of color and the police. Your settlement—focused on your own access—does not and cannot accomplish this. What you have “won” is fundamentally different from the STOP Act, both in its means and in its ends. Our goals are rooted in the experiences of those most directly impacted; yours are not. Our movement is rooted in a political analysis that recognizes the need to shift power away from police and into our communities; your policy “victory” is not. Our motivation is rooted in a theory of change that prioritizes movement building and centering the leadership of those most affected; yours is not. Now, because of your self-serving interest in pushing simplistic policy changes, we and our allies face a much harder task pushing the critical package of reforms included in the STOP Act but ignored in your settlement. There is no such thing as an easy victory, and yours has come at a high cost. Furthermore, as we expressed in our August 6th meeting, it is highly disingenuous to claim this victory as a result of the usual non-profit legal advocacy work of the ACLU. The City’s desire to negotiate with you has much to do with WCG and the larger Black Lives Matter movement’s demands for radical change. Your settlement represents just one of many efforts by City officials across the country attempting to co-opt our movement by engaging with less threatening groups. Passage of the STOP Act would be public recognition of the real, grassroots power of young Black and Brown Chicagoans; instead the City wisely sought to settle into an ongoing relationship with a legal organization that poses no real threat to the status quo. In other words, you were used. Data collection through the STOP Act was the first of many steps in our plan to end to stop and frisk in Chicago. You have disrespected us. You have undermined our movement. You have wasted our time and that of our allies. But, your refusal to acknowledge or take seriously our leadership has neither silenced nor weakened us. We understand freedom will take a while and will not come without a fight. We are proud of what we have accomplished. We are proud of the base-building and power-building we have achieved. We are proud of our young Black leaders and their ongoing work. We are proud of our success. We will continue and build on that strong foundation in the coming weeks, months, and years. That is how we will win. That is how we will make Black lives matter.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Signed, We Charge Genocide Black Lives Matter - Chicago

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Update to STOP Act Supporters- August 8th, 2015

Dear Friends,

 

Thank you again for your crucial support of the STOP Act.  We are writing to give you an update about the Act and other developments.

 

As you know, we planned to file the Act in City Council last Wednesday, July 29th, under the leadership of aldermen Moreno, Sawyer, and Maldonado.  Before the City Council meeting, We Charge Genocide and Chicago Votes organized a robust and well-attended press conference at which directly affected youth speakers from each group and all three of those aldermen expressed support and the intention to file the ordinance.  

 

During the City Council meeting following the press conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel approached Alderman Sawyer and asked that the alderman wait until a later City Council meeting to file the ordinance because the City was actively exploring changes to relevant CPD policies.

As a result, the STOP Act was not filed on July 29th.

 

On Friday, August 7, as you may have seen, the CPD and the ACLU of IL released a set of agreements that does not include public disclosure of stop and frisk data, and instead provides for oversight by a former federal judge. The ACLU's agreement provides for no more public disclosure than is required beyond the existing FOIA process and, in fact, specifies that all stop and frisk data given by CPD to the ACLU and the monitor will be kept "confidential".  This is in clear contrast to the goals of our work.

 

Unlike the STOP Act, the agreement announced Friday also does not include receipts for stops that do not result in frisks, searches, or arrests; nor does it require officers to inform persons stopped of their right to refuse to consent to a search, or require officers to obtain written documentation of consent.

 

We Charge Genocide is deeply disappointed by the substance of the agreement, which falls short of the basic standards of transparency and accountability which would have been required under the STOP Act. 

 

In addition, we condemn the back-door process through which this agreement was created. That process deliberately excluded the voices of young people of color who have been organizing in support of the STOP Act and who are most affected by CPD's stop & frisk practices.

 

Finally, We Charge Genocide is greatly angered by the behavior of the ACLU -- which has met with us numerous times over the past several months and has claimed to support the STOP Act. We were shocked to find out that the ACLU has, throughout our numerous conversations, deliberately obfuscated the fact that they were also negotiating with the City, and refused to include us in these negotiations.

 

We Charge Genocide's #ChiStops campaign is committed to ending stop & frisk in Chicago, and so will proceed with our Youth Speak-Out Against Stop & Frisk and Police Violence scheduled for this Sunday, August 9th from 2-5pm at Village Leadership Academy, 1001 W Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL 60608. Please join us on the one year anniversary of Mike Brown's murder as we re-commit to ending all forms of police violence here in Chicago and across the country.

 

Next week, We Charge Genocide will publish a public statement addressing the ACLU’s actions. the wide gulf that remains between the ACLU/CPD agreement announced on Friday and the STOP Act, and the changes still desperately needed to achieve a basic level of transparency and police accountability in Chicago.

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Press Release: We Charge Genocide Introduces STOP Act at City Hall

#ChiStops | @ChiCopWatch @ChiStopsWGC

We Charge Genocide Holds Press Conference for Introduction of STOP Act before City Council

  Update: STOP Act was never filed in the City Counil  read more here.
  Today We Charge Genocide and Chicago Votes introduced the Stop, Transparency, Oversight and Protection (STOP) Act  at a press conference on the second floor of Chicago's City Hall before the City Council meeting. Aldermen Moreno, 1st Ward, Alderman Maldonado, 26th Ward, and Alderman Sawyer, 6th Ward spoke in favor of the new ordinance, which would increase data transparency for policing in Chicago, making it possible to better assess the effectiveness and fairness of Chicago policing generally, and stop and frisk tactics specifically. The ordinance would require the Chicago Police Department to collect and share data for all stops that it performs, including demographic information of those stopped, the badge numbers of officers involved, as well as the location, reason, and result of the stop. The Chicago Police Department would also be required to give receipts to those stopped, as well as to collect and share the data on a quarterly basis, so that various programs can be evaluated for effectiveness and fairness. The STOP Act would help Chicago to catch up with New York City and other districts, in terms of data transparency and police accountability. New York City collects and analyzes its stop data, and shares it in an accessible format. Using this data, the police have reduced the number of unnecessary stops and frisks performed, and continue to reform their policies as new data comes out. Speaking to the number and effect of stop-and-frisks, Gillian Giles, a youth organizer with #ChiStops, said that “overpolicing is a problem. Being stopped by the police is terrifying. Being stopped and frisked by the police is at best degrading. Being stopped and frisk by police when you've done nothing wrong is unnecessary, and last year 250,000 Chicagoans were stopped without committing a crime.” A recent report put out by the ACLU of Illinois stresses how the CPD's insufficient and incomplete data collection methods make real accountability and oversight all but impossible. In addition to requiring police to document and account for all stops and frisks, the the STOP Act would require police to give those stopped a receipt detailing the transaction.
This would be a significant step towards transparency and would allow communities and individuals alike to be better informed and evaluate the practice for themselves.
According to Page May, organizer with We Charge Genocide, "In this moment, during this national conversation about police violence and profiling, we need to do better. Passing the STOP Act would be a significant step forward. The STOP Act would allow Chicago to catch up to other cities like New York, and get data transparency right, right now. It would give us more tools to evaluate stop and frisk, and would allow us to develop a more complete picture of the impact of these police practices on communities across the city." In addition to ChiStops, over 30 other community groups have signed on in support of the STOP Act, including the ACLU of Illinois, Black Youth Project 100, Chicago Votes, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, and Black Lives Matter – Chicago. Speakers at the press conference included: Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, 1st Ward; Alderman Roberto Maldonado, 26th Ward; Alderman Eoderick T. Sawyer, 6th Ward; Malcolm London from We Charge Genocide; Gillian Giles from ChiStops; and Caleb Porter from Chicago Votes. For more information about the STOP Act, see: wechargegenocide.org/stop.act #ChiStops: Empowering young people through popular education and leadership training to resist racial profiling and other biased policing. We Charge Genocide is volunteer-run by Chicago residents concerned that the epidemic of police violence continues uninterrupted in Chicago and who seek to equip individuals across the city with tools to more proactively hold police accountable. The name We Charge Genocide comes from a petition filed to the United Nations in 1951, which documented 153 racial killings and other human rights abuses, mostly by the police.

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Stop and Frisk in the News: Chicago Police Use Stop-And-Frisk Excessively: ACLU Report 5/23/2015, New York Times Chicago sued over Police Department's alleged stop-and-frisk practices 4/21/2015, Chicago Tribune New York has essentially eliminated stop-and-frisk – and crime is still down 12/3/2014, Washington Post  

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Fact Sheet: STOP ACT and What’s the Harm with Stop and Frisk?

STOP ACT Fact Sheet

<<<STOP Act Fact Sheet PDF download>>>

What’s the Harm with Stop and Frisk?

  • Stops and frisks are the police tactics that affect the largest number of Chicagoans.
  • Many of the people stopped have committed no crime. In the summer of 2014, CPD conducted more than 250,000 stops of individuals who were not arrested.[1]
  • In summer 2014, Chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often as New Yorkers at the height of NYPD’s stop and frisk practice.
  • “Black Chicagoans were subjected to 72% of all stops, yet constitute just 32% of the city’s population.”
    • In police districts where the population is mostly white, people of color were still stopped disproportionately frequently to the number of people of color living in those districts.
  • Studies have found that people who have been stopped and frisked are often traumatized by the experience, particularly when they are unfairly accused of engaging in criminal activity.
 

Does the CPD Collect and Publish Stop and Frisk Data Already?

  • The CPD records a limited amount of information about the stops it conducts.
  • The CPD does not record whether a frisk or search took place following a stop, nor does it require officers to document the justification for any frisks or searches conducted.
  • The CPD does not record information on a stop and/or frisk when the person is arrested or given a ticket or summons.
  • The CPD does not make this limited information and data accessible to the public.
 

What Will the STOP Ordinance Do

  • Require the CPD to collect and share data on the location, reason, result, and demographic information for all individuals (including perceived race, age, and gender) stopped and/or frisked.
  • Require the CPD to record whether a frisk or search was conducted and the justification.
  • Require the CPD to record the outcome and disposition of all stops, including recovery of contraband, arrest, or issuance of tickets or summonses.
  • Require the CPD to provide a receipt to the person stopped and/or frisked that includes the name and badge number of the officers involved in the interaction.
  • Require the CPD to record whether a search was conducted pursuant to consent, and if so, to inform the individual of their right to refuse consent and document such consent in writing.
  • Require the CPD to make all of this information publicly available in quarterly reports.
 

Why is the STOP ACT Necessary?

  • To enable meaningful oversight of CPD’s stop and frisk practices to determine if they are being effectively and fairly used to deter criminal conduct.
  • To monitor and determine if Black people and other people of color are being unfairly targeted and harmed by stop and frisk practices in Chicago.
 

If SB1304 Becomes Law, Why Do We Still Need the STOP ACT?

Illinois Senate Bill 1304 STOP ACT
Requires police departments to keep records of stops that resulted in frisks, searches, arrests, or issuance of summonses or tickets, not all stops. Requires CPD to record all stops.
Requires police departments to issue receipts for stops that resulted in a frisk or search. Requires CPD to provide receipts to all people who were stopped and/or frisked. 
Does not require police to inform people of their right to refuse to consent to a search. Requires CPD to inform people that they have a right not to consent to a search and to obtain written proof of that consent. 
 

Why Should the STOP ACT Be Passed Now?

  • SB1304 will already require the CPD to overhaul its policies on keeping stop and frisk data and sharing it with the public by January 2016. 
  • The STOP ACT will require the CPD to record all of the necessary information on all stops and all frisks conducted to ensure all of these practices are being used fairly and effectively.
  [1]ACLU-IL website, http://www.aclu-il.org/stop-and-frisk-in-chicago1/. All facts regarding CPD Stop and Frisk demographics and rates are taken from Stop and Frisk in Chicago, ACLU of Illinois (March 2015).

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