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1/13 Chicago Urban League President and CEO Shari Runner Reacts to DOJ Report on Chicago Police Department

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

 

Paula Thornton Greear

SVP, External Affairs

(773) 892-5427

 

Chelsea Whittington

Sr. Manager, External Affairs

(219) 712-3182

cwhittington@thechicagourbanleague.org

 

Chicago Urban League President and CEO Shari Runner Reacts to DOJ Report on Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO, IL, Jan. 13, 2017 – Chicago Urban League President and CEO Shari Runner issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Justice release of its patterns and practice investigation of the Chicago Police Department:

“Few of us will ever forget the video of Laquan McDonald being gunned down by police on the streets of Chicago. There was much anger and resentment that the City only released that video under immense pressure and under allegations that it colluded to suppress the tape. The Chicago Urban League was the first organization to call for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a much needed investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department (CPD).   

Today, the DOJ released its findings report admonishing the CPD for too often disregarding the constitutional rights of Black Chicagoans.

The findings confirm what many already knew from their own experience, that:  

·         Unsound practices in foot pursuits of perpetrators 

·         Unnecessary use of force

·         Pattern of racial bias

We know that reactions to this report will vary from anger and disgust to, unfortunately, but quite probably, repudiation from the Fraternal Order of Police. But the Chicago Urban League believes that the report must be viewed as a milestone. It is verification of the worst of what we’ve been and continue to be, but offers a viable path to what we want to become.

We agree with many of the recommendations in the report, especially:

1.  Implementing policies and developing trainings that improve interactions with all people, including those experiencing mental health crises.

2.  The City and CPD must create impartial internal and external oversight systems that hold officers accountable in a timely manner.

3. Ensuring that the policies, practices and data are delivered both in a timely and transparent manner to all concerned community members.

Mayor Emanuel and CPD Superintendent Johnson must immediately acknowledge the unfair practices highlighted in the report. Agreeing in principle to negotiate a consent decree with the DOJ to carry out the reforms it recommends is simply not enough. They must send a clear, unequivocal message to the police department that they will follow these recommendations and hopefully enforce them with a sincere effort to finally heal the rip that has divided us for far too long.   

But it can’t just be more talk; there must be concrete action. And once it’s clear that what must be done is actually being done, then it’s incumbent upon community leaders to support the City’s efforts. Importantly, it’s incumbent upon us all to hold each other accountable.

The League has always believed that the vast majority of police officers do a good job under admittedly difficult circumstances. The problem has been that too many of those officers feel it’s more important to support the bad seeds among them than stand up for what is right. The blue wall of silence must be shattered, and the Fraternal Order of Police must finally admit that every officer is not worthy of their support. 

The combined recommendations of the DOJ and of the Police Accountability Task Force provide city officials and civic leaders with a detailed blueprint to restore trust and public safety in our city. It’s going to take all of us working together to transform Chicago into the city it can be. All of us, from the community level to City Hall. The time is now.  We owe nothing less to Laquan McDonald and those before and after him, who have suffered or lost their lives as a result of a broken system.”

The League plans to host a Multimedia Virtual Town Hall the week of January 16th. During this interactive call, Shari Runner and Dr. Stephanie Bechteler, Vice President and Executive Director, Research and Policy Center will dig deeper into this important report and add additional information and recommendations to move this collaborative effort to transform the city forward.

For more information and to RSVP for the town hall, email cwhittington@thechicagourbanleague.org.

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About the Chicago Urban League

Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation. For more information, visit www.thechicagourbanleague.org. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.   




 
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