Indivisible Chicago-South Side and Unitarian Church Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform held forum on police reform

By JOANA SALIEVSKA
Herald Intern

Indivisible ChicagoSouth Side and the Unitarian Church Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform held a community forum on police reform Tuesday evening, June 19 at the Unitarian Church, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave.

The purpose of the meeting was to call public attention and input to the negotiations underway regarding reform of the Chicago Police Department through a federally monitored consent decree between the City of Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black Lives Matter, Community Renewal Society, and many other community organizations, according to the Indivisible-South Side Facebook page.  

Three lawyers present at the event discussed the legal proceedings and answer audience questions: Aneel Chablani, Advocacy Director at the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Kathy Muse, Special Litigation Counsel at Illinois ACLU, and Craig Futterman, University of Chicago Clinical Professor of Law and founder of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic.

Evan Freund, head of the Criminal Justice Task Force at the Unitarian Church, began the meeting by introducing the panelists and posing the question, Why are the police not solving crimes and protecting people, and what needs to happen for the police to be observant of civil rights?

Muse of the ACLU said the CPD has a culture of a lack of accountability, and she is concerned about leaving the consent decree in the hand of politicians, especially since we dont know who will be taking Lisa Madigans spot as attorney general.

Chablani, of the Chicago Lawyers Committee, remarked that simply agreeing to a consent decree is not worth much when you dont know how it will be implemented or enforced. Chablani said the police department will not be able to produce meaningful change unless the community is involved. The first step is to recognize it is not simply a matter of rebuilding trust, but to establish trust in the first place in these communities, said Chablani.

Futterman of the University of Chicago, said that this is a historic moment for Chicago and is the greatest opportunity for fundamental change in my lifetime. That is, the potential for an impactful and meaningful decree. Futterman said that the citys political leadership only acts under the pressure to do so, and that it is when people speak out, stand up, and demand change, that Chicago can address these injustices.

The executive leadership group of the Indivisible Chicago-South Side chapter, Doug Bishop and Esther Peters, echoed Futtermans statement. The next question needs to be how we can spend our time between now and the midterm elections, said Bishop.

For more information about the Indivisible Chicago-South Side chapter, email Indiv.Chi.South@gmail.com. The organization holds regular meetings and events to unite South Siders to fight for progressive values by exerting grassroots influence on our elected officials.

hpherald@hpherald.com