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My response, appearing in the Dec. 2, 2015, Chicago Tribune, to Mayor Emanuel's police misconduct reaction:


Before Mayor Rahm Emanuel removed Garry McCarthy from his position as police superintendent, he announced the formation of a new task force to study police accountability. Both moves are far too little, too late.

Task forces are useful in generating solutions to new and complex problems. But police brutality and racial disparities in law enforcement are nothing new. They have been swept shamefully under rugs in big cities and small towns across America. And a plethora of best practices exist; in March, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing issued up-to-date and thoroughly researched recommendations on body cameras, independent investigations, accountability, training, community trust-building, recruitment of minority officers and much more. The mayor doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel; he needs to adopt all applicable recommendations of the 21st Century Policing report immediately. That would be a serious, convincing step toward real reform.

Shamefully, this latest outrage was no anomaly. Our protest, our advocacy and our tears are for Laquan McDonald but also for Howard Morgan, shot 28 times by four officers, then convicted of attempted murder. They are for David Koschman, whose mother was paid $250,000 to quiet allegations of fabricated evidence and wrongdoing by police and prosecutors. They are for Rekia Boyd, whose killer was finally fired from the force more than three years after her death. They are for Ronnie Johnson, killed by police just a week before Laquan; the City still refuses to release a video of his final moments.

And they are for every victim who will fall as long as the CPD offers safe haven to those who abuse their authority. Since 2004, the City of Chicago has paid out half a billion dollars – enough to balance the Chicago Public Schools’ budget without cuts – to settle claims of police misconduct. It spent $54.2 million on these settlements in 2014 alone.

If Mayor Emanuel is serious about reform, he won’t just appoint a task force; he will welcome the U.S. Department of Justice to come to Chicago and investigate the police department’s culture and leadership, as it did in Ferguson, and to bring to light what is being done in our name, with our tax dollars.

We don’t need more damage control; we need a complete overhaul of the culture of law enforcement, prosecution and leadership. The people of Chicago and the majority of police officers who bravely and responsibly serve the public every day deserve nothing less.

Will we struggle forward as two Chicagos – one where the rule of law prevails, and another where young people of color are deemed unworthy of our constitutional rights and the blue shield closes around officers who appoint themselves judge, jury and executioner? Or will we do the hard and painful work needed to rise up as one Chicago with equal access to justice for all?

One thing is certain; another task force does not hold the answer.


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