May 20, 2019, newly elected Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held her inaugural speech cheerful audience.
It was imbued with promises of fundamental change – tailored care for destroyed neighborhoods, solutions to government corruption and endemic violent crime, an ambitious agenda for solving deep-rooted mistakes in the city.
“It has been said for years that Chicago is not ready for reform. Well, get ready, because reform has arrived, ”Lightfoot, the first black woman in Chicago and openly a homosexual mayor, and a former federal prosecutor, he said.
She pledged to reform Chicago the police administration, promising to “continue the arduous but essential work of creating a partnership between police officers and the community, based on mutual respect, responsibility and recognition that the destinies of the police and the community are inextricably intertwined.”
Police reform seemed to be the perfect task Lightfoot was given one of her previous roles to lead the city’s special task force on police accountability and reform.
It required major changes and supported “the widespread belief that the police do not care about the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.”
But big changes await us. For nearly two years in office, Lightfoot has come under fire from critics, accused of pedaling responsibility and reform, while neglecting some important cases involving police murder or misconduct.
He resents the murder of the Chicago police earlier this month 13-year-old Adam Toledo after a chase that ended with a shooting at the boy after stopping and raising his hands on the orders of the police officer chasing him.
Elizabeth Toledo, Adam’s mother, had not notified about his death up to two days after the shooting, leaving her to think her son was missing. His foot was slightly choking as he was acknowledging “We failed Adam.”
There was one in increasing numbers police kill children across America, and the victims are disproportionately blacks and Hispanics.
But the Police Violence Mapping project found that between 2013 and 2021, Chicago police killed more people under the age of 18. than any other local law enforcement agency in the country – at least 12.
And Lightfoot last December threw out the aftermath of an incident that happened before her mayoralty, where police Anjanette Young searched a house that had the wrong address, drew a weapon, and she was handcuffed while naked.
Progress in police reform is close to fruitless, making activists, many city council members or seniors, and Chicagoans distrustful.
“I think she didn’t fulfill those pre-election promises, because she didn’t,” said the first Chicago senior, Daniel La Spata.
Lightfoot succeeded Rahm Emanuel, whose mayor is was controversial on several fronts. Emanuel is accused of attempting to cover up murder Laquan McDonald, 17-year-old black, Jason Van Dyke, white officer.
Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in 2014 as he walked away from police.
Following McDonald’s death, the Justice Department investigation into Chicago police delivered a bubbly report identified the epidemic use of racist, excessive forces as well as corruption among officers.
The new mayor said in 2019: “I led the campaign for change, you voted for change.”
But is change coming?
“When you replace a mayor like Rahm Emanuel – who in many ways had to leave office because he covered up the assassination of Laquan McDonald – and when you look at the way Adam Toledo’s assassination was solved, you start to see a lot of similarities,” said Carlos Ramirez. Rosa.
For decades, repairing the broken police system in Chicago remains a vital priority.
And there was Homan Square, the infamous interrogation warehouse he uses Chicago police, which ignited international outrage after reports surfaced in 2015 detailing thousands of people illegally detained by police and tortured into false confessions.
In addition to the more famous travesties, there are thousands and thousands of charges against the Chicago police, according to data from the Civil Police Data Project, a tool created to publish allegations of police abuse in Chicago, with few results.
Lightfoot has promised to “conduct civilian oversight of the CPD,” according to its public safety platform. And she vowed to create a civilian oversight board in her first 100 days of work, but that did not happen
She supported a plan for local law to create such a committee, created by the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA), until it withdrew in October last year.
The mayor waived support for GAPA regulations after claiming that activists were unwilling to compromise or “came up with a proposal that addresses … unresolved issues”.
But Carlil Pittman, a youth organizer with the Southwest Organizing Project, co-founder of Goodkids Madcity advocacy and a GAPA spokesman, described the unproductive environment, saying the mayor would stop communicating with organizers, cancel public safety committee meetings and refuse to rule rules.
“Her words were:‘ If you are here to negotiate [that] the power of policy-making to be in the hands of this community commission, we can now stop this conversation ‘. Her exact words? “I’m not giving up the power to make politics,” Pittman told the Guardian.
Alderman Rosa called Lightfoot an “obstructionist” because of civilian police surveillance.
Lightfoot, instead, has she repeatedly claimed it was her own ordinance about civilian oversight is coming.
Meanwhile, the joint proposal called for community security empowerment communities, created by GAPA and the Civil Police Accountability Council to lead to a referendum on the creation of an elected police oversight body, has gained support among progressives, and many are calling on the mayor to support him.
However, a proposal requiring Chicago to publish closed complaints against police dates back to 1994 received her public disapproval.
“She doesn’t want any drama that comes with the recognition that for years, decades, [Chicago] the police acted in a disturbing and disgusting way, ”said Trina Reynolds-Tyler, human rights organizer and data director at the Invisible Institute, a journalistic production house at Southside in Chicago focused on holding public bodies accountable.
In the recently adopted $ 12.8 billion budget, Lightfoot has allocated $ 65 million for housing and the fight against homelessness. It has also included $ 20 million in community mental health programs and $ 1 million for a new program to associate police with mental health workers on some emergency calls.
In the midst of calls for reorganization, she reduced the police a striking $ 1.69 billion budget for only $ 58.9 million.
Chicago’s 2.6 million population makes it the third largest U.S. city, but it has the second largest police allocation per capita after New York, according to American News and World Report, and most officers per capita, according to journalistic non-profit organization Injustice Watch.
Still, many Chicagoans feel it insufficiently protected. And the city is quiet far behind on the goals set under another indictment on his work to date, a a decree of consent ordered by the court for police overhaul.
It was issued in February 2019, but it also stemmed from the murder of McDonald, in a lawsuit involving the Attorney General, Black Lives Matter Chicago and the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois.
Last summer, in light of the murder of George Floyd by a white officer in Minneapolis, Lightfoot was part of a group of mayors who promoted reforms rejecting defundation as a path to transformation.
The Guardian she contacted Lightfoot’s office about the progress of her promised reforms, but they declined to comment.
But while Lightfoot’s limited results may seem surprising, looking back shows a pattern of circumventing actual reform, Reynolds-Tyler argued.
In 2002, as chief administrator of the Chicago Office of Professional Standards (OPS), a weak and now defunct police oversight body, Lightfoot rarely managed to initiate any police breach case, according to the appeal a non-profit website and supported officials in some highly controversial cases.
The prospects are bleak, and yet the need for transformation is as great as ever.
Alderman Ramirez-Rosa said: “People from the city of Chicago are crying out for a change in our broken police system. We owe it to Anjanette Young, we owe it to Laquan McDonald, we owe it to Brandy Boyd, we owe it to Adam Toledo to adopt police reform as a first step towards abolishing racist police. “