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Chicagoans React To Damning Department Of Justice Report

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 13, 2017 9:59PM

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks alongside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, IPRA head Sharon Fairley, and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson at a press conference announcing the findings of a Department of Justice Investigation into the Chicago Police Department. Photo by Aaron Cynic.
As Chicagoans are still combing through the bombshell 164 page report released by the Department of Justice detailing its investigation into the Chicago Police Department, area politicians, community groups and others are beginning to react to the findings.

The report, released as Justice Department officials held a joint press conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and other city officials, had grim findings including widespread racial discrimination, deficiencies in accountability and a pattern of abuses of constitutional rights.

Ahead of the release of the report, the Chicago Progressive Caucus sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting the DOJ review the Federal Civil Rights Litigation of the City’s Law Department in the wake of the 8th set of sanctions the department received last week.

“Any day now, Chicago will once again be the center of attention for its troubled criminal justice system. Mayor Emanuel must seize this moment to truly clean house,” said caucus chair Ald. Scott Waguespack. “The leadership in our Law Department has consistently concealed information and prevented true transparency on many issues. The fifth floor must address this issue forcefully and clearly, and it must do it now.”

Waguespack later Tweeted that the investigation didn't address political and legal problems that hinder change.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she was grateful for the investigation and hopeful that it would begin to put residents and the police on a path to address the issues it outlined.

“I have long felt that policing in Chicago is in desperate need of a reset,” said Preckwinkle in a statement. “It has been clear to me for many years that residents in communities of color are policed far differently than communities with a preponderance of white residents. Such a strategy can only result in distrust between police and residents of these black and brown communities.”

Congresswoman Robin Kelly called the report “deeply concerning.”

“We all agree that law enforcement has a difficult job. The vast majority of officers are drawn to law enforcement because they care deeply about their community and want to serve and protect it...While the city has already taken steps to address these issues, many more reforms are needed. We simply cannot allow this level of disregard for citizens and their Constitutional rights to continue.”

The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, who along with other community groups and activists have fought for years for their own version of a civilian controlled police accountability board, said that relying solely on the DOJ to reform CPD is “misguided,” saying that its investigations into police departments in Ohio didn’t deter “criminal activity” by the police.

“Consent decrees have tweaked police practices or left behind ineffective IPRA-like oversight bodies with a predictable nod to community 'input'. Let the people vent, but don't give them power,” the group said in a statement. “The DOJ investigators, the Mayor's Task Force, and the City Council Police Accountability hearings are all busy relabeling the problem...This here-today-gone-tomorrow scrutiny of CPD must be replaced by a permanent systemic change, by community control of the police, by an all elected Civilian Police Accountability Council.”

Black Lives Matter Chicago will have their own press conference late this afternoon alongside family members of people who have been killed by police, including relatives of Joshua Beal and Rekia Boyd.

“We call for the immediate reopening of all closed police shooting investigations within the last four years,” the group said in a statement, which also demanded the “immediate firing and charges against all officers involved in the murders of civilians.”

Fraternal Order of Police Dean C. Angelo, Sr. said he was "concerned" about the "lightning speed" of the investigation, and that it was rushed for "political purposes."

"Everyone who reads this document should be as concerned about the timeliness of this Report as the FOP," the group wrote in a statement on Facebook, also saying:

"What has resulted is one of the quickest Pattern-or-Practice Investigations ever conducted by DOJ into an agency the size of the CPD. In all practicality, to have completed this investigation in LESS than one year’s time brings to surface several concerns: the main one being timeliness. Completing an investigation into the 12,000 member Chicago Police Department, and in a City with over 2 million citizens in less than one year clearly brings to light that the outgoing DOJ wanted to issue a report before the new Administration takes over on January 20, 2017."