[Adapted from a speech by Jill Leslie on August 24, 2020. Featured photo by Deana Rutherford.]
I am a lifelong Chicagoan and have been a resident of the 48th ward for seven years. I have made a life here. I am so fortunate to be a part of this thriving community. This is why I became a member of 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice.
It is for the love of my neighbors—the people that make the 48th Ward what it is— that I expect and demand more of our elected officials.
I refuse to support an Alderman lacking the courage and moral fortitude to stand against the unfettered abuse and violence carried out by the Chicago Police Department.
An alderman so committed to the status quo that he dismisses and disregards the concerns of the constituents he was elected to represent.
An alderman who addresses systematic abuse and miscarriage of justice in a weekly newsletter rather in the Committee on Public Safety where he is Vice Chair.
At a July 2nd Town Hall on police accountability and reform, Harry Osterman said: “I think we have one chance to do this. We have not gotten to this situation in Chicago overnight, and it’s gonna take us a significant amount of time to get out of it.”
And he is right.
Haymarket, Red Summer, the DNC police riot, the assassination of Fred Hampton, Jon Burge’s 20 year reign of terror, the murder of Laquan McDonald and its systematic cover-up—generations of Chicagoans have suffered violence and oppression at the hand of the Chicago Police Department.
We have had 134 years to change since the Haymarket Riots, that is “a significant amount of time”. We know the system of policing in Chicago is irreparably broken and now is the time for change and action.
Change is necessary but the GAPA ordinance—written and supported by our alderman—is more of the same.
OPS, IPRA, COPA — no matter how many times acronyms are swapped it remains the same impotent arm of a policing system ruled over by a Mayor who uses CPD as a private security force.
We have seen the failure of COPA in investigating the shooting of Ricky Hayes, it can not or will not hold police officers accountable. Accountability can not and will not come from the CPD—Chicago missing 70% of Federal Consent Decree mandate deadlines is just one example.
This is why 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice was formed and this is why I am a member:
To say “We keep us safe” and stand in support The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and demand the passing of the CPAC ordinance to get community control of the police.
To say “We keep us safe” and stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Chicago in the movement toward defunding and abolishing the police.
To say “We keep us safe” because the Mayor believes windows downtown are more valuable than Black and Brown lives.
To say “We keep us safe” by allowing Chicagoans to have “the right to decide who polices us and how we are policed”.
To say “We keep us safe” by making sure the tyranny of the CPD has no part in it.
I am a member of the 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice:
To tell our Alderman that 134 years is long enough.
To tell out Alderman, that he is not representing the values of his constituents.
To tell our Alderman that his silence while CPD beats and arrests young black and brown Chicagoans is more informative of his values and politics than any newsletter he could distribute.
We are here to demand change in our ward and citywide.
We are here to hold ourselves and the officials elected to represent us accountable and committed to that change.
We refuse to wait and see how much more blood of Black and Brown people has to spill in our streets before our elected officials are compelled to act.