Following the Laquan McDonald shooting and the killing of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones in Garfield Park, city officials on Dec. 31st held a press conference to impose immediate police reform in both west side and south side communities.
Emma Mitts of the 32nd ward led the discussion by saying that the misconduct of the officers in recent weeks shows that there is a mental illness and they have come together to make a movement. She mentions they need to work with the police to make sure that their actions are justifiable and to understand the community in which they are serving.
“Police needs to understand the culture of these communities. We’ve spoke with the superintendent and he listened to us. What we want them to do is to lock them up if they are committing wrongdoing, not to shoot them.” said Mitts.
There idea’s towards the issue include equipping the officers with taser guns, and provide them proper training on how deescalate a situation before they have to reach for their weapon. “We want to protect our communities from shooters and police misconduct,” says Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin.
“Laquan McDonald would have been here today if there were tasers present. 30,000 people in Chicago were shot this year, and 481 of them were killed by gunfire. We have to bring that number down as we head into 2016, and we have a culture of shoot first, ask questions later. We have to end that culture.”
It is more than just the misuse of weapons on people, but also the attitudes and stereotypes carried by the officers who patrol the areas. The characteristics expressed in these communities are seen as unusual behavior such as how they speak and wear their clothes. “Some people in these communities speak loudly, but it doesn’t mean that they’re angry, that’s just how they communicate with each other.” said Boykin.
Congressman Danny Davis agrees that the tasers are necessary, but the training in itself is important.
“Training is essential, but has to be the kind that will create within our law enforcement officers respect towards the human dignity of each individual they encounter. we don’t want to encounter a citizen with a traffic violation to be approached by an officer with their hand on their weapon. We heard the term black lives matter, well all lives matter, but we want black lives to matter just as much as all lives matter.”
He continues to say that to help eliminate the issue we have to strategize to replace the wastelands from these areas. By adding job opportunities to the people and education, it can help reduce crime activity in black communities and he aims to ask the federal government for additional sources and to look at Chicago as a special needs case.
Despite the recent reports of police misconduct, African Americans as said by Boykin have the most applicants submitted than any other community. He also mentions that the new superintendent understands that there needs to be more black officers and in higher positions.
When asked If Mayor Emanuel should step down in lieu of the recent protest, Ald. Mitts says that their job is to work with him as he directs the laws and the laws direct him.
“If he chooses to step down, that’s a question for him to answer, but in the meantime, he’s the mayor and our job is to work with the mayor who is in the seat. Getting mad is not going to stop anything, so we need to continue to be focused on our community.”
While the push for reform and change in the city’s law enforcement continues, the city officials thank the protesters for being peaceful and bringing awareness to the cause.
“The good thing about the protest is that it is motivating a lot of things to open up and to change. We like to commend all the young people that is out there protesting and we want them to know that we hear you and see you, but for the most part there are some things happening and it is because of all the people protesting and we commend them for doing what they’re doing.” said Will Burns, 4th Ward Alderman.