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Group takes police misconduct protest to district stations

Heike Eghardt, 49, of Evanston, took part in a protest and prayer vigil outside the 24th District Chicago Police station, calling for increased police accountability and reform. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

About 70 activists gathered outside a police station in the Rogers Park neighborhood to use Palm Sunday as a platform to call for the passage of an ordinance they think would rein in police misconduct in Chicago.

The activists were from the Community Renewal Society, a faith-based organization that draws members from the city and suburbs. The demonstration coincided with identical gatherings planned outside other Chicago police stations.

The group’s proposed ordinance calls for the creation of a Police Auditor Office to provide oversight of the Chicago Police Department, the police board and the Independent Police Review Authority, the body charged with investigating police misconduct. The ordinance, which no alderman has officially backed or proposed, calls for an external organization to appoint a leader of the new office which would have broad powers to demand structural reform within the offices it oversees.

They’ve labeled the ordinance FAIR COP, which is short for Freedom through Accountability Investigation and Reform for Community Oversight of Policing Services.

“We’re trying to find an alderman to propose it,” said Bedford West, a congregant of the Unitarian Church in Evanston, who is on the society’s Police Issues Team, which helped draft the ordinance based on input from congregations on the South and West Sides.

“We’re working with some individuals right now,” said West, who would not provide additional details.

GallerySteve Serikaku, also of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, cited a number of reasons the ordinance was overdue, chief among them were the Laquan McDonald case and the lethargic pace of the investigation that lead to charges against the Chicago police officers who killed him nearly 14 months later — and the botched involuntary manslaughter prosecution of Dante Servin, who is still on the police force despite recommendations by both former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and IPRA that he be fired.

“That’s why we demand the city institute an independent police auditor appointed not by the mayor, but by an outside agency,” said Serikaku, 64, a retired high school teacher.

“We’re just fed up and need results,” said Julia Monk, 21, a University of Illinois student who grew up in Albany Park.

“I was coming home from school recently and somebody jokingly said ‘You better bring your bullet proof vest.’ and I was horrified that someone said that to me even as a joke I don’t think people outside the city realize how horrible it is even if you’re not directly involved,” she said of police shootings and gun violence in general.