ACLU complains of ‘attack’ by ex-U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon

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U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon speaks at a City Club of Chicago event last year. He resigned Monday. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is pushing back against the open letter released by former U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon after his resignation Monday.

The ACLU claims Fardon’s letter attacks an agreement it reached with the city to address the abuse of street stops by Chicago police.

“Mr. Fardon’s blindside attack on the ACLU/CPD agreement is wrong on the details and the big picture,” Karen Sheley, police practices project director at the ACLU of Illinois, said in a statement.

Fardon released a five-page open letter devoted to stemming violence in Chicago after his resignation Monday. In it, he wrote that Chicago reached a tipping point around January 2016 for several reasons. They included the release of a video depicting the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer and the firing of Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

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Fardon also wrote that “a contract began between CPD and the ACLU requiring that officers complete lengthy contact cards for every street encounter.”

“That ACLU deal grew out of a lawsuit about stop and frisk, but the contract that settled the lawsuit swung the pendulum hard in the other direction by telling cops if you (officer) go talk to those kids on the corner, you’re going to have to take 40 minutes to fill out a form, and you’re going to have to give them a receipt with your badge number on it.”

But Sheley wrote that the agreement “had been in force for four months at that time” and did not result from a lawsuit. Sheley also wrote that Fardon “cites a widely exaggerated amount of time necessary to complete the forms to document a street stop and makes no mention of the fact that similar forms are used in many other jurisdictions where violent crime rates have continued to decline.

“Mr. Fardon ignores the real impact and harm of these stops,” Sheley said.

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