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Supporters of new police civilian oversight ordinance celebrate victory

Many said that what passed in the City Council on Wednesday is a good first step.

Community activist Jazmine Salas, seen here in 2018, was among those on Friday celebrating the passage of the civilian oversight ordinance this week.
Community activist Jazmine Salas was among those on Friday celebrating passage of the civilian oversight ordinance.
Sun-Times file

Calling it a win for the people but not Mayor Lori Lightfoot, supporters of the newly passed Chicago police civilian oversight ordinance celebrated their victory Friday.

“We overcame major opposition from the [Chicago] FOP and the mayor to eventually pass this historic ordinance,” Jazmine Salas, co-chair of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, said during an online news conference.

The ordinance — seen by many as critical to restoring trust between residents and the police — passed the City Council on a 36-13 vote earlier this week.

“The mayor tried to pass her watered-down version of oversight and had a really minor advisory role. She was forced to negotiate with us after her bill failed to garner any excitement or any support,” Salas said.

Salas said the rest of America is watching Chicago.

“We created the most democratic police oversight system in the nation, and we must keep fighting until we finally put an end to police impunity,” she said.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) echoed Salas’ remarks.

“The people have won,” he said. “The ordinance that passed the City Council this past Wednesday would not have passed without the strong and robust grassroots coalition that did not give up.”

Several speakers described the ordinance as an important and long-overdue first step.

The final language would empower a seven-member commission to take a vote of no-confidence in the Chicago police superintendent. The commission also could take no-confidence votes for the chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and any Police Board member. Such votes would need the support of at least five of the seven members to pass.

A no-confidence vote by the commission would trigger a vote by the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety within 14 days — and then a full City Council vote at its next monthly meeting. If two-thirds of aldermen agree with the no-confidence vote, the chief administrator of COPA “shall be removed.”

However, no-confidence votes in either the police superintendent or Police Board members would not be binding on the mayor. Instead, the mayor “shall respond in writing within 14 days after adoption of the resolution, explaining the actions that the mayor will take in response.”