City Council panel rejects sweeping search warrant reforms despite plea from Anjanette Young
Young was forced to stand naked in her home before an all-male team of police officers who had raided the wrong home in 2019.
Ignoring an emotional plea from social worker Anjanette Young, a City Council committee on Thursday shot down sweeping search warrant reforms aimed at preventing a repeat of the botched raid on the wrong home that forced Young to stand naked before an all-male team of police officers.
The Committee on Public Safety voted 10-4 to reject the Anjanette Young Ordinance, the name Black female alderpersons gave to the reform package. The chief sponsor, Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), has called it “stronger in 17 different ways” than the internal reforms authorized by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown.
Hadden accused the Lightfoot administration of “lying” to alderpersons in the run-up to Thursday’s vote. After a failed attempt to persuade sponsors to withdraw the ordinance introduced nearly two years ago, Hadden said top mayoral aides falsely claimed a March amendment to the consent decree placed search warrant policy under the exclusive purview of a federal monitor.
“If they’re telling you we can’t do this or move on this policy, they’re lying to you. It’s false,” Hadden told her colleagues.
Hadden urged alderpersons to vote their conscience, but added: “Please don’t base it on false information or 11th-hour schemes and tactics by the administration. … Consider this legislation on its face. Don’t be fooled by some of the misinformation.”
Elena Gottreich, deputy mayor for public safety, countered that “numerous guardrails to protect sanctity of home and dignity of person” have been put in place by Lightfoot and Brown. Since 2019, no-knock warrants have been “significantly limited.” A female officer “has to be present at every search warrant execution.”
Though “an ordinance can pass that discusses consent decree policy,” Gottreich said, “where adequate remedies exist, codifying CPD policy into municipal law becomes sticky and duplicative.”
Before the final vote, Young pleaded with alderpersons to prevent other Chicago families from experiencing the life-changing humiliation she suffered on Feb. 21, 2019, when officers burst into her home while she was naked and getting ready for bed.
Young accused those officers of “manipulating information from a known criminal who had no knowledge of who lived at my house or what was happening there” to persuade a judge to sign the search warrant. They then waited until dark to execute the warrant — and without verifying the information, she said.
“When they entered my home, I did not have any clothes on. And they were more focused on finding handguns and ammunition and drugs than securing the dignity of a female citizen. It was clear that my safety and dignity was not top of mind. Where was the serve and protect for me?” asked Young, whose lawsuit against the city was settled for $2.9 million.
“I was handcuffed, ignored, and when I asked questions, I was told to calm down and not to shout at them, during which time I was completely naked and exposed to 12 male officers. The officers there, some of them, turned their bodycams off to discuss that they had gotten it wrong.”
Young recalled she asked the sergeant on scene to show her the warrant. He refused, standing on the other side of the room, holding the warrant, she said.
“Imagine in that moment that, maybe, I was someone that you cared about. Imagine it was your mother who was standing there. … None of us would have wanted our mother to have that type of experience. Well, guess what? I’m someone’s mother. … See me as your mother. Someone who deserves dignity and respect, regardless of the situation,” Young said.
After 1,375 days, Young said she still struggles with trauma from that night and has been diagnosed with “major depression” and post-traumatic stress disorder.
To underscore her “daily struggle to function in any normal capacity,” Young said she was “shaking and crying and too afraid to call police” after her car was broken into a few weeks ago in Fulton Market.
“I did not lose my physical life that night, but I lost a lot of my life that night. My life will never be the same,” she said.
The now-defeated ordinance would have required that before executing any search warrant, a “written plan” be devised to use the “least intrusive” tactics possible.
Also in the rejected ordinance:
• Police would have been required to wait 30 seconds before entering and take “all available measures to avoid executing the warrant when children under 16 are present.”
• If children are present, police would have been prohibited from pointing firearms at or handcuffing them. They would also have been prohibited from handcuffing or restraining parents and guardians in front of their children “unless the person presents an immediate threat of physical harm to themself or another person.”
• Pointing firearms at adults would have been prohibited “unless the person presented an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury” to others. Bodycam footage would have been made available to victims within 48 hours of a raid.
• Damage reports would have been prepared immediately and repairs made.