The Chicago Police Department has debuted a new vehicle that can be seen at events this week leading up to Sunday’s Pride Parade.
In a video posted Monday on YouTube, the department shows the Ford Explorer getting its special markings.
The car will be deployed to CPD’s 19th District on the North Side; that district includes Boystown and covers the entire parade route. The vehicle will be used at the parade, according to department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
The decision to create a “Pride Car” to commemorate Pride Week during a special year that marks the 50th anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall uprising is clearly an olive branch to a gay community that has had strained relationships with police over the years.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city’s first openly gay mayor, campaigned on a promise to have Chicago Public Schools establish “24-hour drop-in centers” to provide LGBTQ youth now struggling with homelessness places to sleep and lockers to store their belongings and implement an “LGBTQ+-inclusive curriculum” to prevent bullying against students based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Lightfoot’s agenda also called for the appointment of three mayoral LGBTQ liaisons to serve the South, West and North sides and for Chicago police officers to get special training to end police profiling of transgender people, prevent violence and hate crimes against them and aggressively investigate those crimes when they do happen.
And she promised to create a task force to investigate the recent murder of “two trans women of color.”
Lightfoot said the need for 24-hour drop-in centers was crystallized by the heartbreaking stories she heard on the campaign trail from gay teens, most of them African-Americans, while visiting a North Side drop-in center.
“They don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods. They don’t feel accepted. They have all kinds of encounters with police. And they’re homeless because they’re not being accepted by their families. Many of them are on the street,” Lightfoot said.
“This center that I went to — there were about 20 people there . . . For every one person they help, there are probably four or five that are on the street that don’t have access to services. A significant percentage of the homeless population are LGBTQ. It’s heartbreaking.”
Lightfoot noted then that the Chicago Police Department has only one LGBTQ liaison for the entire city. That has consequences.
“There are trans women who were killed on the South Side. And members of that community don’t feel like the Police Department is bringing the level of rigor and resources to investigating those murders that they have in other communities,” she said.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), Chicago’s first openly gay aldermen, has acknowledged homelessness remains a major problem among gay youth.
But he argued that Lakeview has had a 24-hour shelter known as “The Crib” for LGBTQ youth for at least a decade. Chicago can’t afford to duplicate that at public schools, he said.
“It’s pretty expensive to keep a school open all night long. Do I endorse opening public schools at night? Not unless I have the financial impact of what that involves,” Tunney said.
“We have a tough time getting our schools open during [outside regular] school hours because of labor costs and staffing. Any time a school is open, they need to have a skeletal staff there, too.”0