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Advocates want civilian oversight of police misconduct complaints

Frank Chapman, field organizer for the Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, as well as other advocates, spoke at City Hall Wednesday to demand civilian control of the Chicago Police Department by creating a Civilian Police Accountability Council. | Jacob Wittich/For the Sun-Times

On the same day that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was originally to present a plan to reshape the city’s police accountability system to City Council, community members united Wednesday to demand civilian control over police accountability.

That plan, however, was pushed back to be presented at the full City Council’s June 22 meeting instead so the city could hold two more hearings on the issue.

Members of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression gathered at City Hall to reject Emanuel’s forthcoming proposal and instead demand a new elected Civilian Police Accountability Council.

“We’re here today to say that what he is trying to introduce, we are against anyway,” said Frank Chapman, field organizer for the alliance and chairman of the campaign for the civilian council. “We don’t want any more mayor-appointed nothing.”

Protesters demanded that the appointed Police Board, the Independent Police Review Authority and the Internal Affairs Department all be abolished in favor of the community-controlled Accountability Council.

The Rev. Catherine Brown has filed a lawsuit accusing police of excessive force; she used the press conference to appeal to Emanuel and the rest of City Council for immediate police accountability reform.

“I ask that you will cooperate and give us CPAC now … We are paying you all with our taxes and we could use use that money for our schools instead. If [police] are not going to do their jobs, sit them down,” said Brown, whose lawsuit is over a 2013 encounter with two officers in which she says they pointed a gun to her head in front of her daughters.

Two more hearings in which Chicago community members can speak on police accountability will be held throughout July before Emanuel presents a plan for reforms at the July 20 City Council meeting.