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Protesters want aldermen to drop ‘Blue Lives Matter’ ordinance

Activists demanded that Ald. Edward Burke (14th) rescind his sponsorship of a proposed ordinance that would make attacks on police officers and other first responders hate crimes during a Monday press conference. | Jacob Wittich/Sun-Times

Although the Chicago City Council is not scheduled to meet in August, opponents of a so-called “Blue Lives Matter” ordinance want aldermen who sponsor the proposal to withdraw their support by the end of the month.

The ordinance, introduced by Ald. Edward Burke (14th), would make any attacks on police officers and other first responders hate crimes. The proposal comes amid recent shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Under the ordinance, offenders could face up to six months in jail or as much as $2,500 in fines as punishment for assault, destruction of property, trespassing, vandalism, disturbing a place of worship or telephone harassment.

“Police are not a marginalized population,” said Damon Williams, co-director of the Let Us Breathe campaign, during a Monday press conference. He spoke at a campsite across the street from the Chicago Police Department’s Homan Square facility; activists call it a “black site” where police violate suspects’ rights through, among other things, unlawful detention.

Damon Williams (left) and Kristiana Colon, co-directors of the Let Us Breath campaign, said police are not a marginalized population and therefore do not need the protections under the ordinance. | Jacob Wittich/Sun-Times

Damon Williams (left) and Kristiana Colon, co-directors of the Let Us Breath campaign, said police are not a marginalized population and therefore do not need the protections under the ordinance. | Jacob Wittich/Sun-Times

Protesters have occupied the lot in an encampment dubbed “Freedom Square” since July 20. They have stayed through stormy weather and 90-degree temperatures and do not plan on leaving until the so-called Blue Lives Matter Ordinance is scrapped.

“There are many people in the community who are against this ordinance,” said activist Camesha Jones. “We hope that these aldermen have the decency to respect Chicagoans’ wishes to have this ordinance rescinded by Aug. 30.”

Burke, the ordinance’s lead sponsor, did not return requests for comment. However, movement of the ordinance has been slow. The proposal was assigned to the Committee on Public Safety on June 22 but then was not discussed during its July meeting.

Camesha Jones, an activist of the Blues Lie Collaborative, said the group of activists are calling for Ald. Edward Burke (14th) to rescind his support for the proposal by Aug. 30. | Jacob Wittich/Sun-Times

Camesha Jones, an activist of the Blues Lie Collaborative, said the group of activists are calling for Ald. Edward Burke (14th) to rescind his support for the proposal by Aug. 30. | Jacob Wittich/Sun-Times

Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), who chairs the committee, told DNAInfo he wanted to delay the ordinance for a while “given the movement that’s going on.”

Jones said she believes discussion of the ordinance was delayed due to “the pressure from our organizing.”

“But we will continue to organize to make sure they know we want this ordinance rescinded and that the people are behind us,” she said.

Reboyras did not return a request for comment from the Sun-Times.