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18 Jun, 2017 16:15

Chicago creating ‘paramilitary occupying force to oppress communities’ – BLM spokesperson

Chicago creating ‘paramilitary occupying force to oppress communities’ – BLM spokesperson

This is not only about holding the Chicago police department accountable. It is to make sure the community is at the table; making sure there is transparency, and no back-room deals, Kofi Ademola, Black Lives Matter organizer, told RT.

In January, 2017 US Department of Justice [DOJ] announced it found “reasonable cause to believe that Chicago Police Department [CPD] engages in a pattern or practice of using a force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution."

Several Illinois community groups, including Chicago’s Black Lives Matter organization, have sued the federal government to try to make them follow through with Obama-era Justice Department promises of police reform, federal oversight and a consent decree.

RT:  It took the US DOJ 13 months to investigate the Chicago police department. Once those scathing findings were released in January 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced an agreement to announce the issues raised in the report. However, since General Jeff Sessions became Attorney General he refused to honor this previous agreement, and it appears Emanuel isn’t pushing the agreement made with Lynch. Do you think this class action lawsuit will make a difference?

Kofi Ademola: That is the goal. The other piece with this right – not only do we want a federally appointed judge that would have oversight versus the appointed person that Rahm would want. We have plaintiffs on this case. So there are plaintiffs that have had recent abuses, either police terrorism, tasering, and other types of harms by the Chicago police department. They are looking for remedies; they are looking for recourse in this particular situation. This is not only about holding the Chicago police department accountable, making sure the community is at the table; making sure there is transparency, and that Rahm Emanuel doesn’t cut back-room deals with Sessions.

This is also about getting justice for those people recently harmed, even though the police department is purporting that they made some reforms that we know for sure aren’t being instituted. So they just recently had a use of force policy that they put on the books. However, police are not following suit with that, it is not being enforced, and these trainings that they are saying are happening are not being applied on the streets, where people are still being attacked.   

RT:   In your opinion, why does Sessions want to roll back on the previous agreement that was made under the Obama administration?

KA: We won’t even take into account Jeff Sessions’ personal history of racism, and the things that he’s done in his different positions of government. What we will look at, however, is that Trump came into power purporting that he was going to take a long, hard stand with law enforcement and push back against civil rights, and push back against people fighting for their civil rights, their constitutional rights, and their human rights. So with that being said, it is understandable why in 2017 we’ve almost had nearly 500 police killings across the country that Jeff Sessions would take the position where he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure there is no accountability from a federal level. We’ve seen in cases like Cincinnati, in Baltimore, where the intervention is starting to help transform those particular departments. We’ve seen plenty of evidence that departments will absolutely not changing on their own if they don’t have any federal oversight. So it is very imperative and key there will be a judge in place to oversee these particular proceedings that doesn’t have any obligations, and they aren’t beholden to Emanuel, and they definitely are not beholden to Jeff Sessions.

RT:  Emanuel announced that independent monitor will oversee reforms instead of the DOJ. By doing this, what message is he sending to the citizens of Chicago, who have been victims of police brutality and who will become victims of police brutality in the near future?

KA: I think it is the message that he’s been sending. When the Laquan McDonald case happened, we have to remember that Ramn did his best to suppress this for over a year so that this news wouldn’t get out. A lot of people say that he hid Laquan McDonald case, so he could get reelected in 2014. We know that he threw [Garry] McCarthy, the former police superintendent, under the bus … So after all this public pressure people taking the streets, all the unrest, people community organizing.

People were demanding community control of the police. People were putting together, what was called CPAC, Civilian Police Accountability Council, which would have made sure that the community had oversight control. But Rahm Emanuel absolutely rejected that; his city council rejected that, and they replaced the former iteration of IPRA [Independent Police Review Authority] with something called COPA. We know COPA [Civil Office of Police Accountability] is beholden to Rahm – just like this independent monitor will be beholden to Rahm. So there is still no real community at the table, especially those most impacted and harmed by police violence. They don’t have a voice at this table. So that is an issue.

The other issue is that Rahm Emanuel puts over 40 percent of the budget into the police department. And then he hired over a thousand more officers. And then he’s going to be getting federal money to even bolster and militarize the police even more. So while our communities are decimated - like North Lawndale, like Englewood, Roseland on the south and west sides - where we’re dealing with inter-communal, we’re dealing with poverty, and no investment, and no community revitalization or development. He’s putting more money to police, what we feel is a paramilitary occupying force meant to continuously oppress our communities, and that is what we’re pushing back and fighting back against.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.