Chicago Urban League President & CEO, Shari Runner, Responds to Police Accountability Task Force Report
“To the community of people most broadly impacted by the Police Accountability Task Force Report, the findings do not come as a surprise; they are reflective of the African American experience in Chicago for decades. The findings do, however, underscore the urgent need to fully address the systemic racism and inequalities in Chicago’s criminal justice system.
“As detailed in the report, the Chicago Police Department is built on a foundation of racial inequality towards minorities. It is deeply entrenched in the Department’s culture, manifesting itself in its policies and practices. Although Mayor Emanuel is not solely responsible for creating this paradigm, he does bear the responsibility for not acknowledging it and then not acting to root out the underlying issues and reconciling the CPD to the truth for so long.
“As we’ve seen consistently over the decades, few of our City’s leaders have been willing to demonstrate the courage that it takes to go against the norm and radically transform the city’s criminal justice system. Until we are able to engage deeply and honestly to address systemic racism, things will not change; they will only grow worse.
“While we understand Lori Lightfoot’s assertion that Mayor Emanuel should ‘have his pick’ with respect to the new Superintendent, a changing of the guard is not enough to dismantle systemic racism that has festered within CPD for decades. A 27 –year veteran of the CPD should be well aware of these problems, not suggest they take further study. This falls woefully short of providing assurance that no other young person will suffer the fate of Laquan McDonald, Rekia Boyd, Quentonio LeGrier and so many more.
“The League agrees with the Task Force that one positive step towards dismantling systemic racism within CPD is to appointment of a deputy chief of diversity. Such a position, if the person has the requisite authority to affect change, is critical because it would bring to the force expertise and experience to deconstruct the effect of historical practices and policies.
“The candor reflected in the Task Force report is refreshing; however, the fact remains that the complete implementation of its recommendations requires faith in a system that has not proven worthy. It also requires a mayor and a police department that feel compelled to make hard choices.
“Indeed, it remains to be seen if the collective will of the people will move Mayor Emanuel to enact the Task Force’s recommendations with the sense of urgency that the issues before us require.
“The Chicago Urban League is fully behind holding the Mayor, Superintendent Johnson, and ourselves accountable for making transformational change.”
About the Chicago Urban League
Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation. For more information, visit http://www.thechicagourbanleague.org. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.