A win for the Southeast Side
Following intervention by the new Biden-appointed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michael Regan, Mayor Lightfoot announced the City would delay a permit for metal-scrapper General Iron’s parent company, RMG, to move the facility from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side. The announcement came after years of organizing against environmental racism by Southeast Side residents, who have felt the health effects of industrial pollution in their community for decades. That struggle culminated in a month-long hunger strike in February to protest the planned move. In a statement about the decision to delay the permit, which activists called a victory, a coalition of environmental justice organizations said, “It’s past time that the city began addressing the cumulative impacts of pollution on communities of color that are overburdened and include the community in the process of making these zoning policies that have great impacts on our lives.”
Search warrant policy revised
On May 6, the Office of the Inspector General issued a second interim report on the Chicago Police Department’s execution of search warrants. Residential raids triggered by search warrants, such as the one that traumatized Anjanette Young in 2019, have sharply declined in the two years since that night, though it’s unclear if the decline was at all due to the pandemic. A whopping 95.9 percent of residential search warrant subjects between 2017 and 2021 were logged as Black or Hispanic/Latinx and clustered in neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. Black men were targeted for search warrants twenty-five times as often as white men, and Black women eleven times as often as white women. Changes to the existing search warrant policy drafted after the OIG released its first report are slated to go into effect by Memorial Day. The changes would require that all warrants be approved by a deputy chief or higher-up, and would require female officers to be present at all raids, among other reforms. But the proposed “Anjanette Young Ordinance” backed by Alds. Sophia King (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th), Stephanie Coleman (16th), Jeanette Taylor (20th) and Maria Hadden (49th), which would among other things ban “no-knock” raids such as the one endured by Young, rather than simply limit them, has yet to get a hearing in City Council.
Emails hack reveals City Hall secrets
In December, hackers obtained hundreds of thousands of emails from the Jones Day law firm, including thousands the City apparently provided to the firm for its review of the 2019 police raid on Anjanette Young’s home. On April 19, in response to the police killing of Adam Toledo, the activist group Distributed Denial of Secrets published 4.6 Gigabytes of the emails, and Lucy Parsons Labs posted pdfs online (bit.ly/LPLemails). The emails were sent to or from City Hall insiders such as Lightfoot, former Chief Risk Officer Tamika Puckett, former Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Susan Lee, and others between 2019 and 2020. On May 7, the Weekly was first to report on the contents of the emails, and the following day the City publicly acknowledged the data breach, which officials became aware of in February. The mayor has not disputed any of the reporting that has resulted from them.