This week, candidates running to replace outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned his decision to hire Eddie Johnson, a Chicago Police Department insider, to reform the department after the release of the Laquan McDonald video. Several criticized the convoluted system by which Emanuel selected his handpicked police superintendent, with one calling for an independent investigation into Johnson’s track record as a police supervisor.
The evening after the Van Dyke verdict came down, Trina Reynolds-Tyler took to Instagram to ask her followers a simple question: “What is justice for Laquan McDonald?” An organizer and abolitionist, Reynolds-Tyler has been involved with activism around the McDonald shooting since before it caught the public’s attention.
In the coming months before the February municipal elections, the Weekly will be profiling not only the candidates for public office, but also the grassroots movements that shape the political landscape in Chicago communities. Over the next few months, we will be asking mayoral and aldermanic candidates about their positions on each of these movements.
Does police spending reduce harm or cause greater harm?
Tania Unzueta is a fierce advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants around the country. She helped found the three organizations that defend the rights of immigrants, including Organized Communities Against Deportation and its predecessor the Immigrant Youth Justice League, and Mijente, a national Latinx organization. She was first arrested for staging a sit-in in Senator John McCain’s office in 2010 in support of the Dream Act. These days, she continues to work with OCAD and serves as the policy director for Mijente, a political hub that calls itself pro-Latinx, pro-Black, pro-woman, pro-queer and pro-poor.
On the night of April 3, an officer of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) shot a student in the grips of a mental health crisis. Charles Thomas, who had been wielding a metal pole and smashing windows, and who the officer identified as undergoing a mental health crisis before shooting him in the shoulder, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville to receive treatment. Over the following two weeks, he was charged with eight felonies, including assaulting a police officer.
Reparations Won!” a white sheet cake boasted in blue lettering. The names of survivors of torture by detectives within the Chicago Police Department hung from clotheslines draped across the walls. A dozen cardstock letters from CPD torture survivors who remain in prison dangled by pink string from the ceiling. On orange and pink post-it notes, questions like “What do you want the world to know about your mom?” and “What gives you hope?”—and corresponding answers like “Artists give me hope!”—colored the windows. A microphone stand arose from a makeshift stage set up in front of two large banners reading “Consent is Everything” and “You Are Never Alone.” Among all of this, over fifty activists, young and old—torture survivors, their mothers, and their allies—greeted each other, hugged, ate, and mingled.