If you follow me on social media or watch the Spanish news, you know that this past Friday I participated in a protest. The idea of boycotting Black Friday was to get the attention of Chicago’s local government and demand that the city council enact CPAC (Civilian Police Accountability Council). “No CPAC. No Profit.” was one of the many chants we yelled during the march.
Here’s the thing. I believe in our police force. But, I refuse to accept less than the very best from them. When our armed forces have protocols before shooting, but we can watch videos of unarmed men getting shot with their backs turned or their hands in the air, I will continue to say “we can do better”. When our law enforcement uses exponentially more violence than similar countries, I’ll continue to hold high expectations. And when the victims of excessive force are, time after time, poor minorities, I will continue to search for the larger cause of this injustice. Decades of systemic racism that have conditioned us to believe that a black body on the ground must deserve to be there.
Since the Laquan McDonald video was revealed, approximately 20 more people have been shot by the police with 460 people shot at and assaulted with other weapons by police, and 3,500 more misconduct complaints filed. Zero officers have been fired. On Wednesday, October 5, 2016 Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (CopA) ordinance passed the City Council by a vote of 39 to 8. The CopA ordinance replaces the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) with a new ‘independent’ body to deal with police crimes and misconduct. In spite of all the thousands of people demonstrating for CPAC, in spite of the majority of the people demanding CPAC at all the public hearings convened by the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, in spite of every strand of the peoples movement demanding CPAC and opposing CopA, in spite of all this public outcry, the Mayor and his cohorts passed the CopA ordinance. Their contempt for the people of Chicago could not be clearer. This is why we boycotted Black Friday. People are angry. They are tired. And demand a REAL systemic change—community control of the Chicago police.
I support our police force. But it is filled with human bodies. Human beings with their own sets of values, ideas, and yes, biases. Human beings make mistakes, but when those mistakes end in the loss of a relatively innocent human life, I refuse to give them a pass. I hold police to a higher standard. To serve and protect entire communities. To serve and protect the good and the mixed up of our nation. To serve and protect even those they might fear due to their own biases. And when they do not do this, we need to draw a line that makes it clear that this excessive violence is unacceptable.
And more so, I support our police force enough to realize that this problem is also beyond them. It is years of ignored systemic racism. It is impoverished neighborhoods neglected by local governments. It is inequality causing us to forget that the human being with a different skin color is still a human being. One who deserves to live. And receive a fair trial. Just like the human beings in uniform who we hold in such high regard, despite the fact that time after time, they fall incredibly short of their very best.