systemic racism

Task Force Finds Chicago Police Rife With Systemic Racism

Lead Image by Scott Olson for Getty Images

A task force appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to investigate the city’s notorious police department has found a pattern of systemic racism within the force.

The task force released a report on Wednesday detailing how cops mistreated people, especially minorities, operated without oversight, and lost the trust of the city’s residents. “The community’s lack of trust in C.P.D. is justified,” the task force wrote. “There is substantial evidence that people of color—particularly African-Americans—have had disproportionately negative experiences with the police over an extended period of time.”

“C.P.D.’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color,” the report said. “Stopped without justification, verbally and physically abused, and in some instances arrested, and then detained without counsel—that is what we heard about over and over again.”

In a city where whites, blacks, and Hispanics make up about a third of the city’s population each, the report found that 74 percent of those shot by Chicago cops between 2008 and 2015 were Black. 75 percent of people who were Tasered by cops between 2012 and 2015 were Black. In 2013, 46 percent of drivers stopped by cops were Black.

The report makes over 100 suggestions for improving the CPD, including dissolving the Independent Police Review Authority, which oversees claims of police misconduct. The report found that the IPRA failed to investigate a large proportion of cases, and rarely disciplined officers found guilty of misconduct. The report also calls for expansion of the city’s body cam program and the creation of a specialized unit to deal with issues of mental health.

Activists have applauded the conclusions of the task force, but point out that the recommendations are useless unless the city acts upon them. “The strong diagnoses must be followed by action—by the mayor, the City Council and the Police Department,” said Karen Sheley, police practices director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “Corrective measures—those outlined by the task force and others—must be fashioned in a way that they cannot be reversed.”

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