By Crusader Staff Reporter
The NAACP, Rainbow/PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity), eight Aldermen and a group of Chicago citizens said NO to COPA (Civilian Office of Police Accountability) on Wednesday, October 5 at the City Council meeting. But the
COPA ordinance, which was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel passed with 39 yes votes to 8 no votes.
Calling for more community input, demonstrators were escorted from City Council Chambers, when they shouted for a vote delay. Cries of 16 shots could be heard as they were escorted out. The ordinance establishing COPA to replace the Independent Police Review Authority, more than a year after the video was released showing 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald walking away from police before he was shot 16 times.
The eight (8) aldermen voting against the ordinance were: Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th), Marty Quinn (13th), Matt O’Shea (19th), Michael Zalewski (23rd), Roberto Maldonado (26th), Chris Taliaferro (29th), Nicholas Sposato (38th) and Anthony Napolitano (41st).
Alderman Ariel Reboyras said that COPA is “far from perfect but it shows we want to move forward.” They will move forward with a $14 million budget for COPA.
Fifth Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston, who introduced an ordinance calling for the creation of a truly independent police oversight agency six months ago, is demanding the council’s public safety committee call it for a public hearing. The proposed ordinance abolishes the Independent Police Review Authority and replaces it with the Independent Citizen Police Monitor—a credible civilian agency to investigate police shootings, use of force, domestic violence, bias, and coercion. It also addresses many of the recommendations made by the mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force.
The South Side alderman says as elected officials it is their job to do more than just vote on the mayor’s proposals.
“As a lawmaker, my ordinance deserves a hearing and Chicago residents deserve the opportunity to see which of three ordinances is the most comprehensive and thoroughly addresses the problems the city is facing with police accountability and reform,” emphasized Hairston.
Originally, 34 aldermen signed onto Hairston’s ordinance in April. Last month, she and Ald. Jason Ervin (29th) introduced a substitute ordinance combining their proposals calling for more citizen oversight, independence, and a dedicated and sufficient funding source.
The only ordinance under consideration was the mayor’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which was presented to the city council for a vote on Wednesday. Many Chicago citizens believe COPA still does not go far enough to address the concerns for real reform.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s only one voice being heard. It’s unfortunate that serious consideration wasn’t given to credible ordinances that would actually include the citizens as a reviewing authority,” stated the South Side alderman.