How we're transforming policing and public safety in Chicago
GAPA and CPAC in Advanced Talks; Mayor Interfering
On Friday, February 19, the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) ordinance was scheduled to be voted on in Chicago’s Committee on Public Safety. If approved by the committee, GAPA would have gone to a final vote in City Council on February 24 and deliver transformative civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department. With less than 48 hours until the vote, Mayor Lori Lightfoot instructed Public Safety Committee Chair Chris Taliaferro to cancel the meeting to prevent GAPA from advancing.
Following the mayor’s decision to obstruct GAPA and CPAC and propose her own ordinance without the support of the community, we issued a joint statement with the CPAC coalition denouncing the mayor’s blocking of police reform. Our coalitions are in close talks on a joint ordinance that has the support of a super-majority of the Chicago City Council.
Watch our press conference with GAPA and CPAC from Friday, Feb. 19.
February 18, 2021 — The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) and the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) learned yesterday that Mayor Lori Lightfoot is once again blocking community-driven efforts to bring about long-overdue fundamental police reform. As members of the Public Safety committee prepared to vote on the GAPA and CPAC ordinances this Friday, February 19th, Lightfoot instructed her Public Safety Committee Chair Chris Taliaferro to cancel the meeting. The Mayor is once again interfering with the prospects of achieving overdue fundamental change to how the Chicago Police Department functions and to the city’s approach to public safety.
Despite the numerous police misconduct scandals that have rocked both the Emanuel and Lightfoot administrations, both ordinances that the two organizations have supported in City Council have languished in the Committee on Public Safety for years. But over the last few weeks, a group of aldermen, including the chief sponsors of the CPAC and GAPA ordinances and Chair of the Progressive Caucus, have been holding meetings with representatives from both groups.
Both groups have already agreed on what they view as the most central issue to empowering communities: a citywide police accountability body that must have the final say on police policy.
“We have had productive talks with City Council members and the GAPA coalition and we agree on a lot,” Frank Chapman, Field Organizer for CAARPR and a proponent of the CPAC ordinance, said. “The Mayor is interfering because she does not want to see any change that would diminish her power, and what we are doing is putting the power in the hands of the people because that is where the power belongs.”
“The Mayor said she’d work with the community and pass an ordinance in her first 100 days,” said Desmon Yancy, GAPA spokesperson and an organizer with the Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). “But now, two years later, the Mayor rejects community-supported change and wants to go her own way. She campaigned on change and reform, but since being elected, she’s been the biggest obstacle to progress.”
City Council members and both coalitions are confident more progress can be made in the days ahead and hope to have a proposed ordinance soon that will provide communities in Chicago with real power to decide how their police department operates.
“Apart from two outstanding points that we are still working to resolve, the groups have found ways to come to agreement without sacrificing the most important purpose of this ordinance,” Alderman Roderick Sawyer, a chief sponsor of the GAPA bill said. Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a chief sponsor of the CPAC Ordinance, agrees: “We still have some work to do but ultimately, we are moving towards agreement on an ordinance that we expect to have the support of a large majority of our City Council colleagues,” he said.
About the GAPA coalition
The Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) is a broad-based coalition of community organizations committed to making Chicago neighborhoods safer, improving police practices and accountability, and transforming the relationship between CPD and the communities it serves. Learn more about the coalition.
What is the GAPA ordinance?
Over the past five years, the GAPA coalition has worked to develop an ordinance that transforms public safety in Chicago by creating a two-tiered structure of accountability and oversight: a city-wide Community Commission with seven commissioners, and District Councils in each of the 22 police districts in Chicago. The GAPA ordinance would create the most progressive and democratic civilian oversight system of police in the United States.