During a virtual hearing convened by Congressman Danny K. Davis on Jan. 16, community leaders from across the West Side called on the Chicago Police Department to end police raids.
Rev. Marshall Hatch, the pastor of the New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in West Garfield Park and a co-chairman of the Leaders Network, a faith-based social justice organization, cited recent data conducted by a local TV station that showed the racial disparity in police raids.
According to the data, of the 6,800 police home invasions conducted between 2016 and 2019, nearly half took place in just six of the city’s 77 community areas: Englewood, Austin, North Lawndale, Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Back of the Yards.
“Seventy-two percent of these raids were purported to be searches for illegal drugs, but drugs were found in less than 5 percent of the cases,” Hatch said at the beginning of the hearing.
“In these communities where we’ve had food deserts, opportunity deserts … we also have constitutional and privacy rights deserts,” Hatch added.
Davis convened the hearing alongside Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, who addressed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the U.S. House last summer, but did not gain traction in a Senate controlled by the Republican Party. That may change now that the Democrats have regained control of the upper chamber.
“By making it harder for rogue police officers and departments to escape accountability for harmful and even fatal acts, banning racial profiling in policing, banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and ending the transfer of certain military-grade equipment to our police departments, we can build safer communities and provide long overdue reforms to policing,” said in a statement last June.
“When you hear people say defund the police, no, reimagine policing,” Moore said during the Jan. 16 hearing.
Davis’ hearing comes nearly two years after Chicago police used a warrant to raid the home of Anjanette Young on Feb. 21, 2019. Police were looking for a suspect, but only found Young, a social worker, inside of her home unclothed.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, has said that she did not know about the incident in detail before it became one of the biggest controversies of her mayoralty to date, but reporting by the Chicago Tribune revealed that Lightfoot was sent an email a deputy mayor on Nov. 11, 2019 that “was explicit about what happened.
“Lee forwarded a summary of CBS’ reporting on the case to Lightfoot and said, ‘please see below for a pretty bad wrongful raid coming out tomorrow,'” the Tribune reported.
Lightfoot said earlier this month that she personally apologized to Young ‘on behalf of the city’ for how the social worker was treated during a botched 2019 police raid on her home,” the Tribune reported.
During the Jan. 15 hearing, David Cherry, the president of the Leaders Network, referenced Young’s experience.
“The case of Anjanette Young is one of more than 6,800 police raids occurring primarily within Black and Latino families and they find drugs in less than 5 percent of these raids,” Cherry said. “We’re not here looking for incremental change and there’s nothing to negotiate. We are demanding an end to these racist police raids and these raids must end immediately.”
Young, who could not make the hearing, nonetheless sent a statement that was read on her behalf.
Rebecca Cook, the chair of the West Side Branch NAACP’s criminal justice committee, referenced a ruling approved during the Illinois General Assembly’s most recent lame duck session that would require police records to be on file for more than five years.
The short lifespan of police records, Cook said, meant that the documentation related to officers with patterns of abusive practice “would be destroyed.” The ruling would prevent departments from destroying those records, she said.
Rev. Ira Acree, the pastor of the Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin and a co-chairman of the Leaders Network, said during the hearing that “the need for police reform is not a new issue” and that his organization has “championed the issue of police reform since our inception more than 16 years ago.”
Acree said “these criminal atrocities, known as botched police raids, never happen in” majority white areas of the city, such as Wrigleville.
“We can no longer allow there to be two sets of rules when it comes to policing,” Acree said. “Now is the time to confront Chicago’s ugly tale of two cities.”