An ordinance originally proposed by a group of Black alderwomen to establish new rules for residential search warrants in Chicago following the police department’s wrongful raid of Anjanette Young’s home in 2019 did not pass out of a key council committee on Nov. 10.
The City Council Committee on Public Safety met last Thursday to discuss and vote on the proposal (SO2022-1226), a version of which was first proposed in 2020. Members of the public safety committee voted down the proposal 4-10, leaving it stuck in committee.
“It’s shameful that it took us this long and it’s shameful that they didn’t move forward with it today,” Young said after Thursday’s committee meeting. “But shame on them and shame on the city for not supporting this because we will get this ordinance passed whether it’s on the state level or some other way and then the city will have to reflect back on that they missed an opportunity to make a real change.”
The version of the proposal aldermen voted on Thursday includes Ald. Maria Hadden (49) as its lead sponsor and would make myriad changes to the police department’s search warrant policy and enshrine the changes in municipal code — a component of the proposal that irked some aldermen.
As proposed, the ordinance would ban the police department’s use of “no knock” or “knock and announce” warrants and would require police to use the least intrusive method to execute search warrants. The proposal would also require corroboration of tips from informants and would prohibit police from pointing guns at children.
“So much of what we do in this body is to fix things that are wrong,” Hadden said. “We’re not here to demonize the police department, we’re not here to take away people’s jobs. We’re here to make the city of Chicago better.”
Young attended Thursday’s committee meeting where she recounted the wrongful raid during which she was handcuffed while naked as police officers rummaged through her home after mistakenly targeting her in the execution of a search warrant.
Young urged aldermen to approve the ordinance and spoke on behalf of other Chicagoans who have experienced trauma due to raids.
“Imagine it was your mother who was standing there,” Young said. “See me as someone who deserves dignity and respect.”
“My door was not repaired that evening by the city and neither did I hear from the city’s department of victim services up until today,” Young said of communications from the city following the wrongful raid.
Young said the purpose of the ordinance is to “increase transparency and accountability to the public related to how the police department interacts with citizens in our communities.”
Responding to a question from Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20), Young said she has been diagnosed with “major depression” and post-traumatic stress disorder related to the trauma from the wrongful raid. Additionally, Young said she had to take 11 months off work on medical leave following the raid.
“This trauma lasts forever,” Young said, speaking “for all the families of the city of Chicago.”
Elena Gottreich, Lightfoot’s deputy mayor of public safety, said on Thursday that “no knock warrants” have been “significantly regulated” since 2019.
Gottreich further tried to make the case that codifying police department policy into municipal law as the Anjanette Young ordinance proposes “becomes sticky and duplicative.”
Some critics of the proposed ordinance to change the police department’s search warrant policies argue it would conflict with the federal consent decree the city has been under since 2019.
But Ald. Harry Osterman (48), who helmed the public safety committee meeting in the absence of committee chair Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), said that if officials overseeing the city’s performance under the consent decree have issues with the ordinance, they would raise them with aldermen.
“Passage of this ordinance by the City Council…if the federal monitor feels there are provisions inconsistent with the consent decree…there’s a remedy for them to come back and say: here’s some things that we want to tweak,” Osterman said.
Hadden called criticisms related to the consent decree “scare tactics” and “red herrings.”
“We could have passed it through [the] full City Council. The police department then would have been obligated to work on policy drafts in order to fall in alignment with our legislation and those would be reviewed by the consent decree monitor. If the consent decree monitor found any problems, they would make recommendations, which we would do amendments for,” Hadden told reporters on Thursday. “We do these processes all the time.”
Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s committee meeting, Young pointed out the city is in an election season with candidates lining up to challenge Lightfoot.
“You guys will hear more from me because I will be endorsing a candidate who will stand by me and we will still continue to push,” Young said.
Additionally, Young said she was disappointed that more aldermen did not vote in support of the proposal but that she did not feel defeated.
“There are other ways that this ordinance will move forward in the way that we intend it and the way to expect it,” Young said. “I am still very much a champion for myself and other families in the city of Chicago who have had this experience.”
“Shame on city council for not moving forward with this today,” Young added. “But there’s still a fight and I’m going to continue to fight until we receive the results that we’re looking for.”
The following aldermen voted against the ordinance: Ald. Nicole Lee (11), Ald. Monique Scott (24), Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30), Ald. Nick Sposato (38), Ald. Samantha Nugent (39), Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41), Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43), Ald. Tom Tunney (44), Ald. Jim Gardiner (45) and Ald. Debra Silverstein (50). The following aldermen voted for the measure: Ald. Harry Osterman (48), Ald. Raymond Lopez (15), Ald. Derrick Curtis (17) and Ald. Matt Martin (47).
An investigation from the city’s Inspector General published in January of this year found that officials across multiple city departments mishandled the aftermath of the Chicago Police Department’s wrongful raid of Young’s home and misled journalists covering the fallout.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed the Chicago Department of Law last year after CBS Chicago, which first made video of the raid public, reported that city attorneys had fought Young’s request for body camera footage of the incident. Lightfoot’s administration also faced heat for asking a judge to punish Young and her attorney for sharing the video after they acquired it.
The fallout ran so deep that Lightfoot asked for the resignation of then-Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner in December 2020.