CITY HALL — The Chicago Police Department should spend less time spying on civil rights groups and more time fighting crime, Ald. Scott Waguespack told his city council colleagues Wednesday.
Police surveillance is "totally political," Waguespack (32nd) said before submitting a resolution calling for the Committee on Public Safety to hold hearings on police spying.
Waguespack suggested it's "a totally misplaced priority" that "instead of fighting crime" police officers are monitoring "protesters exercising their First Amendment rights," especially given the city budget crunch and police spending $100 million on overtime.
Waguespack pointed to a series of reports in the Sun-Times charging police surveillance of protest groups, including African-American groups such as the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Black Lives Matter.
According to the Chicago Reader, the department has used undercover officers, wiretaps and cellphone tracking to monitor calls, texts and emails from various groups.
"It's absolutely political," Waguespack said Wednesday. "Just look at the groups they were going after," including the local Service Employees International Union.
"We'll take a look at the resolution," Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised Wednesday. "I do believe proper policing and civil liberties are consistent and not opposed to each other."
The resolution was sent to the Public Safety Committee, and Waguespack was optimistic that its new chairman, Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), would call hearings on the issue.
"I think he will," Waguespack said. "It might not happen this year, but I think it's important."
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