EDGEWATER — Speaker after speaker lined up to share grievances with members of the City Council Tuesday night during a hearing over proposals to replace the Independent Police Review Authority and appoint a Public Safety Auditor.
In short, they weren't buying it.
Dozens of residents across the North Side offered up personal stories of police misconduct, called for more independent police oversight and rejected the notion of any further police oversight-related appointees from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Many residents repeated the council and the Police Accountability Task Force created by Emanuel had between "no" and "zero credibility" with them.
Since the meeting at Senn High School was a hearing, City Council members generally did not respond to comments or conduct a dialogue, but listened and thanked commenters.
Emanuel has proposed replacing the police review authority known as IPRA with "a new civilian investigative agency that has more independence and more resources." A Public Safety Inspector General would audit and monitor policing in Chicago "to identify and address emerging problems and trends in order to prevent acts of abuse from occurring in the first place." Third, a new Community Safety Oversight Board made up of city residents would "oversee the city’s entire policy accountability system," the mayor has said.
Multiple residents said they felt the first round of meetings by the task force, as well as Tuesday night's hearing, were farces meant to satisfy the mayor without resulting in true change.
"The people want control, people want the power," said Steve Craig, member of the Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression. "Not just to refashion IPRA with a new name on the door."
One long-time Rogers Park resident said though she'd not heard the term "the machine" be used in many years, the rising tide among frustrated Chicagoans is the result of Emanuel's handling of Laquan McDonald — particularly what they characterized as a secret pay-off to his family.
"What you're hearing is rage — rage against the machine," the resident said.
The majority of speakers emphasized a demand for more civilian power when it came to making future reforms in the police department.
Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), who is a member of the city council's Public Safety Committee, and Ald. Joe Moore (49th), the chairman of the council’s North Side Police Accountability Subcommittee, hosted the meeting designed to hear residents' thoughts regarding the task force's recommendations.
The aldermen were also joined by Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd), Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and Ald. James Cappleman (46th).
After video was released last year of the shooting death of McDonald by a Chicago Police officer, Emanuel convened the Police Accountability Task Force to hold a series of public meetings around the city — including one at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park that ended early after a demonstration erupted inside.
In April, the task force released its recommendations based on the community meetings and determined the police department would have to confront a history of racism and a "code of silence" if it wants to "create a partnership between the police and the community."
The pain felt by residents after McDonald's shooting was still raw in the Senn High School auditorium Tuesday night, where multiple speakers said it had become a turning point for them.
"This s--- makes no sense ... a 17-year-old shot 16 times, really? How long did it take to shoot 16 shots?" said Morgan, a Rogers Park resident who ended her message with a middle finger in the air. "To stand beside another police officer while you unload and re-load on a kid that's already gone, you sorry pieces of s---."
Marcus Tabb, a father to three and reverend at Granville Avenue United Methodist Church, said he spent 19 years raising his African-American sons to build relationships with police, including attending CAPS meetings.
All that effort went "down the drain" when the McDonald case became public, and was further complicated when police shot and killed 18-year-old Paul O'Neal, who Tabb and his sons knew.
"I need you to tell me, what do I tell my children?" Tabb asked the panel and two uniformed police officers in attendance. "How do I make my young black sons feel comfortable in the city they were raised in, a city that they love, when their friends are being gunned down?"
Many also took the opportunity to advocate for the resident-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council, or CPAC, an ordinance that was introduced to the City Council this year and puts elected civilians as the ultimate authority on how cases of police misconduct are handled.
Other meetings will be held:
• 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Little Village Lawndale High School, 3120 S. Kostner Ave.
• 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16 Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
• 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at North Grand High School, 4338 W. Wabansia Ave.
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