At this pivotal moment, we should be building a fairer, safer future. Instead, our leaders are using fear to double down on the status quo.
This is a moment of national and local reckoning with police violence, of which Chicago has a particularly sordid history. Yet instead of responding to the calls from the people of Chicago to hold police accountable and make our criminal legal system fairer, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is engaging in fearmongering and calling for an increase in policing and criminalization. Instead of leading, she is using the outdated and false tough-on-crime playbook — at the expense of housing, education, mental health treatment, or other services that can make communities safer while improving life outcomes for all. We must demand justice not fear.
Pledge to spread truth and reject fear
Dear Mayor Lightfoot: make good on your promises by embracing a reimagined and transformed vision of public safety.
On August 14, 2020, a group of xx Chicago community members, organizers, stakeholders and faith leaders issued an urgent call to Mayor Lori Lightfoot to immediately cease her fearmongering and misguided and harmful escalation of law enforcement.
The leaders ask the Mayor to listen, reflect and lead the city instead of signing a blank check to the Chicago Police Department to commit more violence in the name of “quelling” protestors and protecting property.
"As Mayor of Chicago you occupy one of the most powerful and influential platforms for change in our city, and we are facing a pivotal moment that begs for moral leadership. Unfortunately, your response has been to point fingers at other city leaders and double down on the use of heavily armed, militarized police to protect property interests, all while ignoring urgent calls for meaningful police reform. We can and must do so much better if the unrest is ever to end."
We can’t let bad faith attacks set our community back. What our families need are resources and investment, not more police on the streets.
Chicago is not a war zone. Chicago residents are not enemy combatants.
The most recent unrest, triggered by the police shooting of 20-year-old Latrell Allen, follows decades of mistreatment, abuse, oppression and violence by Chicago police against Black and brown communities. Chicago needs to hold police accountable, but the Mayor is calling for more police. Chicago needs to invest in communities, but the Mayor is blaming District Attorney Kim Foxx for not prosecuting and jailing enough. Chicago needs to listen Black and brown communities, but the Mayor is repeating Donald Trump’s narrative that Chicagoans are dangerous, chaotic criminals.
THE TRUTH: Mayor Lightfoot's rhetoric imperils the safety and trust everyone in Chicago deserves. We need to focus on real solutions: violence interruption, restorative justice, and investment in neighborhoods Chicago has abandoned.
Mayor Lightfoot must listen, reflect and lead the city instead of signing a blank check to the Chicago Police Department to commit more violence in the name of “quelling” protestors and protecting property.
Debunking the Lies about Chicago Crime
NO: CHICAGO POLICE AND PROSECUTORS HAVE RESPONDED HARSHLY
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown last weekend said that those who committed looting were “emboldened” because District Attorney Kim Foxx did not charge many of those who were arrested during the Black Lives Matter protests that started at the end of May. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said we need more prosecutions because “[w]e can’t continue to allow this to happen, for people to believe there is no accountability through our criminal justice system.” Police arrested 325 on felony charges, and Foxx’s office approved 90% of them. Three quarters of those were for looting. The claim that people in Chicago can loot with impunity is false on its face.
NO: THERE IS NO CORRELATION
The Chicago police chief has said, without any evidence, that people charged with gun crimes getting back on the street quickly released on bail are the reason for the recent gun violence. Chicago’s increased homicides don’t seem to be about Chicago in particular. For reasons not yet known, this year in 20 out of 25 major cities studied, homicide rates are up. This is despite the fact that around the country, rates of most other crimes have dropped during the pandemic.
NO: Mayor Lightfoot may say the right things, but they don’t line up with her actions.
In her campaign for mayor two years ago, Lightfoot said “A militarized response to the violence isn’t what people want, and more to the point, it’s not effective.” But in response to the protests after the death of George Floyd, she called in the Illinois National Guard. Lightfoot, who stepped down as president of the Police Board to run for mayor, also wants to increase the police budget at a time when Chicago is facing budget shortfalls and cities nationwide are reducing police spending.Chicago is still spending more on policing per person than at any time in the last half-century, despite a persistent drop in crime over the last two decades Lightfoot is also standing in the way of removing police officers from schools.
NO: THE VAST MAJORITY ARE NOT CHARGED WITH USE
A lot of criminal statutes have confusing names. One of the most misleadingly named offenses is "aggravated unlawful use of a weapon." The name of this offense necessarily implies that the accused person “used” a weapon, and used it in a particularly unlawful way. But the vast majority of those arrested never fired a gun, pointed it, brandished it, or even showed it to anyone. Gun cases often used by the State and the media to justify denying bail on public safety grounds. While accused of what the State calls “aggravated use,” it would be more accurate to describe the conduct as simple possession. Yet based on notions of “dangerousness,” people -- predominately Black and brown -- are held in jail on unaffordable bonds, or imprisoned in their homes on electronic monitoring.
The Daily Debunk:
Rapid Response to Lies, Mistruths, & Fearmongering
We need your help fighting back against fearmongering. Please help us collect, report, and hold accountable those who are trying to use fear to defeat commonsense justice reform.
As they* continue to peddle fear, let us spread the truth. Because truth and justice are greater than fear.