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Chicago stands against FOP arbitrator’s attempts to undermine police accountability

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Chicago, IL – On Monday, August 14, 50 people joined the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the Empowering Communities for Public Safety coalition in the pouring rain in Chicago’s Union Park to march to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) headquarters in response to an arbitrator’s recent decision. The decision states that Chicago Police Department officers facing discipline, regardless of the severity, would have the option to take their case to arbitration, behind closed doors, instead of going before the public Police Board. 

Currently, officers facing discipline that could result in firing or a suspension of 365 days or more are required by law to have their case heard in front of the Police Board, a public body subject to the Open Meetings Act. This law only exists because of the movement for police accountability fighting for greater transparency and accountability.

This maneuver by the Fraternal Order Police comes in response to recent victories of the movement in passing the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance, winning a strong majority in the District Council elections, and electing a mayor who supports police accountability. The Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, created by the ECPS ordinance, has the power to nominate members of the Police Board, where members had previously been hand-selected by the mayor. 

“FOP means ‘Fear of people,’” said Jackie Baldwin of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs at Monday’s protest, speaking of the fear the FOP demonstrates of the greater democratic power won by the people in the ECPS ordinance. She was joined by Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who stated plainly, “These policies promote misconduct. We cannot continue to pander to special interests like the FOP. We want to make sure that police shootings are zero!” 

The crowd responded with chants of “FOP, in our sight. Arbitration just ain’t right!” and “How do you spell racist? FOP! And how do you spell justice? ECPS!” as they marched to the FOP headquarters carrying a banner with the names of hundreds of victims of police crimes at the hands of Chicago police department. 12 elected District Councilors joined the demonstration. District Councilor for the 5th District, Ponchita Moore, made the message clear, adding, “The people need to hold police accountable!” Frank Chapman, field organizer for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, reminded the crowd, “The power of the people is greater than the people in power.”

In order to move forward, this arbitrator’s decision needs to be ratified through Chicago’s city council. Organizers encouraged the crowd to contact their city council members urging them to refuse to pass this measure, and to vote against it if it comes before the council for a vote. Merawi Gerima, a leader in CAARPR, reminded the crowd, “Stay ready for the next city council meeting. We need to let our elected officials know that we aren’t going for this.” The next city council meeting is scheduled for September 13.


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