Chicago (June 23) On Wednesday, the City Council’s Progressive Caucus called for an amplified focus on policy measures and city investments that advance social and economic justice for our most vulnerable residents.
“The pandemic and the killing of Black people at the hands of police has magnified the racial, health, and economic disparities that plague this city,” said Progressive Caucus Chair Ald. Sophia King (4). “Now is the time to advance bold and robust legislation that prioritizes the needs of our most marginalized citizens and vulnerable communities“
The progressive caucus will focus on reforms that include economic and social justice for Black and Brown people including public safety reform, housing equity, and job and contract parity. Last week, Progressive Caucus members advanced measures that would remove CPD officers from Chicago Public Schools, establish stronger tenant eviction protections, create a reparations commission, and make Juneteenth a city holiday. The caucus is also pushing to escalate civilian oversight of the police.
On Wednesday, Progressive Caucus members Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20), and Ald. Carlos Rarmirez-Rosa (35) introduced an ordinance to terminate the $33 million contract between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department and remove CPD officers from district schools.
“We need CPD out of our schools. Far too often, police officers are handcuffing our children, sending them to jail, and mishandling conflict—they are simply not prepared to be school monitors,“ said Ald. Sawyer. “We need a restorative approach to safety in our schools that ensures our students are respected and given the chance to grow through mistakes, not be criminalized for them.”
Progressive Caucus members also introduced the Just Cause for Eviction ordinance. This ordinance requires a landlord to demonstrate fault on the part of the tenant as a condition to evict or have a well-recognized reason independent of the tenant (e.g., taking the unit off the market or renting to relatives). “Just cause” helps reduce housing insecurity for renters and their families and slows the pace of economic and cultural displacement for neighborhoods.
“More than 55% of households in Chicago are occupied by renters. Right now, landlords have a unique ability to casually inflict a life-altering event, an eviction, on a renter without justification or cause,” said Ald. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez (25). “ In the years following this pandemic, the right of renters who follow the rules and pay rent must be protected and that is exactly what the Just Cause ordinance will do.”
In addition, legislation to create a reparations commission — which would determine ways to make amends for inequalities that have come as a result of systematic racism for Chicagoans descended from slaves — and to designate Juneteenth as a day of remembrance, passed in City Council with help from Ald. Maria Hadden (49), Alderman David Moore (17) and Ald. Sawyer.
“Creating a holiday to acknowledge the liberation of individuals who were enslaved is just one step towards justice,” said Ald. Hadden. “We cannot, however, continue to overlook the injustice and inequality maintained for generations in this country. The process of reparations, which includes a critical discussion about the many ways African Americans have been systematically deprived of income, investment, and equal protection under the law, is key to healing our country and our city.”
Last week, the Progressive Caucus held a series of meetings to build alignment on Civilian Police Oversight. The recent murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25 that set off international protests has brought new energy and urgency to the initiative.
“Creating a Civilian Oversight board is a critical step in ensuring we have a fair, transparent, and powerful mechanism for police accountability,” said Ald. Taylor. “We have formed a working group and are committed to making this our top priority and meeting as often as needed to get an ordinance passed. We can’t afford to wait for justice any longer.”