Alderwomen

Alds. Sophia King (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th)

The City Council Committee on Public Safety has voted down the Anjanette Young Ordinance, which would have codified bans on no-knock warrants and other sweeping changes to the Chicago Police Department’s search and raid policies. 

The committee voted 4-10 to reject the ordinance in a Nov. 10 hearing, despite the testimony of its namesake at the meeting.

Rogers Park Ald. Maria Hadden (49th), a committee member, introduced the ordinance in February 2021 with the backing of the other Black women in the council’s Progressive Reform Caucus, including local Alds. Sophia King (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th).

The ordinance was introduced after a botched raid that affected social worker Anjanette Young in 2019. During the raid, multiple male officers entered her house incorrectly on a no-knock warrant while she was nude, ignoring her protests that they had the wrong location for 40 minutes. (The council approved a $2.9 million settlement for her last December after national outcry that the city was stonewalling its recompense.)

"Do the right thing," Young said at the November hearing, recounting the continuing mental health harm that the raid has caused. After the loss, Young told reporters that the fight would continue until the ordinance passes.

In March 2021, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the CPD leadership introduced policy changes requiring teams of officers to identify any potentially vulnerable people like children who may be at a site where they have a warrant. Guns are not to be pointed at children. Investigations leading to warrants must be documented. Warrants also require independent investigations to verify that information used to obtain them are accurate, with a review for wrong raids. 

No-knock warrants are banned unless lives or safety are in danger; the Sun-Times reports that their use has been “significantly limited.”

West Side Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) opposed the ordinance but fulfilled his 2021 promise of letting it come up for a vote before the committee he chairs.

The Lightfoot administration argued against the ordinance, saying the CPD policy reforms were enough and that the federal consent decree monitors wrong and flawed raids. Hadden and University of Chicago Law School Professor Craig Futterman dismissed this, saying that the consent decree did not conflict with the ordinance.

After the hearing, Taylor, who is not on the committee but attended its meeting, said that the vote showed that some alderpersons "have not learned anything" despite the reckoning that the nation has endured over race and police violence since 2020.

"They don't care about anything, and they definitely don't care about the people they represent. And they're not thinking about accountability," Taylor said. "This is not me hating the police. This is not you being disrespectful to the people who are paid to serve and protect us. This lady is clearly telling you, as a social worker, what she's been through, how the city hasn't contacted her for any services or anything.”

"They don't care," she repeated. "This is why the police get to do what they do. This is why they get away with stuff, because they're not held accountable. They're made to be seen like they're above the law."

Taylor discounted the CPD warrant policy changes, saying they did not meet the gravity of the moment and that police accountability promises are repeatedly broken. She said she could have called parents to testify about the police raids conducted in their homes in front of young children.

"We would have been devastated to hear how those young people feel. But we don't do that, because we don't want to know the truth," she said.

The ordinance would have required a 30-second wait for police before they entered after knocking and for them to avoid with "all available measures" executing a warrant when children younger than 16 were present. Police would not be able to handcuff or point guns at children, and they would not be able to restrain or handcuff their parents or guardians unless they were immediately presenting a threat of physical harm. Pointing guns at adults would have been prohibited unless the target was an imminent threat of death or injury.

The alderwoman is running for reelection next year and said she will continue advocating for the ordinance.

"I will never stop fighting for change. What am I here for? I could have stayed a community organizer," Taylor said. "The fact that I have to fight with my coworkers for what is right in and around these communities is a problem."

Looking ahead to the 2023 mayoral election, Taylor said she wants a mayor who is open to dialogue, conversation and collaboration with alderpersons: "I want a person who will sit down with us and compromise."

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