Local Alds. Sophia King (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) alongside their Rogers Park colleague Maria Hadden (49th) — all Black women — continue to push for the Anjanette Young Ordinance (AYO), saying that legislation is the only way to ensure that changes in police warrant and search policy will survive shifts in mayoral and police department leadership.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has proposed policy changes in those areas, said when reached for content that policy changes are "nimble," contrasting them with the locked-in manner of changing law, but left the door open to talk. In March, her chairman of the Public Safety Committee, West Side Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), promised to hold a hearing on the AYO.
The AYO would ban the Chicago Police Department from performing no-knock or "knock-and-announce" warrants and from performing raids when children are present. Officers would be required to use body cameras and would be prohibited from pointing guns at children, and residences would have to be secured before they leave.
At a May 4 town hall on the AYO, University of Chicago Law School Professor Craig Futterman said that CPD disproportionately raids homes of Black and Brown Chicagoans and that police find drugs in fewer than 5% of the raids. Ordinance supporters additionally note that, between 2016 and 2019, the CPD performed on average more than 1,500 raids a year, 43% of which resulted in no arrests.
"No accountability, not even for all those times that officers pointed guns at little children. No transparency to the public. CPD doesn't even document when it targets the wrong address, the wrong home, much less report it, to any of us during those 1,500 raids they perpetrate every year," Futterman said.
The 20th Ward had the fourth-most raids in 2019: 85, 46 of which resulted in no arrests.
"You need to know that there is something of some significance that is in that home. Why are you raiding a home for nothing or a few joints? That makes no sense, and that is a waste of resources," Hairston said. "We have to change the way in which we identify who provides information, and if you're not providing information, you don't get to say anything."
Furthermore, Hairston said the government needs to examine whether judges, who issue warrants, "are doing their due diligence when these officers come before them and ask for a warrant," saying the courts need to follow up afterwards and do accountability on whether the raids returned "something of value, something of significance."
"Negative raids" occur, and officers return nothing, Hairston said, "But to the average citizen, we got our house messed up, we've sometimes got our kids in the room, we've got trauma, we've got so many issues that they never have to account for. And what we are attempting to do is to correct this and make it a way in which there are true guidelines that are actually followed, that there are consequences if they are not followed, and that we have a way to keep them accountable and keep their books open, so we know what they are doing."
King, Hairston and Taylor all publicly empathized with the indignity Young endured during the wrong raid police officers executed on her house in February 2019; they and Hadden all said they recognized they could do something about it.
"During this time of racial recognition in this world, it's time. So we need to seize this opportunity to make sure there are strong mechanisms put in place so that this type of indignity doesn't continue to happen to others," King said. "We also quite frankly need to hold those perpetrators who are there to protect us accountable for these inhumane acts.
"And what's almost embarrassing is that they're really common sense-type of recommendations that we're making. And I don't really know what to make of that except that the deference that we're not given as human beings, quite frankly, is very clear when you think about what is not taken into consideration."
Laws, King said, are put in place "to seek and serve justice, and so that's what we are seeking to do."
Hairston said it is the second time in her life that she is dealing with "these issues" — racism, riots, protests, being Black, she later clarified — which she said is unfortunate and exhausting.
"But it is through the courage of people like Ms. Young that inspires and invigorates us to leave no stone unturned and to see this through until it is complete," she said. "There is no reason why it should be taking this long for the City Council of the City of Chicago to get a hearing on this ordinance and to get it passed.
"It makes absolutely no sense — as a Black woman who has been discriminated against, who has been racially profiled, who has been targeted, who has received death threats, who has received bullets in the mail during my short time on this earth — that we are still dealing with these issues. And it is unfortunate that we are still living in a time that we are not believed until we have irrefutable evidence of what we're saying, because for years and years and years we have been saying this, and until we have had video, we have been dismissed."
"Racism is not dead in Chicago," Hairston said, "and it is surely not dead in the United States, but there is something about the City of Chicago and reform that we don't get it right, and we keep getting it wrong. And even when we're told what to do and how to do it, we can't manage to do it. And so there needs to be a way that we change this and that we make the changes in our police department and in our city government so that we actually get something done. Changing the top is not going to make the change happen."
Taylor, as she has done before, compared Young to Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police officers during a botched no-knock raid in March 2020, saying that the only difference between the two was that Young survived to tell her story. She also pointed out that some informant had been paid for the incorrect information that led to the raid on Young's house.
"When you go to the store and pay your taxes," Taylor said, "this is what your tax dollars pay for." She said the fact that all 50 aldermen do not co-sponsor the AYO is a problem, encouraging town hall attendees to vote against their representatives if they do not support the ordinance.
"We are supposed to be in the business of serving and protecting constituents who pay for us to protect them," she said. "Ms. Young was not the first, and she will not be the last if we keep on electing the same fools — and I say what I said, I don't take back what I said — who ignore us."
Young, speaking to those who have not signed onto her namesake ordinance, asked what they are waiting for: "I don't know what the challenge may be for you. I don't know what your hesitancy is. But if you've seen the videos, and they're out there, I would challenge you to dig deep into your heart and do the right thing by joining onto this ordinance. There is no reason why all 50 aldermen are not signing onto this."
She said she struggled with her faith in God after the raid but believes that God wanted to use her "for such a time as this, in our country, in our world as we are wrestling with racial injustices." She called Chicago "a mixed bag of good and evil" with "a level of corruption that has a deep root that needs to be dug out."
"We have an opportunity to lead our city to a place of grace and forgiveness," she said, including the mayor and the Police Department. "And if I need to come and have a personal conversation with you to help you to understand why this is so important, then I welcome an invite so that we can have that conversation."
In a subsequent interview, Ald. King said policy changes can correct some things — and Mayor Lightfoot proposed policy changes in March — but said that a change of law "magnifies the importance of things that should be intuitive," like officers not pointing at children, double-checking sources to ensure raids are being executed on the right address and preventing people from remaining unclothed during police raids.
"The reason we have to codify it is to ensure that justice is done," she said. "The other reason I think this avenue is best is because policy is easier to change than law, and so we want to take the next step to codify this, to magnify its importance, but also to make sure that at the whim of the (police) superintendent or the mayor, that policy can't be changed."
King said she hopes Lightfoot will see "the difference between where her policies begin and our recommendations for a law end." The two compromised before on increasing Chicago's minimum wage; King said she both expects a similar process to play out this time around and that she is not averse to compromising, saying, "I think that that's part of any real, true discussion, but I don't want to do that on the backs of folks suffering silently without any fanfare."
On May 5, Lightfoot said she would be happy to sit down with ARO advocates but that she is "dubious about codifying policy that should be borne of a process obviously dictated by the consent decree that requires nimbleness and a lot of engagement with the community."
"If we make it static, as with a City Council law, that would be a precedent, but I think it would inhibit the ability of the department to respond nimbly to changing circumstances that might warrant some quicker action than what might be able to be done through the City Council process," she said.
The CPD search warrant policy changes, Lightfoot said, were responsive to Young's circumstances and "tightened up" aspects of search warrant policy "to make sure that senior members of the department were signing off on search warrants, not just at the sergeant level as it had been before," and making sure that police with the right training were performing the raids.
She suggested that the AYO was not written by someone without a lot of experience in local policing, but she again promised to have a conversation with the ordinance supporters.