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Preckwinkle, Foxx: Don't let looters hijack reform
The Cook County officials issue statements decrying the looting and riots.

Sunday, May 31, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business
by A.D. Quig

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, in a brief, handwritten speech delivered outside the County Building where protesters gathered yesterday, said those seeking change need to “transform our pain, our frustration and our disappointment into political action” and not let images of looting undercut calls for police reform and justice for black and brown communities.

While she said it was important to call out the “routine, everyday murders of unarmed black and brown people by the police,” she also said “we have to understand that the looting and the vandalism provide ammunition to those who want to marginalize, discredit or diminish our critique of America. We can’t allow looting and vandalism to define us."

She said she understood "looting can come from very different places. Some are looting to create chaos. Others loot as the result of the pain in their lives and the chaos in their communities. But I’m reminded of the saying that those who can’t transform their pain transmit it.”

At a news conference with Gov. J.B. Pritzker this afternoon, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said she understood "broken hearts and anger" over systemic racism in America.

“The demonstrations and protests in the street are about making sure people are heard because so little has changed," she said in a statement earlier today, but warned those demonstrations could be used to "exploit people grieving and mourning for their own gain" and said some were motivated by "anarchy and injustice."

She urged a narrative shift to focus away from violence and toward the underlying issues of racial injustice. "We cannot allow those who do not share the mission of racial justice or equity to hijack this conversation,' she said. "George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others deserve more.”

The Chicago Teachers Union also sought to draw focus away from looting and toward the original focus of the protests: the unjust loss of a human life.

Preckwinkle said she agreed with the sentiment. “No broken glass and no stolen item can compare to the loss of life,” but added “that looting and vandalism hand on a silver platter” reason for critics to dismiss the message of non-violent protests about racial justice and equity.

Preckwinkle recalled her own childhood in St. Paul, Minn., “across the river from Minneapolis,” saying it was “particularly painful to me that this murder happened in my home state.”

“There were two black families in my elementary school. From the time I was in first grade to about fourth grade, my younger brother and I were frequently waylaid by white boys on the way home from school who called us ‘nigger’ and started fights,” she said. “I’m a history teacher by profession. I know that one of the reasons that I wanted to study history was to try to discover why white people hated us so much. This is a profoundly racist country. And black and brown people have suffered centuries of discrimination. My own people have endured 250 years of slavery, 100 years of brutal oppression. Only in my lifetime have black folks across the country been able to vote, sit in the front of the bus, go to unsegregated public schools, dine in hotels across the country.”

Asked what political action people should take, Preckwinkle said electing Joe Biden and a Democratic congress in November and further police accountability. “There’s no reason why police officers should get away with murdering black and brown people. I would point out that Jason Van Dyke may have been charged with murder, but he was the first police officer in 35 years to be charged with murder, and I don’t know any black or brown person who believes that he is the only police officer in that 35 years to have murdered a black or brown man.” Van Dyke, a former Chicago Police officer, was sentenced to almost seven years in prison for the 2014 murder of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

The City Council’s Progressive Caucus has re-upped calls for hearings on the Chicago Police Department’s long-expired contract. Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th, said in a statement that “George Floyd’s death is part of a consistent pattern of behavior which we know all too well in Chicago. The Progressive Caucus is proposing measures—anonymous reporting, consideration of past abuses, strengthening investigative powers—which will break the code of silence that protects officers who commit the kinds of acts which lead to the deaths of people like George Floyd.”

Even before Floyd's death, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot faced criticism for failing to pass a measure increasing civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department. Aldermen appeared close to a vote in March, but disagreement over a civilian oversight board's governing structure stalled a vote.

Chicago doesn’t need the National Guard. We need to meet the urgent needs of the people. We need good paying jobs, housing, social services, Medicare for all and a real safety net. We also need to dismantle white supremacy. Militarization is not the answer.

494 people are talking about this

What you’re reading and seeing now in the news in no way reflects the actions and spirit of the vast majority who peacefully and powerfully protested in downtown yesterday.

What I saw was folks express their justified outrage and sorrow over the needless and brutal killing of and a system that has consistently and loudly told them their lives do not matter.

See Alderman Daniel La Spata ??????'s other Tweets
Letter


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