By Todd St. Hill, BYP100 Chicago Chapter Organizing Co-Chair
I am writing to report back on last night’s Chicago Police board meeting. At its height, 20 BYP100 members were in attendance. In total about 100 people were in attendance at the meeting, a majority of them activists and family members. Last night was yet another session of the city of Chicago’s Police Board hearing. Members from BYP100 spoke to the issue of the board refusing to come back with a ruling, the profound lack of accountability inside the CPD, city council, IPRA and the police board.
Family members of victims of police violence from Dorothy Holmes (mother of Ronald ‘Ronnieman’ Johnson), to Martinez Sutton(brother of Rekia Boyd), to the family of Bettie Jones spoke with understandable anger and rage. We know these families represent only a fraction of the families who have been rocked with tragedy by the brutality of the CPD. So when the Daughters of Bettie Jones stand up in front of the police board and question Lori Lightfoot (head of the Police Board) about how she would feel if her mother or daughter was taken from her with no remedy or possibility for justice (as her family sees fit). Instead of offering condolences for their loss Family members of victims of police murder are met with reprimands about their use of language and threats of being ejected from the room by force.
As we witness this we must begin to get a full grasp of the limitations of justice and equality in this city. Justice only exists for the few at the expense of so many. As I prepared for this hearing I questioned the what the point is in appealing to this body of “experts” who continues to treat the residents of this upside-down city as criminals and not as human beings. Granted, the police board, illegitimate as it may be, still has a ridiculous amount of power in relation to the everyday, ordinary citizens of Chicago, particularly the working and poor Black people of this city. Lori Lightfoot and her colleagues know this so they are satisfied with holding off on a ruling on the firing of Dante Servin hoping that the families and the communities they come from get tired and discouraged and go back to their over-policed and disinvested communities. Lightfoot and her colleagues know that they have the full backing of the Mayor’s office, the State’s Attorney’s office, the FOP and the CPD and in that regard they do not (and cannot) represent us.
BYP100 knows that the demand to have Dante Servin fired is intimately tied to a fight for Black liberation that centers Black women and girls. We know that this struggle will be a marathon and not a race, but that it is a marathon that must be run without interruption. Our pursuit of justice and structural equality knows no limit and cannot be calmed or snuffed out.
This is an important election year, nationally and locally, involving some of the main purveyors of crimes against Black Americans and Black Chicagoans. If the residents of Ferguson, Baltimore, the students at Mizzou taught us anything it is that at some point we can no longer wait for the state to come around to our side. The state’s very existence amounts to our continued subjugation and exploitation, and it cannot be reformed to a state that is just towards its most marginalized masses. We will not find elected officials within our current political system who speak to and fight for and provide true accountability to crimes against Black women, girls, queer, trans*, and gender-nonconforming people. This racist capitalist system-whether it is in America, the West Indies, or Africa-will cannot and will not support Black liberation. BYP100 will continue to challenge and confront these unjust structures in our pursuit of Black liberation and Freedom.
– Todd St Hill