Lightford041619The image of more than 40 white, male Suburban Chiefs of Police, standing with the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police to chastise and call for the resignation of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx over her handling of the Jussie Smollett case and her management of the office should disturb all Cook County residents and anyone who supports efforts to reform our criminal justice system. Skepticism is the natural reaction when there are calls for increased “law and order” and tired and misguided epithets such as “soft on crime.” These misguided and outdated positions are undoubtedly what helped create the wrong-headed and fiscally imprudent policies which gave rise to the failed “War on Drugs,” militarization of law enforcement agencies, explosion of our prison population, the policies that have fueled the school to prison pipeline, destroyed and dismantled countless families and continued the marginalization of black, brown and poor communities.

The outrage of the Chicago FOP and the suburban Chiefs of Police is amazingly ironic considering these same individuals stood silent or had no response other than to blame the communities where the violence is occurring in regards to the uptick in homicides, Jason Van Dyke’s virtual slap on the wrist for murdering Laquan McDonald or ignoring the nearly $500 million that Chicago taxpayers spent on police misconduct cases since 2011. That’s in addition to the nearly $3 million they will have to pay annually to oversee a federal consent decree to monitor law enforcement – community interactions. The hypocrisy and irony is mind-blowing as these officials decry the $130,000 spent to investigate the Smollett case.

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus has worked with both the State’s Attorney and law enforcement to improve the quality of life for the communities we represent, but there must be open and honest conversations about the realities which exist in these communities who feel over-surveilled, under siege and devalued. It is certainly not lost on the communities we represent that the individuals, none of whom are African-American, standing with the Chicago FOP were the leaders of their respective Departments. This fact begs the question: How can we ever expect to repair the relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve, if law enforcement leadership fundamentally disagrees that our criminal justice system needs reform?

Yes, State’s Attorney Foxx is African-American, and this provides her and the members of our caucus with a unique perspective on the daily impact of the policies of marginalization and disinvestment. She has worked with our caucus as we have led the fight in this country to implement policies which will reform our criminal justice system, such as moving away from the use of cash bail for nonviolent offenders, rightsizing and modernizing our thinking on prosecuting retail theft or how we approach the crisis of low-level drug offenders and their addictions, while also working together to pass legislation targeting repeat gun offenders, gun-runners and criminal enterprises. Our caucus stands with State’s Attorney Foxx because she is a State’s Attorney who is working with us to reform a criminal justice system that has marginalized and destroyed communities for far too long.

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) released the following statement on the new officers and members.

Officers include:
• Joint caucus chair, Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood)
• Treasurer, Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana)
• Secretary, Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis)
• Sargent at arms, Rep. Nicholas K. Smith (D-Chicago)
• Senate chair, Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago)
• House chair, Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (D-Chicago)

Read more: Black caucus welcomes new officers and members

Lightford011819 2CHICAGO— A day after three Chicago Police officers were acquitted in trying to cover up Laquan McDonald’s murder, Jason Van Dyke, the former officer responsible for the shooting, was dealt a sentence of 81 months. Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Kimberly A. Lightford released the following statement on the sentencing:

“The lack of accountability for officers like Jason Van Dyke and his former colleagues sends a clear message that our judicial system in no way protects the public from officers who abuse their position.

“We share in the anger of community members and activists who are tired of repeated denials of justice at the hands of our judicial system. For generations, too many officers who have sworn to protect have instead targeted, oppressed and traumatized our community. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is committed to continuing the work desperately needed to reform a judicial system that values our lives less than others.”

Lightford021418 2CHICAGO- Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) released the following statement following a guilty verdict in the trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

“My heart goes out to Laquan’s family as they continue to grieve his loss. This is only a drop of justice in a history full of injustices against Black people and people of color. We still have a lot of work ahead of us in reforming policing, criminal justice, human services and creating opportunities for underprivileged communities.

“Let us continue to organize, continue to let our voices be heard and participate in our democracy wherever and whenever we can.”

Lightford100418CHICAGO- Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) released the following statement as the jury in the Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke Trial deliberates in the trial of the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.

“As we await a decision from the jury, I would like to make it clear how important this trial is to our communities throughout the state of Illinois. The last time a Chicago officer was convicted of murder was nearly 50 years ago, and there are many who feel justice has not been served time and time again in Chicago and across the country.

“I urge the public to react with solidarity regardless of the verdict. We need to come together and let our voices be heard for all of the times Black people missed out on their due justice. If you want to yell, yell. If you want to gather, gather. Let’s show how we feel in a peaceful and impactful manner.

“My hope is that we can take this moment to come together to heal Chicago and communities throughout Illinois that are longing for police officers that work for them and a criminal justice system that treats them fairly.

“Our work does not start or end here. We should not be deterred should this trial’s outcome not be in our favor.”

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