May 15, 2015

CEP teach-in discusses equitable policing beyond increased transparency

On Monday, May 11, the Campaign for Equitable Policing (CEP) held a teach-in called “Beyond Transparency: Realizing Equitable Policing,” in McCormick Tribune Lounge.  The teach-in focused on how to make law enforcement fairer beyond increasing accountability and transparency. The conversation turned largely toward the panelists’ long-term goals of abolishing the police force, why they wanted it to be abolished, and how that could be achieved.

The event comes after the Illinois General Assembly passed H.B. 3932, which requires private police forces like the UCPD to comply with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, like public police forces are already obligated to do.

Guests on the event’s discussion panel included Ruby Pinto from DecarcerateChi, Janae Bonsu, a current UChicago student and member of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100), Page May, an organizer for We Charge Genocide, and Mikyael Muhammad, a member of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). Two students from the CEP asked questions that the panelists then discussed.

Speakers presented the current strategies and goals of their organizations toward building a more just police force. For instance, May stated that We Charge Genocide will be running “cop-watch” workshops and focusing on better regulating stop-and-frisk policies. The goal of the DecarcerateChi campaign, according to Pinto, is to eliminate bail for non-violent charges.

The panelists also highlighted the racism they claim to be inherent in the police’s actions and policies, and how they would act to make the police force “anti-racist.” They shared personal accounts or the stories of friends in which the police had unfairly and harmfully targeted them. Their stories included accounts of physical violence on the part of the police.

“It’s as much about addressing how violent the police are as it is about blackness being synonymous with criminality, or something to be controlled,” May said.

However, while these short-term goals focus on building a more equitable police force, the speakers agreed that their long-term goals include complete abolition of the police in general. “I am not interested in better police. I’m not interested in fixing the police. I’m interested in a world where we don’t need police,” Bonsu said.

One of the moderators asked the panel if they believe that anything would be lost if the police force were abolished and if there are certain types of crime that the police are essential in addressing. In general, the panelists’ response was that there were not. “The percentage of time that police spend on violent crime is absurdly low,” May said. “A big part of abolition is about building communities that make police obsolete.”

In the meantime, these organizations will continue to take action for equitable policing. For instance, BYP 100 currently is running a petition for the CPD to fire Dante Servin, the police officer that killed Rekia Boyd in 2012. This petition was passed around at the end of the teach-in.