#TheBluestLie: Rescind the “Blue Lives” Chicago ordinance

Edward Burke, Public Safety Committeeman of Chicago City Council; Ariel Reboyras, Public Safety Committee Chair of Chicago City Council; Willie Cochran, Public Safety Committee Vice Chair of Chicago City Council

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For generations, Black and Brown organizers in Chicago have fought tirelessly to hold Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers accountable for the misconduct and violence that disproportionately impacts their communities. The cover-up of the police execution of Laquan McDonald was not the first instance of police violence and corruption in Chicago; CPD harbors a dense history of racially-motivated police violence. This past year the U.S. Department of Justice launched a federal investigation into CPD, and the Invisible Institute has exposed thousands of police misconduct filings, less than 3% of which resulted in any disciplinary action. Recently, a CPD whistleblower Civil Rights suit which would have required Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to testify, was averted by the City with a $2 million settlement. We know that violence against police is at an all-time low, while reported deaths from police violence is at a record high. Without vigilant social movements holding CPD, the City, the State’s Attorney and the Mayor's office accountable for wrongdoing, the small gains made in recent election cycles would not be making headlines.


Now, Chicago City Council Public Safety Committeeman Edward Burke has announced his sponsorship of an ordinance, to expand the Hate Crime statute to cover current and former law enforcement officers and first responder personnel. In line with a nation-wide, reactionary wave of “Blue Lives” legislation, a similar (though redundant) expansion was enacted in Louisiana, and lawmakers are currently pushing for the same in Tennessee. In California, Black Lives Matter organizer Jasmine Abdullah was recently convicted of “felony lynching” - a statute created ostensibly to prosecute murderous Jim Crow era vigilantes. We understand these emerging legislative trends as cynical, political power grabs to silence, criminalize, and intimidate organizers, protestors and the everyday citizens that officers and other public servants are sworn to serve.


Currently, no legal path exists to charge an on-duty law enforcement officer with a Hate Crime. This proposed expansion would formalize pre-existing “Blue Code of Silence” protections without increasing police accountability. Please stand with us in demanding that Burke and his co-sponsors rescind this proposed expansion of the Hate Crime ordinance. Black Lives depend on it.


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To: Edward Burke, Public Safety Committeeman of Chicago City Council; Ariel Reboyras, Public Safety Committee Chair of Chicago City Council; Willie Cochran, Public Safety Committee Vice Chair of Chicago City Council
From: [Your Name]

Alderman Edward Burke,

The Hate Crimes expansion ordinance that you are sponsoring in Chicago City Council would not establish safety or protection outcomes for anyone, but would extend the existing “Blue Code of Silence” that is well documented within the Chicago Police Department to intimidate, silence, and criminalize vulnerable constituents. CPD’s Civil Rights Unit, which manages Municipal Hate Crimes complaints, is included in the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation of CPD for systemic violations of the Constitution and federal law.

Law enforcement, fire and medical emergency personnel are public servants and must be held accountable by their constituencies if they have committed harms against a community. The Hate Crimes expansion implies that constituencies should not have the power to hold public servants accountable through non-violent direct action; which is a fundamental constitutional right.

I stand with Chicago constituents in demanding that you rescind this deeply specious ordinance proposal.