PI Original Ellyn Fortino Thursday October 22nd, 2015, 3:55pm

Ahead Of Law Enforcement Conference In Chicago, Police Accountability Activists Demand Policy Reforms

Chicago police accountability activists on Thursday announced a list of demands for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which is holding a four-day conference in the city starting Saturday. 

With the four-day International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual conference and exposition set to kick off in Chicago on Saturday, local police accountability activists say they want a seat at the table there to discuss their policy demands.

Speaking at a Thursday press conference, Chicago activists with the Black Youth Project (BYP) 100, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, the Workers Center for Racial Justice and other groups announced their demands, which center around greater police accountability and increased community oversight of law enforcement.

"The International Association of Chiefs of Police is one of the most powerful and influential law enforcement organizations in the world," said Camesha Jones with the Chicago chapter of BYP 100, a national organization of young black activists aged 18 to 35. "We're here today to make demands to this powerful organization that has so much influence over the policies and programs that influence police departments and that harm communities of color, specifically black communities."

"We hope they would take our recommendations seriously," she added. "And we would like to be at the table while these recommendations that they give to other police departments are being made."

The annual IACP conference attracts some 14,000 public safety professionals, according to the association, making it the world's largest law enforcement event of the year.

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are slated to speak at the IACP conference on October 27, the last day of the event. At the conference, being held at McCormick Place, Obama is expected to discuss the issue of criminal justice reform.

"I think it's great that (Obama) wants to be a part of reforming the criminal justice system, but as I've said before, we need a seat at the table," Jones told reporters. "It can't just be the same people in powerful positions who are making decisions (that) affect our communities."

Among other demands, the groups are calling for an end to police violence, the "failed war on drugs" and the militarization of local police departments. They also want community-controlled boards governing all police departments, a special prosecutor's office in every police district tasked with investigating police killings of civilians and greater investments in education, jobs and housing in under-resourced neighborhoods.

"As the heads of police departments from around the world, members of the IACP have the power to reduce the criminalization of race through policy reform and to change the culture of abuse within their departments," said Teresa Smallwood with the Workers Center for Racial Justice.

"We believe if the IACP agrees to do these things, it will go a long way at repairing relationships between the police and communities of color, reduce the violence committed by police in our communities and reduce the disproportionately high rates of incarceration of people of color," she added.

Those at today's event said cities, including Chicago, should also use their policing funds to make investments in neighborhoods.

"We at BYP 100 believe the 40 percent of Chicago's budget going to police, which comes out to be about $4 million a day, should be reinvested toward policies and practices that have been proven to better our communities, like open-enrollment, community-controlled schools, affordable and readily available housing and jobs in the black community," said Ethan Viets-VanLear with BYP 100 Chicago. "We will no longer remain passive as groups like the IACP and the (Chicago Police Department) take our money and use it to violate our communities."

The activists plan to hold their own conference on policing reforms and policies Thursday and Friday, followed by a protest and march on Saturday, which will begin outside of Chicago police headquarters.

Meanwhile, a seperate action against police violence was held in Chicago on Thursday.

Members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network gathered at the Thompson Center to read aloud the names of people who have been killed by police, including in Chicago. Similar events were held in 25 U.S. cities Thursday as part of a series of protests being held before Saturday's "Rise Up October" march in New York City against police violence. Local activists plan to travel to New York City for the protest.

Click through for more on Rise Up October and the local activists involved with the event.


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