Black Lives Matter Chicago Co-Founder Discusses New Role In Police Reform
Black Lives Matter Chicago and other organizations will be given a say in Chicago’s police reform efforts.
On March 20, Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to let the American Civil Liberties Union, the Chicago Urban League and the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter take part in discussions in the city’s ongoing police reform. The announcement came after the three groups sued the city last year.
Black Lives Matter Chicago co-founder Aislinn Pulley joined Morning Shift to discuss the organization’s police reform goals, the group’s potential influence, and the criticism it faces.
The impact of Black Lives Matter Chicago having a seat at the table
Aislinn Pulley: It’s significant in the terms of finally allowing families who have been victims of police violence, police terrorism, who have lost loved ones to police killings, to have the ability to be a part of this process. So that in and of itself is historic and significant, and has never been done before in any other municipality when it comes to the consent decree process.
Unfortunately, what the real game changer will be is what is in the consent decree and whether or not the Chicago Police Department will be held accountable. So right now, we are happy we have gone this far. We believe this is where every single municipality in the country should be. All victims of police violence should be at the table of all discussions concerning changes in legislation and the monitoring and enforcement of how police departments operate nationwide. That should be a minimal requirement.
‘What the real change will be is if we can see that people are no longer killed’
Pulley: Just within the last week, we have experienced the murder of Decynthia Clements. We’ve experienced the murder of Stephon Clark. So, we are under no illusion that the actual problem is nearing being solved.
Criticism of Black Lives Matter Chicago’s involvement
Pulley: I think the fact that what we are demanding and fighting for is the right to exist on this land without having our lives taken unjustly — without having employees of the government be judge, jury, and executioner — that that then means we are terrorists is absolutely laughable.
Grievances that Black Lives Matter Chicago plan to address
Pulley: What we’re [asking] for is to have police officers actually be held accountable for the things that they do. Like any other profession, you would be held accountable if you have three strikes against you. In most professions, you would be out of there if you had over 10. Being a police officer in the city of Chicago is the only profession I know of where you can have over 26 and have absolutely no discipline.
The amount of influence Black Lives Matter Chicago will have
Pulley: I think it is entirely dependent on where the movement goes — whether there is continued sustained public pressure. That is, what will force all of the politicians [to listen] to the demands of the people. We’ve seen seen that with Stephon Clark in California. And we see that with the student movement now with regards to [March For Our Lives]. So, I think the power of the people will push all of the politicians forward.
And then, I think the election coming up is another big variable. What will the forces be? Where will public attention be? So, I think there are a few variables that determine how successful we are in pushing [Attorney General Lisa Madigan], as well as [Mayor Rahm Emanuel], and city council further to adopt measures that people who are actually affected by policing want.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview, which was adapted for the web by Bea Aldrich.