Power (of Police Accountability) to the People?
The City Council Public Safety Committee hosted its final public hearing of four competing proposals for a new police watchdog agency in Chicago on June 5. Two out of the four proposals were put forward by Alderman and mayoral ally Ariel Reboyras of the 30th Ward.
The other two proposals — the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) and the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) — come from community groups and allow civilians far more clout. In these plans, the public is able to shape policy directly and determine the firing of top police officials.
On the same day as the final hearing, Reboyras discussed the Chicago Civilian Oversight Commission (CCOC) and the Chicago Community Police Commission (CCPC) — his two proposed organizations — with WBEZ.
“The two ordinances that were previously introduced — it takes over, fully takes over, all the organizations, city agencies. It’s full control in the public. Do we need that? Full control? Absolutely not,” Reboyras told WBEZ.
In a May interview with CCPSA proponent Mecole Jordan on WBEZ, Jordan described how the CCPSA model evolved from closely studying similar models in Seattle and Los Angeles.
“We understood the importance of the community having that kind of power, because they’re really able to bring in the voice of the community in a way that a lot of times politics doesn’t allow,” Jordan said.
The Art World’s Tunnel Vision
Glendale’s Pit Gallery received an open letter criticizing its exhibition “Vision Valley.” The California gallery initially titled the exhibition “Vision Valley: Glendale Biennial,” despite its absence of engagement with Glendale’s large immigrant population.
The letter, penned by Adam D Miller and Devon Oder, was signed “from the Immigrant and Armenian Diasporic Communities of Glendale, and Their Allies.”
“You describe the exhibition as ‘a celebration of artists working in a specific community,’” the letter said. “We are writing to remind you that the show is staged in a 40 percent Armenian neighborhood, the largest diasporic population of Armenians in the U.S. Among its roster of 32 predominately white artists, zero are Armenian. While your exhibition includes no Armenian artists, it does include all three directors of the Pit, as well as its gallery associate.”
Read the full letter here.
Last month, Mashinka Firunts Hakopian wrote a similarly critical account of the Pit Gallery’s non-engagement with its surrounding cultural community for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
“Vision seems an ill-fitting rubric for an exhibition that insists on the invisibility of a vast diasporic population,” Hakopian wrote.
On the other coast, HOUSING, an artist-run gallery in Brooklyn whose program is explicitly devoted to resisting gentrification, has had the building in which it resides sold out from under it. Read an interview with KJ Freeman, co-founder of HOUSING here.
Life in and out of CTA’s Fast Lane
Elon Musk’s Boring Company has been chosen by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to build and operate a planned rapid transit link between O’Hare International Airport and the Loop. The proposed line would turn a 40-minute Blue Line journey into a 12-minute trip at more than 100 miles per hour.
The project — predicted to cost less than $1 billion — would be fully funded by Boring Company, with no tax dollars used. In exchange, the company will receive all profits from the line (transit fees, advertisements, and in-car touch screen shopping sales).
Each vehicle is designed to carry up to 16 passengers plus their luggage. It is intended to cost less than taxi and rideshare options, at approximately $20 to $25. The company plans to use Block 37’s unfinished underground transit station and create a new O’Hare station.
Critics argue that the Blue Line is sufficient to the city’s airport public transit needs, describing the plan as the mayor’s “vanity project”.
In other public transport news, amidst plans for a $2.3 billion extension of the CTA Red Line to the city’s southern limits, some argue that a quicker and less costly solution to the dearth of public transport options in Chicago’s Far South Side would be to convert the Metra Electric District (MED) main line into a rapid transit system.
However, others argue the expectation to choose between one system or the other is indicative of the city’s treatment of neighbourhoods that have been historically and systematically deprived of basic services, including good transport options.
Mayor Richard J. Daley promised to extend the Red Line beyond 95th Street when he opened it nearly 50 years ago. The proposed Red Line extension will not start being built until 2022.
The “Stuck Kids” of Illinois’ Psychiatric Hospitals
A report released by The Atlantic and ProPublica Illinois details how children in the care of Illinois’ DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) are held in psychiatric hospitals long after they have been cleared to leave. These children are left waiting weeks or even months while the agency searches for appropriate placement in a foster home or residential treatment center.
Nearly 30% of DCFS children who were hospitalised between 2015 and 2017 were held beyond medical necessity for a collective total of more than 27,000 days. On average these children were held for 64 days where the national average is about 10 days. The state spent nearly $7 million in this period on psychiatric hospitalisation for children 4 and older who were kept beyond a period deemed medically necessary.
Some of the children confined to a psychiatric hospital receive two hours or less of educational instruction per day. The delay in release has been proven to contribute to emotional and behavioural deterioration and the shunting of emotional and behavioural development in the children, leading to further difficulties later on. Experts say the state handling of children with severe depression, bipolar disorder, or other serious mental health conditions in Illinois is among the worst in the country.
Who Shot RFK? And What if RFK Hadn’t Been Shot?
On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Senator Robert F Kennedy, two of his children are calling to reopen the investigation into their father’s death.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr recently visited Sirhan Sirhan — who was convicted as RFK’s assassin in 1969 — in jail and has become convinced someone else killed his father. RFK Jr. visited Sirhan after reading his father’s autopsy report, police report, and other related documents. On the other hand, RFK Jr. also believes there is a link between vaccines and autism.
Two of RFK’s other children (Joseph P. Kennedy II and Kerry Kennedy) stated they would not support a reinvestigation. Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s wife, has refused to comment on the matter.
A two-shooter conspiracy theory has hovered around RFK’s death for years, propped up by discrepancies such as the angle of the shot that killed RFK and an audio recording that indicates 13 shots were fired even though Sirhan’s revolver only contained eight bullets (other audio engineers have analyzed the recording and found only eight shots).
Had RFK not been shot and gone on to win the United States presidency, America would likely have exited the Vietnam War much sooner. Instead of RFK, according to Taegan Goddard for Political Wire, Nixon’s strategies of racial division won the day: “Whereas Kennedy understood the racial tensions roiling America and sought to heal them, Nixon grasped the racial realities and proceeded to exploit them.”
“As we look back on Robert Kennedy’s death, we can trace a straight line from that tragic moment 50 years ago at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to the racial resentments and grievances that Richard Nixon validated to the presidency of Donald J. Trump today,” wrote Goddard.
Gun Buyback Scammers Target Youth
Using the Chicago Police Department’s gun buyback program, the gun group Guns Save Life has raised money for Youth Shooting Camp, a summer camp hosted by the NRA and aimed at children aged 10 to 16.
The group sells broken guns to buyback events, raising thousands of dollars from Grand Crossing’s June 2 buyback alone. Most of the guns that Guns Save Life members hand in are unusable. Since the June 2 buyback, the event has limited the profit an individual can make from a single buyback, though unlimited guns can be turned in.
At $100 per gun, buyback events are intended to “get guns off the street,” according to a Chicago Police spokesman. John Boch, the executive director of Guns Save Life, estimates the group has gained about $12,000 in profits from buybacks over the years. The money from the buybacks goes towards guns for the parents of children attending the camp and ammunition and scholarships for the camp.