Action Now board member Beatrice Jackson

What neighborhood do you live in?  imageedit_73_7776374090.jpg

North Lawndale

How long have you been a member of Action Now?

Since 2008

What made you get involved?

To see a change in our communities, and be a part of the process to implement justice.

What do you hope to accomplish with Action Now?

I'm hoping and praying for justice in my lifetime, for our children's sake, especially concerning a living wage, and education reform. I don't want our kids to have to fight as hard as we did.

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CPCA Police Contract recommendations for reform

The Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability (CPCA) proposes critical changes to the police union contracts and mobilizes communities to demand that new contracts between the City of Chicago and police unions don’t stand in the way of holding officers accountable. CPCA is composed of community, policy, and civil rights organizations taking action to ensure police accountability in the city of Chicago. 

If the City of Chicago and our elected officials are serious about rebuilding trust between the police and the communities they serve, there should be a public commitment to making the changes recommended by the CPCA and the Department of Justice. However, we cannot truly implement police accountability reforms until we eliminate the barriers written into contracts with police unions. 

Among the recommendations for reform are:

1. Eliminate the requirement of a sworn affidavit for investigating civilian complaints of misconduct.

2. Allow for the filing of anonymous complaints.

3. Prevent the disclosure of a complainant’s name prior to the interrogation of an accused officer.

4. Remove the ban on offering rewards to officers that cooperate or provide information on ongoing investigations.

5. Eliminate the 24 hour delay on officer statements in shooting cases and create a clearly outlined process to receive statements from all officers involved in a timely manner.

6. Eliminate officer’s right to review and amend statements previously made to investigators.

7. Eliminate the need for the Superintendent’s authorization to investigate complaints that are five years old or older.

8. Allow past disciplinary records to be used in investigating and resolving present complaints.

9. Eliminate the provision requiring the destruction of police misconduct records.

10. Remove constraints on how interrogators can ask questions.

11. Specify that information provided to officers prior to interrogations should be a general recitation of allegations.

12. Allow for the disclosure of the identities of officers who are the subject of civilian complaints.

13. Require officers to disclose secondary employment and any other pertinent information that may cause a conflict of interest in performing their duties as a sworn officer.

14. Reduce years of seniority for officers who have been repeatedly recommended for suspension because of findings of complaints filed against them.

Communities of color are the primary victims of police abuse within the criminal justice system, and we believe that in order to bring justice, our recommendations are a big part of the solution.

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On stopping violent crime in Chicago

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On any day given day, you can turn on the news and hear stories about the violence, crime, and tragedies in Chicago. What is missing from that narrative is that those neighborhoods are not just buildings and bullets, but they are filled with families and people who are faced with harsh realities like being afraid to walk to the park and trauma of losing loved ones to violence.

While the root causes of the violence are complex, the outcome has been the same...death, fear and suffering for people that want to thrive and live in a safe community. There have been solutions proposed from multiple stakeholders at many levels of government, but it seems that our elected officials have not done what is necessary to stem the tide of violence; often leaving our most vulnerable community members to make impossible choices about life and death for their families.

It is in the spirit of community engagement that we seek to capture stories from people like you on how the violence in the city has affected their neighborhoods, and to gather input on what types of changes they would like to see implemented by our elected officials to stop the violence and to provide help for our people. We want to lift up the voices of everyday community members, and make sure that the people most affected by these issues are included in all conversations about the violence and let our elected officials know that our communities have the wisdom and strength to come up with solutions for their neighborhoods.

We are asking folks to answer this brief questionnaire about what is happening in their neighborhoods. This is your chance to tell your story, and to be a part of the process that brings forth solutions to the problems that affect us.

In Solidarity,
Action Now

 

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Action Now member Anthony Edwards

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What neighborhood do you live in?

South Shore

How long have you been a member of Action Now?

I joined Action Now in 2010

What made you get involved?

It was the late Hueron Wilks, a good brother and former organizer, that reached out to me because he'd heard I had concerns about the education system in Chicago. He invited me to attend a meeting on the South Side. He taught me that I didn't have to stand by while things were happening, and that I had the power to make changes and help people in my community.

What do you hope to accomplish with Action Now?

I am hopeful that I can do my part to help bring "a little bit of justice" to my community. What Action Now has done for me is shown me that I can open up and speak out on the things that matter to me, and that I can use my loud voice to advocate for people who might not know that they too can affect great change in our neighborhoods.

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Action Now Executive Director Katelyn Johnson supports raising the wage in Illinois

 

imageedit_1_5797699049.jpgThis week, Action Now joined State Rep. Will Guzzardi, local organizations and other community members to introduce new legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour here in Illinois.

We need your help right now to give this bill the best shot of becoming law. Send a letter to Labor & Commerce Committee Chairperson Rep. Jay Hoffman.

As many of you know, raising the wage is an issue that is very close to my heart.

I am happy to have been in this fight since the beginning. We have seen prices rise along with productivity, but wages have remained stagnant. Taxpayers are subsidizing the big corporations because their workers rely on taxpayer funded support programs (SNAP, welfare, etc) while the employers are making billions in profits. Corporate welfare is killing our economy and our families!

Meanwhile the service sector is growing, with more people building careers in this field. But make no mistake, this is not just about fast food work or retail workers. This is also about a recognition that "a rising tide lifts all boats". If we raise the wage-floor, it means earnings for all workers will go up, across all sectors.

It's time to raise the minimum wage and allow workers to make enough money to support their families and get the economy moving again!

We need you to send a letter right now to make sure the $15 minimum wage bill gets out of committee. The corporations that profit by paying poverty wages are going to use all of their resources to fight against this legislation, and we can't sit by and do nothing. 

Click here to send a letter to Commerce Committee Chairperson Jay Hoffman. 

Make your voice heard in the fight for a living wage in Illinois. With your help, we can make sure workers throughout Chicago and the state get the wages they so desperately need.

In Solidarity, 
Katelyn Johnson, 
Executive Director
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Statement on lack of charges against Chicago Police officer in Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier shooting


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                
 
 Contact: Katelyn Johnson
Action Now rejects State's Attorney's decision
Prosecutors need to provide answers to community 
 
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has declined to bring charges against Chicago Police Officer Robert Rialmo in the fatal shooting of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones on December 26, 2015. The State’s Attorney’s Office said there is “insufficient evidence” concerning the officer-involved shooting. We at Action Now reject the State’s Attorney’s Office’s conclusion and are disappointed in the decision not to prosecute the officer.

The recent Department of Justice findings of glaring failures in investigating cases of misconduct by the Chicago Police Department are further proof of the long-held belief that justice is being denied to people who have been violated by police officers. The State’s Attorney’s office has the power to investigate and prosecute police misconduct despite the lack of accountability within the police department. A failure on the part of the county’s investigative arm to provide justice for former Action Now member Bettie Jones’s and Quintonio Legrier's families is ample reason for our communities to distrust those in power to protect them.

“This is frustrating and beyond discouraging.  There is no reason why these two community members should have died, other than police negligence. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and the State’s Attorney’s Office will have to do much better if they are ever going to earn long-term trust of community members,” said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director of Action Now.

Despite this disappointing decision, Action Now members invite Kim Foxx to speak with us about her plans to build trust between the community and the State’s Attorney’s Office. We are eager to share our ideas with her on moving forward withcommunity-based plans to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. 

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Statement on minimum wage 'grand bargain' in IL Senate Bill 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                
 
 Contact: Katelyn Johnson
No Bargain for Illinois Workers
Senate Bill 2 Needs to Do Better

Illinois workers are falling farther and farther behind because of stagnant wages. For years, Action Now has been part of a coalition that has sought a living wage for Illinois. This has meant working with groups across the state who have been concerned about the rising inequality here that has accompanied fiscal crisis after fiscal crisis. We see the Fight for $15 as the answer. And that's why we believe that Senate Bill 2, currently being considered as part of the so-called "grand bargain" package does not honor our principles and is, in fact, a significant step back, as written.

 Locking in a wage floor of $11 by 2020 does not go far enough in dealing with the problem of inequality. Currently, more than 41 percent of all workers in Illinois earn less than $15 per hour. Setting that as the standard for 2020 is a reasonable and phased-in solution. Across the country, state and local governments have felt the same. This could be our moment.

SB 2 also pre-empts places like Cook County and the City of Chicago from raising wages on their own. Given the significantly higher costs of food, transportation and housing in these communities, it is a major step back to take away their local government's ability to respond to the needs of their workers. And the idea of "pre-emption" and erosion of home rule also brings with it the types of insult to racial justice that are so abundantly evident in places like Flint, Mich.

"The fact of the matter is that Illinois is overdue for a reasonable wage of at least $15 per hour. There are too many working families struggling to get by to continue to compromise on doing what is fair and what is right", said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director of Action Now

Simply put, we can't support SB 2 as it's written. If this is supposed to be the "progressive" part of the "grand bargain," it needs to do a lot better. A $15 wage floor and eliminating pre-emption is the place to start.

Action Now is a part of a coalition of organizations including Fight for $15, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Chicago Coalition of the Homeless, and Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, fighting for working families and a minimum $15 per hour living wage.

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Action Now board member Alvesta Sanders

 

                                                                                                                                 

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What neighborhood do you live in?

Englewood

How long have you been a member of Action Now?

Since 2008.

What made you get involved?

An organizer spoke with me about a community action and invited me to come out. I attended a neighborhood march and saw the immediate impact on bringing awareness to the neighborhood. What I saw that day affected me, and made me want to get involved and take action to change my community for the better.

What do you hope to accomplish with Action Now?

My community needs resources and investment to make things better for everyone. I want to help bring those resources so that our kids can thrive in a safe and stable environment, which will hopefully help put an end to the violence that has plagued our streets.

 

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Action Now statement on the Department of Justice report on the Chicago Police Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                
Contact: Katelyn Johnson
(312) 676-4280

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Action Now calls for delay on new FOP contract
The City should agree on consent decree for federally mandated reforms

The Department of Justice investigation into the practices of the Chicago Police Department has been released, and the conclusion is that the department is in need of major reform. Action Now believes that it is imperative to stop negotiations on the new police contract until the City and the federal government introduce the framework around how reform will be implemented.

We have engaged in multiple conversations with city residents on police reform, with many concluding that the FOP contract is a critical starting point for improving community policing. The current contract makes it too hard to identify police misconduct by allowing practices such as requiring investigators to ignore and destroy evidence, requiring affidavits to investigate misconduct and limiting the investigation of anonymous complaints against officers. The DOJ uncovered a pattern of disturbing practices in Chicago that includes excessive uses of force, the need for de-escalation tactics taught in officer training, a critical lack of oversight of rogue officers, and a glaring deficit in investigating cases of misconduct. These issues can and should be addressed through the negotiation of the union contract.

“The FOP contract could present significant barriers to the reform measures agreed upon by the city and the federal government.  The city council must consider delaying the negotiations until the consent decree process is complete”, said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director of Action Now.

Any negotiations regarding the new FOP contract must cease until there is not only clarity on the federally mandated reforms that can be overseen by an independent monitor, but also robust input on the changes the people in our communities want to see. The top down approach to community policing is a part of the problem, and it is about time that the voices of the people are heard in this ongoing fight for accountability.

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Action Now Statement on DOJ report on Chicago Police

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                Contact: Katelyn Johnson
(312) 676-4280

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Action Now calls for delay on new FOP contract
The City should agree on consent decree for federally mandated reforms

The Department of Justice investigation into the practices of the Chicago Police Department has been released, and the conclusion is that the department is in need of major reform. Action Now believes that it is imperative to stop negotiations on the new police contract until the City and the federal government introduce the framework around how reform will be implemented.

We have engaged in multiple town-hall conversations with city residents on police reform, with many concluding that the FOP contract is a critical starting point for improving community policing. The current contract makes it too hard to identify police misconduct by allowing practices such as requiring investigators to ignore and destroy evidence, requiring affidavits to investigate misconduct and limiting the investigation of anonymous complaints against officers. The DOJ uncovered a pattern of disturbing practices in Chicago that includes excessive uses of force, the need for de-escalation tactics taught in officer training, a critical lack of oversight of rogue officers, and a glaring deficit in investigating cases of misconduct. These issues can and should be addressed through the negotiation of the union contract.

“The FOP contract could present significant barriers to the reform measures agreed upon by the city and the federal government.  The city council must consider delaying the negotiations until the consent decree process is complete”, said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director of Action Now.

Any negotiations regarding the new FOP contract must cease until there is not only clarity on the federally mandated reforms that can be overseen by an independent monitor, but also robust input on the changes the people in our communities want to see. The top down approach to community policing is a part of the problem, and it is about time that the voices of the people are heard in this ongoing fight for accountability.

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