At a speech Wednesday at the City Club of Chicago, U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp called for reforms to policing practices and the criminal justice system as a response to the rash of police shootings that has rocked the nation in recent years.
During the speech, the former prosecutor and Chicago Urban League president and CEO referred to a list of African-Americans killed by law enforcement, including high profile cases like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner as well as Chicagoans Laquan McDonald and Rekia Boyd.
“Can we turn this around,” Zopp asked. “Can we repair distrust that has been built between law enforcement and community?”
Zopp made it clear this was a personal issue for her, noting that her husband is a retired DEA agent and her mother served as a police officer in Rochester, N.Y.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for and belief in our justice system,” Zopp said. “I know personally how hard the job of our law enforcement officers is.”
Zopp referred to Chicago as a “tipping point” but also noted the city was “moving in the right direction” following the resignation of embattled Supt. Garry McCarthy, who was ousted from his position in the wake of the McDonald shooting.
Nonetheless, Zopp also called for the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old McDonald.
Zopp promised that as a U.S. senator she would advocate for the funding of a National Equality and Justice Network that unifies groups fighting for equality and that she would support legislation that bans racial profiling. Additionally, Zopp supports a system in which all states report information regarding police-involved shootings to the Attorney General.
“I know that moving forward from where we are today is possible,” Zopp said. “But I also know, from experience, that driving real change is very hard.”
Zopp's opponents in the U.S. Senate race have previously weighed in on the McDonald case and the need for police reform. Incumbent Mark Kirk made a call for justice last December.
"Every person who made an effort to hide the murder of Laquan McDonald should be held accountable by either the Department of Justice investigation, the federal grand jury investigation or the upcoming trial," Kirk said in a statement.
Zopp's primary opponent, Tammy Duckworth, also devised a comprehensive plan for police reform.
"Long before the Laquan Mcdonald video was released, Tammy Duckworth was the first candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois to release comprehensive police reform plans based on President Obama's initiatives, including police-worn body cameras and independent investigations of all police-involved deaths," a Duckworth spokespesperson said in a statement last November.
Primary elections for the race will be held March 15 with a general election being held November 8.