Activists Voice Mixed Reaction in Wake of DOJ Report on Chicago Police

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, who has been on the front lines of the battle to reform the Chicago Police Department, says the Department of Justice report released Friday only goes so far.

“Those things are not new to us,” he said, speaking of the DOJ’s findings. “The one thing I didn’t hear, that may be in the report, hopefully—that may be the most difficult is the culture.”

A culture that groups like the American Civil Liberties Union say needs to change.

“The report told Chicagoans what we have known for years—the system of policing is broken,” said ACLU Director of Police Practice Karen Sheley. “There are problems with the use of force policy, training and oversight that has damaged both the community and police officers who are attempting to serve the city with dignity.”

The ACLU has proposed a series of reforms, but like many, they say a consent decree is necessary to make sure things actually change.

The Rev. Janette Wilson is one of the activists meeting with the attorney general in the wake of Friday’s report.

“We need a consent decree of some type that will remain in force even in the next administration,” said Wilson. “I think it’s helpful to have the chief lawyer for the country to indicate that, yes, you have a serious problem and here are some suggestions for change.”

William Calloway, who fought to win the release of the Laquan McDonald tape, said it was a successful meeting.

“I think it was a great meeting,” Calloway said. “I think she was very receptive to what is going on.”

Others, like activist J’Mal Green, say they were excluded because their agenda is not the same as the Justice Department’s.

“Don’t tell us what we already know. Do something. We want justice,” Green said Friday. “We want officers charged, we want Mayor Emanuel charged."

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