A 200-page report on police accountability found that 74 percent of people shot by Chicago police over the last eight years were black, prompting the leader of the city’s task force to call the revelations "a day of reckoning for all of us."
Lori Lightfoot, chairwoman of Chicago's Task Force on Police Accountability, called the scathing report a "blueprint for long-lasting change." The findings were announced during a news conference Wednesday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed a panel to conduct the report amid outrage over the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Video of the shooting was released in December.
Lightfoot said interviews with more than 100 community members, officers and experts in the field, along with members of 95 community organizations, revealed an overwhelming opinion that the department lacks accountability and "humanity."
"One of the consistent themes we heard was that they do not respect their humanity," Lightfoot said.
According to the report, over the past eight years, 74 percent of people shot by Chicago police were black, while only 14 percent were Hispanic and 8 percent white. The report called McDonald’s shooting "the tipping point" in a long history of intimidation.
"The question isn't, 'Do we have racism?'" Emanuel said Wednesday. "The question is, 'What do we do about it?'"
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The task force recommended the creation of a Community Safety Oversight Board and suggested replacing the Independent Police Review Authority with a civilian board.
"IPRA is badly broken," it wrote, saying the agency and its companion — Bureau of Internal Affairs — lack true independence and are not held accountable for their work.
In addition, the task force said the department must dismantle its "code of silence," which the authors say is made "official policy" thanks to collective bargaining agreements between police unions and the city.
"There is a clause that an officer has the ability to amend a statement within 24 hours when there is video," said task force member Maurice Claussen. "We don’t know why that should exist."
In a statement Tuesday night, Fraternal Order of Police president Dean Angelo told NBC5, "We are very concerned about that type of language being used by a group that was asked to examine the department. On the surface of what has been shared by the media thus far, it appears that the task force erred in their reporting."
Meanwhile, the city’s policing practices remain under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
"It would break our hearts to know that our leaders would only make changes if someone from the outside forced them to do so," said task force member Victor Dickson.