A Brief Summary of the Movement for a Civilian Police Accountability Council – CPAC
Frank Chapman, Field Organizer, CAARPR, November 2015
In the last 3 years and 7 months our peoples’ movement to stop police crimes and torture has proven at least one thing very clearly and that is that the present system of policing is not impervious to change and that police crimes and torture can be stopped when the people rise up in organized protest and demand justice. We have had some significant victories in the cases of Howard Morgan and Rekia Boyd and we have had significant progress in several of the torture cases.
Our persistence and presence in the community has helped to stimulate a more open public debate on the question of community control of the police. Our movement has been recognized and is being assessed by the powers that be. That is what the Mayor’s apology in the torture cases and his support of the reparations Ordinance was all about; he apologizes to the torture victims and admits that the police who perpetrated these crimes were morally and legally wrong but he did not set forth a program of action for stopping police crimes and calling upon the Governor to release all the victims of police torture. They know their system is plagued with racism, corruption and injustice; they know that there are over a hundred torture victims still languishing in jail and so do we. The difference is we want change and they don’t; we want justice and they are hell bent on maintaining this system of injustice.
Several times since the first Peoples Hearing on Police Crimes we have confronted the problem of setting a date for action then mustering forces and organizing their participation in the action . We have done this because this is a continuous process we must engage in if we wish to build a movement.
The first peoples hearing in July, 2012, the second peoples hearing in February, 2013 and the March on City Hall August 28, 2013, the National Forum on Police Crimes 2014, our contingents in three Bud Billiken Parades, numerous street protests, several community forums and our historic march of 3000 on August 29, 2015 were not mere events or solitary moments of protests. No, on the contrary these were phases, stages or moments in building a movement with a clearly defined focus and political objective. Namely, to get legislation passed (CPAC) that will empower the people to hold the police accountable for the crimes they commit.
We have been met with harden and hostile attitudes by the Prosecuting Attorney, the Mayor and most members of the City Council but not by the people. We now have over fifty organizations, representing all strands of the peoples movement who have joined us. And the attitudes we encounter in our mass work among the people continues to be militant and overwhelmingly supportive of CPAC. Our movement has established a presence in the community and has drawn into our ranks new people. We have developed a following.
The way we are continuing to build our movement through the Stop Police Crimes Organizing Committee and our various allied groups is by intensifying our organizing efforts in the neighborhoods and building on our organizing experience over the past three and a half years. We now have a real sense of our potential and limitations. Coming to grips with our limitations with respect to time, people and resources requires a critical and objective assessment of our successes and failures. We have actively recruited about 800 volunteers but we have not organized even 1% of them into our work. Following up with details is a major weakness of our work. We can also assess our weaknesses by reviewing our respective plans of work for the period in question because it is the most accurate record we have of what we proposed to do and what we did.
Our successes inspire us and raise our expectations but our mistakes teach the most valuable lessons by the pain and hardships they cause. We have been convinced not by clever arguments but by the hard-knocks of experience what it means to develop a full scale campaign to stop police crimes and torture.
Lets go forward into this new period with the confidence that we can continue to build our movement as we mobilize and organize to get 100,000 signatures on our petitions for CPAC and politically educate the masses and ourselves in the process. Let us renew our mass complaint to the Department of Justice and our petition to the United Nations. Let build help build the movement to free all the torture victims and close Homan Square. Let us be humble and open-minded as we venture into new territory and encounter a powerful enemy. Let us pick our battles and battle grounds more carefully.
We are projecting three new battlegrounds for now and the immediate future:
- The neighborhoods where we propose to build CPAC Committees whose main objective will be to build a mass campaign in the wards to move the alderman to support CPAC as an Ordinance.
- Renew our demands for justice to the Federal Government by renewing the complaint we filed with the DOJ last year and by calling for a demonstration in federal plaza on December 10, 2015. We will present our complaint to the DOJ at this time. Also on this occasion we shall issue a call for a National Peoples Tribunal on Police Crimes and Torture to be convened at the United Nations with the target date being December 10, 2016.
- Turn up the heat internationally by vigorously pushing forward on the petition we presently have before the U.N.
These are the new tasks that correspond to the new stage of struggle we have initiated. This new stage of struggle requires a higher level of commitment to the fight for community control of the police.
“Tell no lies, claim no easy victories.” –Amical Cabral