The Movement for CPAC

Jun 28, 2015


So far the response to police crimes nationally has been to take it to the streets. A movement is building. Actions, often led by young activists, have focused national and international attention on police crimes and the oppressive weight of our racist system of injustice. But after the protests, after the insurrections, what is left behind? The undeniable power of the people in the streets may get this cop or that cop indicted. The Department of Justice may or may not investigate resulting in window dressing reforms or recommendations. Then what? The cycle starts anew? Another case of police abusing, torturing, murdering?

We need a systemic change. We need to create permanent community control over the police, a constant vigilant police watch, an institutional embodiment of the power of the people. We, in Chicago, believe that the proposed legislation for the creation of an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council(CPAC) can be that institution.

Skeptics point to two perceived flaws in CPAC. One is that it is unwinnable—“They’ll never let us have it”. The second is that once won it will be ineffective, coopted or marginalized—“just another useless political reform”. The answer to both objections is one and the same. The winning of CPAC depends on a movement. Without a movement nothing can be won. Without a movement nothing that is won can be sustained. CPAC presupposes a movement. The power of that movement also ensures the success of CPAC. If CPAC were weakened or coopted, that movement would rise to the defense of its original intent.

“We have a movement”, one might say. True, but the movement we have at this stage is not nearly powerful enough. It must be broadened. It has to come from the neighborhoods, from the oppressed communities that bear the burden of the current police occupation. That means organizing in these communities and, ultimately, organizing by members of these communities. The response to our petition drives at community tables in Chicago has been enthusiastic. People want a change. People want CPAC. We have the potential power of the people on our side. Only a community based people’s movement can win and maintain CPAC.

How do we achieve this? How do we branch out to the communities that need CPAC? We have got to do the hard work of organizing, neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street, block by block. We need the people who have indicated that they want to volunteer for the campaign for CPAC to step up and join the collective effort. The first step is a big one but also a rewarding one.

At every corner where we have set up a community table to promote CPAC there has been an explosion of support. Our resources have been stretched thin. We need your help, whether you are a conscious activist in the movement or new to this fight. Please sign up to help run these tables and more so we can spread the campaign and transform it into a true people’s movement.

It has been over forty years since there has been a powerful grass roots movement for social justice. We’re out of practice. We need to overcome any fear, despair or apathy that has kept us on the sidelines. Our brothers and sisters in the labor movement know about the power of collective action. Our brothers and sisters in Ferguson, New York and Baltimore know about the power of collective action. Let us in Chicago rise to the challenge and demand a concrete solution. No more police boards, no more ‘independent’ review, no more federal ‘oversight’—only community control, only CPAC.