Meeting 4: Notes from Police Accountability Meeting at Sullivan High School

The Smart Chicago Collaborative is documenting the four community forums hosted by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force and held across the city in the month of February.

The purpose of the meetings were to provide residents the opportunity to speak or submit written comments on improving the accountability, oversight and training of Chicago’s police officers.

We sent a number of people to this fourth meeting, at Sullivan High School6631 N. Bosworth Ave.

One text documenter: see the notes here. These notes were later edited and improved by another documenter, working from the video.

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 Two videographers (Community TV Network, video here)

One photographer (Angel Rodriguez, images here)The meeting was conducted by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, and they used a portion of the video we created to prepare and post on their Youtube page as well. 

All of this material is posted under Creative Commons 4.0 license. You are free to use it for any purpose, with attribution.

When a public meeting is ended early

Here’s links to other coverage of this meeting from the the Chicago Tribune, DNAinfo, Associated Press, and Black Youth Project 100. Aldertrack compiled a Storify aggregation of Twitter posts.

About 49 minutes into the meeting, some people approached the stage (read a complete account here on our Medium post)

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The moderator moved from the lectern to address the crowd.

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Some attendees walked onto the stage.

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Task force members and protesters then left the stage and were replaced by police officers.

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Many protesters brought in signs that were small enough to not be detected upon entering (signs were not allowed in the meeting).

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After the meeting broke up, a resident sat by the lectern.

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The protesters continued their work outside.

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Meeting 3: Notes from Police Accountability Meeting at Benito Juarez Community Academy

The Smart Chicago Collaborative is documenting the four community forums hosted by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force and held across the city in the month of February.

The purpose of the meetings were to provide residents the opportunity to speak or submit written comments on improving the accountability, oversight and training of Chicago’s police officers.

We sent a number of people to this second meeting, at Benito Juarez Community Academy at 1450 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago, IL 60608

One text documenter: see the notes here. These notes were later edited and improved by another documenter, working from the video.

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 Two videographers (Community TV Network, video here)

One photographer (Daniel X. O’Neil, images here, download them all here in hi res). The meeting was conducted by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, and they used the video we created to prepare and post on their Youtube page as well. 

All of this material is posted under Creative Commons 4.0 license. You are free to use it for any purpose, with attribution.

Setup for a public meeting

At Smart Chicago, we’re interested in civic engagement. That’s a phrase people toss around quite a bit, often thoughtlessly, or in abstract terms. We seek to expand the practice of civic engagement, making it more common, more civil, and capable of delivering justice.

One way we try to do that is to document with specificity modes and methods of civic engagement. That’s why we published the book, Experimental Modes of Civic Engagement in Civic Tech, and it’s why we showed up at these meetings.

Here’s a look at the setup for this particular meeting. Many of the systems (lectern, stage, moderator, etc) were shared by all of the forums.

The basic setup was a series of chairs organized in rows with a center aisle. In this instance, the meeting was held in the central auditorium of the high school.

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As usual, the CTVN apprentice was there taping the proceedings.

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All participants received a brochure as they walked in:

Police Accountability Task Force Brochure

Police Accountability Task Force Brochure 2

Plenty of space separated the audience from the stage:

 

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Tensabarriers create an aisle (also pictured is Governor Deval Patrick):

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And plenty of staff with yellow-lanyards were on hand to make the process go smoothly:

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A moderator at each meeting helped the speakers be heard. Each comment was allotted two minutes. The moderators also read the cards of people who didn’t want to speak in person.

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City Bureau was in the house.

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One aspect unique to this meeting was the addition of translators. They set up a booth in the back.

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More connections to, and resources for, the youth who need it most

Since the shocking murder of Fenger High School student, Derrion Albert in Sept. 2009 (which was not an incident of gun violence), Chicago’s public/philanthropic community has responded by investing more than $100,000,000 in new initiatives aimed at curbing youth violence. One Summer Chicago, Get In Chicago, and Becoming A Man (BAM) are just a few examples.

Yet with all this attention and investment, the statistics remain discouraging more than six years later. Most of the providers of these programs agree that the biggest challenge is attracting and engaging the teens and young adults who are already headed down the deadly path of gang involvement, especially those that have already been arrested.

This is not meant to diminish the value of the public and nonprofit programs that are successfully engaging thousands of teens on the south and west sides of the City in positive/creative youth development programs. Data show that involvement in the arts, sports, and tech activities – particularly when combined with mentoring – will likely help the participating youth avoid violence and make healthier life choices if it is sustained over time. (See “The Crime Lab study finds youth employment program has impact on violent crime arrests“)

The after-school and summer programs are helping concerned parents find safe spaces for their teens and exposing the participants to skills, such as digital media, web design, performing arts, and visual art.

The Urban Institute evaluation of the Arts Infusion Initiative holds some promising insight into engagement strategies that are effective with the more challenging (and more challenged) teens who have already been arrested and are statistically far more likely to be either the perpetrators or the victims of violence.

The “expose, inspire, connect” approach that began with grants to  nonprofits like Storycatchers Theatre, Young Chicago Authors, Kuumba Lynx, Free Write Jail Arts and a digital music lab for residents at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) has reached more than 4,000 incarcerated teens since 2010. (Hear their voices here.) Most report that they are being exposed to the equipment and instruction for the first time.

One explanation for this is the still-limited availability in low-income areas, but the disconnect is also caused by these young men’s (and it is almost all male) loss of connection to school and their inability to travel safely around their neighborhood or to feel welcome at after-school programs that emphasize safe spaces. Those released teens and young adults who connected with the Arts Infusion organizations were just as likely to travel outside of their immediate neighborhood and often sought out instructors who taught at facilities on the North Side, such as Street-Level and Kuumba Lynx.

Offering the information to every teen leaving JTDC in a format that makes the “connect” process easier for them needs to go beyond adding another piece of printed material to the already overwhelming release process. For this reason, Smart Chicago retained Greater Good Studio to develop a USB DRIVE. You can read more about how it worked here.

Drive

Reporting Back on City Bureau’s Open House

City Bureau people in public meeting

An attendee exploring one of City Bureau’s articles in front of orange-capped Editorial Director, Darryl Holliday

On Wednesday, January 27th, our partner City Bureau hosted their first open house at Experimental Station, a curious wing-shaped building in Woodlawn, Chicago. A number of south-side focused grass-roots organizations call Experimental Station home, including 61st street Famers Market, Blackstone Bikes, Link Up Illinois, and South Side Weekly.

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Southside Weekly’s workroom in Experimental Station

City Bureau is a community newsroom that aims to divest from the traditional journalism model and regenerate civic media. The integral part of that is placing the narratives of the west and south sides back into the hands of its most overlooked residents– the youth.

City Bureau operates with a level-based model where reporters are placed into three tracks. Level three is the most experienced track of reporters in which the journalists work in the field and also act as mentors to the level one reporters. Level one reporters are the least experienced, but are also the youth that have the most intimate stake in the action in their own neighborhoods.

“This training [rubric] fosters social and emotional learning in conjunction with trauma training,” explained Educational Director, Andrea Hart. She designs and writes curriculum for the level one program. She further explained that “these people, because of historically racist/classist policies, are experiencing complex trauma and therefore it is important to contextualize curriculum accordingly. Trauma informed education doesn’t harm anyone. It’s a benefit to all whether or not they have gone through traumatic experiences.” The training and mentorship that the youth receive operate within this framework.

City Bureau

Level 3 reporter, Xavi, speaking to an attendee

They were joined on Wednesday by their partners Illinois Humanities and the Invisible Institute.

Read more on City Bureau’s Police Accountability highlight in the Reporting Back series with Illinois Humanities here.

The Invisible Institute was there showcasing the Citizen’s Police Data Project, a digital map which showcases a database of 56,000 misconduct complaint records for more than 85,000 Chicago police officers.

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Screenshot of  cpdo.co

Chaclyn Hunt, head of the Youth / Police project at the Invisible Institute explained the Citizens Police Data project. Users of this tool may search by officer name and badge number. An interesting catch that they learned while collecting this data, is that badge numbers are recycled, so a search of a single number may come up with the compiled complaints of three different officers. To assure accurate information, names and numbers must be cross checked.

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Chaclyn Hunt explaining the Citizens Police Data Project to an attendee

Some search categories of this tool include: Bribery/Official Corruption, Verbal Abuse, Drug / Alcohol Abuse, Illegal Search, and dozens more. One may search by outcome i.e. allegations, sustained, or unsustained and also by race and gender.

If you are abreast of the current unconscionably racist climate in Chicago, it is unsurprising that a black person is twice as likely to file a complaint against the a police officer, but half as likely to have the complaint addressed. Additionally, black police officers are twice as likely to be punished versus their white counterparts.

Read more on the work of the Invisible Institute here.

Editorial Director, Darryl Holliday

Editorial Director, Darryl Holliday

For more on City Bureau follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or follow their blog.

Smart Chicago Documenter Work on the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force Community Forums

The Smart Chicago Collaborative has been documenting the four community forums hosted by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force and held across the city in the month of February.

The purpose of the meetings is to provide residents the opportunity to speak or submit written comments on improving the accountability, oversight and training of Chicago’s police officers.

We care about justice and we care about accountability, so we have sent text documenters, videographers (Community TV Network), and a photographer (me) to these convenings under our Documenters program, which “an essential tool for us to add new thinkers, generate ideas, and expand the field for civic tech.”

We show up at public meetings and document the proceedings because we’re interested in paying as much attention as we can to what others are saying, what their concerns are, and how they interact with official government structures. These community forums give us a great opportunity for this. We have a number of goals for this series:

  • Document the actual proceedings, with special attention, in this instance, to the speakers from the public— exactly what questions were asked, what documents were referenced, and what answers were offered by the task force
  • Research the questions and answers to the greatest degree possible. This includes learning more about the speakers, many of whom have decades of experience in their communities. Research and link to their organizations, their work, and the external documents, cases, and other matters that they reference
  • Aggregate the information and draw some rudimentary conclusions. This means simple things like counting attendees and speakers as well as some more sophisticated analysis like grouping comment types and themes

Toward that end, here’s our documentation for meeting #1, held at on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church JLM Life Center, 2622 W. Jackson Blvd.

The meeting notes:

The video (as taken by the Task Force and placed on their youtube channel), and this one, taken by Community TV Network, posted on the Smart Chicago youtube channel):

And photographs taken by me (download them all here in hi res) under Creative Commons 4.0 license).

Lastly, we want to document the format of the meetings— the exact mode of engagement. This includes things like location type, timing, room setup, speaker format, microphone placement, comment rules— all the things that make up the meeting so that we can help build an overall typology for public meetings. That’s next.

For now, please consider attending one or both of the last two meetings

Meeting 2: Notes from Police Accountability Forum at South Shore Cultural Center

The Smart Chicago Collaborative is documenting the four community forums hosted by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force and held across the city in the month of February.

The purpose of the meetings were to provide residents the opportunity to speak or submit written comments on improving the accountability, oversight and training of Chicago’s police officers.

We sent a number of people to this second meeting, hosted by the Chicago Urban League at South Shore Cultural Center at  2622 W. Jackson Blvd.

One text documenters: see the notes here. These meeting notes are incomplete. If you would like to participate in Smart Chicago’s Documenter program and get paid to complete them, contact us.

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 Two videographers (Community TV Network, video here)

One photographer (Daniel X. O’Neil, images here, download them all here in hi res). The meeting was conducted by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, and they used the video we created to prepare and post on their Youtube page as well. 

All of this material is posted under Creative Commons 4.0 license. You are free to use it for any purpose, with attribution.

On location:

One of the joys of attending community meetings in our deeply segregated city is that one gets to all sorts of new places. The South Shore Cultural Center is a brilliant place. It was built as a private club that was later made public for all. Here’s what it looks like when a former country club for the rich is pressed into service as a meeting room for all.

A winter meeting at 6PM means nighttime in Chicago:

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The location is on the lakefront. When it was built in 1905, it was a “country setting” of unimproved south lakefront property, often used for fishing and duck hunting. The Nature Sanctuary remains.

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We covered the meeting with videographers from CTVN, and news organizations covered it as well.

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Here’s a CTVN apprentice taping from the media dais in the back of the room.

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The task force members sat on a stage in the front of the ballroom.

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The tile floor has been trod by many.

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And people stepped to the lectern to speak in two-minute stints about their experiences.

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Many were dismissive of the work of the task force.

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And everything’s quiet outside.

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