Advocates, Community Organizations, and Impacted People Host Their Own “Accountability Monday” Press Conference to Set the Record Straight about Bond Reform and Gun Violence
Last month, the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Lori Lightfoot began a disinformation campaign regarding the impact of bond reform in Cook County. The distortions of fact put forward are irresponsible and could have devastating consequences for Chicago’s most marginalized communities. While Mayor Lightfoot has said she is holding police accountable with her “Accountability Monday” meetings, the rhetoric from both the Mayor and CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson has indicated that they are working together to push back against criminal justice reform, and pretrial policies specifically. This coming Monday, August 12, 2019, advocates, community organizations, and impacted people will host their own “Accountability Monday” press conference at Westside Justice Center to set the record straight about the impact of bond reform in Cook County and address Mayor Lightfoot’s broken campaign promises to support bond reform and look for holistic solutions to gun violence that include addressing its root causes.
After weeks of generating a baseless narrative that people being released on bond are responsible for Chicago’s gun violence, CPD released their “Gun Offender Dashboard” on August 5, 2019. This dashboard marks their first attempt to back up their claims with “data” after years of spreading reactionary, conservative rhetoric. Unfortunately, this dashboard only further obscures the facts and muddles the conversation about the positive impact bond reform has had in Cook County. In reality, impacted people and local policy and community groups have been working for years to proactively improve public safety, and recent reform efforts are showing impressive results.
“CPD has cherry-picked data to give a distorted picture of the outcomes of people released pretrial as a result of bond reform. In reality, the overwhelming majority of people being released are returning to their communities and succeeding. Of the 30,466 people released on bond between October 2017 through March 2019, only one fifth of one percent were arrested and charged with committing a new violent offense that involved a gun,” said Sarah Staudt, Senior Policy Analyst and Staff Attorney at Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice.
Following Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s press conference on August 4, 2019, Mayor Lightfoot held her own two days later. Mayor Lightfoot, in lock-step with Johnson’s talking points, delivered alarmingly false information to the press about two arrests that occurred over the weekend. Lightfoot claimed that two individuals with “extensive criminal histories” who were arrested with automatic weapons were released after paying a $1,000 bond. This was demonstrably false. One of these individuals remains in jail on an order of no-bail and will remain in custody indefinitely. The second individual has no criminal history and was placed on 24/7 house arrest with electronic monitoring (EM) after paying $1,000. Electronic monitoring is extremely restrictive; while on EM, an individual cannot leave their home without explicit permission from the Sheriff’s department, even for basic tasks such as grocery shopping or going to the doctor. To say that this individual is moving freely around the community is simply false.
“We cannot incarcerate our way out of gun violence. The United States currently incarcerates more than two million people, more than any country in the world. Incarcerating people pretrial only further destabilizes communities being harmed by gun violence. If we want to stop gun violence, we must address the root causes like economic inequality and the continual divestment from community resources. We’re excited to come together on Accountability Monday to set the record straight about gun violence and bond reform. We have to weigh the pros and cons of incarceration with no real restorative justice. Do we want to punish people or heal them?,” said Chyann McQueen of Good Kids/Mad City (GKMC), a youth led gun-violence prevention organization that creates healing and safe spaces for youth. GKMC demands reparations, including affordable housing, funded schools, trauma and health centers, accessible grocery stores, and jobs in their communities.