Superintendent Brown Doubles Down on Failed Strategies to Combat Gun Violence
Chicago’s new police superintendent David Brown recently announced that he is planning a surge of arrests leading up to the July 4th weekend as a way to “prevent” violence. Brown also called on judges to ensure that the people arrested remain “in jail through the weekend.” While Brown’s directive to preventively incarcerate people for their own safety is indefensible at any time, it is an unconstitutional and particularly disturbing action to take during a global pandemic in which Cook County Jail has been a national COVID-19 hotspot and claimed seven lives. Rather than preventing violence, Superintendent Brown’s plan to increase arrests will enact violence against Black and Brown Chicagoans. There is no excuse for punishing people while pretending it is for their own protection. Far from being a safe place, Cook County Jail is a consistent source of violence in many forms. Just last month, a young man lost his life inside the jail under suspicious and all too familiar circumstances.
It is extremely disappointing that Superintendent Brown has now joined his predecessor Eddie Johnson and Mayor Lightfoot in blaming bond reform and the judiciary for the failures of City Hall. There is no correlation between gun violence and the significantly lower number of people in jail, no matter how haphazardly CPD, FOP, or the Mayor try to tangle them. Chicago’s crime rate has significantly decreased at the same time that pretrial incarceration in Cook County Jail has fallen by more than 50%. Any increase in gun violence this summer is due to the ongoing and systematic disinvestment from and militaristic repression of Black and Brown communities, not criminal justice reform measures that seek to protect and value life as bond reform does.
Superintendent Brown said that the Department’s “endgame is arrests for the precursors to violence.” If criminalization and incarceration made communities safer, the United States would be the safest country in the world. We can not arrest our way out of gun violence, and trying to do so will only further destabilize and harm the communities already suffering the most. The communities most impacted by gun violence need resources and investment, not more policing and jailing.