CPD Continues to Arrest Uprising Participants & CCBF Continues to Bond Them Out
During September 2020, the Chicago Police Department continued to arrest dozens of people in relation to the August 9th uprising after that same police department shot Latrell Allen. In response to this latest incident of anti-Black violence by police, some people went to downtown Chicago and expressed their righteous frustration. The individuals arrested that night and after for allegedly looting loop businesses have been charged with felonies and taken to bond court, where judges have in many cases ordered them to pay money bonds. If these bonds go unpaid, they will be incarcerated in Cook County Jail until their cases resolve. By collaborating with the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, CCBF has been able to pay these bonds the same day they are set, allowing people to return to their communities as their cases proceed. So far, CCBF has paid $132,110 in bond to free 71 people arrested in relation to the August 9th uprising.
Across the country, elected officials, law enforcement, and news outlets have questioned why bail funds like CCBF are paying bond for people arrested at uprisings in response to police brutality. In many cases, they have specifically focused on people charged with “looting.” The answer is simple: every unaffordable money bond is an injustice that perpetuates the racist criminal legal system that people are in the streets protesting. If a judge has set a money bond, they have determined that the person is safe to return to their community, and the only thing keeping them caged is their access to money. Wealth-based incarceration is a pretrial punishment that undermines the presumption of innocence while awaiting trial.
Furthermore, the people questioning why bail funds would support people accused of looting are masking their true motivations—it is not about these specific cases—their issue is with pretrial freedom. These individuals believe that an arrest should act as a substitute for a conviction, and that people should be punished before trial simply because police have made an accusation. While these individuals claim to be calling for “law and order,” the reality of their demands is an authoritarianism that flies in the face of the constitution they claim to so deeply value.
We join Black Lives Matter organizers and others in rejecting the demonization of people arrested for looting. This country was founded on genocide and the looting of resources that belonged to the indigenous people who called it home long before the Mayflower touched down at Plymouth Rock. And, of course, colonists themselves participated in political property destruction, and the race of the people participating continues to shape perception and narrative. The United States was also built on the backs of Black people whose lives were stolen and enslaved and whose labor created wealth for white people and corporations. Today, corporations receive massive tax breaks at the expense of Black communities whose resources are always the first to be put on the chopping block when the government wants to cut spending. Today, city budgets are balanced on the backs of Black communities as more and more money is diverted from public schools, housing, transportation, and healthcare and placed in the pockets of racist law enforcement institutions. If we as a society are truly concerned with “looting,” what are we doing to stop the widespread looting of Black communities through systemic divestment and oppression?
From where we stand, it seems that the real concern is not so much looting but the control of Black bodies and the rejection of Black people’s political demands. As long as police are arresting people for protesting their abuse of Black communities and protecting property over Black lives, CCBF and bail funds across the US will continue supporting everyone arrested in connection with the uprisings. It’s time to end police violence and the wealth-based incarceration that is used to punish the people resisting it.