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Inbox: Cook County Gang Database, Lincoln Yards TIF, City Colleges Strike Rally

Including added value by the Beachwood such as links and light editing for clarity and style.

1. Community Members Demand Full Investigation Of Cook County Gang Database | From Olivia Albrecht, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council

As scrutiny of law enforcement databases increases nationwide, community groups are challenging Cook County's continued use of a gang database to profile and surveil residents.

In December, then-Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia officially requested an audit of the county's gang database by the Cook County Inspector General. Following the audit request, his replacement, Commissioner Alma Anaya, introduced an ordinance that would prohibit the use of the database until the completion of the inspector general investigation. But on January 22, a scheduled vote on the ordinance was abruptly cancelled by Commissioner Stanley Moore, chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee.

Community organizations who previously sued the City of Chicago over its gang database say the ordinance was an opportunity to bring clarity and accountability to the county's version of the list.

Although Cook County Tom Sheriff Tom Dart has indicated an intention to "decommission" the database, its unclear if the department continues to share it with other agencies. The proposed ordinance would prohibit the database from being shared with other agencies, guarantee an open and transparent process moving forward, and ensure a full investigation is conducted.

In Cook County, the sheriff's department has managed a database of at least 25,000 people called the Regional Gang Intelligence Database since the early 2000s. According to a ProPublica investigation, the list includes "hundreds whose gangs aren't known and hundreds who are dead." Authorities from 371 different agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have had access to the data, and could potentially use it to target individuals.

Being listed in the database can adversely affect residents' employment, housing, bail/bond and parole decisions, and lead to false arrest, deportation, denial of a citizenship application, and other devastating consequences. Individuals are never notified when their names have been placed in the database and therefore never have an opportunity to challenge the charges or provide evidence in their defense. The lack of notification, judicial process, or opportunity for self-defense and review, create an environment ripe for civil rights violations and abuse of power.

The group of community advocates challenging the database includes organizations from all over Cook County, but has been anchored by the group Chicagoans Against the Gang Database, which has been working to dismantle the Chicago Gang Database for the last two years. Last year they filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for the inaccuracies in the database, the lack of process, and the disproportionate impact that the database has on communities of color.

What: Press conference in support of proposed Cook County gang database accountability ordinance

When: Thursday, January 24th, 10:00 a.m. (Commissioner Alma Anaya, chief sponsor of the ordinance, will be available for interviews before the press conference, starting at 9:45 am.)

Where: 5th floor lobby of Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark St., Chicago

Who: A diverse, countywide coalition of grassroots and community-based organizations and individuals representing Black and Latino communities, as well as immigrant and Cook County, including members of Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Organized Communities Against Deportations, PASO West Suburban Action Project, Latino Union of Chicago, SOUL, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Grassroots Collaborative, MacArthur Justice Center, Erie House, and others.

2. Community Residents Demand Halt To New TIF District For Lincoln Yards Luxury Development | From Nathan Ryan, Grassroots Collaborative

For months the City of Chicago has been fast-tracking a new TIF district to help pay for politically connected Sterling Bay's proposed new luxury development on Chicago's affluent Near North Side. The project, which would take city revenue from local taxing bodies such as Chicago Public Schools, has met with fierce resistance from a broad set of community organizations and neighborhood leaders.

In light of the emerging extortion scandal involving longtime Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, community groups are demanding that the project be delayed until a newly elected city council and mayor can take the time needed to vet the mega-proposal - through full public scrutiny, deliberation and debate. Chicagoans have the right to balanced and equitable development that benefits Chicago as a whole. Burke has previously served as the tax lawyer for Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay and until recently was a member of the City Plan Commission.

At a press conference today, community leaders will share stories about how decades of the city handing over billions for private development projects, corporate headquarters and luxury housing has failed to create prosperity in their neighborhoods. Participants will underscore the need for elected officials to ensure that when we spend public dollars it actually benefits the public.

What: Press conference on the 2nd Floor of City Hall

When: 9 a.m. Thursday, January 24

Who: A coalition of community organizations and residents from across the city who have been impacted by the city's continued prioritization of downtown and affluent neighborhoods.

3. City Colleges Of Chicago Faculty And Professionals Rally To Prepare For February 4th Strike | From Kaitlyn Skoirchet, Cook County College Teachers Union, Local 1600

Faculty and professionals at the City Colleges of Chicago will hold a rally Thursday as they prepare to strike on February 4th.

The rally will feature guest speakers including CCCTU President Tony Johnston, Cook County board president and mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey, Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery, and members of the Cook County College Teachers Union preparing to strike.

Cook County College Teachers Union Faculty and Professionals are fighting for classroom investment and equal access to programs so Chicago's working-class students have true opportunities to succeed. Every Chicago student deserves access to a quality community college system. Members are also demanding more librarians, smaller lab class sizes, fewer classes taught by adjunct professors, and a seat at the table in decisions affecting the future of the colleges.

What: Rally to prepare for the strike at the City Colleges of Chicago

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 24

Where: Chicago Teachers Union Center, 1901 West Carroll Avenue


Comments welcome.


Posted on January 24, 2019

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