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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Protesters To Picket 2 North Side Alderman Offices, Demanding Civilian Oversight Of Police

Alds. Harry Osterman and James Cappleman have pledged to support police reforms, but not the specific ones demonstrators want.

A Black Lives Matter balloon is inflated at the Kids Non-Violent Protest Against Racism in the Oakland neighborhood on Saturday, June 13, 2020. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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UPTOWN — Two powerful North Side aldermen will see protests outside their office doors Thursday from demonstrators calling for civilian oversight of Chicago police.

North Side neighbors will stage protests outside the offices of Alds. James Cappleman (46th) and Harry Osterman (48th). The demonstrations are meant to push the aldermen to support the creation of an elected police oversight council, something neither has said they will do.

The two rallies will take place simultaneously, with demonstrators gathering at 6 p.m. outside Cappleman’s office at 4544 N. Broadway and Osterman’s office at 5553 N. Broadway. There will be speakers at both locations, and the groups will march and meet up for a united rally to demand police reforms, said Brian Bennett, an organizer with 48th Ward Neighbors for Justice.

Hundreds are expected at Thursday’s rallies, Bennett said.

For more on the 48th Ward protest, click here. Information on the 46th Ward action can be found here. The 48th Ward Neighbors For Justice group is coordinating the event with Northside Action for Justice.

The Thursday protests come as neighbors have flooded the aldermen’s offices with demands for police reform, said Brit Holmberg, a 48th Ward resident and social worker.

A similar march and rally was held outside Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney’s (44th) office last week.

“We want to send a clear message that we want action to support Black Lives Matter Chicago, not empty words,” Holmberg said in a statement.

Credit: Courtesy 48th Ward Neighbors For Justice
Activists leave signs calling for police reform outside Ald. Harry Osterman’s office following a previous rally.

The massive protests in Chicago following the police killing of George Floyd have seen demonstrators advocate for police reforms. Chief among them is the creation of the Civilian Police Accountability Council, or CPAC.

RELATED: What’s CPAC? Here’s What You Need To Know About A Local Push For Civilian Oversight Of Police

The board would have the power to appoint the police superintendent, create rules and regulations for the Police Department and appoint members of the Police Board to hear disciplinary cases. It would also have the power to approve contracts with the police unions.

Plans to create CPAC have circulated for years — but its advocates on City Council said the national push for more police accountability could finally help it become a reality soon.

CPAC supporters said an ordinance that would create the council is closer to passing amid growing political pressure from constituents.

The 48th Ward group has organized at least two other demonstrations outside Osterman’s office, asking the alderman to back policy proposals supported by Black Lives Matter Chicago. That includes adopting CPAC, canceling Chicago Public Schools’ contract with police and reducing funding to the Police Department.

In a 4-3 vote Wednesday, the CPS board narrowly defeated a proposal to remove officers from city schools. The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on that issue next week.

“This historic moment of protests hasn’t changed the aldermen’s views,” Bennett said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Protesters gather outside the Chicago Police Academy in the West Loop during a protest demanding that Chicago Public Schools divest from the Chicago Police Department on June 4, 2020.

In an email to constituents, Osterman said he appreciates the “many” people advocating for CPAC to him. Osterman is in support of the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability, or GAPA, which would establish a civilian oversight body that would work with City Hall to craft police policy and give insight on hiring processes, among other reforms.

Critics say GAPA would not be as accountable to the public as CPAC because it is not democratically elected. Osterman, who is one of 29 aldermanic co-sponsors of the GAPA ordinance, said the measure would do more to build stronger connections between police and the community.

“I do not support the CPAC ordinance, and believe that the GAPA ordinance will provide the needed civilian oversight of CPD and the critical community voice to policing in Chicago,” Osterman said in an email. “I support and am committed to the importance and urgency of reform of the Chicago Police Department.”

On Cappleman’s website, he lists police reform measures he supports, including a proposal to require police officers be licensed by the state and a call to have social workers respond to nonviolent 911 calls.

Cappleman also said he is considering the merits of CPAC and GAPA.

“I support police accountability and reform,” Cappleman said on his website. “Whichever ordinance that the Public Safety Chair introduces to committee will no doubt go through the rigorous negotiations needed to get it passed.”

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