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Chicago’s Youngest Mayoral Hopeful, Ja’Mal Green, Wants Cops, Not Taxpayers, To Pay For Police Misconduct

The activist also wants to create a public bank and believes his youth would benefit the city.

Activist Ja'mal Green speaks to the press as outside Saint Sabina Church in Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood on January 6, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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BRONZEVILLE — As the youngest candidate running for Chicago mayor, Ja’Mal Green knows he has a long road ahead. Still, the 27-year-old activist remains undaunted and believes his youth can be an asset.

Green, a father of three, joins a crowded race that could put up to 11 people on the Feb. 28 ballot. He announced his bid in June, his second pursuit of the city’s top office. He also ran in 2019 but was not added to the ballot after Wilson successfully challenged his nominating petitions, according to WTTW.

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The unapologetically brash organizer said he wants to create more educational and economic opportunities for Black and Brown residents in a city that treats them as an afterthought.

“I spent so many years fighting for a better city for the next generation of Chicagoans and hoping that leaders that I’ve met, consulted with and brought forward ideas to would start to understand the real underlying problems,” Green said. “I’m still at a point where all of my life, I cannot name a time where there was a leader in our city that really did the right thing.”

Green is no stranger to controversy.

As one of the activists leading the fight against Chicago police in the Laquan McDonald case, he and fellow activist William Calloway were barred from the Dirksen Federal Building in February when they and seven others showed up to demand federal charges be brought against former officer Jason Van Dyke, who was released after serving three years of a six-year sentence on state charges for killing McDonald.

Credit: Bob Chiarito/Block Club Chicago
Ja’Mal Green speaks in front of Northwestern Memorial Hospital on April 6, 2021. Green said he’s posting a $5,000 reward to help find the person who shot a 2-year-old boy on Lake Shore Drive in what police say was a road-rage incident.

Green launched protests again Chase Bank after WBEZ and City Bureau reported on the bank’s history of redlining in Black neighborhoods. Green led dozens of demonstrators to branches around the city calling for the bank to pay $1 billion in reparations to Black residents.

His protests garnered immediate media attention, so much so that the financial institution closed Green’s account and banned him from their branches, WBEZ reported.

The incident inspired what would become an important piece of his political platform: the creation of a public bank that would put money back into disinvested neighborhoods.

“It would be similar to the Bank of North Dakota in that it would allow us to invest into income-based housing, back home loans, back small business loans and really invest back into the city of Chicago,” Green said. “This is a city-owned bank. We will be transparent and allow people to see how much money in the bank that’s invested in people.”

Ideally the public bank would be governed by a nine-member board: three appointed by the mayor, three finance industry executives recommended by the City Council and three officials elected by city residents, Green said. The surplus of money could be used to pay pensions or be another source of funding for the city’s public schools, Green said.

Green said he and his team are still fine-tuning the idea.

The activist also wants taxpayers to stop footing the bill for Chicago Police misconduct lawsuits.

An Inspector General report in September showed Chicago taxpayers paid $250 million in police misconduct settlements in 2018, 2019 and 2020, according to the Sun-Times. The report slammed the city’s record-keeping practices, which make it difficult for local leaders to mine any trends or information from the settlements in hopes of preventing such lawsuits in the future.

Green wants officers to have their own insurance, he said.

“Insurance carriers should determine the liability for [police officers] to have insurance plans and drop them if they’re too much of a risk based on complaints in their record. This is a plan that we’re still looking at, on how to really make sure that we implement this in a way where insurance carriers don’t have too much control,” Green said.

“We’re still looking at that plan. It is a priority of mine so that we can move forward with a concrete plan on how we’re going to stop paying the massive amounts of settlements for CPD and it will definitely be coming out soon,” he said.

Green also slammed the ballooning budget for the police department. The City Council approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed funding increase for Chicago police in October, which went from $1.88 billion to $1.9 billion.

Aside from Lightfoot and Green, the 2023 mayor’s race includes Rep. Jesus “Chuy” García, Alds. Sophia King (4th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th), former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, state Rep. Kam BucknerCook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, businessman and philanthropist Willie Wilson, police officer Frederick Collins and political newcomer Johnny Logalbo.

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