For Black women of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, the botched raid on the wrong house that humiliated an innocent woman and forced a crying and pleading Anjanette Young to stand naked and handcuffed before male police officers for 40 minutes was personal and painful.
On Wednesday, they turned their outrage into action.
They introduced a sweeping ordinance that would ban no-knock warrants and require that all other search warrants executed by the Chicago Police Department be done in the “least intrusive” manner possible to prevent property damage and, more importantly, to protect the “physical and emotional health” of those involved.
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) said what the aldermen are demanding is “something that, I bet, a lot of people would assume would happen anyway” when Chicago police officers raid peoples’ homes.
“We expect those police officers to be putting the emotional, physical well-being of the residents first. That means the hours of when you’re gonna do this raid. … Are there elderly people? Are there children present? How many people do you expect? How are you gonna conduct this raid without harming people, especially if there might be people [there] that aren’t the subject of the raid?” Hadden said.
During a virtual news conference before Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Young thanked the aldermen for championing her cause in a way that will “foster a better sense of safety for all families in Black and Brown communities” who interact with police.
Having an interaction with the Chicago Police Department “should not be one such as what I experienced on Feb. 21, 2019,” she said.
“When they found me with no clothes on, this ordinance would at least hold them accountable for how they treat me in that moment,” Young added.
“They could have allowed me to get dressed and continued what they were doing. They could have allowed me a moment to compose myself. There were so many things that went wrong in this moment.”
Young could easily have fought a private battle against the city to avoid a public airing of the bodycam video of her standing naked. But going public to prevent it from happening to anyone else, she said, is the way she was raised.
“My grandmother was a civil rights activist. I grew up in Mississippi, watching her fighting for civil rights and voters rights and things that she … cared about in her community,” she said.
“So, it’s in my DNA to stand up and shout that this is not right and to fight — not only for myself, but for others. … I’m excited to be in this position to call for a move into an era of change.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has apologized to Young, initiated a mediation process that could trigger a lucrative financial settlement to resolve the social worker’s lawsuit against the city and imposed a series of reforms to rein in CPD’s history of wrongful raids.
But the ordinance introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting goes a whole lot further than the mayor has been willing to go.
• No-knock warrants would be forbidden and all other residential raids would have to be conducted between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., using the “least intrusive” tactics outlined in advance in a plan approved by the police superintendent or his designee above the rank of commander.
• CPD would be required to “record and publish data” about each residential warrant executed, including location, names and badge numbers of officers involved, force used during execution and any allegation of police misconduct or excessive force. The report must also include the age, race and gender of those present inside the home and whether contraband was seized or arrests were made.
• CPD would be expressly forbidden from seeking a warrant “relying solely on an informant’s representation.” The informant’s “credibility” and history must be assessed. The information must be supplemented by an “independent investigation and reasonable surveillance to corroborate the information and ascertain that the target of the warrant is present at the location.”
• Before executing a warrant, police must have “taken all available measures to avoid executing the warrant when children under 16 are present.” If children are present, dispatch operators must be informed. And police would be prohibited form pointing firearms at or handcuffing them. Pointing firearms at adults would also be prohibited “unless the person present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury” to others.
• Police would be required to “take all available measures to avoid damage” to the home and property in it and prepare a damage report before leaving the home. CPD would be further required to “retail all video and audio recordings” of the execution of residential search warrants with top brass reviewing all relevant evidence.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said the botched raid on Young’s home was “one of the most disturbing police blunders and human rights violations” she has seen in more than two decades on the City Council.
“When the twelve police officers barreled into her home unannounced with their battering ram, it was the last straw in a long history of police misconduct,” Hairston said.
It was also a reminder that “we are Black each and every day and, what we face, no one else faces.”
She added: “What we are attempting to do today is to continue to dismantle the systemic racism in the city of Chicago. For too long, we have been in denial.”