Reported by Mandy Eason
Yesterday afternoon, the group Evanston Fight for Black Lives conducted a Zoom meeting with Alderwoman Ann Rainey -- at her suggestion -- regarding defunding the Evanston Police Department. City Clerk Devon Reid and Jersey Shabazz, a member of EFBL, were the moderators.
The meeting came after EFBL held sit-ins at each of the nine City Council member's homes during the weekly City Council meeting, to draw attention to EFBL's demands that the City defund the EPD.
In an incident at Ald. Rainey's home, she off-handedly told two EPD officers who were stationed there, “don’t shoot anyone tonight.”
The first question posed to Ald. Rainey during the Zoom meeting was what was her understanding in regards to defunding.
She mentioned looking at the budget and moving funds to other areas in need. She specifically mentioned 311, school resource officers and possibly lessening the amount of officers.
The next topic was in relation to the origin of policing. One of the young people from the group explained slave patrol and how this was created to protect property in the south which meant slaves. The point made was that the institution of policing has a foundation of racism. In essence it is an institution of white supremacy.
The discussion then turned to yesterday's comment by Rainey to the EPD officers who had shown up while the EFBL group was peacefully protesting.
Ald. Rainey said she did not call the officers and didn’t know why they were there. She was then asked about a comment she made to one of the officers as she was going inside her home, “don’t shoot anyone tonight.” She apologized for her comment and said she didn't know how it came out of her mouth.
Some residents suggested that she not run again as well as to step down from her position.
Several group members explained how the officers showing up in itself was an example of over policing. She stated she felt it was outrageous for them to show up and she was going to find out who called them.
A group member stated that community members should be the ones who shape public safety. She explained that Evanston Fight for Black Lives is not pushing for the idea of anarchy and lawlessness but rather restructure. She also brought up Evanston COE Pops and COE Moms. These were elders who took the initiative to look out for young people in Evanston years ago. (you can read about them here.
Ald. Rainey was asked if she would commit to supporting and doing the work required to defund EPD and she said she was willing to examine all of the lines in the budget.
Police contracts and an independent review board were also discussed.
Another question directed to the Alderwoman was in regards to Trent Hunt.
She was asked what was happening as far as disciplinary action towards the officer/s involved. Ald. Rainey said that the last she heard there was an investigation. She feels that at least one officer should be sanctioned and that Trent Hunt did nothing wrong and was not a threat to anyone. Residents asked her to look into it further.
This group is pushing for a new form of policing.
The young people involved are incredibly knowledgeable and they’re doing some amazing work!