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July 22, 2021

Hello ONE Northside Community!

After years of fighting for civilian oversight and increased police accountability, we won a huge victory! Chicagoans now have an avenue to work on public safety in a meaningful and democratic way - the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Act passed out of the City Council yesterday 36 - 13!

This was a hard fought victory. It proves that organizing works - when we come together and fight for what we know is right, we can win a more just Chicago!  

It is important to understand the recent history that led to this historic victory.

In 2016, we joined with partners to form the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA). GAPA then convened community conversations across the city and asked community members to reflect on the concept of “safety” and what made them feel safe. Thousands of Chicagoans from Roseland to Rogers Park, from Austin to Lake View resoundingly said there needed to be a bigger role for community members in public safety and in ensuring an accountable police force.




Through 2017, we held dozens of meetings to continue the conversation.

Community generated ideas became the foundation for the GAPA ordinance.

With that proposal, we worked to find the right alderpeople to be our partners in City Council. In the end, Ald. Harry Osterman from the 48th Ward and Ald. Rod Sawyer from the 6th Ward were more than just our sponsors, they became accountable partners who heralded and amplified our work through City Council. In 2018, the GAPA ordinance was introduced. Through that summer we canvassed, held phone banks and workshops and met with alderpeople across the city to gain support for our ordinance. While we were doing this work, our comrades at Chicago Alliance for Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) were also putting in the work and moving the CPAC proposal. We ran into each other often at Public Safety meetings and neighborhod town halls across the city, understanding that we were fighting the same fight.      

As the 2019 municipal elections ramped up, many aldermanic candidates supported one or the other and even both ordinances. Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot even campaigned on the GAPA ordinance. With the new administration and new City Council in place and a promise to pass in 100 days, the GAPA coalition turned up its pressure on the City and the remaining alders we needed.

Despite regular education sessions and street heat, the ordinance remained stalled.




Throughout this fight, many lives were lost to abusive policing. This is the tragedy we all must live with. In 2020, as COVID raged, people around the world rose up after the horrendous murder of George Floyd. Still, the Mayor and the leadership of the City Council Public Safety Committee sat on their hands, blocked both reforms, and even vowed to create her own proposal.

At the beginning of 2021, after another false start on both GAPA and CPAC, it became crystal clear that GAPA and CAARPR had to join forces. With a deep commitment to winning for our communities, the two coalitions and our sponsoring alderpeople, Alderpersons Osterman, Sawyer, Hairston and Ramirez-Rosa joined forces to become Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS). Together we created a proposal that joined the best of GAPA and CPAC. In the end, the Mayor couldn’t get any support for her weak proposal, and realized she had to work with ECPS. As much as she will claim this as her victory, we know this is the result of years of grassroots organizing, grit, and persistence.  

We couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve built together!

What did we win through ECPS?  A seven member civilian commission to oversee the police and 66 elected positions across 22 police districts. A civilian commission that can work on public safety policies informed by district council representatives and their neighbors. A civilian commision that can select the COPA chief and approve Police Board members. A civilian commission that will vet all police superintendent candidates. The Mayor alone used to do all of these things and now the people have a voice and power.

ONE Northside and our predecessor organizations have worked for years to improve police policies and stop egregious police behaviors.  We have always hit the brick wall of the CPD and the Mayor’s office. The passage of ECPS changes everything! We will now be able to organize from the ground up, and win real changes to police policies and practices.  These changes will save lives and create a Chicago that is more safe for everyone.  

Winning ECPS is just the beginning.  We will continue our work on the Consent Decree and fight for strong investments in alternatives to traditional policing. And we will work to ensure that we have a strong Civilian Commission and District Councils.  We are excited to do that work with you!


When we fight, we win!!

In solidarity,

Oswaldo, Anna, Jennifer and the Police Accountability Team

Check out the media coverage about the EPCS City Council vote here, here, and here.


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ONE Northside

4648 N. Racine
Chicago, IL 60640-4906


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4648 N. Racine
Chicago, IL 60640-4906