By Cydney Wallace
I am a Torah observant wife and mother of three, born and raised on the south side of Chicago. I joined JCUA after becoming increasingly frustrated with how the election was going and how, based on the outcome of the election, the world still views myself and my family. Determined not to sit at home fuming, I set about finding ways to make the world a better place for my children to grow with people who shared the same values. I feel we can no longer afford to wait around for someone else to make our world a better place. We need to take the reins and do it ourselves.
We have come to a point in Chicago where the systems of police accountability that are currently in place, and the systems previously in place, have fostered an environment where police can abuse their power without fear of consequence. Requiring that complaints about an officer by either a fellow officer or a civilian be in the form of a signed affidavit discourages people who wish to remain anonymous. Allowing officers twenty four hours to change their statement to ensure it matches that of their partners or doesn’t conflict with any audio or video surveillance of the situation all but tells the officers to bend the truth.
We can also not ignore that an overwhelming majority of instances where the police are not held accountable have to do with misconduct towards people of color. This is not about good cops vs. bad cops. This is about systemic racism.
While I appreciate the work our white brothers and sisters are doing to combat this problem,they are not the ones affected by it on a daily basis because of where they live, their economic class, and/or the color of their skin. These are not their literal brothers and sisters being shot down in the street, these are not their mothers and fathers being abused and tortured literally to death, nor their literal aunts, uncles, and cousins, being vilified in the media to justify treatment akin to that of rabid animals in the street. We need to take the reins of this movement from our brothers and sisters in the white community fighting for police accountability, not to exclude them, but to ensure at the end of the day, the people who don’t have to ponder whether or not this issue affects them, those who KNOW it does, are the ones at the forefront of this fight.
We are faced now with our own metaphorical Red Sea. For every shooting swept under the rug, every officer that is let off with a slap on the wrist, and every victim that is written off because of where they were, where they were from, their history, I hear the sound of chariots. It is the sound of the Egyptians coming to take us back to that narrow place. It is time for us to move forward, to wade into the sea, and fight for our own freedom. On our faith alone we cannot expect for things to change. It must be through our faith AND our actions!
For our elders who have fought this fight before, we need your guidance and wisdom. To those of us who like to talk about how we would have reacted and what we would have done, now is our chance to put up or shut up. For those who are unable to march, protest, or attend rallies, help us by putting out the information to those who can. Only as a unified force will we be able to effect change. Join us as we take action with all of b’nai Israel and then with the broader community.
On Sunday, April 2nd at 3pm let us meet at Emanuel Congregation, located at 5959 N. Sheridan, to discuss the systematic issues plaguing the CPD. Let’s make plans to remind each other to go, to help each other get there, to show up in force to say this is our fight and we will not back down. We do this so our elder’s work will not have been in vain, so that we are not plagued by biased policies and vilification, and so that our children can simply grow up. I appeal to you, find your place in this fight in whatever capacity it may be and give it your all. We need each other.