Image: a cellphone tower against a sky backdrop
Budgets are statements of priority and political will. To better understand the Johnson administration’s priorities, we have followed the CPD, CCPSA, OEMC, OPSA, AIS and the Law Department budget hearings closely; we have also followed Superintendent Snelling’s recent press tour.
As residents of Chicago, we awaited the financial commitments by Johnson for substantive expansion of mental health services, facilities and housing support in Chicago: the promise of a better horizon that centered the public safety of Chicago’s most precarious communities. We expected to see a clear-eyed and confident executive working to curtail police power in Chicago with a cancellation of the ShotSpotter contract, commitment to the PeaceBook Ordinance, and the closing of CPD black sites like Homan Square.
Instead, the CPD is concentrating its command through hundreds of new hires, bonuses, raises across the board, no limits on overtime, civilianization of more police roles, and attempts to diminish already minimal recourse for misconduct. Snelling, a former counter-terrorism Bureau Chief, has also widely praised surveillance technology. Where did Superintendent Snelling get the idea that Johnson will be a hands-off mayor and let CPD set its own agenda? Has Brandon Johnson made promises behind closed doors that are evident throughout the priorities across almost all of the 2024 budget? Has the Mayor’s Office fortified the power of the CPD with their absence?
Public safety belongs to all of the people of Chicago. We reject this budget and invite other abolitionists to do the same. We express solidarity with Chicagoans who have long fought against surveillance and criminalization enacted to protect property and control people.
As an abolitionist research and activist collective, we reject the Johnson administration’s exploitation of mutual aid, the co-optation of progressive language and social justice activism, to forsake material solutions that center the safety of Chicagoans. We renew our demand for the city to cancel the ShotSpotter contract as a first step toward dismantling the surveillance state.
Lucy Parsons Labs commits to investigating, identifying, and divesting in the expanded apparatus of policing in Chicago. Helicopters, license plate readers, pod cameras, data criminalization, and ShotSpotter’s new predictive policing acquisition all outline a future that further robs us of autonomy and freedom of movement. We invite everyone who believes that dismantling the surveillance state is a necessity for the safety and wellbeing of Black, Indigenous, brown, disabled and other communities in Chicago to think together with us about how to resist in the coming year.
Lucy Parsons Labs