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Commissioners urge passage of Justice for Black Lives resolution
2020-07-07

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Cook County commissioners Deborah Sims ( D-5th ), Stanley Moore ( D-4th ), Dennis Deer ( 2nd ), Brandon Johnson ( D-1st ), Bill Lowry ( D-3rd ) and Donna Miller ( D-6th ) released a statement July 7 calling for passage by the full County Board of the Justice for Black Lives resolution.

Said resolution "recognizes the value of Black lives and calls on the county to reset its budget priorities to support human needs instead of the criminal justice system which has destroyed the lives of so many Black people," according to a press release.

This resolution is the first step in a series of measures designed to bring justice, equity and equal protection under the law in the second largest county in the nation. It is currently before the County Board's Criminal Justice Committee.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Rekia Boyd, Bettie Jones, Laquan McDonald. As Black men and women, and as Black elected officials, these names and the names of countless other Black people killed at the hands of police are etched in our collective souls. We say their names out of respect and to demand that Black Lives Matter.

Here in Cook County, Black people continue to be deprived of their safety, dignity, economic security, and freedom from the over-policing and mass incarceration that has ruined so many innocent lives. At the same time, they struggle with access to health care and mental health services that compounds their suffering. The people of Cook County—like people across the nation—are rising up demanding transformative change.

As Black members of the Cook County Board we are determined to be the catalyst for that transformation in our county and beyond. The first step in that process is passage of the Justice for Black Lives Resolution, which would seek to redirect funds from our criminal justice system into systems and programs that support human needs and promote the health and welfare of the Black community.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no correlation between the money spent on policing and incarceration and the safety of our residents. In fact, the application of justice for Black people is often arbitrary and discriminatory, leaving people feeling less safe and incarcerated for the simple crime of being poor. We need a paradigm shift that acknowledges the system's failures—and its responsibility for the oppression and abuse of Black people—and charts a new course that respects and values Black lives.

In the coming weeks and months, county commissioners will be asked to make some very tough budget decisions. Do we continue down the path of austerity, disinvestment and over-policing that has left the Black community in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness? Or do we shift our priorities from a regressive tax system to provide historic support to communities that have been marginalized for generations?

Passage of the Justice for Black Lives Resolution can be our guiding light in the difficult months ahead, leading us down the path to a better, safer and more secure life for Cook County's Black communities. We urge our fellow commissioners to stand in solidarity with us—and with our County's Black residents—by supporting the resolution.

Let's show the people we represent that the words Black Lives Matter are more than a slogan. They are the words we live by.


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