Notes from the FVC4PNJ meeting of Saurday, July 4th 2020
Those present were: Kathy Hamill. Bill Koehl, Paul Scott, Mary Roberti, Vince Hardt, Sherry Liske, Barbara Evans, Bettina Perillo, Steve Bruesewitz, Earl Silbar, Karen Beyer, Ro Maziarz, Don Bak, Mary Shesgreen.
Once again, most of our meeting focused on conversation about the first discussion question on our agenda: Are the protests for police accountability and racial justice working? What else needs to happen? Paul talked about his work in DuPage County with the NAACP and Unity Partnership and their hopes to move toward better racial justice especially in the area of policing. He talked about moving to change the wording of police procedures and policies as California has done: Use of lethal force is only permitted when it is “necessary.” Earl stated that the wording of Elgin’s police standards was excellent, but good wording did nothing to protect DeCynthia Clements, and did nothing to bring Lieutenant Jensen to account. Paul also talked about citizen oversight boards for police departments. Earl said those only made a difference when they had the power to subpoena police officers, interrogate them under oath, and then have disciplinary power to fire or even change officers.
Mary said we need, not just arrests of officers who commit violence against citizens, but also convictions. Vince went farther, citing the case of the killer of Laquan McDonald who was convicted but then given a trivial sentence.
Someone raised the question about the four Elgin police officers who quit after Chris Jensen was given his job back. Is there any way that we can contact them and ask them why they quit?
Mary opined that we can never end racism in policing until we end the war on drugs. Some agreed. Some disputed the idea.
Kathy Hamill reported on finding the Illinois State Statute giving a police officer’s bill of rights. Kathy said that Illinois’s law was not as bad as similar laws in other states, and that the police contract of Elgin police department was not the source of the problem. The problem is that the applications of those laws and the judgments made are made by bodies of police, not by committees of citizens.
Mary Roberti talked about growing up in Dallas, and seeing public water fountains labelled “white” and “colored.” She described getting on a bus to go to kindergarten with her African American girlfriend, and crying when her girlfriend was forced to literally go to the back of the bus, while Mary was forced to sit in the front.
We agreed that the times are tumultuous right now, and therefore present us with the possibility of real change.
We addressed the fires inside the Arctic Circle! And the city in Siberia which had a temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We agreed that the human race and the entire biosphere is in deep trouble because of the climate emergency. We talked about the Elgin Climate Emergency Group whose work we support.
Occupy Elgin was happy to report that we are back out on the corner of Kimball and Grove each Saturday from 1 PM till 2 PM wearing masks and standing six feet apart. We got a large turnout the first two Saturdays. Mary said that we are not yet handing out flyers to passing motorists, because that would violate the six feet of distance. Karen suggested that instead of handing out flyers, we send our writings to the newspaper as Op Eds.
Mary reported that there is now a Facebook page entitled Elgin Solidarity with Black Lives Matter. It has over 800 members. We could post our flyers on that page and ask people to share them.
Denise Tracy, working with some allies at the library, has invited us to co-sponsor a series of talks on Racial Justice starting in the fall. (These would be zoom presentations until further notice.) They are asking us to contribute money to pay the speakers.
We decided to respond by saying that we would go ahead with co-sponsoring the series, but we want more information about the program, want to be part of the decision-making and want to know more about the costs involved. Mary S will report this back to Denise Tracy.
Sherry Liske reported that the Elgin Rapid Response Network held an on-line retreat and had excellent discussions. There may be a car caravan to the immigrant detention center in Woodstock, IL which people can attend in person.
People made wonderful suggestions about books to read and videos to watch.
Most of our June activities were on-line, unfortunately.
Steve gave the Treasurer’s report. We have a total of $1785.89 in our account at the credit union.