Wednesday, July 24, 2019

For years, Chicago Police ran secret background checks on people who signed up to speak at public meetings.

Heard about this over the radio this morning. You engage in your first amendment right especially to speak before a governmental body and someone presumably before you speak decides to check you out before you speak. And this is assuming that you never stood before this body to speak, ever.
Documents obtained by the Tribune under a public records request show the Police Department gathered the details on nearly 60 people in advance of their speaking at monthly meetings of the Chicago Police Board since at least January 2018. A police spokesman said the background checks go back further, to at least 2013.

The checks appear to be extensive, with police searching at least one internal department database to determine if speakers have arrest or prison records, warrants outstanding for their arrest, investigative alerts issued for them by the department and even if they’re registered sex offenders or missing persons. Police also searched comments that speakers had previously made on YouTube or on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, among other internet sites, the documents show.

Among those subjected to background checks were a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted decades ago by a Chicago police officer, a community activist who gained prominence after the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by a police officer and a 77-year-old man known for his frequent, flamboyant rants on a variety of topics at public meetings across the city.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot slammed the background checks, saying she had been unaware of the practice when she chaired the Police Board before her run for mayor.

Describing herself as “furious and incredulous,” Lightfoot told the Tribune that she had ordered an immediate stop to the background checks and said the Police Department owes the public an apology.

“I want to make sure that we get to the bottom of this and understand who is responsible,” the mayor said in her fifth-floor office.
Here's what our police superintendent said about these checks:
Later Tuesday, as he left a City Hall meeting with Lightfoot on policing strategies, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson punted when asked if the background checks should have taken place.

“To be quite honest, nobody did anything with it,” Johnson told a Tribune reporter.

But he made it clear the practice has come to an end.

“I don’t think we have a reason at this point to continue it," said Johnson, who often attends Police Board meetings with members of his command staff. "It’s done.”

The current Police Board chairman, Ghian Foreman, also blasted the background checks, saying the nine-member board found the practice “incomprehensible.”
Now I want to know what 2nd City Cop says about this, if they choose to say anything.

h/t Newsalert

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