#NoCopAcademy | nocopacademy.com
PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release
Contact: Debbie Southorn – 971-227-3829 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Alert: #NoCopAcademy attorneys argue Mayor Emanuel should release over 400 pages of hidden documents.
As the 2019 elections approach and increasing numbers of mayoral & aldermanic candidates oppose construction of the JPSTA, full transparency around the funding and PR approaches to the academy take on increased urgency.
CHICAGO 2/4 — On February 4, 2019, attorneys from the People’s Law Office representing the #NoCopAcademy campaign will appear in front of Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall to ask her to reconsider her decision allowing Mayor Emanuel and his administration to withhold over 400 pages of documents related to the proposed $95 million Joint Public Safety Training Academy (JPTSA). Debbie Southorn and Erin Glasco, the plaintiffs and organizers with #NoCopAcademy, previously filed several FOIA requests seeking information regarding Mayor Emanuel’s plans to build the JPTSA, an excessively costly venture which many believe is wholly unnecessary and will not decrease police violence that destroys the lives of scores of Black and Latinx people in Chicago. Further, given the daily headlines emerging from City Hall regarding FBI investigations of corruption amongst powerful Aldermen, and the proposed JPSTA’s financial connections to the controversial Lincoln Yards mega-development, the City’s refusal to release these documents is urgent cause for concern.
In describing why they brought the lawsuit, Plaintiff Glasco stated, “From the outset, Mayor Emanuel engaged in extensive planning and preparation to build this police academy without consulting the residents of the West side or Chicago. We filed the lawsuit to get all the plans he has refused to disclose so that the civilians of Chicago can have all the necessary information to evaluate whether their taxpayer funds should be used to build a police academy or whether their money is better spent on school, mental health and other social services desperately needed.” According to surveys taken by the #NoCopAcademy, 72% of surveyed residents in West Garfield Park, the location of the proposed JPTSA, do not want the JPSTA built in their neighborhood and 86% of surveyed residents said they do not believe JPTSA is the best use of $95 million on the West Side.
After filing the FOIA suit, City lawyers provided Southorn, Glasco and #NoCopAcademy close to 150 documents previously withheld improperly, but the attorneys for Mayor Emanuel convinced the Court that the remaining 400+ documents are shielded from disclosure by the “deliberative process privilege.” The People’s Law Office is asking the Court to reconsider its decision in light of federal case law regarding this privilege, as well as the heightened public interest in the value and worth of the academy. Four of the Mayoral candidates and 30 aldermanic candidates oppose the creation of the police academy and several elected officials and candidates have requested the Mayor and City Council halt all votes on the JPTSA until people, through their newly elected officials, have an opportunity to weigh on the creation of the police academy. The motion argues the public’s right to information about the development of the police academy substantially outweighs any interest Mayor Emanuel has in upholding his veil of secrecy around the facility.
Quote from #NoCopAcademy: “Mayor Emanuel and his administration have a history of refusing to disclose information about the Chicago Police Department, withholding the dashcam video of Laquan McDonald’s murder before the 2014-15 election, and now withholding information about the planning and preparations for the JPTSA before this election. Mayor Emanuel should release this information and let the people of Chicago decide if we need a new police academy.”
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