UPDATE: On June 26th, 45th Ward Alderman Gardiner put out a call for local artists to create ‘We Call The Police’ Neighborhood Watch signs for display in residents’ homes throughout our community. We think this call needs to be canceled for many reasons. We sent a letter Alderman Gardiner asking for alternative messaging and we have received no response.
With your help, we then created a petition that gained 480 signatures. Thank you to those who signed.
We sent him a second letter inviting him to a conversation along with the signatures and comments. As of today, we have still not heard from him.
Now we would like to share with you the letter as an open letter to Jim Gardiner.
Alderman James Gardiner, 45th Ward
5425 W. Lawrence
Chicago, Il 606301`
Submitted Electronically to: Ward45@cityofchicago.org
Re: “We Call Police” Sign Campaign
Dear Alderman Gardiner,
The Northwest Side Coalition Against Racism & Hate wrote to you on July 15th requesting that you “Cancel the Call” that you put out to artists to create a new version of the “We Call Police” neighborhood watch signs.
As we stated in our original request, our reasons for concern are as follows:
- The signs foster an unwelcoming feeling to our neighborhoods.
- The signs give the impression that our neighborhoods are not safe, and they promote a sense of fear.
- They encourage racial profiling and result in our BIPOC neighbors being targeted and put in danger.
- Calling police can actually escalate a situation and put people in danger.
- The signs are ineffective, serving no positive purpose.
- Other resources and steps can be made before calling the police. Making a call to the police should be the very last resort.
We offered the following, more productive alternatives to the “We Call Police” signs:
- Educate neighbors on what to do instead of calling the police, through teach-ins and/or simple step-by-step handouts, including descriptions of “what is a crime and what is not a crime.”
- Provide helpful hotlines for counseling.
- Equip the community with Mental Health resources.
- Encourage folks to get to know their neighbors and work together as a community.
- Create inclusive signage that promotes caring, communication, and concern for each other.
We asked you to respond to us, either in writing or via a virtual meeting—by July 21, 2020. Despite this, we have received absolutely no response from you.
You are aware that we are a local group, consisting of Northwest Side Chicago residents, many of whom are your constituents in the 45th Ward and you claim to be willing to work with everyone in the community. Yet, you have not responded to our concerns. In the absence of leadership from your office, we have collected 480 signatures from local residents asking you to “Cancel the Call.”
You cannot continue to claim to be responsive to the community to which you were elected to serve if you ignore the concerns of so many residents.
We would like to virtually meet with you to discuss further. Please respond with your availability by Friday, September 18, 2020.
Yours in community service,
The NWS Coalition Against Racism