Chicago Sun-Times | Post-George Floyd Police Reforms In Chicago ‘Disappointing,’ Community Leaders Say

They continue to push for civilian oversight of the police department and non-police alternatives to respond to mental health crises and provide public safety in schools.

Roxanne Smith has been waiting for change.

Even before the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis led to a summer of protests and a racial reckoning, Smith, a longtime leader of the group Communities United, was pushing for change.

She had urged the Chicago Police Department to abide by the consent decree that followed the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, requiring changes in many police policies.

For her, police reform is personal. Her son Seneca Smith has been in prison for years after being shot by the Chicago police and convicted of attempted murder. She doesn’t believe what the police said about how the shooting unfolded.

Then, a few years ago, when her other son, Roget Smith, was having an anxiety attack, she called 911 to get paramedics to help get him to a hospital. But officers also showed up, and she didn’t think they helped things with her son, who has a condition called Fragile X syndrome.

“Why would you come in acting like he’s a criminal, ready to handcuff him and throw him on the floor?” Smith said. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s just having an anxiety attack.”

Smith is among community leaders in Chicago who have long been calling for police reform. Now, a year after massive protests broke out after Floyd’s death, she and other activists in Chicago say they’re frustrated by what they see as slow progress by City Hall on reform.

Among their priorities, they continue to push for civilian oversight of the police department and non-police alternatives to respond to mental health crises and provide public safety inside schools.

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