Warning: Chicago Watchdog Group Says City Is Unprepared for Protesters Ahead of DNC

A recent report from Chicago’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has raised alarms about the city’s preparedness for the upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC) in August. The report warns that both the city and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) are ill-equipped to handle the expected influx of protesters.

Chicago is aiming to avoid the negative optics of the 1968 DNC convention, which saw then-Mayor Richard J. Daley encircle the convention site with barbed wire and call in the National Guard to manage the violence.

Currently, Chicago is grappling with a significant shortage of police officers. At a recent public forum with the Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling acknowledged, “What we’re doing right now is making the best with the number of officers that we have.” He added, “We are down. We’re down close to 2,000 officers.”

The OIG’s latest report follows a critical review of the CPD’s response to the 2020 George Floyd protests and riots. The review highlighted significant deficiencies in the department’s preparedness and response to mass gatherings.

The new report indicates that while there have been some improvements since 2020, substantial issues remain. The CPD was described as “under-equipped and unprepared to respond to the scale of the protests and unrest in the downtown area” during the 2020 riots. The OIG identified failures in intelligence assessment, major event planning, field communication, and operation, as well as administrative systems and leadership.

In February 2021, the OIG’s findings on CPD’s operational failures during the protests included:

  • Breakdown in the mass arrest process, resulting in the failure to arrest some offenders, the release of some arrestees without charges, and risks to officer and arrestee safety.
  • Inadequate fulfillment of force reporting obligations and lack of clear and consistent guidance to officers on reporting requirements.
  • Operational response and policy gaps that hindered accountability processes from the outset.

The report also warns that new crowd control tactics could escalate tensions and lead to constitutional violations against lawful demonstrators. It noted that some of the CPD’s training materials rely on outdated theories from the 1960s and 1990s, which assume that crowds inherently induce negative behavior and conflict. This belief could lead to an escalated police response, increasing the risk of resistance and disorder among demonstrators.

The report highlighted that CPD’s current guidance still allows the use of OC spray on passive resistors in mass gatherings, while other departments, like Philadelphia, have clear prohibitions against using pepper spray on passive resistors in First Amendment gatherings. Furthermore, CPD policy lacks specific guidelines on the use of corralling tactics, known as kettling.

As Chicago prepares for the DNC, the OIG report underscores the urgent need for improved planning, equipment, and training to manage mass gatherings effectively and lawfully.

Previous articleRaskin Repeats Discredited Trump Bleach Claim At House Oversight Hearing
Next articleJames Comey Suggests Trump Provoking Jail Sentence with Judicial Attacks