By: Sean Hemmersmeier
In a crowded race for Chicago mayor, one candidate that stands out is Ja’mal Green. Green is a 23 year-old South Side native and is running on a platform of creating exclusive communities, ending government corruption, and reimagining Chicago’s future, according to his campaign website.
Green has no previous formal political experience and has never been elected to an office. However, he has been working within the Chicago community over the past 8 years, since he started his first youth organization at the age of 15. Green also worked on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016 as a public speaking advocate.
Green is running his campaign based on youth involvement and giving young people a voice within city hall. During an April episode of Chicago Tonight, Green highlighted his reasons for running, stating that “the old way of doing politics is over,” specifically citing the pay-to-play rumors that surround Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.
Green has been critical of Mayor Emanuel, saying that “Rahm Emanuel does not care about black people.” Green asserts this due his experiences growing up on the South Side, specifically in relation to the gun violence, high murder rates, and low status of South Side schools.
Green also wants to make several changes to the ways that the Chicago Police Department is run, and he has been a very vocal critic of the police within recent years. During the 2016 Taste of Chicago festival, Green was arrested and plead guilty to resisting arrest. Green says, “there are some police officers … who believe that black people are target practice,” so a focus for Green if elected is to fix the police department.
Green wants to establish a Police Oversight Committee, requiring officers to carry individual insurance policies. The Police Oversight Committee will be comprised of local residents, who “will be regular civilians, doctors, lawyers, retired judges, and retired police officers,” according to Green’s website. This committee will hear police misconduct cases and will make the decisions and sanctions for these cases.
Currently, police misconduct cases and rulings are handled by the Chicago Police Board, which is made up of 9 private citizens who are chosen by the mayor and approved by the City Council. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) is in charge of investigating officers. Green says that “we need to look at the Police Board and possibly do away with it,” and he wants the investigative agency to have more power to suspend and fire police officers.
Green also wants police officers to carry individual insurance policies that the city government would pay for. Green thinks this will save the city money and keep “bad apple” officers off the street, since the insurance company would have to create an individual profile for every police officer, including potential insurance risks like misconduct violations. This plan is meant to keep high-risk officers off the streets and save the city money. Green does not define what a high-risk officer is and how the insurance companies would access officer liability.
It is a very crowded mayoral race this year, but being a 23 year-old activist that has made bold statements about the current administration and intriguing proposals about the police department can make Ja’mal Green stand out among the other candidates.