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Lawsuit: Chicago Police Department Started Pulling Over Minority Drivers After Ending Stop-and-Frisk Policy

— June 27, 2023

The lawsuit claims that Black drivers were between 4 and 7 times more likely to be pulled over by Chicago Police officers than their White counterparts.

A recently-filed federal lawsuit alleges that the Chicago Police Department deliberately targeted Black and Latino motorists.

According to WTTW, the lawsuit was filed earlier this week by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In its complaint, the A.C.L.U. claims that the Chicago Police Department made more than 1 million potentially inappropriate traffic stops between 2016 and 2022.

Most of these traffic stops, the A.C.L.U. says, involved Black and Latino Chicago residents.

However, comparatively few of the stops claimed problematic targeted White Chicagoans.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Law Department told WTTW News that the city does not typically comment on pending litigation.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union have, meanwhile, said that traffic stops conducted by city police officers surged by more than 600% between 2015 and 2022. This sudden increase in traffic stops coincided with the department’s decision to reduce the use of stop-and-frisk tactics.

Somewhat ironically, the Chicago Police Department only agreed to curtail its controversial stop-and-frisk policy following another legal agreement with the A.C.L.U.

“While defendants have changed their mass stop tactics over time as each iteration was found or shown to be unlawfully discriminatory, defendants’ overall strategy has remained consistent for decades: stop and harass — and often physically harm — hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino Chicagoans every year, almost all of whom are simply trying to go about their daily lives and get to work, school, errands, family obligations and the like,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendants’ mass traffic stop program is simply the newest chapter in their long and sordid history of employing mass-stop policing tactics that discriminate on the basis of race and national origin, touted as a campaign to supposedly fight crime in Chicago.”

Downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago; image courtesy of John Picken via Wikimedia Commons,

Black Chicagoans, the A.C.L.U. claims, are between four and seven times more likely to be pulled over by Chicago officers than their White counterparts.

Latino Chicagoans are, conversely, about twice as likely to be stopped while driving as Caucasian motorists.

Alexandra Block, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said that the Chicago Police Department has never offered an explanation for racial disparities in its traffic stop statistics.

“In various public statements that have been made, for example, by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot and former Police Superintendent David Brown, they have vaguely said that they concentrate traffic stops in areas where there are higher crime rates,” Block said. “But what we show in this complaint is that there is no association between increasing traffic stops and decreasing serious crimes in Chicago.”

Additionally, the A.C.L.U. observed that less than 4% of these allegedly inappropriate traffic stops resulted in a citation.

“CPD is using the same mass stop tactics but shifted from pedestrian stops to traffic stops after our 2015 stop-and-frisk settlement,” Block said. “And this is not accidental. It’s intentional. From the top brass on down for the last six years, they have put in place a program of traffic stop quotas that require officers to make a certain minimum numbers of traffic stops.”


Chicago’s Black, Latino drivers targets of racially biased traffic stops, ACLU lawsuit alleges

Lawsuit: Chicago Police Targeted Black, Latino Chicagoans With Traffic Stops

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