Activists go to UN to Discuss Racial Discrimination in Chicago

By Terry Keleher Feb 22, 2008

A delegation of Chicago activists are in Geneva, Switzerland to demand that the U.N. consider human rights violations in Chicago in light of Mayor Daley’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. The Chicago activists are part of a broader delegation demanding accountability from the United States at a hearing of the United Nations Committee overseeing state parties’ compliance with the International Convention to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination. The U.S. delegation of over 100 activists is led by the United States Human Rights Network. Here’s an update from the Chicago delegation’s latest dispatch: Human rights attorney Standish E. Willis of the National Conference of Black Lawyers/ Black People Against Police Torture and Jewish Council on Urban Affairs representatives, Brian Gladstein and Nancy Bothne have presented an extensive record of racially motivated human rights violations in Chicago. "Hear the screams of those who suffered at the hands of Jon Burge", testified attorney Standish E. Willis. Willis provided testimony about the police abuse of African American men in Chicago, who continue to suffer the effects of torture perpetrated by police officers led by former Police Commander Jon Burge. Willis asked the Committee to recommend that reparations be provided those victims, and that US action be taken to end the impunity from prosecution enjoyed by Burge and others. "Often community leaders throughout Chicago don’t feel that their voices are heard by our local government. This is well documented in our Report Card for Chicago 2006. This is why we are here. To represent those that are being victimized by our government’s discriminatory policies and practices," said Brian Gladstein from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. "The city of Chicago wants to host an international Olympics but has yet to learn the international language of human rights" added Nancy Bothne, human rights consultant. "Consider the impact on low income people of color who have no housing options. Over 19,000 public housing units have been demolished and fewer than 2,000 have been built to replace them. Communities are decimated and families destroyed." The Chicago shadow report, part of the official record submitted to the Committee, documents that people of color in Chicago are disproportionately poor and disproportionally affected by a system that perpetuates historical patterns of discrimination in housing, education, economic deprivation, and police abuse. The cost of political corruption is a denial of human rights to those in need. The United States is a party to the International Convention to Eliminate Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The ICERD has the force of law in the United States. This marks only the second time since the U.S. approved the treaty in 1994 that it has produced a report and subjected its domestic record on human rights and race to international scrutiny. The hearing provides Chicagoans an international venue to spotlight the institutional racist and classist practices of our local and national governments. This trip builds off the release of a Chicago-focused shadow report by 30 organizations ––the Applied Research Center among them––, which charges the city of Chicago with failure to comply with its obligations under the treaty and with whitewashing the reality of racial inequality in Chicago. Click here for a copy of the Chicago shadow report and for the USHRN national report