Anjanette Young has been fighting the city of Chicago for almost four years after a police encounter left her naked and afraid. On Nov. 10, the City Council Committee on Public Safety rejected an ordinance named after Ms. Young that would have changed the way police execute warrants and interact with families in the home.
Ms. Young, a Black social worker, testified at the hearing. She stated that she represented over 50 families in the city of Chicago who have had their homes violated, property destroyed and lives traumatized in wrongful raids conducted by the police department. She shared her personal story, that on the night of February 21, 2019, the police department’s raid team entered her home on a no-knock warrant based on bad information.
“When they entered my home, I did not have any clothes on, and they were more focused on finding handguns and ammunition and drugs than securing the dignity of a female citizen. It was clear that my safety and dignity was not top of mind. Where was the serve and protect for me?” she questioned. “I was handcuffed, ignored and when I asked questions, I was told to calm down and not to shout at them, during which time I was completely naked and exposed to 12 male officers.”
Ms. Young pleaded with the committee to imagine if she was someone they cared about. “Imagine it was your mother who was standing there. And I say that because all of us in this room, regardless of the relationship that we have with our mother, none of us would have wanted our mother to have that type of experience,” she said. “But guess what? I’m someone’s mother. See me in that frame. See me as your mother, someone who deserves dignity and respect regardless of the situation.”
She also shared her daily struggles with trauma from that night. But her story fell on deaf ears, as the committee voted 10-4 to reject the ordinance.
“Shame on city council for not moving forward with this today,” Ms. Young told reporters after the hearing. “I will not let what happen today deter me from continuing to fight for change and fight, that families don’t have to have these types of experiences and experience trauma.”
She received a $2.9 million settlement in December 2021 as a result of the botched raid.
The Anjanette Young Ordinance was introduced by committee member Ald. Maria Hadden in February 2021 and received backing from alderwomen Sophia King, Leslie Hairston and Jeanette Taylor.
“This is the city’s way of telling folks that their experiences with the police are not valid and we don’t care,” said Ald. Taylor, who is a sponsor on the bill, to The Final Call.
The ordinance received yes votes from aldermen Harry Osterman, Raymond Lopez, Derrick Curtis and Matt Martin. The alderpersons who voted no were Nicole Lee, Monique Scott, Ariel Reboyras, Nicholas Sposato, Samantha Nugent, Anthony Napolitano, Timmy Knudsen, Tom Tunney, Jim Gardiner and Debra Silverstein.
According to the Anjanette Young Ordinance, the Office of Inspector General found that Black men are targeted by Chicago police in home raids more than 25 times as often as White men, and 79 percent of the women targeted in home raids are Black. Only seven percent are White. The police department’s home raids have resulted in guns being pointed at young children and the elderly and children being handcuffed, the ordinance says.
The ordinance would have required police to wait 30 seconds after knocking before entering a residence unless in situations that prevent physical harm; required a written plan, including all persons present in the home and the steps to ensure the least amount of harm and intrusiveness; required police to record and publish data about each residential warrant; required the presence of a social worker, mental health professional and/or translator in cases involving children, vulnerable people or non-English speakers; prohibited firearms to be pointed at children and adults without an imminent threat of death or injury; and prohibited handcuffing or restraining of a child and their parents or guardians unless in the presence of an immediate threat of physical harm.
“They wouldn’t have been able to do no-knock raids, or they would have had to give people time to get dressed and things like that. There were a bunch of good things in the ordinance that would have stopped them from traumatizing folks, which are normally Black and Brown folks, majority Black,” Ald. Taylor said.
She noted that most of the time, police executing residential search warrants are at the wrong house, receive the wrong information and don’t find anything.
“This ordinance would have made us take a good look at it. And I would have been okay with people saying, can we go back to the table and kind of look at this, but that’s not the thing. They don’t want to hold bad officers accountable,” she expressed.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, her administration and the Chicago Police Department argued against the ordinance, saying that policy changes regarding warrants have already been put into place and that the department is currently working to review search warrant policy under consent decree guidelines. The Final Call reached out to the mayor’s office and received no response.
“This is a prime example of everybody saying this is wrong, this was wrong. This could have been their mother, this could have been their sister, could have been their cousin, but y’all did nothing. You did nothing,” Ald. Taylor expressed. “And this wasn’t about money for Ms. Young. Ms. Young wanted to create some real change when it came to policy, and that’s the only thing that we can do effectively.
We cannot give Ms. Young her pride back. We can’t get her safety back. We can’t get her dignity back. But what we could have done was put some measures in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and in the same way. And we failed. We failed the citizens of Chicago.”
She hasn’t quite figured out yet what comes next, but she said, “We will do something different.”