A Special Report
Are CPD Contact Cards Unconstitutional?
by Beauty Turner, (Original day printed)
June 12, 2007
Many public housing residents from the Dearborn Homes on the South Side are upset at the Chicago Police Department because they are being forced to give out personal information about themselves and their guests' lives.
They want to know if the police department's current requirement that they provide the information to put on contact cards as a method of deterring crime is unconstitutional and an infringement of their civil rights.
Five months ago, police officers began collecting these 'contact cards' from the residents of Dearborn Homes as well as their guests, according to Carol Wallace, a long-time resident of the public housing complex.
Beginning in January this year, Wallace said police officers began stopping residents and demanding they give out information so the officers can fill out contact cards that list their name, age, address, telephone number, height, weight, color of their eyes and hair, and if they had any tattoos.
"I just don't get it now. CPD is making us fill out contacts cards so they can keep tabs on us. I'm an American citizen," Wallace declared during a phone interview that month. "We are living as if we are in a Third World country somewhere. We are being treated as if we are living in a concentration camp.
RJ talked to other residents at the Dearborn Homes during a five-month investigation of the issue. Many said they thought that the police harassment was just another way to push them out of their homes to make way for pricey condominiums.
In May, RJ received more calls from residents of the Dearborn Homes complaining about the CPD making them fill out contact cards. "Im afraid to go outside these days. They are making our lives miserable," proclaimed Samuel Lord, a longtime resident of the Dearborn Homes.
Eleanor Murray also called in that month. "Every time I go outside, the police stop me and make me fill out contact cards. I think they even had the nerve to ask me for my social security number," she said.
While at the public housing site in early June, Joyce Smith, a disabled resident, told this reporter that she was also stopped by police officers, demanding that she too provide them with her social security number for the contact card.
RJ called Gail Singleton, the elected president of the resident council at the Dearborn Homes, to ask her what she thought about the police making residents and their guests fill out contact cards. She could not be reached by press time.
CPD's Views on the Contact Cards
In early January, RJ first called police spokesperson Pat Camden and asked him if there was any truth to the allegations about police officers forcing Dearborn Homes residents to fill out contact cards every time they are stopped by an officer.
"Yes. That is true we are asking people that we stop who come into the Dearborn Homes to fill out contact cards," Camden said during the phone interview that month.
Camden said the reason for asking the public housing residents to fill out the contact cards would be to assist CPD in solving crimes in that community.
If we received a call about a crime that has been committed in that area or nearby and someone described a suspect and we see that we have someone on the contact card that matches that description, we will investigate that person," Camden said.
RJ also asked Camden if the police department was requiring people all over the city to fill out contact cards, including those living on the Gold Coast.
"Yes. All across the city and by the way, the officers fill them out, not the person," he said.
RJ asked Camden to provide copies of the contact cards and data about how many contact cards had been filled out in other parts of Chicago. Camden did not provide this information by press time.
"Which way do you want us to go? We are damned if we don't do anything to deter crime and damned if we do," Camden added.
RJ spoke with Camden again on June 8 to find out if the police officers demanding the information for the contact cards were stationed at the Dearborn Homes.
"No. We are not stationed there. We do not have an office space there. We are there to serve and protect the residents, just like we are with the whole city," he said in a phone interview.
Camden added that the requests by the police department for residents and their guests to provide their personal information to police officers at the Dearborn Homes has been happening "as long as I have been a police officer, for 37 years."
CHA Comments on the Issue
RJ spoke to Derek Hill, a Chicago Housing Authority spokesperson,in January to inquire if the agency knew about the police department's initiative of making the Dearborn Homes residents and their guests fill out contact cards.
RJ also asked Hill if the situation was OK with the public housing agency, which currently pays the police department $16 million annually for "above baseline police services" for the duration of their massive $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation.
"The Chicago Housing Authority pays the Chicago Police Department money to patrol our properties," Hill said.
"And if that is what the Chicago Police Department felt that they needed to do to keep our residents safe, then they should do that."
Dearborn Homes resident Carol Wallace called RJ again in May about the contact cards. She wanted to know if the police officers' demands for information were legal.
Where are our policy makers? Our so-called leaders? Why aren't they addressing these issues that are affecting so many low-income Black people?" she asked.
"Didn't Hitler do that to the Jews? Make them show them their papers and fill out contact cards on them," said an unidentified neighbor of Wallace's again during a telephone interview in April.
RJ called American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Adam Schwarz to inquire if it is an infringement of the Dearborn Homes residents' rights for police officers to ask them for information to fill out contact cards.
"There is a policy in the city called 'Terry Stops' but that is only if a person looks suspicious and you have reason to believe that that person may have done something. But that is not a reason to search or get contact cards filled out for everybody you come into contact with," Schwarz said.
"The fact that you are entering a home or exiting doesn't give rise to suspicious activities and should not be the basis of detaining or interrogating anyone."
Robert D. Whitfield, a co-counsel for the Central Advisory Council, the body of elected CHA resident representatives, also questioned the legality of asking for information from residents in this way.
"Yes. It is highly questionable and yes, it is illegal if they are stopping every single person no matter what," Whitfield said during an interview at a CHA Board of Commissioners meeting at the Charles Hayes Center in mid-May.
3rd Ward Alderman's Response
The news of the police asking the Dearborn Homes residents to provide them with background information about themselves for the contact cards didn't sit too well with newly elected 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell.
"No. They shouldn't be doing that to low-income people," Dowell said on June 7.
"We don't live in South Africa. That's not right. I will definitely be looking into this."
Update- after this article was printed on June 12, on the web at (Wethepeoplemedia.org)
My former place of employment.
Results-Civil Rights Leader Jesse Jackson Sr. Invited Carol Wallace to Operation Push-to tell her story about eleven CPD officers allegedly ransacking her home after going national in Beauty’s Ghetto Bus Tours( Tours that were designed and created by Ms. Beauty Turner to get the voice of the voiceless out) Later Jesse spent the night at another public housing development
The Harold Ickes Homes where the residents were going through the same injustice CPD filling out contact cards on them plus locking them as well as their love ones, and guest who visit them up for trespassing.
Class Action Lawsuit Aimed At City Of Chicago Gathers Momentum
Notes Attorney Tamara N. Holder
Also Set To Sue Chicago Police Department For Defamation Of Character, Returns To Ickes Homes Monday November 5, 2007 at Noon, Joining Reverend Jackson and Rainbow PUSH Coalition
CHICAGO, IL (November 5, 2007) – Tamara N. Holder, Esq., who has led the fight for Harold Ickes Homes residents from day one, announces that the class action lawsuit filed against the City of Chicago in October is gaining momentum with over 300 complaints received thus far. Attorney Holder notes that there are more lawsuits to follow; such as false arrest, warrantless searches, trespass cases and a possible suit against Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).
CHA appears to do nothing to defend their residents, who live in filth and fear every day. With the degradation of women being searched by male officers, who put their hands down female’s pants. Together with allegations of police taking small amounts of money from people and commenting, “Thanks for my lunch money!” As well as allegedly informing residents that they are subject to search at any time because they live in government housing.
CHA risks being sued for a number of claims, such as building code violations; examples of which can be seen with elevators that do not close properly and faulty fire alarms. It has also been documented that CHA contracts out much of its work to entities such as private management companies; and Chicago Police, who are paid millions of dollars per year. Chicago police have also been reported to have had the CHA contracted towing company remove vehicles without CHA knowledge or consent, amongst other allegations.
The specific lawsuit only brings to issue that of the so-called “contact cards” being used under the guise “to monitor criminal activity.” Individuals stopped on the Chicago Housing Authority property are forced to provide officers with their vital info or risk being arrested for trespass, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, and interference with police investigation.
Attorney Holder will be returning to Ickes Homes Monday November 5, 2007, to garner updates; she will be joined with Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
About Tamara N. Holder:
Tamara N. Holder, Esq., (http://www.xpunged.com) is one of Chicago’s rising legal analytical stars. She gained national attention for fighting for the rights of railroad workers who were fired in the name of “homeland security” which led to a Congressional hearing. She most recently filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Chicago and its Chicago Police officers for illegal searches at the Harold Ickes Homes. Her law firm specializes in criminal defense, expungement cases, malpractice and personal injury lawsuits. Ms. Holder sits on the Women of Power Alumni Association Advisory Board; and is also the founder of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Expungement Clinic.
Update-(2008) Many residents as well as their friends and relatives were being arrested and detained, and being charged with trespassing after visiting love ones in the Harold Ickes developments:
The residents are fighting back and winning.
Defendants Acquitted In Ickes Trespass Case Elevates
Tamara Holder’s Fight For Public Housing Residents
CHICAGO, IL (February, 2008) – On February 8, 2008, Tamara N. Holder, Esq., who has been leading the fight for Harold Ickes Homes residents, recently won two cases of trespass on the Ickes property by way of acquittal. The State of Illinois failed to meet its burden that Ickes residents could not have visitors on the property and such visitors would be arrested for trespass by Chicago Police.
Each defendant, Larry Smith and LaCharles Washington, was charged with two counts of trespass: Trespass to State Supported Land and Trespass to Real Property. Attorney Holder subpoenaed the Chicago Housing Authority and the Woodlawn Organization (the Ickes’ property manager) for alleged rules and regulations that residents could not have visitors.
LaCharles Washington was visiting his infant child prior to going to school around 10 am, when he was arrested outside the steps of an Ickes building and detained for ten days. According to Attorney Holder, he was later told by an assistant public defender to plead guilty if he wanted go home since he could not afford to post bond. Attorney Holder was in court that day and convinced Mr. Washington to withdraw his plea of guilty and fight for his innocence.
These victories also settle a previous belief of Judicial Subcircuit No. 9 Judge Marvin P. Luckman, who, in open court, previously told defendant Larry Smith, “Unless you are on the lease, you can’t be on the Ickes property.” Mr. Smith is also the father of an infant child who resides on the property; he was arrested with the child’s mother, Marie Battle, last July. Attorney Holder tried Ms. Battle’s case last October, which resulted in a not guilty verdict by Judge Luckman.
The acquittals now set a precedent for the many pending and potential future trespass cases against relatives and friends of Ickes residents. The victories also provide more fuel to the class action lawsuit filed by Attorney Holder on behalf of Harold Ickes Home residents against the City of Chicago Police Department in October of 2007. Attorney Holder has received hundreds of complaints regarding abuse of police power, including but not limited to trespass.
Attorney Holder, who represented the men pro bono, commented, “the most important thing to me is that public housing residents realize that they do not have lesser rights just because the live in public housing.” She continued, “These victories prove that if you fight for what is right, you will prevail. Many of these arrests and prosecutions are flat-out wrong and a waste of the taxpayer’s money