Report on Chicago’s Response to George Floyd Protests and Unrest

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis, Minnesota police. In the days that followed, protests and civil unrest engulfed cities across the country. The law enforcement response to those events, across the country and in Chicago, has been the subject of intense public and official scrutiny amidst sharp calls for police reform, transparency, and accountability. In June 2020, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) overseeing the consent decree entered in Illinois v. Chicago launched a joint inquiry into the City of Chicago’s response to the demonstrations and unrest in late May and early June. This report is the summation of OIG’s findings from that inquiry. Consistent with the AP Stylebook, OIG uses the terms “protests” and “demonstrations” to describe marches, rallies, and other actions. OIG uses the term “unrest” to describe more violent or destructive criminal behavior such as looting and/or vandalism.

OIG’s report is an in-depth review of the period of May 29 through June 7, both chronologically and analytically. The report aims to present, to the extent possible based on the information and material available, a comprehensive account of the facts, including how involved parties––members of the public, CPD’s rank-and-file, and CPD’s command staff, among others––experienced the protests and unrest. A number of City departments beyond CPD, as well as partner law enforcement agencies, played critical roles in the City’s overall response. OIG sought out information and perspectives from representatives of these City departments and external partner agencies. OIG’s chronology, analysis, and findings are supported by an array of primary and secondary sources, including: interviews, video footage, radio traffic recordings, official reports and other documents, and quantitative analysis of CPD datasets.

In recognition of their different sources and scopes of authority and jurisdiction, and in the interest of avoiding the duplication of efforts, OIG and the IMT undertook fact gathering jointly but are issuing separate reports with different areas of focus. OIG’s report is issued pursuant to its City-spanning jurisdiction and mandate to, among other things, promote effectiveness and integrity in City operations, and the mandate of its Public Safety section to study policies, practices, programs, and training specific to CPD and Chicago’s police accountability agencies. OIG’s report focuses on matters implicating violations of existing City policies, variance between CPD’s then-existing policies and the conduct of its members, and the involvement of non-CPD City actors. The IMT’s report arises from its duties to monitor compliance with the terms of the consent decree, and therefore focuses on topics covered by the consent decree.

OIG and the IMT requested and reviewed thousands of documents and conducted more than 70 interviews with CPD officials, rank-and-file CPD members, officials at other City of Chicago departments, representatives of County and State entities, and members of the public. Perspectives from members of the public were also gathered as part of the record in Illinois v. Chicago during two days of listening sessions held by the Court. OIG further reviewed and analyzed data on CPD’s arrests and reported uses of force during the days at issue, and reviewed over one hundred hours of body-worn camera (BWC) footage and recorded radio transmissions.

This report provides an in-depth public narrative of and accounting for CPD and the City of Chicago’s response to the protests and unrest in late May and early June of 2020. In doing so, this report presents findings on operational failures and shortcomings during the response, which have broad implications for CPD’s policies and practices going forward. This report does not offer specific recommendations. CPD has already undertaken numerous policy revisions in the months since these events, sometimes in consultation with the IMT, as required by the consent decree. OIG was not a party to these consultations and was not made privy to the method, manner, and means through which they were conducted. Other improvements are underway and may be matters of consent decree compliance within the monitoring province of the IMT. Once new policies are in place and operational, OIG, through the regular work of its Public Safety section, will monitor developments and assess whether there remain policy and operational issues that warrant future evaluative inquiry and reporting. For now, in light of the urgency of public concern and the rapidly shifting policy landscape, OIG publishes this narrative and accompanying findings without specific recommendations, but with the intention that it inform corrective actions and reforms to CPD’s policies and practices.