Mayor Hagerty, we understand that you met with over 300 mayors across the country in June of this year and talked about policing’s good and evil and agree on pledges that you feel will address the problems with the policemen and the citizens in our community. It is good that you are pulling plans and pledge together to change some of your police department’s policies.  But you did not include the groups suffering at the hands of the policemen. It is terrible that you and your fellow mayors came back home and did not share this information with the group of citizens who suffered the most at the hand of your policemen’s hand. You sat down with individuals like you and one or two people from a class that closely resembles what you see as proper and the right people of color or low-income white people.

You, Mayor Hagerty, are not addressing the people directly affected by the BAD police behaviors.  Mayor Hagerty, when will you schedule the meeting with the Black, Hispanic, Asian,  and all other minorities in the community to get their input on the issues that face them.     We purchase the policemen’s services by the taxes we paid on the property we use (own or rent). It seems that you, Mayor Hagerty, are only concerned with the plan that you put forth in the community as a whole, but you are not addressing the low-income and minority people in the city.  When will you address the issues for those residents that were left out?

The continued use of stop and frisk, harassment, the overuse of the “NO KNOCK WARRANT,” the use of reasonable suspicion, the use of force, and “I was afraid for my life.”  Did you and your fellow mayors ever examine the evidence to see if the policemen were in danger of losing his/her life?  So, until you sit down with the group that suffers the most from the policemen’s actions, nothing will change, and the Black Lives Matter sign posted in the yard is to make you feel good so as not to deal with the problem. To make changes, you have to speak out about what you think and know to be wrong, and you cannot stand with any of the other mayors’ agreements and pledges as they do not address the inequities of treatment of the Black and brown people.

So, Mayor Hagerty, when can we (the constituents) who are affected the most, have a meeting with you and the Evanston Police Department to discuss the issues that affect us the most

Betty Sue Ester
Citizens Network of Protection


Rooting Out Systemic Racism in Evanston

The Citizens’ Network of Protection is committed to rooting out systemic racism in Evanston. One system, or institution, where reforms have failed to adequately address this issue is policing.  The institution of policing in Evanston has not been an exception to the rule. Black and Brown people in Evanston have felt the blow of discriminatory police practices for decades and decades with no relief.  Meanwhile, the Evanston Police Department budget has soared over the last 10 years, nearly doubling from 2009, and now accounting for nearly 34% of the City of Evanston general fund. The Citizens’ Network of Protection is here to help answer two fundamental questions that are critical to protecting the lives of Black and Brown people in Evanston and upending the systemic racism that is embedded in our culture and institutions.

Question #1 – What can white people do?

Organizations across this country, such as Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ), have long been working on helping white people answer that question. The Citizens’ Network of Protection urges white people to read these five recommendations and put forth by SURJ  and apply them to your life and community.  The recommendations are outlined below, but please take the time to read the meaning and explanation behind each one. The full article can be found at: 5 Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White and State-Sanctioned Violence by Showing Up For Racial Justice

  1. Come out as anti-racist and invite others to join you.
  2. Join fights to defund the police. 
  3. Make a commitment to “organize your own” for the long haul.
  4. Focus on building our numbers, not being right.
  5. Help resource the work of Black-led groups that are fighting for police accountability and abolition.

Question #2 – What are alternatives to calling the police?

Steps to Ask Yourself

  1. Is this merely an inconvenience to me? > Can I put up with this and be okay? If the answer is yes, then do not call the police or go chasing the individual where you inflict bodily harm on him/her/them.
  2. No, I need to respond > Can I handle this on my own, is this something I could try to talk-out with the person? Ask yourself, did you see the person do something wrong or are people in harm’s way? Before you chase or call the police on the Black individual, remember that people have the right to walk or go where they please on public property.
  3. No, I need back-up > Is there a friend, neighbor, or someone whom I could call to help me?  
  4. No, I need a professional > Can we use mediation to talk through what’s happening or is there an emergency response hotline I could call that does not involve police interaction? 
  5. No,> If I call the police do I understand how involving the police could impact me and the other person? If police are present do you know what to do? If yes, collect information as to what the individual looks like and where he/she/they went and relate this to the police. Say you decide you need to interact with police. Let’s discuss how you can minimize harm. Can you go to the police station with photos instead of bringing the police to your neighborhood?

Inviting police into your community may be putting people in your neighborhood at risk.

Reading Lists to Keep Learning! 


Chief Demitrous Cook’s Improper Social Media Use

On Tuesday, February 18,  Citizens Network of Protection learned that Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook posted out-of-date Evanston Police booking photographs of living and deceased residents to the public page of his personal snapchat account. 

This is a type of public shaming of residents who may only have been charged with but not convicted of a crime and is an abuse of community trust to imply guilt before trial.   This publication also included a juvenile whose conviction has been expunged.

When we reached out to the Evanston Police department earlier this week to ask if they have a social media policy, they said no. When we asked if they follow the United States Department of Justice national guidelines on social media use, they said no.

Today, Police Chief Demitrous Cook held a press conference to explain why he posted these photos on a public forum and to apologize for his actions. (The names and faces below were blurred by Citizens Network of Protection, not by Evanston Police Department/Chief Cook).

While we respect his attempt to bring some transparency to the matter the City did not post the event on its website or social media accounts and therefore the public was not aware of this press conference and we could not participate. 

We are particularly concerned with his claim that “this was done so he could capture a high-resolution image of these photos for his own personal research into these cases.” He incorrectly claimed that “Snapchat takes higher-resolution photos than his own smartphone’s camera.” Actually, Snapchat photo quality is significantly lower than the smartphone’s native camera app. A quick Google search will show you that this is common knowledge. 

We disagree with this assessment and question Chief Cook’s explanation of how and why the photos ended up posted on Snapchat.

In addition to answering these questions about this post by Chief Cook, the Evanston Police Department clearly needs to develop a strong social media policy and train its members. 

-CNP Board



Why am I committed to the mission of the Citizens Network of Protection?

Austin Spillar

It was the fall of 2015 when I first met CNP co-founder and president, Betty Ester. She had contacted the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where I was a 2L at the time, in an effort to find a law student to assist CNP with improving police accountability, oversight, and transparency in Evanston.  The Public Interest Director at Loyola informed me that Betty wanted to have a meeting. I eagerly agreed because I had already had experience working in law firms handling police misconduct cases involving the Chicago PD and I wanted to dedicate as much time as possible to helping people that have been harmed by police.
I did not fully understand the problems facing black and brown communities in Evanston until I met Betty. I quickly learned how the Evanston Police Department and the City of Evanston has had so many of the same problems of police misconduct, lawsuits, racial inequality, and inadequate civilian oversight as what I knew to be true in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New York. The closer I started to look, it became evident that there was a dark side to the Evanston PD. 

I am proud to do this work with CNP because we are working towards bringing about systemic change. I firmly believe that the power and authority that the police have belongs to the people. CNP helps people recognize that power, fights tirelessly to help people who have been harmed by police, and is dedicated to re-imagining the role that police play in our everyday lives.   


The Curfew Hurt

A frantic lady screening from the porch

“The police are taking my son to jail, 

he was only twenty  (20) steps 

from his home.” She called me, shouting,

“I am in the bathroom at the police station. 

They are trying to come into the bathroom.” 

 Shout out that you are talking to your lawyer.

The lady went home with her son and 

a station adjustment.

It hurt me to see the young kids not allowed

to wait for their ride in from of the theatre. 

But march to the corner of Maple and Church

street and standing in a huddle like cows. 

Seeing this and heard that Black kids

are picked up by the EDP all of the time 

breaking the curfew when their parents are 

10 minute late and they tell the police

they are on their way. 

They had to go to the EPD station and

sing a station adjustment.

That is why  I got involved with the Citizens’ Network of Protection. 

By Betty Ester



Question and Answer with CNP Board Member Elizabeth Meadows

Why you think Evanston needs Citizens Network of Protection?

Elizabeth Meadows

There is police misconduct, ranging from harassment to the killing of people, in places all over the U.S. Evanston is no exception. This fact is, in my experience, less widely understood by white people than by Black people in Evanston. The CNP works to raise awareness of police misconduct in Evanston in order to help people work towards decreasing the amount of police misconduct in Evanston.

In addition, in many places in the U.S., including in Evanston,  there are difficulties, and sometimes actual obstacles, in the way of people filing complaints when they are the victims of police misconduct. Help is needed and CNP provides help to Evanston residents who are aged 23 and older in filing such complaints.  (Other organizations exist to help younger people.)

Part of the help that CNP provides is educating people about their rights. For example, what are a person’s rights when encountered by the police? For individuals in Evanston to know their rights  is important for improving the relations between the police and everyone in Evanston, given that the police here are supposed to serve and protect every single person in Evanston. The CNP works towards the realization of that role for police.

Why does the Evanston Police department need to reform it’s nuisance citation policy?

I recently learned about the city and state nuisance policies at a CNP educational forum. I am extremely concerned that homeowners can and do lose their homes due to citations under this ordinance. Nuisance citations can arise when neighbors dislike neighbors and want them gone from their neighborhood. This is wrong and CNP is needed to help make this right. CNP focuses on police accountability, police transparency, and community oversight of the police. Evanston residents need to know their rights when police confront them with an alleged nuisance citation. CNP helps with this community education.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. encourage  you as residents in Evanston to become engaged in conversation about these two topics. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Elizabeth Meadows – CNP Board Member


The Vote on Rochester Police Accountability Board

The Rochester police Accountability Board, like the Citizens Network of Protection, would have the power to investigate civilian complaints independently.  They both have subpoena power for getting information for their investigations.  They will determine whether individual officers have committed misconduct.  
The citizens of Rochester by referendum put in place their Police Accountability Board.  CNP is asking you the citizens of Evanston to do the same thing in voting to created the Evanston Board of Police Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency.  CNP’s proposal goes further than the Rochester Police Accountability Board in that it would be an independent agency with no connection to the Police Department or the City Government. 
The Rochester citizens put in place a board that will oversee the police conduct as they engage with the citizens.   The citizens in Evanston can do the same for their citizens that need assistance to fight the system.
  The unofficial voting results indicated that the referendum on the proposed board passed by more than a 3-to-1 margin: 75 to 25 percent. Nearly 17,800 voters approved the measure, while nearly 6,600 voters voted against it.  


Call to action on 79-O-19 ORDINANCE “Citizen Police Review Commission”

The Citizens’ Network of Protection asks you to read the attached documents.  After reading them, we ask you to take a stand as to what your voice will be loud or silent.  

If you agree with CNP and want to make a loud noise, call, write the City Council urging them to vote NO on Ordinance 79-O-19.   The only way that we can convince the Council to vote NO is to speak loud as one voice. Thank you for your effort in supporting this campaign to defeat  Ordinance 79-O-19, which does not serve the citizens. 
Betty Ester, President, Citizens’ Network of Protect


Our Trouble with Citizen Police Review Commission Ordinance 79-0-19

The Evanston City Council will vote on October 28th on ordinance to create the Citizen Police Review Commission. If this ordinance passes, it will mean that the systems of police accountability will be unchanged from the way things are today. It is lacking the power and scope of responsibilities necessary to provide meaning oversight, accountability, and transparency of the Evanston Police Department. This ordinance lacks community empowerment. The Commission does not have subpoena power and the Police Chief isn’t even required to give an explanation if they disagree with a finding or recommendation of the Commission. Despite a mayoral appointed task force that found that many people in Evanston do not know about the complaint process, this ordinance does not require the Commission to do community outreach to inform people about the complaint process or to discuss issues that are driving a wedge between the community and police. The charts below highlight the major errors we believe the Evanston city council is making if they pass the ordinance as written.

Download the PDF here