On the same day anti-violence protesters shut down Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive during rush hour, demanding the resignations of Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, police in the city launched a sting operation that involved leaving a “bait truck” full of boxed Nike shoes in Englewood—deepening distrust of law enforcement among the South Side neighborhood’s mostly black and low-income residents, and provoking outrage among civil rights advocates.

“The Chicago Police Department admits that it can’t solve murders and violent crimes because communities of color don’t trust the Chicago police. These stunts won’t help,” declared Karen Sheley, director of the Police Practices Project at the ACLU of Illinois.

Instead of such stunts, Sheley said, “police in Chicago must focus on building trust and better relationships within the communities they serve”—particularly those “communities that have too often been the target of police abuse.”

In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Alderman Roderick Sawyer, chair of the City Council’s Black Caucus, called the operation “an unacceptable and inappropriate use of police resources,” and said that “in a moment where police capacity is clearly under extreme strain, these sort of tactics are the last thing we should be spending manpower and energy on.”

Miles Kampf-Lassin, an editor at the Chicago-based progressive magazine In These Times, denounced the operation alongside other moves by Emanuel’s administration:

“Especially after a weekend with 70 shootings and zero arrests, news of this bait truck operation is an appalling display of misplaced priorities and a step backwards on the path to trust and legitimacy,” concluded Lori Lightfoot, former head of the Chicago Police Board—an “independent civilian body that decides disciplinary cases involving Chicago police officers”—and one of Emanuel’s challengers in the 2019 mayoral race.

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