ACLU highlights racial disparities in Chicago police traffic stops, calls for change

New data shows the Chicago Police Department stopped more than half a million drivers last year – the majority of whom were Black and Brown Chicagoans. 

The stops didn't lead to any public safety benefits, according to the ACLU. 

"We filed this lawsuit last year with five clients. Two of them have been stopped an additional three times. Three times in the past year. Another one has been stopped twice. One of our clients was stopped, you know, with our young child, shortly after we filed the lawsuit," said ACLU spokesperson Ed Yonka

Numbers show after the shooting of Laquan McDonald, the following year in 2015, 85,000 motorists were stopped by police. 

Now, that number is up to 535,000 for 2023. 

During that time, CPD officers stopped Black drivers at a rate of close to four times that of white drivers and stopped Latino drivers at a rate of nearly three times that of white drivers. 

These disparities are similar to racial disparities reported in years prior in Chicago. 

The ACLU filed a lawsuit over this issue last year. 

Just last month, a U.S. district judge allowed the central claims of the Wilkins lawsuit to proceed, rejecting CPD's request to dismiss or delay the case. 

"What we've seen is the citywide tactical units tend to target Black and Brown neighborhoods for traffic stops. So, that's where we've seen the greatest amount of increase there. But, we've also seen historically that a Black driver in a predominantly white neighborhood is much more likely to be stopped than a white driver," said Yonka. 

Yonka said he doesn't advocate for traffic stops to be monitored under the consent decree because the benchmarks are for long-term changes. 

The ACLU said the changes in pulling over Black and Brown drivers for no real reasons need to stop now.