Counter-Resolution

The following is a paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal to the Kankakee County Board’s
garbage resolution #2020-08-11-103. You can read their resolution here.

WHEREAS, Kankakee County’s wonderfully diverse community is marred by the effects of systemic racism, including mass incarceration and historical redlining, and, 

WHEREAS, Sheriff Michael Downey has repeatedly expressed his intention to uphold county, state, and federal laws regardless of the morality of these laws or their dehumanizing effects, 

WHEREAS, Sheriff Downey nonetheless enforces laws selectively, as demonstrated when he publicly announced that he decided Illinois’ stay-at-home order and mask mandate were illegitimate, and refused to enforce either,

WHEREAS, we acknowledge that human rights are universal and should not be determined nor affected by national borders, 

WHEREAS, the presence of ICE detainees at Jerome Combs Detention Center (JCDC) makes Kankakee County complicit in ICE’s atrocities, including, but not limited to, the separation of families, blanket asylum denial for refugees, and inhumane detention camp conditions,

WHEREAS, calling this country the “land of the free” is farcical when the United States imprison the highest percentage of its population in the world, comparable to soviet Russia, 

WHEREAS, the gains of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 remain under threat, e.g. via the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision that has enabled areas with a racist history to purge their voter rolls, 

WHEREAS, American Exceptionalism is a pervasive and insidious myth, frequently invoked to justify imperialism and oppression abroad and domestically, and the United States has especially harmful and ineffective systems for immigration, criminal justice, and healthcare, 

WHEREAS, we acknowledge that law enforcement operates as a system, and as such all law enforcement personnel share responsibility for both systemic failures in our justice system and failure to prevent, intervene, or discipline individual law enforcement workers’ malicious actions, 

WHEREAS, the people of Kankakee County deserve racial equity in all domains, including our policing, criminal justice, and healthcare systems, 

WHEREAS, despite the Kankakee County Board’s laudable Affirmative Action Resolution, among Kankakee County employees, racial and ethnic minorities remain underemployed and underpaid compared to their white counterparts,

WHEREAS, the Ten Shared Principles to Improve Relationships Between Law Enforcement and the Communities They Serve adopted by the Kankakee County Board express positive sentiments but lack any accompanying means of enforcement, and thus at present have only symbolic value, 

WHEREAS, we acknowledge the hypocrisy of praising nonviolent protest while condoning detention of immigrants and refugees and ignoring incidents of racist police violence throughout this country, 

WHEREAS, many Kankakee County residents and organizations continue the legacy of fighting against injustice, including Kankakee County Branch NAACP, Connect Kankakee, Kankakee Anti-Racist Unity (KARU), and Kankakee County DSA,

WHEREAS, we share the Kankakee County Board’s expressed rejection of racial injustice in all systems of government and access to County services, 

WHEREAS, we recognize the necessity of healthy conflict, and concur with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that “true peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice,”

WHEREAS, we recognize the County Board’s expressed willingness to partner with others to pursue immigration reform is, in actuality, an attempt to deny its participation in the current injustices of the U.S. immigration system; and the Board can instruct the Sheriff to modify or end the U.S. Marshals’ contract such that it disallows ICE from housing detainees at JCDC,

WHEREAS, a variety of interconnected social factors affect the relationships between race/ethnicity, mental health, and our criminal justice system, 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we affirm these shared principles: 

  1. We object to the current County budget and its reliance on revenue obtained via the unjust detention of immigrants for ICE. We commit fully to ending ICE’s acts of terror, and pledge to transform our immigration and criminal justice systems.

  2. We commit to challenging all forms of racism within our community, whether individual or systemic.

  3. We wholeheartedly embrace all members of our community across every race, ethnicity, national origin, and immigration status; and will intentionally stand alongside those individuals and groups who have faced discrimination.

  4. We honor the great effort and sacrifice shown by all immigrants, and acknowledge that legal immigration is not always a timely viable option because the U.S. government has deliberately made our immigration system difficult and costly to navigate. We denounce the ways U.S. foreign policy has worsened socioeconomic conditions in other countries, effectively pressuring people to emigrate.

  5. We reject those in County government who disregard the human cost of their policies and who deny their authority and responsibility to address injustice.

  6. We demand justice in this place and in this moment, acknowledging that the law is an insufficient proxy for what is moral and good, and ask the County Board to take the following actions within their authority:

    1. Tell Sheriff Downey to immediately inform ICE that JCDC will no longer detain immigrants whose sole offense(s) involve unlawful entry or residence in the United States.

    2. Amend or terminate the Sheriff’s contract with U.S. Marshals such that either a) no people are detained at JCDC on behalf of ICE, or b) the only ICE detainees held at JCDC have been convicted of a violent crime (per the National Institute of Justice definition).

    3. As soon as possible, make and implement a plan to address the loss of County revenue from the above two changes.

  7. We question the societal value of jails and prisons, recognizing that punitive justice systematically fails to address the social causes of criminal behavior or even to rehabilitate offenders; we reject the inherent violence of this system and our County’s willing participation in it.

  8. We acknowledge that the U.S. immigration operates in a way that maintains racial/ethnic and economic hierarchies, and as such is functionally racist, classist, and unjust.

  9. We call for a massive divestment of resources from law enforcement and corresponding reinvestment in social services, civic engagement, and sustainable community development.

ENDORSED BY Connect Kankakee, Kankakee County DSA,
and Kankakee Anti-Racist Unity (KARU)

WRITTEN BY Jonathan Shinabarger