Brake light repair services aim to counter increased traffic stops

Volunteers braved toe-numbing temperatures to provide a preventative solution to overpolicing that’s plagued the black and Latinx communities on the West Side

alt text By Trevor Squire, Criminal Justice Reform Editor, The Real Chi

A recent American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois report found that traffic stops tripled from 2015 to 2017 in Chicago — rising from nearly 86,000 to over 285,000 in 2017.

Black motorists faced the brunt of the increased enforcement, accounting for 61 percent of stops despite representing 32 percent of the population. Black and Latinx drivers were subject to consent searches 2.7 times more than white drivers and were less likely to have contraband in their vehicles.

As traffic stops have become the most common public interaction with Chicago Police, these searches have become a burden on black and brown communities. Nearly a quarter of stops were attributed to equipment violations, which often result in a verbal warning.

In an effort to deter unnecessary traffic stops, the Chicago Socialist Party launched its first brake light repair event Jan. 27 in Cicero, where drivers who pulled into the lot on the corner of Roosevelt Road and South Cicero Avenue could have their tail lights checked and replaced for free.

“People understand what’s going on in Chicago,” Faes said, explaining the support in raising over $200 in funds, which will last several months. “The impulse is to reduce arbitrary traffic stops and the need to let people know of their rights.”

The CSP hopes to expand its program to East Garfield Park and engage more community members for cooperative future events.

The next brake light repair event will take place on Sunday, March 3, from 2-5 p.m. To learn more, click here to view the Facebook event page.