Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb declared a local state of emergency, June 1, in light of recent acts of property destruction and disturbances to peace from widespread protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
The village board voted 6-1 to pass an ordinance allowing the mayor to make the declaration following recommendations from the police chief and village manager. Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla opposed the measure.
“I want to be able to give the police the necessary tools to protect the community,” said Abu-Taleb. “My intention would be to follow the advice of the village manager and the chief of police.”
The local state of emergency, which expires June 9, gives the mayor the authority to declare a nightly curfew. The night of the declaration, the mayor set a curfew of 9 p.m., expiring at 6 a.m., June 2, the same hours as the curfew put in place by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, as well as that of the May 31 curfew in Oak Park.
Following consultation with the police chief and village manager, Abu-Taleb will determine if and when to impose curfew. He has the ability to impose a curfew for single or consecutive days.
People traveling to and from work deemed essential, such as law enforcement personnel, fire, public works and news media, are exempt from the curfew. Attorneys are also exempt when representing clients who have been detained for breaking curfew.
The June 1 village board meeting started with a moment of silence for George Floyd.
“I want to say that I’m angry about what happened in Minneapolis,” said the mayor. “The village board, village staff and the whole village is angry at this tragedy. It was wrong and unacceptable that a public servant acted to harm and not protect.”
Several public comments from citizens denounced police brutality and called on the village board and the police department to employ more racially equitable tactics when policing.
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek made clear that protests, walks and memorials for Floyd in Oak Park have been “incredibly peaceful” and instances of damage and destruction were completely unrelated to the protests.
The June 1 meeting marked the expiration of the mayor’s declaration of an emergency affecting public health enacted March 13 due to COVID-19.
Per recommendation from the ad hoc business taskforce, the village board voted to waive and suspend business license fees through March 31, 2021 for businesses that had to close during the village’s declaration of an emergency affecting public health.
The board of trustees also voted to decrease the license fee for any current non-package Class C liquor licenses for the time the emergency affecting public health declaration was in effect.
The village board tabled a discussion about reducing expenses for the fiscal year of 2020 to address the fiscal impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Oak Park.