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Illinois union says monitoring of peaceful protests by Chicago police ‘unsettling’

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CHICAGO (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois says reports of Chicago police monitoring peaceful protest groups is “unsettling” and is calling for City Council hearings.

The group issued a Sunday statement responding to a Chicago Sun-Times report, which outlined seven investigations by police since 2009 to monitor groups exercising free-speech rights.

Emails released by the city in the wake of the 2014 fatal police-involved shooting of Laquan McDonald showed officials watched actions of protesters closely. The black teenager was shot by a white officer 16 times.

The Sun-Times reports the department’s top attorney approved 2015 plans to send undercover officers to monitor meetings, including those held by Black Lives Matter activists, churches and philanthropic organizations.

A police spokesman calls their investigations “protective actions” in limited circumstances to ensure safety.