Renault Robinson

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Renault Robinson
Born (1942-09-08) September 8, 1942 (age 76)[1]
Police career
CountryUnited States
DepartmentChicago Police Department
Service years1964–1983
RankSworn in as an officer – 1964
Other workChairman: Chicago Housing Authority

Renault Anthony Robinson (born September 8, 1942) is an American former police officer for the Chicago Police Department, which he served from 1964 to 1983. Robinson served as chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority under the leadership of former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington from August 1983 until January 1987. He is most known for founding the African American Patrolman's League. During his career as a police officer, Robinson was responsible for bringing a civil rights lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department for discrimination against minorities (African-Americans and Latinos).


Born in Chicago, to Mabel and Robert Robinson, he graduated from Hyde Park High School (now Hyde Park Academy High School) in 1960.

Chicago Police Department[edit]

External audio
Renault Robinson talks with Studs Terkel on WFMT; 1971, 5:42, Radio Diaries[3]

Robinson joined the Chicago Police Department in 1964, and was involved in providing police protection for the September 4, 1966, march on Cicero, Illinois. In 1968 Robinson co-founded the Chicago Police Department's Afro-American Patrolmen’s League (Later known as the Afro American Police League and now known as the African American Police League), an organization aimed at improving police service to the black community and at getting more blacks into policymaking positions in the department.[1][4] The formation of the AAPL led to an increase in minority officers and civil rights lawsuits against the CPD for the discrimination of African American and Hispanic citizens. It also was a costly move for Robinson. Before the founding of the AAPL, Robinson was considered a model policeman with a 97% efficiency rating and had won more than 50 citations for outstanding police work.[4] After the founding of the AAPL, Robinson and other members were often suspended, brought up on charges for minor infractions, reassigned to less desirable positions and threatened with dismissal from the police force as the CPD hoped to dismantle the organization. Robinson nevertheless remained on the force and spoke out against racism in the police department criticizing events such as a raid that resulted in the murder of Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton [5] and a dragnet operation ran by infamous Chicago police commander Jon Burge that resulted in a military-like occupation of Chicago's South Side.[6] Despite the hardships in the department Robinson however was backed by Harold Washington, a member of the Illinois House of Representatives who would become Chicago's first African American mayor.

Chicago Housing Authority[edit]

In August 1983, Robinson resigned from the police force when he was appointed to chair the Chicago Housing Authority by newly elected African-American Mayor Harold Washington.[1] During his first few months as chairman, He made a number of controversial decisions. He was criticized for the firing of the authority's elevator mechanics and maintenance personal without having adequate replacements; which caused problems for residents living in high-rise buildings. In October, Robinson was stripped of day-to day authority for many reasons; but notably for the hiring friends, relatives and associates in top authority positions. By end of 1983, his yearly salary was deduced from $60,000 to 30,000. [7] In 1984, Robinson began a political war with newly executive director Zirl Smith for control over the Chicago Housing Authority which lasted for three years. In January 1987, After a week after Smith resigned as executive director; Robinson resigned as chairman. [8]

Later career/Personal[edit]

In 1989, Robinson pursued a business career in temporary staffing and became vice president of ASI Personnel Service before founding his own agency, Renault Robinson Staffing, in 2000.[1] Robinson has been married to his wife Annette since 1966, they have four children; Renault Robinson Jr., Brian Robinson, Kivu Robinson and Kobie Robinson.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "The HistoryMakers Video Oral History Interview with Renault Robinson". Retrieved 2009-08-05.
  2. ^ The Departure Of Renault Robinson Chicago Tribune (January 18, 1987)
  3. ^ "The Working Tapes". Radio Diaries. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  4. ^ a b TIME Magazine: The Anguish of Blacks in Blue
  5. ^ Police and Panthers at War
  6. ^ Police Torture In Chicago: House of Screams
  7. ^ Resign, Mr. Robinson Chicago Tribune (October 25, 1985)
  8. ^ Smith Resigns In CHA Feud Robinson Wins Long Tug Of War Chicago Tribune (January 8, 1987)