A group of Chicago youth staged a “die-in’ at City Hall to demand that the city defund police and fund marginalized communities instead. The youth, all members of #NoCopAcademy, also announced that the organization is suing Mayor Rahm Emanuel for withholding critical emails regarding construction of the proposed $95 million building for a Police and Fire training center in West Garfield Park.
“Rahm supports schools and resources for cops, not for Black and Brown kids,” their mission reads. “We demand a redirecting of this $95 million into Chicago’s most marginalized communities instead. Real community safety comes from fully-funded schools and mental health centers, robust after-school and job-training programs, and social and economic justice. We want investment in our communities, not expanded resources for police.”
Today, members of the #NoCopAcademy — a movement led by Black youth in Chicago but fueled and organized by a group of multiracial youth— took over Chicago’s City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Dr., to demand that the mayor invests in black and brown communities and resources for the youth.
The young protestors first disrupted the Chicago City Council meeting and then staged a “die-in” in the City Hall lobby. The group set up cardboard tombstones with the names of people killed in police shootings, like Laquan McDonald, an unarmed Black teen fatallyshot by Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke. The tombstones also had the names of schools, mental health facilities, and social service institutions that have been shut down by the city due to lack of funding.
Chanting “16 shots and a cover up!” at Chicago City Hall #NoCopAcademy
“16 shots and a cover-up!” the group chanted as police arrived at the lobby, a twitter video shows.
The youth argue that Chicago already spends $1.5 billion on police every year, an approximately $4 million every day.
“We spend 300% more on the CPD as a city than we do on the Departments of Public Health, Family and Support Services, Transportation, and Planning and Development (which handles affordable housing). This plan is being praised as a development opportunity to help local residents around the proposed site, but when Rahm closed 50 schools in 2013, six were in this neighborhood,” their mission reads.
West Garfield Park is a predominantly Black neighborhood and it was in September 2017 that community leaders decided to take matters into their own hands by creating the #NoCopAcademy Movement, wrote Juanita Tennyson for Teen Vogue. The group of teens met with City Council members, held press conferences, canvassed and door knocked on the West Side to raise awareness of the project.
Maria Mora, described as a lead organizer and canvasser with #NoCopAcademy spoke before City Council and said that the group had surveyed 500 residents of West Garfield Park and communities nearby about the project.
“88% are opposed,” she said. Mora added that the majority agreed that building a police academy was not the “best deal for a $95 million investment” in the neighborhood, and 7% need more information.
Listen. Listen listen listen! Maria has been leading canvassing on the west side asking neighbors of proposed cop academy what they think. She breaks down the results of the 500 people surveyed so far here and it’s
She added that most people agreed that the investment in the West Side should be in community safety, schools, community spaces, mental health clinics, substance abuse clinics, homelessness and to reclaiming abandoned spaces.
During a Council meeting in November 2017, Chance the Rapper spoke out against Rahm’s plan and shortly after took it to social media, making #NoCopAcademy a trending topic.
Today, the Grammy-winning South Side rap artist sent his support to the youth at City Hall through a tweet.
“Students in Chicago are staging a SIT IN at City Hall right now. I ask that you stop by and show them that you are in SUPPORT of their REVOLUTION. Bring food if you can, these children are fighting for our future kids as well as themselves #NoCopAcademy121 N LASALLE ST,” he tweeted.
Students in Chicago are staging a SIT IN at City Hall right now. I ask that you stop by and show them that you are in SUPPORT of their REVOLUTION. Bring food if you can, these children are fighting for our future kids as well as themselves #NoCopAcademy
121 N LASALLE ST
In that November meeting, the aldermen voted 48-1 for the new police academy and Emanuel defended the project at his post-meeting news conference, reported Chicago Tribune.
“All the aldermen on the West Side voted for this because they understand — they have felt forgotten from the type of public investments that can spur economic growth,” Emanuel said. “It will have its own value of safety for the entire city. It will have its own value of safety… to the West Side. And it will be an investment in the kind of economic activity we want to see.”
Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) in charge of the West Garfield Park area said that the academy would provide a way for the department to try to fix some of the training inadequacies and, that way, address the pattern of constitutional violations by police against residents. She added that the training center could be an anchor for economic development and give residents a sense of safety in a part of the city that has been beset by poverty and violence for decades, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The only aldermen to vote no was Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) who in the midst of today’s action in City Hall tweeted a series of photos of an introduction of an ordinance for a “Chicago Civilian Oversight Commission.”
“#LaquanMcDonald, #RekiaBoyd, the victims of police violence deserve TRUE civilian oversight & accountability. This ordinance from Mayor’s Public Safety Committee Chair is a joke and an insult to the victims of police violence and every Chicagoan fighting for justice in policing.”
I got off work early for spring break and headed directly to City Hall where #NoCopAcademy organizers and supporters have taken over the lobby since around noon.
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- Chicago City Hall Rahm Emanuel Emma Mitts