On Monday, March 19th, three middle school students from Village Leadership Academy and a member of Jane Addams Senior Caucus attempted to speak with their Alderperson, Ms Emma Mitts, about her support for the proposed cop academy during a ward night. Upon learning the subject of the visit, her staff proceeded to tell the middle school students, “not today” and interrogate them about their addresses and motives. Her Chief of Staff and another individual who refused to identify himself, told the residents that there were community members who live in the ward with more pressing issues. At one point, the individual who refused to identify himself told one of the middle school students she could speak with Mitts if she went alone into a back room. They were encouraged to leave and return for a Community Meeting at a later date.
Watch Video Footage Here:
The students decided to wait until the end of Ward Night, on the chance they would get to speak with Mitts. After nearly 30 minutes of questioning and condescension, and after the staff learned that one of the students lives on the same block as the Alderwoman, Emma Mitts came out to speak with her residents.
During their few minutes together, one of the students fearlessly pushed her on the need to listen to youth voices (since she had said as much at a recent vigil), that more police do not make her feel safe, that more Black police don’t change the issue of police violence, and that she’d rather see investment in their neighborhood come in the form of mental health services or community centers. Mitts shared that a community meeting had already happened on the issue, with 70 people present who supported the plan, and so there was no more room for debate.
The Alderwoman also reinforced many of the talking points seen in this Op Ed, which her staff also distributed: