Every Friday, No Cop Academy will be interviewing an organization that has contributed to the campaign since we launched last September! We have an incredibly powerful coalition made up of organizations doing social justice work across many issues, and we want to show that there’s a wide range of support to not only stop the construction of the $95 million dollar police academy, but divest from policing as a whole.
Today, we’re highlighting Invisible 2 Invincible (i2i), a community-based organization that celebrates and affirms Asians & Pacific Islanders who identify as LGBTQ in the Chicago area. I2i threw down hard at this year’s Lunar New Year Parade, repping No Cop Academy in multiple Asian languages as the only LGBTQ organization marching in the parade.
When did your organization, Invisible 2 Invincible (i2i), decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?
In the past several years, i2i has done internal political education about our relationship to racial justice struggles, particularly movements for Black Lives, police/prison abolition, and addressing anti-blackness within our communities. i2i joined the No Cop Academy campaign in October 2017 because the fight for LGBTQ issues, the fight for racial justice, and the abolitionist vision against the policing of society (especially Black and brown communities) cannot be separated. We reject the historical propaganda of an Asian American “model minority” used to perpetuate anti-blackness that upholds the notion that Chicago needs more policing. i2i believes Chicago should invest $95 million in schools and other needed community resources.
How has your organization contributed to the campaign?
I2i helped canvass residents of the 49th and 47th ward to talk about the campaign, collect petition signatures in support, and organized a meeting with Alderman Joe Moore. We organized a sign-making party, and a few of our members volunteered at the youth summit. In April we hosted a discussion and teach-in for our members to talk about the campaign, about police and prison abolition more generally, and our relationship to police/prison abolition as queer Asians. In February, we marched in the Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown, holding signs and banners in support of the campaign in multiple Asian languages and linking the campaign to the fight for funding for schools and other social services. We’re planning to organize a fundraiser for the campaign in June.
What has been your organization’s highlight of the campaign?
Marching in the Lunar New Year parade, one of the biggest celebrations in Chicago’s Asian American communities. We’ve marched in the parade in previous years to increase awareness and visibility of LGBTQ issues within Chinese and API communities, as we are the only LGBTQ organization that marches in the parade. This year, we held signs in multiple Asian languages in support of the No Cop Academy campaign and handed out flyers to community members, connecting it to funding for neighborhood schools and other resources for community. CBS Chicago covered the action. In the press release, Kristina Tendilla, an i2i core member, said “We are here to talk to Chinatown residents about how our City is spending $95 million on a police academy while many of our neighborhoods need schools. All over the city communities are asking to keep their high schools or for the city to build new ones. Instead of competing with each other for funding, we need to look at how the city is prioritizing money and insist that they invest in our communities.”
What strategies/tactics/frameworks does your organization bring to the campaign?
Much of i2i’s focus is on creating affirming spaces for and building community among LGBTQ APIs. We do education, advocacy, visibility, and organizing work, but we’re not an organizing or campaign-centered organization. That said, one thing i2i has to offer is strong relationships both within i2i and with other API communities in Chicago. We hope API communities can hold more conversations about our stake in the #NoCopAcademy campaign, and to have more of us engaged in shifting resources from the police and prison system to people and communities.
In 2016, i2i participated with more than 30 other API groups in a town hall forum organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, convened in response to the abuse of an Asian-American immigrant woman by Chicago police officers. We also hosted several meetings and discussions on addressing anti-blackness in our communities and solidarity with Black Lives Matter, including a discussion about Peter Liang, and a racial justice retreat to clarify our own values and goals. In 2017, we organized a series of study group potlucks for i2i members and APIs to read and discuss the Movement for Black Lives Platform. We’ve participated or helped organize past actions and tactics such as the Asians Against Anita press conference during the #ByeAnita campaign; train takeovers for #RememberRekia #SaveCSU and the TRUST/Welcoming City Ordinance; and #StopITOA.
We hope that participating in the #NoCopAcademy campaign and facilitating dialogue, political education, and advocacy work related to the campaign within API communities can be a continuation of this work.
We’re also great at throwing get togethers with amazing food, so we’re hoping to be able to use that to do some fundraising for the campaign!