When did your organization, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?
Students from 6 high schools on the Southwest side joined the the #NoCopAcademy Campaign in August of 2017 as members of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council’s Youth Action Council. Since 2015, Students on the Southwest side had been demanding that the City of Chicago #FreeTheFunds and invest TIF money in neighborhood, public schools in communities of color instead of downtown developments. The Cities announcement that TIF money would now be used to build a new police academy came as schools in Englewood were being closed and as the police department’s use of the gang database to target, criminalize and deport Black and Latinx people was exposed. At schools at the Southwest side, schools like Kelly High School were losing 5 of 9 counselors in one year, while retaining the two police officers permanently stationed in the building. BPNC youth leaders recognized that in order to truly build sanctuary in schools and communities, there must be an investment in community, not police, and decided to join the No Cop Academy campaign.
How has your organization contributed to the campaign?
BPNC youth leaders have met with their aldermen, organized train takeovers, and participated in City Council disruptions. On Valentine’s Day, students organized a #RahmHatesUS train takeover with a Mic Check poem asking passengers to call the Mayor and demand he keep Englewood schools open instead of opening the new police academy.
On March 14th, students walked-out of school to demand an end to gun violence and joined together for a sit-in at City Hall to demand Education Not Incarceration. #NoCopAcademy was one of 17 demands students identified to stop gun violence in Chicago including, a librarian in every school, youth jobs, and mental health clinics.
What has been your organization’s highlight of the campaign?
One highlight was the #NoCopAcademy teach-in at the CPS Headquarters when Englewood students led a take-over of the building during the Board of Education meeting. Highlighting the injustice of the closure of 4 public high schools in Englewood, while police receive a new training facility was powerful, especially as it was followed by a march of hundreds to City Council.