#Follow Friday: Teachers for Social Justice

When did your organization, Teachers for Social Justice (TSJ), decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

Three years ago, the theme of TSJ’s annual curriculum fair was titled “Defund Policing, Fund Communities and Schools.  While the #NoCopAcademy campaign was not visible during this curriculum fair, our political orientation and hopes to defund policing seem to be in alignment with the campaign.  

When the campaign kicked off, TSJ felt the need to join because of our political stance and solidarity with others.  Broadly, we both seek to build the sort of world that doesn’t require policing, and support using other forms of harm prevention and reduction.  More specifically, we seek to reimagine what the city of Chicago could look like if we did not spend 4 million dollars a day on the police (this number does not include other expenditures like overtime and lawsuits). At the same time that CPS closed 50 schools, mostly in Black communities, they are finding money for a new cop academy. So for us, defunding police (the cop academy is one example) is linked to funding schools, especially in black and brown communities. We are also opposed to the school to prison pipeline and the cop academy is one more piece of that.

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

TSJ has partnered with the campaign in various capacities such as the TSJ Curriculum Fair, and the March #NoCopAcademy I-tag (Inquiry to Action Group) meetings. The campaign conducted a workshop at last year’s Curriculum Fair (November of 2017), only a few months after the campaign had launched. Teachers and students from all over the city attended the workshop, learned more about the campaign, and were eager to bring it back to the classroom and their community members. In March of 2018, the TSJ workshops turned into I- tags (Inquiry to Action Groups) where folks from TSJ broke into groups to work more closely and intentionally with outside organizations, campaigns, etc. This year a #NoCopAcademy I-tag was formed, and folks from the I-tag were able to create #NoCopAcademy curriculum. This curriculum was presented by the I-tag at the #NoCopAcademy Youth Summit as a workshop.

What has been your organization’s highlight of the campaign?

One of the things that struck us as an organization, was the #NoCopAcademy Report Release. We were amazed and pleased with the campaign’s understanding and framework of Black Youth Organizing and how it has been gracefully put into practice. This was especially demonstrated during the report release, the power dynamic of adultism was de-centered, and youth took the lead. TSJ has now been studying the framework and vernacular of “Youth-Led, Adult-Supported” more closely, as a much needed political education for all of us.  

What strategies/tactics/frameworks does your organization bring to the campaign?

Some of the tactics and strategies TSJ brings is a critical political analysis of the school system that is rooted in an education for liberation. We believe that engaging in the political struggle within the school systems, globally and locally is a framework that will help dismantle the school to prison pipeline, in hopes to free our youth.

Anything else to add?

Here are some final words from Aide, a teacher activist and TSJ Core Leader: “Different members of TSJ attended No Cop meetings and we were always welcomed to express our ideas and contribute to the campaign in a variety of ways. During these meetings, other organizations were also present and we were able to connect, support, and stand in solidarity with one another. I always felt like we were learning together when asking questions about canvassing, visiting alderman, etc. …When I attended the No Cop Report Release, it was truly empowering to be part of the community. There were so many people, so much energy, so much positivity when talking about the future and the work that still needs to be done. Also the actual report is something I plan to keep forever! The information was so organized and specific.”

Be sure to attend the 20th anniversary TSJ curriculum fair, “From Puerto Rico to Chicago: Reclaiming and Reimagining Our Communities”, on Saturday, November 17, 2018! FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/252129775634240/
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#FollowFriday: Organized Communities Against Deportations

 

When did your organization, OCAD, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

OCAD was one of the first endorsers of the No Cop Academy campaign. We were at the initial press conference at City Hall where one of our members spoke about the role the Chicago Police Department plays in abetting deportations. OCAD has primarily focused on deportation defense campaigns since 2012 but our work has expanded to address the many ways that Black and Brown communities in Chicago are criminalized and targeted, by ICE and also by CPD and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Mayor touts that this is a sanctuary city but we know that no city is a sanctuary when Black people are killed with impunity by CPD and when the social services and schools our people need are closed left and right. We didn’t hesitate to support Black leadership in the No Cop Academy campaign because the demands are so close to the vision of the world we want– we need to invest in our communities not in more pol(ICE).

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

We’ve created materials in Spanish and engaged in teach-ins and conversations with the Latinx, immigrant community in Chicago about the campaign and been present at many of the press conferences, city council sessions, and direct actions. We’ve also been proud to collaborate on direct actions in Chicago that highlight the way that our struggles are interlinked. One of the first actions we helped organize was outside of City Hall and the other most recent one was documented in this amazing video. As we demand abolishing ICE, and an End to the Gang Database in Chicago, we also uplift the No Cop Academy Campaign.

What has been your organization’s highlight of the campaign?

It has been an honor to organize alongside people in the No Cop Academy campaign to strategize and develop creative interventions. It’s been amazing to be a part of transforming our campaigns and to push for a more nuanced analysis of the ways that a call to abolish ICE cannot be separated from a call to abolish prisons and police. The most exciting highlight, however, is probably learning amazing chants, and moves, from No Cop Academy young people!

What strategies/tactics/frameworks does your organization bring to the campaign?

We come from a long history of civil disobedience led by undocumented immigrants. For years we’ve challenged the City and elected officials and haven’t been afraid to highlight how the City is complicit in criminalization and deportations. To the campaign we bring our analysis, organizing experience, and unwavering commitment towards creating a world without police, without ICE, without jails and detention centers, and without deportations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Follow Friday: Chicago Dyke March Collective!

When did your organization, Chicago Dyke March Collective , decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

Dyke March Chicago first learned about the No Cop Academy campaign through one of our core organizers, Melisa Stephen, in September 2017. When we heard about the plans to build a $95 million police training facility in West Garfield Park, a community that has been subjected to police violence for decades, we knew we had to get involved in the fight to stop the cop academy from becoming a reality.

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

Members of our collective have been involved with several facets of the campaign nearly since its inception. Chicago Dyke March members have contributed to the research team and Westside canvassing teams, led teach-ins educating community members about the proposed academy, conducted alderperson visits, and made public comments against the building of the academy during a meeting of the City Council’s Housing and Real Estate committee.

What has been your organization’s highlight of the campaign?

In September 2017, we participated in one of the first train takeovers the campaign organized along with folks from Assata’s Daughters, the BTGNC Collective and the People’s Response Team. We had a great time chanting and distributing information about the cop academy under the leadership of our youth organizers! It was energizing to talk with so many people who upon learning about the academy (and how much of the budget CPD receives) agreed that it was a horrible idea.

What strategies/tactics/frameworks does your organization bring to the Campaign?

Chicago Dyke March exists as an affirmation and celebration of the resiliency of the queer and trans community, especially those who are Black, Indigenous or people of color. The realization of this academy, which will only make an already unaccountable police more deadly, will be directly harmful to many of the folks we hold so dear. Also, during Dyke March 2018, our collective chose to uplift the struggles of those who are undocumented migrants and Palestinians, abroad and locally. It is important that we raise awareness about the many atrocities that are continually committed, be it by the police in Chicago, Border Patrol or by the Israeli government, and that we build cross-movement coalitions to ensure that our oppressions (and thus, our liberation) are not siloed but connected.

#Follow Friday: The Alliance

 

When did your organization, Chicago Alliance Against Racism & Political Repression, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

We were approached about being part of the campaign in the beginning (October 2017) and we had no hesitation because we are 100% opposed to a cop academy in Garfield Park. The Chicago Police Department is a militarized force that is terrorizing black and brown communities on the south and west side. The Laquan Mcdonald case is an example of the lengths that the city will go to protect the police by assisting in the coverup of a gruesome murder. Jason Van Dyke didn’t need more training- he had 20 complaints filed against him when he murdered Laquan. He needed to be held accountable for every one of those crimes. Giving even more resources to a system that allows officers to commit crimes with impunity means our communities will suffer more violence. Instead of spending $95 million to train cops on how to inflict harm on black and brown people, folks in Garfield Park are demanding that money be invested in their community. We support that demand.


How has your organization contributed to the campaign? IMG_5248

 

We’ve hit the streets with the campaign, canvassing the Garfield Park community. We also had some canvassing days at the beginning of the year. We mobilize our folks to actions and demonstrations at City Hall; we had people there during the most recent vote (May 2018). Our Field Organizer, Frank Chapman, has spoken at No Cop Academy press conferences. We’ve also provided support over social media. We recognize that No Cop Academy is one of the most important campaigns in the city and we provide support whenever we can.

 

What has been your organization’s highlight of the campaign?

The highlight was the action at City Hall in May because it showed the power of the campaign, and how scared this city is of young black people organizing against their oppression. Hearing the “No Cop Academy! 95 mil for community!” chant ring throughout city hall was so powerful.


What strategies/tactics/frameworks does your organization bring to the campaign?

CAARPR is in the struggle for a Civilian Police Accountability Council. I think we offer the framework of community control of the police to the campaign. If we had a CPAC in this city, the cop academy wouldn’t even be a question. It would give folks real power to redefine public safety and determine how their communities are policed and how police funding is spent.

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#FollowFriday: Jane Addams Senior Caucus

 

When did your organization, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

Jane Addams Senior Caucus became involved in the #NoCopAcademy campaign in the fall of 2017.  Racial & Gender Justice organizer, Melisa Stephen, was involved with the campaign through their work with For The People Artists Collective.  When JASC members heard about Mayor Emanuel’s plans to spend $95 million on a new cop academy, just blocks from where several JASC members live – we immediately got to work.  

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

In the winter and spring of 2018, Jane Addams leaders hosted westside meetings and teach-ins, organized phone-banking efforts, attended actions & events, and helped spread the word about #NoCopAcademy with other seniors.  Before the vote to purchase the land for the Cop Academy, JASC leaders testified at the Committee on Housing & Real Estate about their opposition to the plan, which emboldened several Alderpeople on the committee to ask challenging questions of the Mayor’s people and express concerns with the plan.

When Black Lives Matter Chicago led a mass survey of 37th ward residents, Jane Addams members played a critical role in making sure we heard from at least 500 people about their opinions on the cop academy, and how $95 Million should be spent on the west side. One of our leaders, Gloria, lives just two blocks from the site of the potential cop academy, and door-knocked with her neighbors to let them know about the plans.  She’s also organized others at her church, Bethel Lutheran to get involved – even hosting a Westside Teach-in at the church attended by 30+ people to reveal the results of the survey!

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What has been your organization’s highlight of the campaign?

At the City Council meeting in March, #NoCopAcademy youth organized a die-in at City Hall, complete with tombstones uplifting the names of all those killed by CPD under Mayor Emanuel, the schools he’s closed and the clinics he’s shuttered.  It was a powerful action that Jane Addams leaders were proud to attend and support. Before the die-in took place, during the public comment period of the meeting, four Jane Addams leaders, including two from the 37th ward (all from the west side), testified in front of the Mayor & Aldermen,  about the importance of investing in youth, schools & communities over increased spending towards policing. It was incredible to witness this powerful intergenerational moment, followed by hours of chanting and dancing when #NoCopAcademy held the first floor lobby for 6 hours following their die-in.

 

What strategies/tactics/frameworks does your organization bring to the campaign?

Jane Addams Senior Caucus has played a critical role in the campaign because so often, age is used as a wedge to divide communities on important issues.  As organizer Melisa Stephen has repeatedly pointed out, the Mayor and many Aldermen love to act as though all seniors want more policing, and see young people’s behaviors as the main problems plaguing society.  Having the leadership and involvement of JASC members and leaders providing a clear alternative to that narrative has been incredible.  While Black youth are at the forefront of the #NoCopAcademy campaign, it is absolutely an intergenerational effort. JASC members have been trying to model the kind of elder support for youth organizing that we need more of in this political moment. Let the youth lead, but the rest of us gotta have their backs – and Jane Addams is proud to support #NoCopAcademy.  Fund communities, not policing!