#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!

 

 

 

#FollowFriday: Soapbox Productions & Organizing

When did your organization, SoapBox Productions and Organizing, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

We caught word of the city’s plans and the campaign in summer 2017 and reached out the following October interested in collaborating with #NCA in some capacity. Part of SoapBox’s mission is in the multimedia curation and development of grassroots organizing efforts and creative projects geared towards structural change through means of education and entertainment. This campaign illuminates problems that have existed, particularly in Chicago, for decades around policing, machine politics, and responsible city spending. It offers the opportunity for youth and adult supporters to raise awareness and take action against the injustices that regularly and adversely affect the most marginalized in our city. Simultaneously, through its multiple avenues and dynamic forms of organizing, we saw a collaboration with #NoCopAcademy important to raise awareness for Rahm’s plans, and put a bigger microscope on larger, institutional problems in our city in order to re-configure narrative expectations. How does the City of Chicago have money for cops but not for kids’ schools?

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

We worked with Asha, an Assata’s Daughter teen member, to create a micro-doc informing the laymen about the campaign and dismantling the false narrative that cop academies make communities feel safer. Additionally, we’ve also helped push content through our social media platform as well as hosted affiliates such as For The People’s Ruby Pinto, Black Lives Matter’s Kofi Ademola, and activist Camille Williams on “Bourbon ‘n BrownTown”, a podcast that critically analyzes media, politics, and culture while unpacking current events and social issues like #NoCopAcademy.   

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

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

Our organizations brings a multimedia approach to a very dynamic conversation revolving around #NCA, police abolition, and organizing against federal systems on a local level. Through means of film, research, podcast, organizing, editorial, and social media we are able to be in control of the narrative while providing necessary content for those most affected by this.

Anything else to add?

Learn more and support SoapBox by visiting SoapBoxPO.com, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Check out Ruby’s episode Intersectionality, #NoCopAcademy, Activism Art, & Organizing the Newly Radicalized, Kofi’s episode Black History & Resistance in Chicago, Camille’s episode Electoral v. Radical Politics and all other “Bourbon ‘n BrownTown” on iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify or at SoapBoxPO.com/podcast.

David A Moran – Multimedia Director

SoapBox Productions and Organizing

#Follow Friday: Chicago DSA!

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have been making headlines lately across the country! Whether it’s about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, or flying massive banners reading “No More Cuomo” over Billy Joel’s fundraiser for NY Gov. Cuomo, or fighting for Medicare for All, or #AbolishICE actions, DSA is 40,000 members strong, and not slowing down anytime soon. Locally, Chicago DSA has been involved in the No Cop Academy campaign since November of 2017, most notably with prominent member Carlos Rosa, alderman of the 35th ward, being the first, sole “No” vote for the $95 million cop academy. Read on to learn more about how they’ve contributed to the campaign!

When did your organization, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America became an endorser of the No Cop Academy campaign in November of 2017. In the year leading up to us joining the campaign, CDSA had experienced a growth in membership and there was an energy to find and plug into anti-racist, grassroots campaigns in the city. No Cop Academy’s efforts to undermine the current, coercive system of policing used primarily against communities of color and in service of profit over people interested us. The campaign’s goal to see funds divested from oppressive structures and invested into people who need it fit within our purpose as a chapter.

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

Our organization has collected petition signatures in the 32nd and 33rd ward as well as participated in meetings with Alderman Scott Waguespack and Alderman Deborah Mell. Members have volunteered at the youth summit and attended the May City Council actions in opposition to City Council’s efforts to secure financing for the cop academy. Also, we’ve made sure the campaign’s messages have been transmitted far and wide even reaching members of other DSA chapters.

 

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

When our comrades in Boston DSA protested outside a speaking engagement that Rahm Emanuel was participating in at Harvard University. Seeing cross chapter solidarity showed how our local chapters are interconnected and can show up for one another as a national organization.

Get more information on becoming a Chicago DSA member at chicagodsa.org!

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Pictured: Boston DSA after protesting Rahm Emanuel speaking
at Harvard in February, 2018.

 

#FollowFriday: Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (Youth Action Council)

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?

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 11.10.02 AM.pngBPNC 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.

free our funds

Last day to support #NoCopAcademy Summer Fundraiser!

Today’s the last day to pitch in to our summer fundraiser, where we’re sending 30 youth on a trip to train up & build skills to keep the #NoCopAcademy campaign going strong.  Will you help us reach our goal of $30,000 by midnight?

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Background info:

#NoCopAcademy is sending young Black organizers to Highlander Center.   Help us get there.  

Last month, the youth organizers of #NoCopAcademy successfully stalled Rahm’s plan by 48 hours, packed City Hall, ran the show and were heard loud & clear demanding that $95 million be invested in youth & community resources, not a cop academy. Aldermen are changing their votes, and hearing the warning from our young people that if they don’t take them seriously, they can #AskAnita, the Cook County State’s Attorney voted out in 2016. They are shaking things up in Chicago.

The successes of last week came on the backs of eight months of constant work by youth leaders & adult allies across the city. They’ve led trainings on how to meet with alderpeople, how to talk to press, how to lead direct actions, and more. Consistently, Black youth with #NoCopAcademy have shown that they are powerful, determined, and just beginning to flex their collective muscle around this fight for Black lives.  Today we as a community have the opportunity to invest further in the young people holding down this campaign.

That’s why #NoCopAcademy plans to send 30 high school age youth that have been active in the campaign to a movement political education and training hub in Tennessee, one that has been central to civil rights & collective liberation struggles: The Highlander Center for Research & Education. Will you donate to help us get there?

While at Highlander Center, young people with the campaign will participate in four days of intensive study of social movement histories, engage with the theories of how to build power and win, and build relationships that will strengthen the work for the months (and years) ahead.

To get there, we need to raise $30,000 by June 30th. The funds will primarily go towards transit & housing for the four day trip for 30+ youth, the costs of the training itself, and food & other expenses while away.  Any additional funds raised will go towards the costs of further training this summer.

We are confident that we can do this, with the help of #NoCopAcademy supporters across the city and even around the country.  Will you donate today to support the Black youth leaders who are stopping Rahm in his tracks?

Every donation helps. Please share this page & ask your friends & communities to donate.  Show up for Black youth organizers & #NoCopAcademy.

#NoCopAcademy’s fiscal sponsor for this fundraiser is Uptown People’s Law Center.

 

P.S. The cost of this trip is just a fraction of what the city spends on policing everyday, and is just 0.0003% of the cost of the proposed cop academy. While our elected officials continue to misspend our resources and divest from young people’s well being in the city, let’s demonstrate that collectively we can support each other.