Press Alert: #NoCopAcademy attorneys argue Mayor Emanuel should release over 400 pages of hidden documents.

#NoCopAcademy |

PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release

Contact: Debbie Southorn – 971-227-3829 –

Press Alert: #NoCopAcademy attorneys argue Mayor Emanuel should release over 400 pages of hidden documents.

As the 2019 elections approach and increasing numbers of mayoral & aldermanic candidates oppose construction of the JPSTA, full transparency around the funding and PR approaches to the academy take on increased urgency.

CHICAGO 2/4 — On February 4, 2019, attorneys from the People’s Law Office representing the #NoCopAcademy campaign will appear in front of Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall to ask her to reconsider her decision allowing Mayor Emanuel and his administration to withhold over 400 pages of documents related to the  proposed $95 million Joint Public Safety Training Academy (JPTSA). Debbie Southorn and Erin Glasco, the plaintiffs and organizers with #NoCopAcademy, previously filed several FOIA requests seeking information regarding Mayor Emanuel’s plans to build the JPTSA, an excessively costly venture which many believe is wholly unnecessary and will not decrease police violence that destroys the lives of scores of Black and Latinx people in Chicago.  Further, given the daily headlines emerging from City Hall regarding FBI investigations of corruption amongst powerful Aldermen, and the proposed JPSTA’s financial connections to the controversial Lincoln Yards mega-development, the City’s refusal to release these documents is urgent cause for concern.

In describing why they brought the lawsuit, Plaintiff Glasco stated, “From the outset, Mayor Emanuel engaged in extensive planning and preparation to build this police academy without consulting the residents of the West side or Chicago.  We filed the lawsuit to get all the plans he has refused to disclose so that the civilians of Chicago can have all the necessary information to evaluate whether their taxpayer funds should be used to build a police academy or whether their money is better spent on school, mental health and other social services desperately needed.”  According to surveys taken by the #NoCopAcademy, 72% of surveyed residents in West Garfield Park, the location of the proposed JPTSA, do not want the JPSTA built in their neighborhood and 86% of surveyed residents said they do not believe JPTSA is the best use of $95 million on the West Side.

After filing the FOIA suit, City lawyers provided Southorn, Glasco and #NoCopAcademy close to 150 documents previously withheld improperly, but the attorneys for Mayor Emanuel convinced the Court that the remaining 400+ documents are shielded from disclosure by the “deliberative process privilege.”  The People’s Law Office is asking the Court to reconsider its decision in light of federal case law regarding this privilege, as well as the heightened public interest in the value and worth of the academy. Four of the Mayoral candidates and 30 aldermanic candidates oppose the creation of the police academy and several elected officials and candidates have requested the Mayor and City Council halt all votes on the JPTSA until people, through their newly elected officials, have an opportunity to weigh on the creation of the police academy.  The motion argues the public’s right to information about the development of the police academy substantially outweighs any interest Mayor Emanuel has in upholding his veil of secrecy around the facility.

Quote from #NoCopAcademy: “Mayor Emanuel and his administration have a history of refusing to disclose information about the Chicago Police Department, withholding the dashcam video of Laquan McDonald’s murder before the 2014-15 election, and now withholding information about the planning and preparations for the JPTSA before this election.  Mayor Emanuel should release this information and let the people of Chicago decide if we need a new police academy.”


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#FollowFriday: Jewish Voice for Peace -Chicago

Today’s #FollowFriday highlights the #NoCopAcademy endorsing organization Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago! JVP-Chicago is a chapter of the national organization Jewish Voice for Peace, a movement committed to demanding an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and blockade on Gaza, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and properties from which they have been displaced from since 1948. We’ve been so honored to work alongside JVP-Chicago in the fight to stop the $95 million dollar cop academy in West Garfield Park! Learn more about their contributing work of JVP-Chicago in the following Q&A!

When did your organization, Jewish Voice For Peace, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign, and why?

A little over a year ago. We joined the campaign because we support the goal of holding the city accountable to the people who live here. Building a $95 million (minimum) police training academy is not where Chicago needs to put money. We support the demands that $95 million goes to services that the whole city desperately needs, like schools and mental health services & community centers. We need to divest from the police and stop putting city money towards an institution that systematically terrorizes certain communities while claiming to provide safety for others.

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

JVP-Chicago has been working to mobilize our members around the demands of No Cop Academy. Our members have shown up to protests and city council meetings. Some of our members have also organized and had meetings with their alderpeople, sharing the No Cop Academy report with them, and asking for their support of the campaign. And lots of social media sharing and outreach!

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

JVP is a Palestinian solidarity organization, and as such we understand that our role is to listen to those who are being directly affected by the oppressive systems of Zionism and White Supremacy both abroad and here at home. We understand the connections between the way that Palestinian people are being oppressed, brutalized, displaced and incarcerated and the way that Black and Brown communities here in America are treated and similarly targeted and locked up.

With our Deadly Exchange campaign we are demanding a dis-investment from militarized training of police forces both here and abroad in occupied Palestine. The Israeli military is training Chicago police directly, so our issues are connected. The tactics they share are basically about increasing the capacity of police forces to exercise deadly tactics on a regular basis, including surveillance, limiting communication and mobility of populations, and incarceration. Popular education is a tactic we are using to make sure more people in our community know about these police exchanges and take action against allowing them to happen.

Internally we have ongoing conversations about militarized and racist policing in this city and globally. We are also using our deadly exchange campaign as a way to have conversations with our members about prison and police abolition to deepen our communal understanding of and commitment to those core values of the No Cop Academy campaign.

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

We have really appreciated the opportunity to be engaged in politics on a very local level. Many of our campaigns are more global, or focused on legislation at the federal and international levels. It has been great to see members dig in to holding their local officials accountable and also having more opportunity to organize locally with each other and members of their communities.

Anything else to add?

We are grateful for the leadership of the young people doing the work for No Cop Academy! Power to the youth! Also visit our page to learn more about our work:


#NoCopAcademy UPDATE: What happens next, now that the AECOM Contract has been introduced for approval?

On November 16th, Rahm Emanuel announced that the City had chosen AECOM, a multi-billion dollar design firm to build the Cop Academy.  AECOM has a history of over-spending on public infrastructure projects, and has even been sued by the US and Australian governments for fraud.  You can read more about them here or watch a short video here.

Then, on January 23rd, Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance to approve the design/build contract with AECOM to City Council (O2019-1154).  It was then referred to the BUDGET COMMITTEE, where it must be approved, then sent back to full City Council for a final vote.

On January 23rd, a zoning change ordinance (O2019-374) was also introduced to City Council, which must be approved before they can begin construction.  That was referred to the ZONING COMMITTEE, where it must be approved, then sent back to full City Council for a final vote.

No Committee meetings have yet been scheduled for February or March, and the next full City Council meeting is not until March 13th, 2019.  This means the FINAL votes can happen on March 13th at the earliest.

We will update this page if/when any committee meetings are scheduled.

In the meantime, we encourage all supporters to continue to engage current aldermen to agree to stall any votes (committee or full City Council) on the cop academy until after the new Mayor and Council are sworn in.  Especially incumbents who sit on the Budget or Zoning committees.  We offer a packet of resources with different ways to approach and engage aldermen to anyone who signs up here.

More soon,


#FollowFriday: Grassroots Collaborative

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

Grassroots Collaborative has been a part of the #NoCopAcademy campaign since we were first asked to participate in September 2017.  Given our long-standing desire to show up for young Black organizers and history of fighting against the racist funding priorities of Chicago’s budget, it made perfect sense to join this campaign.  As an organization dedicated to bringing together partners from labor, community, and faith groups, this campaign has been a powerful reminder of the ways our issues are in fact interconnected, and what we can accomplish when we align our vision and work together.  

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

We have seen our role as primarily supporting the young people of Color who are leading the campaign, while also ensuring that we are lifting up their work with other organizational members of the Collaborative.  Over the past year plus, we’ve played a supportive role by providing insights about how City Council works, offering media liaison trainings with youth leaders, hosting e-blasts and action alerts on our servers, and placing media calls and interviews.  

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


At our annual benefit last fall, the 2018 “People’s Gala,” we were thrilled to honor young leaders from #NoCopAcademy with the “Bold Campaign” award, recognizing the strides that they’ve made in shifting the narrative on what real safety could mean for our communities. Seeing these Black and Latinx teens, many of whom are new to organizing, being recognized by our larger Grassroots Collaborative community with a standing ovation was truly powerful.  

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

We see and work from the points of intersections between the various ways that our city is denying resources to our neighborhoods, while benefiting downtown and big corporations.  For example, some of the funds for the Cop Academy are coming from the sale of Lincoln Yards, the development of which now threatens to take hundreds of millions from TIF funds that could be going to schools, clinics, and other resources in neighborhoods that have been divested from around the city.  When young people from NoCopAcademy say that their schools are unfunded because of the city’s prioritizing of police spending, they aren’t wrong.

We are building a platform with partners from across the city to #ReimagineChicago as one that works for everyone, rather than the corporate playground that Rahm has been pushing us towards.  Stopping the Cop Academy is just one piece of our larger vision to reinvest in communities, rethink safety, and reimagine revenue sources that make the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share instead of draining our already suffering neighborhoods and working families.  

Anything else to add?

We hope you’ll join us at our #ReimagineChicago Mayoral Candidate Forum on Wednesday, January 16th from 6:45-8:15 PM at Mt Pilgrim Baptist Church, 4301 W Washington.  As Chicago voters prepare to go to the polls to choose our next Mayor and City Council, we have an opportunity to demand that candidates stand with us on the issues we care about. Together, we can reimagine a Chicago that invests in our neighborhoods, schools, and services.

To RSVP for the forum click here.

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The CPD Budget is scary…

It’s budget season in Chicago, and yesterday morning Chicago’s aldermen had their once-per-year chance to ask questions of the Chicago Police Department before approving their massive budget for 2019.  They failed us.   So in the afternoon we took to the Green Line to get the word out about #NoCopAcademy & the increases to the CPD’s budget coming next year, at the expense of funding for youth & communities!

In the morning…

We attended and tweeted out live from CPD Budget hearing to share details about the line items in their budget, since it can be hard to find these otherwise. As expected, none of our elected officials expressed any concern on the propose increased to CPD’s budget. In fact, less than half of them even showed up to work. Aldermen Ray Lopez (15th ward) even used the hearing to ask CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson to respond to the growing community demands to “Defund the police” and the rallying cry of “#NoCopAcademy.”  While they may not be on our side, they can’t ignore us – and that was made all the more clear yesterday.  Follow our thread from the hearing here.

Our friends at Grassroots Collaborative shared this important statement about the proposed increases to CPD spending in 2019:  “Increased Spending on Police Will Not Make Us Safer – Investing in Neighborhoods Will.”

Here are some of the findings we shared online (share widely!).  Shoutout to Soapbox Productions & Organizing for producing the graphics.


In the evening…

With Halloween costumes & wicked chants, #NoCopAcademy youth leaders from the Chicago Freedom School, Assata’s Daughters, Simeon Young Activists, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council Youth Committee and more took to the Green Line to get the word out about the proposed CPD Budget increases in 2019, along with the dangers of the proposed cop academy.

Over 50 train passengers signed postcards in support and we gave out over 100 bags of candy with info about #NoCopAcademy.

Want to let trick-or-treaters know about #NoCopAcademy tonight?
Download and print this Halloween Nocop Flyer to give out with candy!


And if you haven’t recently, be sure to let your Aldermen know that you support #NoCopAcademy and expect them to do the same when the final vote approaches!