The time is now. #DefundCPD

Around the country and world, protesters and communities are lifting the demand to #DefundPolice and reallocate resources to the social programs that create real public safety. We are ecstatic about this development, yet recognize that the battle is far from over.

Lori Lightfoot has used this moment to spur violence in our city by mass arresting protesters for Black lives, shutting down access to the Loop and wealthy surrounding neighborhoods, while deploying the national guard and private security forces to the south and west sides. Currently she’s allocating upwards of $300 million in federal funds meant for COVID-19 relief to pay for police overtime, rewarding CPD for the brutalizing of protesters demanding justice for their murdered loved ones.

We are tired of explaining. We are tired of asking nicely. We are tired of begging for basic human dignity and the bare minimum in community resources.

This is an uprising. It is not random or senseless, it is inevitable. We demand justice for Laquan, Damo, Rekia, Bettie, Quntonia, Ronnieman, and all our people who CPD has murdered. We demand justice for George, Tony, Breonna and all our people who’ve lost their lives to police, prisons, and the violence that sparks from the embers of divestment. We demand justice for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

Justice is more than an apology. Justice is more than punishment. Justice is nothing less than a complete transformation of society. And that begins with a sweeping divestment from the police and prison systems, and investment in the programs and services that affirm life & well-being for Black communities like housing, education, restorative justice hubs, and so much more. Abolition is not just the absence of police, but the presence of alternatives.  

We are fighting for nothing less than:

No Cop Academy. Construction on the cop academy hasn’t started yet. If you don’t want it to go the way of the 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis, don’t build it.

No Mini Cop Academies. All closed schools should be reopened as resources for young people, not police.

Defund CPD. Lori Lightfoot has increased CPD’s budget to $1.7 billion despite their continued terrorizing of our communities. This is unacceptable.

Demilitarize Now. Why can CPD afford to throw unlimited canisters of teargas at protesters and deploy thousands in riot gear and military weapons, while nurses in our city are using trash bags as PPE?

Get Cops Out of Our Schools. CPD should not have any officers nor mini police stations based inside nor outside of any CPS school. #PoliceFreeSchools now!

Cops Off CTA. Make CTA safer by making it accessible. Make trains and buses free for youth, make stations accessible for those with disabilities, and keep cops out of them.

Get Private Police Out of Our Neighborhoods. University of Chicago has the largest private police force in the world, except for the Vatican. We fight alongside #CareNotCops in demanding the defunding of UCPD, and their immediate expulsion from the Washington Park neighborhood.

Many of these demands have been fought for and already won by the movement in Minneapolis. We see our comrades in the Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, and we thank them.

#BlackLivesMatter. No justice, no peace.

We want #PoliceFreeSchools.

For nearly two years, we have been protesting against the expansion of the Chicago Police Department’s occupation of black and brown communities, and calling for resource investment in our communities instead. Although the original motive for the #NoCopAcademy campaign was the city’s intentionally sneaky announcement of a $95 million dollar cop academy to be built on the Westside without meaningful community input, our campaign expands beyond efforts at preventing construction of one building. It has been a campaign rallying around divestment from and demilitarization of the police. The final votes on the cop academy may have passed last Spring, but many of us are still out here mobilizing our communities and countering the destructive narrative that policing brings about community safety; and as young people we see a huge part of that as removing police from our schools.  

The #NoCopAcademy campaign has taught us a lot about how the city of Chicago, spearheaded by the mayor, operates and makes all kinds of decisions that affect our daily lives, under the public’s nose without real ways for the people most impacted by those decisions to have any say over them.  Under Rahm’s reign we experienced the closure of more than 50 Chicago Public Schools and half of the city’s mental health clinics, most of which were in black and brown communities on the south and west side. Then he proposed the “investment” of a $95 million cop academy, as though a new building for police will solve anything that’s making life unlivable for our communities.  At every step of the way, massive opposition to these plans was ignored and repressed.

Already, Lori Lightfoot has continued Rahm’s agenda of police expansion, by suggesting to turn closed CPS schools into mini cop academies and promising to make the cop academy that Rahm proposed twice as large. And just last week, her newly appointed not-elected school board voted to give $33 million (nearly double what CPS spent last year) to expand and formalize the role of cops in schools.  

This decision was announced and carried out in under 24 hours, but followed a summer of fake ‘community input’ proceedings, so we weren’t surprised. She had the Local School Councils vote on keeping their cops in the schools throughout the month of July. Keeping in mind that the vote of student LSC representatives who are directly impacted by cops in schools do not count. When have we been asked how we feel about having police in our schools? 

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Often times officers are placed in schools because they are too dangerous to be on the streets. It’s considered a form of “desk duty.” Through filing FOIAs we discovered by ourselves that CPS did not know the police in our schools. Once we did find their names and badge numbers we found that most cops at our schools have multiple complaints on their records. Such as Michael Boss #11417 stationed at Back of the Yards, who had been a police officer since 1993, has as many as 20 allegations, 4 of which are sustained. This is not uncommon, according to the Shriver Center, “In total, between 2012 and 2016, the police officers assigned to CPS accumulated $2,030,652 in misconduct settlements for activities on and off school grounds.” This is what our city claims safety in our schools looks like.

As we head back to school, we must remember that students will be entering the building and spending 7 hours a day with these cops carrying guns and tasers. Having police in our schools strengthens the school to prison pipeline, because it increases the probability of students having interactions with police officers and getting wrapped up in the criminal justice system. The so called ‘safety’ that the city claims to bring about by investing in police does not translate into actual safety, in communities where our schools have been closed or drained of resources.  We need more funding to be invested into under-resourced schools for full time nurses, social workers, and counselors, culturally relevant classes, and updated textbooks. We need wrap around services, not police. 

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Removing police from our schools is just one small step towards a true sanctuary city, where all its residents are safe and cared for.  Our city still makes huge investments in other forms of surveillance, policing, and militarism that are solely focused on oppressing young Black people and people of color.  When we walk out of the classroom, police are at our festivals, in our malls, on the lakefront, at the parks, and on our blocks. Where can young Black people exist in Chicago without the specter of police watching us, waiting for a moment when they can catch us? 

We want #PoliceFreeSchools now.

Fund our communities, not policing.  


More info:

#NoCopAcademy won the Chicago Elections this week.

Our statement on the results of the February 26th Chicago Municipal Elections.

Though #NoCopAcademy is not an electoral campaign, and does not endorse any candidates for public office, we still won big in this week’s elections. From aldermanic races to the mayoral runoff, the demands young Black people are making of our city are already shaking the machine.

In the 49th ward, incumbent Joe Moore, a supporter of the cop academy and a henchman of private developers, was deftly defeated by community organizer Maria Hadden. In the 35th ward, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the only alderman to consistently defy Rahm and stick his neck out for our campaign, comfortably kept his seat. Ray Lopez, Deb Mell, and James Cappleman–who were targeted this week by trans and queer organizers for their racist policies–are all in runoffs. Mell in particular is in a dead heat with Rossana Rodriguez, a supporter of our campaign, and of the defunding of CPD.

In the 37th ward, where the academy is to be built, Tara Stamps valiantly challenged the machine-democrat Emma Mitts. As a fulltime CPS teacher–and without the $40,000 donation from Rahm that Mitts received–Stamps still managed to get 40% of the vote. We salute her campaign, and the young Black people in her ward who led a massive canvassing effort.

Even the mayoral race is a testament to our campaign’s effectiveness. Bill Dailey, the most vocal proponent of the cop academy, conceded defeat. The candidates that will be in April’s runoff, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, have now both personally called on the Zoning Committee to delay today’s vote until the next mayor has taken office, citing the lack of transparency and community input that have shroweded the project at every turn. This would not have happened without the organizing of Black youth putting serious pressure on these candidates.

We recognize that while we may have growing allyship in public office, there are no saviors. We recognize that the shifts we have created in this city’s conversations around defunding police are a result of grassroots direct action, authentic cross-community alliances, and an unapologetic commitment to Black liberation. We recognize that the voices of youth organizers–many of them too young to vote–were, and will continue to be, the determining factor in many of these races. Our fight continues, and so does our investment in the tactics that have gotten us this far.

We call on our supporters to show up at City Council on March 13th when we expect the final vote, to support candidates that advocate for public education, free mental health care, and affordable housing in place of more policing and incarceration, and to keep turning up and turning out for the demands of our city’s bravest and most vulnerable communities.


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: