#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: https://jvpchicago.org/


#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!


#FollowFriday: American Friends Service Committee Chicago

When did your organization, American Friends Service Committee – Chicago, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

Together with Assata’s Daughters, For The People Artist Collective and several other organizations, AFSC Chicago helped launch #NoCopAcademy back in September of 2017 after learning about Rahm’s plans to spend (at least) $95 million on a new cop academy under the guise of ‘police reform.’  For years we have been working to challenging police militarization and police spending, and the ways that both erode possibilities for meaningful community safety.

We were encouraged by the original commitment to building & supporting Black youth leadership that was named early in the campaign.  From the onset, teen leaders from Assata’s Daughters – and now nearly a dozen youth orgs around the city along with young people brand new to community organizing – have been at the heart of why #NoCopAcademy is a rallying cry that we are committed to amplifying.  

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

We’ve hosted dozens of meetings at our office, printed piles of flyers, and bought more pizza for youth meetings than we ever thought possible.  Our staff and interns have supported with campaign research, helped coordinate visits with City Council members, coordinated with press, written articles, created resources & flyers, and generally thrown down in whatever ways we’ve been able to since the launch of the campaign.  We’ve been fortunate to be able to dedicate staff time to support the internal coordination & communication of the more than 80 endorsing organizations now involved in the campaign.

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

Over the summer of 2018, we were thrilled to have 6 young people intern with us with a focus on #NoCopACademy, all Black teens and/or youth of color who had encountered #NoCopAcademy at some point through actions or events earlier in the year and were eager to deepen their participation in the campaign and organizing skills.  Some topics covered during the stipended internship included learning about core issues around policing spending and budgets in the city, how to approach messaging for campaigns & deal with the media, and how to facilitate workshops with other youth. They also participated in joint trainings weekly with other youth organizers from across the city.  

A major highlight of the internship was that our small team planned a 5 hour training & art party on #NoCopAcademy for over 100 youth and educators from AAAN, BPNC, STOP, CTU, Enlace, and Assata’s Daughters.  For several of our interns, it was their first time facilitating a workshop.  All the participants were able to create and take home screen-printed t-shirts.  Everyone present learned #NoCopAcademy chants, the history of the campaign, and engaged in meaningful discussion around how to build safety in our communities beyond policing and the need to invest in schools not cops.  

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


WCG budget
We Charge Genocide – Chicago Budget Banner, Oct. 2015 

Our Chicago Peacebuilding program has spent that past several years researching and organizing against the City of Chicago’s massive investment in policing.  While working with We Charge Genocide, we helped to uncover & make popular the reality that the City spends $4 million per day on the Chicago Police Department, and nearly 40% of the operating budget.  We’ve researched police militarization and the ways that federal grants are expanding SWAT trainings & deployments in Chicago, to even respond to mental health emergencies while mental health resources have seen dramatic cuts. In the summer of 2016 our youth interns created a toolkit and videos on the costs of policing in Chicago, called “Coins, Cops & Communities.”


When #NoCopAcademy emerged as a campaign, we were eager and ready to continue to build off of the invest/divest framework that we have been committed to for decades.  All of our work challenging police spending builds on our decades of organizing against military spending. We are committed to challenging policymakers, and creating tools & resources that empower communities to demand transformed budget priorities

Anything else to add?

If you’re in Chicago, join us on November 15th for our annual benefit, this year a “Celebration of Solidarity & Resistance!”