#FollowFriday: Invisible 2 Invincible!

Every Friday, No Cop Academy will be interviewing an organization that has contributed to the campaign since we launched last September! We have an incredibly powerful coalition made up of organizations doing social justice work across many issues, and we want to show that there’s a wide range of support to not only stop the construction of the $95 million dollar police academy, but divest from policing as a whole.

Today, we’re highlighting Invisible 2 Invincible (i2i), a community-based organization that celebrates and affirms Asians & Pacific Islanders who identify as LGBTQ in the Chicago area. I2i threw down hard at this year’s Lunar New Year Parade, repping No Cop Academy in multiple Asian languages as the only LGBTQ organization marching in the parade.

NCA Social Media 1

When did your organization, Invisible 2 Invincible (i2i), decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

In the past several years, i2i has done internal political education about our relationship to racial justice struggles, particularly movements for Black Lives, police/prison abolition, and addressing anti-blackness within our communities. i2i joined the No Cop Academy campaign in October 2017 because the fight for LGBTQ issues, the fight for racial justice, and the abolitionist vision against the policing of society (especially Black and brown communities) cannot be separated. We reject the historical propaganda of an Asian American “model minority” used to perpetuate anti-blackness that upholds the notion that Chicago needs more policing. i2i believes Chicago should invest $95 million in schools and other needed community resources.

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

I2i helped canvass residents of the 49th and 47th ward to talk about the campaign, collect petition signatures in support, and organized a meeting with Alderman Joe Moore. We organized a sign-making party, and a few of our members volunteered at the youth summit. In April we hosted a discussion and teach-in for our members to talk about the campaign, about police and prison abolition more generally, and our relationship to police/prison abolition as queer Asians. In February, we marched in the Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown, holding signs and banners in support of the campaign in multiple Asian languages and linking the campaign to the fight for funding for schools and other social services. We’re planning to organize a fundraiser for the campaign in June.

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

Marching in the Lunar New Year parade, one of the biggest celebrations in Chicago’s Asian American communities. We’ve marched in the parade in previous years to increase awareness and visibility of LGBTQ issues within Chinese and API communities, as we are the only LGBTQ organization that marches in the parade. This year, we held signs in multiple Asian languages in support of the No Cop Academy campaign and handed out flyers to community members, connecting it to funding for neighborhood schools and other resources for community. CBS Chicago covered the action.  In the press release, Kristina Tendilla, an i2i core member, said “We are here to talk to Chinatown residents about how our City is spending $95 million on a police academy while many of our neighborhoods need schools. All over the city communities are asking to keep their high schools or for the city to build new ones. Instead of competing with each other for funding, we need to look at how the city is prioritizing money and insist that they invest in our communities.”








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

Much of i2i’s focus is on creating affirming spaces for and building community among LGBTQ APIs. We do education, advocacy, visibility, and organizing work, but we’re not an organizing or campaign-centered organization. That said, one thing i2i has to offer is strong relationships both within i2i and with other API communities in Chicago. We hope API communities can hold more conversations about our stake in the #NoCopAcademy campaign, and to have more of us engaged in shifting resources from the police and prison system to people and communities.

In 2016, i2i participated with more than 30 other API groups in a town hall forum organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, convened in response to the abuse of an Asian-American immigrant woman by Chicago police officers. We also hosted several meetings and discussions on addressing anti-blackness in our communities and solidarity with Black Lives Matter, including a discussion about Peter Liang, and a racial justice retreat to clarify our own values and goals. In 2017, we organized a series of study group potlucks for i2i members and APIs to read and discuss the Movement for Black Lives Platform. We’ve participated or helped organize past actions and tactics such as the Asians Against Anita press conference during the #ByeAnita campaign; train takeovers for #RememberRekia #SaveCSU and the TRUST/Welcoming City Ordinance; and #StopITOA.

We hope that participating in the #NoCopAcademy campaign and facilitating dialogue, political education, and advocacy work related to the campaign within API communities can be a continuation of this work.

We’re also great at throwing get togethers with amazing food, so we’re hoping to be able to use that to do some fundraising for the campaign!

You can follow i2i’s work on Facebook or get in touch with them to get involved!


High school youth stage hours long die-in at City Hall to say #NoCopAcademy

…and call out Mayor’s role in perpetuating death & devastation on South & West sides.

High school youth of color from across Chicago walk out of City Council meeting and silently die-in with tombstones that uplift the closed schools, shuttered clinics & people killed by police with impunity under Rahm Emanuel.

CHICAGO 3/28 — This spring break, high school and middle school students from the south and west sides of the city are participating in a #NoCopAcademy week of action to demand investment in their communities, and a commitment from City Council to stop the construction of a new $95 million dollar training facility for CPD before a vote to approve the company selected design & build the facility comes across their desks later this spring.

 “I see a big discrepancy between what Rahm is planning for our neighborhoods and our communities’ demands… We are not backing down,” says Whitney Young High School senior Marcos Hernandez.  

Yesterday’s die-in builds off of a youth-led Flashmob downtown on Monday, and the announcement of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Mayor’s Office for refusing to release e-mails which would demonstrate the planning for the cop academy began long before the Department of Justice report on Chicago Police violence was released.  Rahm Emanuel has frequently pointed to the DOJ report as the justification for the new massive expense and expansion of CPD, aka “the false advertisement of trying to bring justice and resolve for what happened to Laquan with this cop academy,” says Mariah Roberts of Simeon Young Activists.

Rahm Emanuels’ plan to spend $95 million on a new, 32-acre police academy this year in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood, has drawn criticism from communities across Chicago, including celebrities like Chance the Rapper.  The #NoCopAcademy campaign in Chicago is led by young Black people from Assata’s Daughters & Simeon Young Activists Club, and is supported by over 65 community organizations across the city and country.  For more information and updates on the #NoCopAcademy campaign, visit https://nocopacademy.com

View Coverage of the Die-in Here:

“Chicago youth stage ‘die-in’ in City Hall to demand defunding of $95 mill cop academy, more community resources”
Chicago Tribune – Laura Rodriguez

“No Cop Academy In Chicago: Black Students Hold Hours-Long Sit-In At City Hall”
Shadowproof – Kevin Gosztola

“Chance The Rapper Supports Student Protest In Chicago Against New Police Academy”
Hotnewhiphop.com – Chantilly Post

“Students Stage Sit-In To Protest Chicago’s $95M Police Academy Plan; Chance The Rapper Supports The ‘Revolution’”
Blavity – Tonja Renée Stidhum

“Students Protest Police Academy at City Hall”
WGN – WGN Web Desk

Photos here:



Press Conference: #NoCopAcademy sues Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Office for cover-up of early cop academy plans.

PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release

Press contact: Erin Glasco – erin.glasco@gmail.com
#NoCopAcademy | nocopacademy.com
| #NoCopSuesRahm

Press Conference: #NoCopAcademy sues Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Office for cover-up of early cop academy plans.

Activists with the #NoCopAcademy campaign file suit against the Mayor’s Office for withholding critical e-mails regarding the proposed $95 Million new CPD facility, including evidence that the DOJ report did not prompt the new facility construction.

WHEN: Monday March 26th, 4:00PM
WHERE: City Hall 2nd Floor | 121 N. LaSalle, Chicago

Erin Glasco and Debbie Southorn, of the #NoCopAcademy campaign, are filing a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit against the Mayor’s Office for refusing to disclose crucial emails and records regarding the early planning for the proposed $95 Million new police academy.  They are represented by attorneys with the People’s Law Office, the full complaint can be viewed here.

“As a librarian and information worker who believes that people have the right to access and scrutinize city plans involving their communities, I’m dismayed to see that the Mayor’s Office continues to prioritize secrecy regarding a plan that will have a substantial impact on Black communities across Chicago,” says Erin Glasco, one of the individuals filing suit. “Even as Mayor Emanuel attempts to paint a picture of this new facility as the answer to the CPD’s problems since the cover-up of the Laquan McDonald murder, he is continuing the same practices which led to that scandal in the first place – secrecy and collusion with CPD.”

Glasco and Southorn filed numerous requests for information with the Mayor’s Office upon learning about the proposed new training facility, including their communications with key players in the cop academy including the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, the Office of Alderwoman Emma Mitts, and the Department of Planning and Development. While some information has been shared, critical e-mails and records are still being withheld. The documents released so far indicate evidence that the plans for the new facility were initiated four months before the Department of Justice report was released, debunking the Mayor’s justification for the facility since it was first announced in July of 2017.  

Shubra Ohri of the People’s Law Office, who is one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said, “The Mayor’s refusal to provide full and complete information to the #NoCopAcademy campaign about developing a $95 million police training academy is a clear violation of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. We hope this lawsuit will help provide more transparency and government accountability concerning this massive misuse of taxpayer dollars.”   

This morning’s lawsuit is in solidarity with young Black people in Chicago, who are trying to stop his new plan to construct a massive new training facility for Chicago Police.  His plan to spend $95 million on a new, 32-acre police academy this year in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood, has drawn criticism from communities across Chicago, including celebrities like Chance the Rapper.  The #NoCopAcademy campaign in Chicago is led by young Black people from Assata’s Daughters, and is supported by over 52 community organizations across the city and country.  For more information and updates on the #NoCopAcademy campaign, visit https://nocopacademy.com

VISUALS: Young people and lawyers | Posters saying “16 shots and another cover-up” | “Fund Communities Not Police” Banner Signed by Hundreds of People

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Emma Mitts’ staff silence 37th ward middle school students at Ward Night.

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37th Ward residents outside of Mitts’ office after being mistreated by staff during Ward Night. 3/19/2018

On Monday, March 19th, three middle school students from Village Leadership Academy and a member of Jane Addams Senior Caucus attempted to speak with their Alderperson, Ms Emma Mitts, about her support for the proposed cop academy during a ward night.  Upon learning the subject of the visit, her staff proceeded to tell the middle school students, “not today” and interrogate them about their addresses and motives.  Her Chief of Staff and another individual who refused to identify himself, told the residents that there were community members who live in the ward with more pressing issues. At one point, the individual who refused to identify himself told one of the middle school students she could speak with Mitts if she went alone into a back room.  They were encouraged to leave and return for a Community Meeting at a later date.

Watch Video Footage Here:

The students decided to wait until the end of Ward Night, on the chance they would get to speak with Mitts.  After nearly 30 minutes of questioning and condescension, and after the staff learned that one of the students lives on the same block as the Alderwoman, Emma Mitts came out to speak with her residents.

During their few minutes together, one of the students fearlessly pushed her on the need to listen to youth voices (since she had said as much at a recent vigil), that more police do not make her feel safe, that more Black police don’t change the issue of police violence, and that she’d rather see investment in their neighborhood come in the form of mental health services or community centers.  Mitts shared that a community meeting had already happened on the issue, with 70 people present who supported the plan, and so there was no more room for debate.

The Alderwoman also reinforced many of the talking points seen in this Op Ed, which her staff also distributed:

Mitts Op Ed.jpg

Mitts Op Ed 2.jpg


$95 Million for the Westside – a report-back!

Westside 3.17

This Saturday, around 30 residents gathered at Bethel Lutheran Church for a teach-in on #NoCopAcademy.  It was a powerful afternoon, where we heard a range of perspectives on why the cop academy in West Garfield Park is a bad idea, but felt unanimous determination to fight it.  Gloria, of Jane Addams Senior Caucus, welcomed us to the space and shared why she doesn’t want this facility just two blocks from her home.  We heard and responded to powerful spoken word poetry from Arewa of the 411 movement for Pierre Loury, her nephew who was killed by Chicago Police in North Lawndale in April of 2016.  And Maria Hernandez of Black Lives Matter Chicago shared the results of a nearly 500 person survey of the 37th ward, asking residents their opinions on the proposed cop academy and how they’d like to see $95 million invested in their neighborhood.