#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!

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 1.30.45 PM
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?

IMG_1283 (1)

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.

#FollowFriday: BTGNC Collective!

“We know the truth, we got the stats, if the city so broke, where they get that money at?!”

From coining our chants to leading our train takeovers, Chicago’s BTGNC Collective has thrown down extra hard with the #NoCopAcademy campaign since Day 1. The BTGNC Collective is a network of Black, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming people organizing for liberation in the Chicago area. Through direct action, community education, and creating spaces for healing, they seeks to strengthen the bonds within Black TGNC communities, and fight back against the systems that harm them. Check out how and why they’ve contributed to the #NoCopAcademy campaign in the last several months!

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 8.24.07 AM

When did your organization, BTGNC Collective, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

We are proud to say that we were one of the early endorsers of this campaign, and were in attendance at the first press conference at City Hall last fall! We know that any racist measures that hurt Black people always hurt Black trans people, and that the austerity measures that our city is pushing–closing schools and mental health clinics, and forcing poor folks from affordable housing–always hurt Black trans people disproportionately.

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

You already know BTGNC comes with the chants! Not to be shady, but some of the most memorable messaging and catchiest chants of this campaign were penned by our collective members. From the ballroom to the street, you know Black trans people always bring the life!

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

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 8.23.11 AM.pngMembers of our collective and our allies led our own train takeover last fall to raise awareness of the struggle and help create noise around it in our city. For us, Black trans people from across the gender spectrum showing up for Black trans lives in jail, in schools, in the hood, and those that have already been lost to state and interpersonal violence, is core to our mission. This campaign has also been very supportive of our organizing, and we were proud to show up for NCA!

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

We believe struggles for trans and queer liberation cannot be separated from the fight for abolishing prisons, police, and all militarization. We bring a focus on trans and queer identities and struggles, because Black trans and queer voices have been leading the call for abolition for generations, as well as in this current moment.

BTGNC Collective member leading #NoCopAcademy mini teach-in during student sit-in against Englewood School Closures – 2.28.18

#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.”








NCA Social Media 2

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!