Updates

Update from the People’s Law Office: #NoCopAcademy Goes to Court to Compel the Mayor’s Office to Produce Withheld Emails Concerning $95 million Police Academy

Today, attorneys from the People’s Law Office representing the #NoCopAcademy campaign, presented a motion requesting the Honorable Judge Sophia Hall to both review records withheld by the Mayor’s Office and to order the Mayor’s Office to produce any records withheld in violation of the law.

The motion is part of a lawsuit filed by the #NoCopAcademy campaign against the Mayor’s Office for withholding critical e-mails regarding the proposed $95 million Chicago police academy. Erin Glasco and Debbie Southorn submitted FOIA requests seeking relevant emails from key players in the development of the cop academy. The Mayor’s Office produced some messages, but indicated it was withholding emails sought by Glasco and Southorn – thus prompting this lawsuit.

The Mayor’s Office has now confirmed that it has withheld and/or redacted at least 27 emails about the new police facility and has offered little to no explanation as to why these emails have been withheld, even in the context of a lawsuit. The Mayor’s Office has also refused to say whether City employees used private email accounts to communicate about the new police academy.

The Mayor’s Office’s decision to withhold information from Glasco and Southorn, like its decision to construct a new multimillion dollar facility for Chicago police, has been cloaked in secrecy.  The lawsuit pushes for the kind of transparency the people of Chicago are entitled to when considerable amounts of taxpayer funds are being spent on a facility many believe is not necessary and counter-productive, as the City is in desperate need of funds for Chicago Public Schools and mental health clinics. Such transparency is also vital for the effort challenging the expansion of policing in Chicago, an effort embodied by the #NoCopAcademy campaign.

The #NoCopAcademy campaign is led by young Black people from Assata’s Daughters, GoodKids MadCity and several other organizations, and is supported by 80 community organizations across the city and country. For more information and updates on the #NoCopAcademy campaign, visit https://nocopacademy.com

 

#Follow Friday: Chicago Dyke March Collective!

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

Dyke March Chicago first learned about the No Cop Academy campaign through one of our core organizers, Melisa Stephen, in September 2017. When we heard about the plans to build a $95 million police training facility in West Garfield Park, a community that has been subjected to police violence for decades, we knew we had to get involved in the fight to stop the cop academy from becoming a reality.

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

Members of our collective have been involved with several facets of the campaign nearly since its inception. Chicago Dyke March members have contributed to the research team and Westside canvassing teams, led teach-ins educating community members about the proposed academy, conducted alderperson visits, and made public comments against the building of the academy during a meeting of the City Council’s Housing and Real Estate committee.

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

In September 2017, we participated in one of the first train takeovers the campaign organized along with folks from Assata’s Daughters, the BTGNC Collective and the People’s Response Team. We had a great time chanting and distributing information about the cop academy under the leadership of our youth organizers! It was energizing to talk with so many people who upon learning about the academy (and how much of the budget CPD receives) agreed that it was a horrible idea.

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

Chicago Dyke March exists as an affirmation and celebration of the resiliency of the queer and trans community, especially those who are Black, Indigenous or people of color. The realization of this academy, which will only make an already unaccountable police more deadly, will be directly harmful to many of the folks we hold so dear. Also, during Dyke March 2018, our collective chose to uplift the struggles of those who are undocumented migrants and Palestinians, abroad and locally. It is important that we raise awareness about the many atrocities that are continually committed, be it by the police in Chicago, Border Patrol or by the Israeli government, and that we build cross-movement coalitions to ensure that our oppressions (and thus, our liberation) are not siloed but connected.

#Follow Friday: The Alliance

 

When did your organization, Chicago Alliance Against Racism & Political Repression, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

We were approached about being part of the campaign in the beginning (October 2017) and we had no hesitation because we are 100% opposed to a cop academy in Garfield Park. The Chicago Police Department is a militarized force that is terrorizing black and brown communities on the south and west side. The Laquan Mcdonald case is an example of the lengths that the city will go to protect the police by assisting in the coverup of a gruesome murder. Jason Van Dyke didn’t need more training- he had 20 complaints filed against him when he murdered Laquan. He needed to be held accountable for every one of those crimes. Giving even more resources to a system that allows officers to commit crimes with impunity means our communities will suffer more violence. Instead of spending $95 million to train cops on how to inflict harm on black and brown people, folks in Garfield Park are demanding that money be invested in their community. We support that demand.


How has your organization contributed to the campaign? IMG_5248

 

We’ve hit the streets with the campaign, canvassing the Garfield Park community. We also had some canvassing days at the beginning of the year. We mobilize our folks to actions and demonstrations at City Hall; we had people there during the most recent vote (May 2018). Our Field Organizer, Frank Chapman, has spoken at No Cop Academy press conferences. We’ve also provided support over social media. We recognize that No Cop Academy is one of the most important campaigns in the city and we provide support whenever we can.

 

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

The highlight was the action at City Hall in May because it showed the power of the campaign, and how scared this city is of young black people organizing against their oppression. Hearing the “No Cop Academy! 95 mil for community!” chant ring throughout city hall was so powerful.


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

CAARPR is in the struggle for a Civilian Police Accountability Council. I think we offer the framework of community control of the police to the campaign. If we had a CPAC in this city, the cop academy wouldn’t even be a question. It would give folks real power to redefine public safety and determine how their communities are policed and how police funding is spent.

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#FollowFriday: Jane Addams Senior Caucus

 

When did your organization, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

Jane Addams Senior Caucus became involved in the #NoCopAcademy campaign in the fall of 2017.  Racial & Gender Justice organizer, Melisa Stephen, was involved with the campaign through their work with For The People Artists Collective.  When JASC members heard about Mayor Emanuel’s plans to spend $95 million on a new cop academy, just blocks from where several JASC members live – we immediately got to work.  

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

In the winter and spring of 2018, Jane Addams leaders hosted westside meetings and teach-ins, organized phone-banking efforts, attended actions & events, and helped spread the word about #NoCopAcademy with other seniors.  Before the vote to purchase the land for the Cop Academy, JASC leaders testified at the Committee on Housing & Real Estate about their opposition to the plan, which emboldened several Alderpeople on the committee to ask challenging questions of the Mayor’s people and express concerns with the plan.

When Black Lives Matter Chicago led a mass survey of 37th ward residents, Jane Addams members played a critical role in making sure we heard from at least 500 people about their opinions on the cop academy, and how $95 Million should be spent on the west side. One of our leaders, Gloria, lives just two blocks from the site of the potential cop academy, and door-knocked with her neighbors to let them know about the plans.  She’s also organized others at her church, Bethel Lutheran to get involved – even hosting a Westside Teach-in at the church attended by 30+ people to reveal the results of the survey!

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

At the City Council meeting in March, #NoCopAcademy youth organized a die-in at City Hall, complete with tombstones uplifting the names of all those killed by CPD under Mayor Emanuel, the schools he’s closed and the clinics he’s shuttered.  It was a powerful action that Jane Addams leaders were proud to attend and support. Before the die-in took place, during the public comment period of the meeting, four Jane Addams leaders, including two from the 37th ward (all from the west side), testified in front of the Mayor & Aldermen,  about the importance of investing in youth, schools & communities over increased spending towards policing. It was incredible to witness this powerful intergenerational moment, followed by hours of chanting and dancing when #NoCopAcademy held the first floor lobby for 6 hours following their die-in.

 

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

Jane Addams Senior Caucus has played a critical role in the campaign because so often, age is used as a wedge to divide communities on important issues.  As organizer Melisa Stephen has repeatedly pointed out, the Mayor and many Aldermen love to act as though all seniors want more policing, and see young people’s behaviors as the main problems plaguing society.  Having the leadership and involvement of JASC members and leaders providing a clear alternative to that narrative has been incredible.  While Black youth are at the forefront of the #NoCopAcademy campaign, it is absolutely an intergenerational effort. JASC members have been trying to model the kind of elder support for youth organizing that we need more of in this political moment. Let the youth lead, but the rest of us gotta have their backs – and Jane Addams is proud to support #NoCopAcademy.  Fund communities, not policing!

 

 

 

#FollowFriday: Soapbox Productions & Organizing

When did your organization, SoapBox Productions and Organizing, decide to join the No Cop Academy campaign? Why?

We caught word of the city’s plans and the campaign in summer 2017 and reached out the following October interested in collaborating with #NCA in some capacity. Part of SoapBox’s mission is in the multimedia curation and development of grassroots organizing efforts and creative projects geared towards structural change through means of education and entertainment. This campaign illuminates problems that have existed, particularly in Chicago, for decades around policing, machine politics, and responsible city spending. It offers the opportunity for youth and adult supporters to raise awareness and take action against the injustices that regularly and adversely affect the most marginalized in our city. Simultaneously, through its multiple avenues and dynamic forms of organizing, we saw a collaboration with #NoCopAcademy important to raise awareness for Rahm’s plans, and put a bigger microscope on larger, institutional problems in our city in order to re-configure narrative expectations. How does the City of Chicago have money for cops but not for kids’ schools?

How has your organization contributed to the campaign?

We worked with Asha, an Assata’s Daughter teen member, to create a micro-doc informing the laymen about the campaign and dismantling the false narrative that cop academies make communities feel safer. Additionally, we’ve also helped push content through our social media platform as well as hosted affiliates such as For The People’s Ruby Pinto, Black Lives Matter’s Kofi Ademola, and activist Camille Williams on “Bourbon ‘n BrownTown”, a podcast that critically analyzes media, politics, and culture while unpacking current events and social issues like #NoCopAcademy.   

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

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

Our organizations brings a multimedia approach to a very dynamic conversation revolving around #NCA, police abolition, and organizing against federal systems on a local level. Through means of film, research, podcast, organizing, editorial, and social media we are able to be in control of the narrative while providing necessary content for those most affected by this.

Anything else to add?

Learn more and support SoapBox by visiting SoapBoxPO.com, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Check out Ruby’s episode Intersectionality, #NoCopAcademy, Activism Art, & Organizing the Newly Radicalized, Kofi’s episode Black History & Resistance in Chicago, Camille’s episode Electoral v. Radical Politics and all other “Bourbon ‘n BrownTown” on iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify or at SoapBoxPO.com/podcast.

David A Moran – Multimedia Director

SoapBox Productions and Organizing