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.