We found that:
● 72% had never heard about the Cop Academy until approached by one of our canvassers.
● 72% said they do not want the Cop Academy built in their neighborhood, and a further 10% either declined to respond or said they needed more information.
● 86% said they do not believe the Cop Academy is the best use of $95 million on the West Side.
● 95% recommended that the city invest in something else–beyond the Chicago Police Department.
● In total, we collected 1,103 community recommendations for West Side investments in public health and safety. None of those recommendations included the Cop Academy, and nearly 50% prioritized youth & school spending.
In just over six months, the #NoCopAcademy campaign used innovative strategies to conduct grassroots research, as well as build visibility, intergenerational power, and youth leadership. In contrast, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed forward the Cop Academy as a “development” project with little to no opportunities for community input, by design. We believe our organizing is a critical defense against an initiative that undermines public wellness and self-determination in West Garfield Park and across Chicago:
● Aldermen seek to wield control over their own wards, yet this approach falls short when decisions in a particular locale impact the entire city. In the case of the Cop Academy, Aldermanic prerogative is allowing lawmakers to override constituents’ demands citywide.
● The Chicago Infrastructure Trust, a semi- private entity overseeing the Cop Academy development, lacks the most basic oversight and accountability to the broader public.
● Planned Manufacturing Districts, such as the site of the proposed Cop Academy, streamline projects in industrial corridors, and intentionally remove community needs from the equation to the benefit of corporations, despite their proximity to residences.
Rahm Emanuel has sought to justify investment in this massive infrastructure project by claiming the Cop Academy benefits West Garfield Park residents and constitutes a solution to the rampant police violence he oversees. Yet, these talking points do not hold water. The Department of Justice Report’s scathing critique of Chicago Police Department violence should not be used to justify funneling more resources into a proven violent institution. Furthermore, “better” police training will not end police violence, and neither will a new building.
West Garfield Park deserves meaningful, robust, community-driven economic development, not the mere 100 temporary construction jobs the Cop Academy promises.
Based on grassroots, community-driven research, this report serves as a corrective to the mayor’s misinformation campaign.