No Cop Academy Roundup

Cutting Class: Counterinfo for the Ungovernable Generation

Over the past few weeks, two parallel struggles have been developing in Illinois as students & community members have fought back against possibly the worst form of schooling possible: Cop Academies.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is seeking to invest $95 million into a new police academy on the west side of Chicago. In Chicago, 40 percent of the budget goes to police while the city continues to shut down schools in black and latinx communities. Community members and students have been pushing back, through canvassing, rallies, sit-ins, and speeches to city hall. “No Cop Academy,” was one of the many demands enumerated by the Chicago students who walked out on March 14th. Mayor Emmanuel has encountered protests outside of Chicago as well, with students at Harvard & UCLA protesting his speeches at their schools.

Meanwhile in Carbondale, on the southern side of Illinois, students at Southern Illinois University have been fighting against a proposal to establish the deceptively named “School of Justice and Public Safety,” as part of the Chancellor’s reorganization plan for the school. Their militant refusal follows a long legacy of struggle at SIU, where students in 1970 organized a strike that shut down the school for a semester in protest of the CIA-backed “Center for Vietnamese Studies.” In a video released by the campaign–part call to action, part statement of purpose–the students & professors outline their opposition to the police based in a recognition of the cops as agents of the white ruling class. They criticize the Chancellor’s disingenuous “changes” to the proposal, and remain steadfast in their call to oppose the cop academy. In particular, these troublemakers & truants had this to say about learning:

“This is a call to action. In other words, a call to learn. Education doesn’t just happen in the classroom. In fact, the real learning happens when concern about your grades or careers drop, and you actually try to realize your values in the world.”

Below, we’ve collected a roundup & some quick analysis of the recent events happening in both Chicago and Carbondale.

Follow #NoCopAcademy for updates on the struggle in Chicago, and check out the campaign (Twitter, their website), radical community youth organizations like Assata’s Daughters (FB & Twitter), and support the campaign directly by donation here.

Follow @NoCopAcademySIU and the hashtags #NoCopAcademy and #SaveSIU for updates on the struggle in Carbondale.

March 24

Protestors take over Green Line trains in Chicago

March 25
March 26

Folks have some fun in front of city hall with a flash mob featuring music, dancing, good chants, and a militant refusal of the city’s prioritization of cops over community.

HAPPENING NOW:::#NoCopAcademy FLASHMOB. #NoCopSuesRahm

Posted by Assata’s Daughters on Monday, March 26, 2018

March 27

The Chicago #NoCopAcademy campaign released this video, highlighting the experiences of community member residing near the current cop academy and those in the area of the proposed academy.

March 28

Maria Hernandez of Black Lives Matter Chicago addresses City Hall, revealing that an overwhelming majority of the West Garfield community residents oppose the cop academy and would rather see the $95 million invested in schools, community spaces, clinics, and reducing homelessness.

 

After the public comment period, the youth disrupt the normal business of the City council meeting and are kicked out.

 

The students then initiate an occupation of the public lobby of City Hall.

 

Chants included references to the city’s coverup of the police murder of Lacquan McDonald.

 

The occupation gathered public support from celebrities like Rihanna and Chance the Rapper. Chance even sent pizzas to the students, which the pigs tried to confiscate like the greedy livestock they are.

 

There were even reports of CPD blocking access to public bathrooms, which only changed after public outrage pressured the pigs into leniency.

Students stage a die-in

 

 

March 29th

Up to 50 students & faculty rallied in the Student Center at SIU to protest the cop academy. Student speakers highlighted how police only become necessary in the context of a society in which people lack a community to turn to for help addressing social problems, as well as the ways in which investment in communities would make the police obsolete.

Demonstrators+hold+up+a+banner+Thursday%2C+March+29%2C+2018%2C+during+a+demonstration+against+a+proposed+police+academy+at+Southern+Illinois+University+in+the+student+center.+%28Brian+Munoz+%7C+%40BrianMMunoz%29

 

 

Concluding Remarks

The Chicago #NoCopAcademy campaign is perhaps one of the most well-organized, inspiring youth-led movements today. They have been consistently militant in their demands and represent an impressive feat of community organizing that should inspire other budding activists and older “experienced” organizers alike. Meanwhile, the fight to #SaveSIU in Carbondale should be of interest to all those interested in combating the connections between Universities and prisons, lest a cop academy come to every University in the country. Across Illinois, students are refusing to buy into the lie that cop academies exist for “public safety” or are “investments” in the community. Instead, they are discovering their ability to disrupt business as usual, to build their collective power and take direct action to achieve the changes that their communities need.

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