Rahm’s Police Academy Plan Met With Youth-Led Backlash

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By Maya Dukmasova for Chicago Reader. Chicago, IL – As rain pelted the Fullerton el platform on Tuesday night, two dozen young people boarded a southbound Red Line train with printed and hand-drawn signs. “#NoCopAcademy” one read. “$95 million for schools, mental health care, and affordable housing!” declared another. The activists organized in protest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build a $95 million police and fire training academy in West Garfield Park. The training compound would occupy a 30.4-acre site along Chicago Avenue between Pulaski and Kilbourn and include a swimming and diving pool, driving course, shooting range, labs, classrooms, and auditorium, and a mock CTA station and apartment building.

Blockade Illustrates Why Chicago Is Not A Sanctuary City

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By Organized Communities Against Deportations. Chicago, IL – Three life-size representations of statistics that show how Chicago and Mayor Emanuel have failed to live up to the claim of being a “Sanctuary” city and instead continue to uplift policies that center policing and incarceration, and fail to protect people from deportations. The role of the Chicago Police Department’s Gang database has been brought to the forefront by the case of an immigrant father from Back of the Yards, Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez, who has filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for its role in directing immigration enforcement to his door by wrongfully claiming that he is a gang member.

Chicago’s ‘Green Zone’: Plans For Massive Police Compound Worries Community

An artist’s rendering of the city of Chicago’s planned $95 million public safety training campus in West Garfield Park, to replace the city’s police and fire training academies. (Photo: Chicago City Hall)

By Kevin Gosztola for Mint Press News – The city of Chicago plans to build a massive multi-million dollar training center for police and firefighters in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. But a coalition of community organizations contend the center will compound President Donald Trump’s “multi-pronged attack” on communities of color and expand the Chicago Police Department’s “capacity for violence.” Last week, the city’s Community Development Commission approved a 30.4-acre land acquisition in a northwest industrial corridor tax-increment-financing (TIF) district in Chicago. A $95 million “state-of-the-art” compound will be built by 2020 for police, firefighters, and emergency medical services teams to train together. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed the facility as a destination, where out-of-state police agencies can send officers for training. It will spur “real economic development” with people from the suburbs and downstate traveling to the center. Similarly, Alderman Emma Mitts, whose ward includes West Garfield Park, asserted the community is “excited” about having “a lot more police” in the area. She also claimed there will be new economic opportunities.

What Labor Day Means To My South Side And Black Union Family

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By Dorian Warren for Chicago Sun Times – My grandparents were janitors in Chicago, the children of sharecroppers who fled the racist violence and oppression of the South for new opportunities in the North. They began their working lives in the 1940s when jobs did not have benefits like pensions and health care. They lived in public housing because black people could not move wherever they wanted. But my grandparents made a fateful decision one day to join the union. That single decision influenced the opportunities for all the subsequent generations in my family. My family’s union story is that of black American families who joined the middle class with good-paying jobs, benefits and better working conditions. My janitor grandparents were members of the Janitors’ Union, SEIU Local 1. The union ensured they had jobs that helped them save money and eventually buy a home on the South Side. The union ensured my grandparents could send the first person in our family to college – my mother. In the 1950s, only two avenues were available to smart, young black women like my mom. She could be a nurse or a teacher. She chose teaching and taught in public school for more than 40 years.

In Chicago And Iowa, Contrasting Tales Of Building A Clean Energy Economy

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By Yana Kunichoff for Midwest Energy News – As former industrial communities seek to rebuild their economies around clean energy, two cities in the Midwest provide examples with starkly different outcomes. Chicago’s Southeast Side and Newton, Iowa both used to house thriving industries, keeping residents with a solid toe in the middle class through well-paid and steady factory work. In Chicago it was steel, while Newton boomed under the all-encompassing attentions of the Maytag family and their washing machine factories. Thirty years later, those core industries have left both areas and a handful of different businesses have taken their place. In Newton, the Maytag sites have been reborn to manufacture wind turbine bodies and blades. But in Chicago, the jutting land formerly housing U.S. Steel remains empty. While urban Chicago and rural Iowa are different in obvious ways, experts say there are still common factors that influence how a green economic development transition takes place. Greg Carlock, a climate researcher with the World Resources Institute, says that sustainable development is a wide-ranging and complicated process, but he has seen some essentials emerge.

Journalists Sue Chicago Police Over Hidden Records Of SWAT Responses To Mental Health Crises

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By Andy Thayer for Loevy and Loevy – CHICAGO – Independent journalist Sarah Lazare and community activist Debbie Southorn sued the Chicago Police Department today demanding release of records about Chicago SWAT deployments responding to mental health crises. A copy of the suit can be found here. These records are of particular public importance because all of Chicago’s mental health clinics have been closed or privatized in recent years, and SWAT teams are used to respond to mental health incidents. As Lazare and Southorn note in an article published yesterday at The Intercept, “Since 2013, Chicago police have deployed SWAT teams at least 38 times to respond to mental health incidents and suicide attempts,” as revealed by records produced in response to a previous FOIA request. * Laquan McDonald, killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. McDonald had been “diagnosed with complex mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder” noted the Chicago Tribune, and had been hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals three times by the time he was 13.

Chicagoans Say ‘Yes In My Backyard’ To Affordable Housing

Members of NAHJP joined allies from the Catholic Worker and Su Casa for a “housewarming party” in May. (Twitter/@affordableJP)

By Derek Robertson for Waging Nonviolence – Andrea Mitchell knows a dog whistle when she hears one. In the ongoing struggle against housing segregation, they come in the form of chants of “No Section 8.” The fear of a voucher holder’s “miscreant cousin, nephew, brother, son” doing damage in the community. Calls for the children of low-income housing applicants to be screened for criminal records, to rapt applause. For Mitchell, a homeowner in the almost-suburban, majority-white Jefferson Park neighborhood in Chicago, those dog whistles were heard in early February at a neighborhood meeting regarding the proposed construction of a low-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway, and she decided she had to do something about it. “I just didn’t want the rest of the city to see that and think that’s what my neighborhood is like,” Mitchell said. “I thought to myself, there should be another voice — we’re homeowners, too.” Mitchell and a small group of like-minded residents launched the Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park, or NAHJP, Facebook page in support of the development on Valentine’s Day, just four days after the heated meeting. Leah Levinger, director of the Chicago Housing Initiative, or CHI, a coalition of low-income housing activists, reached out soon after, and within just a month a new activist group was born.

Chicago Judge Rules Defendants Can’t Be Jailed Just Because They Can’t Afford Bail

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By Staff of Reuters – CHICAGO (Reuters) – Defendants who are not considered dangerous will no longer have to stay in jail if they cannot afford to pay bail while awaiting trial in the Illinois county that includes Chicago, a circuit court judge ordered on Monday. Before an initial bail hearing, information will be provided by the defendant in Cook County regarding his or her ability – within 48 hours – to pay bail, the order said. If the defendant cannot pay, he or she will not be held before trial. “Defendants should not be sitting in jail awaiting trial simply because they lack the financial resources to secure their release,” Timothy Evans, chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, which includes Chicago, said in a statement. “If they are not deemed a danger to any person or the public, my order states that they will receive a bail they can afford,” the judge said. The order goes into effect on Sept. 18 for felony cases and on Jan. 1, 2018, for misdemeanor cases in the circuit court. Defendants who are deemed dangerous, however, will be held in jail without bond, according to the court’s statement. Judges can also release defendants on individual recognizance or electronic monitoring, which do not require the defendant to pay money to be released, it said.

Deadly Three Minutes: Web Of Police Violence That Killed Charleena Lyles

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By Andrea Ritchie for Rewire – Bias against Black mothers, perceptions of people in mental health crisis, and policing of poverty may have all played a role in the fatal shooting of the 30-year-old pregnant Seattle woman. In the midst of a weekend of nationwide protests demanding accountability for the police shooting of Philando Castile in front of his partner and her child, two Seattle police officers responded Sunday to a call for help from Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old Black mother of four. She was reporting a burglary. What happened next weaves together several strands of a deadly web of police violence against Black women—including police perceptions of Black mothers and Black women in mental health crisis, police responses to domestic violence, and policing of poverty. Once the officers arrived at the apartment complex where she lived, Lyles can be heard on audio recorded by the officers’ dashboard camera. She let the officers into her apartment building and calmly and rationally answered their questions. She said that someone broke into her house while she was at the store, told the officers that she had no idea who it was, and described what was taken. The sounds of children are audible in the background. Suddenly, the officers begin shouting, “Get back! Get back!” One officer calmly suggests using a Taser…

3 Chicago Cops Charged With Obstruction For Falsely Justifying Teen’s Death

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By Andrew Emett for Nation of Change – Three Chicago police officers have been indicted on state charges of conspiracy, obstruction, and misconduct for allegedly writing false reports in order to justify the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. A fourth officer was charged with murder in November 2015 after police dash cam footage revealed him shooting the teen 16 times as McDonald appeared to be walking away. Nearly surrounded by officers and suspected of breaking into cars on October 20, 2014, McDonald was attempting to walk away from a group of Chicago cops when Officer Jason Van Dyke exited his patrol car. According to initial reports, McDonald was armed with a knife and lunged at Officer Van Dyke. Fearing for his life and the lives of his fellow officers, Van Dyke shot the teen in the chest out of self-defense. But according to witness statements and police dash cam video, McDonald had been walking away when Van Dyke took a step towards the teen before opening fire. After McDonald collapsed to the ground in a fetal position, Van Dyke continued firing his weapon until emptying his clip. As Van Dyke began reloading his gun, a fellow officer ordered him to cease firing at the dying teen.

A Case For Reparations At The University Of Chicago

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By Guest Poster for Black Perspectives – Julia Leakes yearned to be reunited with her family. In 1853, her two sisters showed up for sale along with her thirteen nieces and nephews in Lawrence County, Mississippi. Julia used all the political capital an enslaved woman could muster to negotiate the sale of her loved ones to her owner, Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas’s semi-literate white plantation manager told him “[y]our negros begs for you to b[u]y them.” Despite assurances that this would “be a good arrangement,” Douglas refused to shuffle any of his 140+ slaves to reunite this separated slave family. Instead, Julia’s siblings, nieces, and nephews were put on the auction block where they vanished from the historical record.1 Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Julia. By 1859, she had a 1 in 3 chance of being worked to death under Douglas’s new overseer in Washington County, Mississippi. Douglas’s mistreatment of his slaves became notorious. According to one report, slaves on the Douglas plantation were kept “not half fed and clothed.”2 In another, Dr. Dan Brainard from Rush Medical College stated that Douglas’s slaves were subjected to “inhuman and disgraceful treatment” deemed so abhorrent that even other slaveholders in Mississippi branded Douglas “a disgrace to all slave-holders and the system that they support.”3

Lawsuit, Citing ‘Thin Blue Line,’ Seeks Federal Court Oversight Of CPD

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By Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek for Chicago Sun Times – Accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of trying to cut a “back-room deal” with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, lawyers for Black Lives Matter Chicago and other community groups filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday seeking federal oversight of the city’s police department. The 132-page complaint immediately blew up the debate over police reform in Chicago. It may force City Hall to the negotiating table after the mayor tried to abandon the idea of a federal monitor. Or, it may lead to a lengthy court battle. Six individuals and seven community groups are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was brought on behalf of people who “have been, or in the future will be, subjected to use of force by the CPD.” It also targets 15 police officers, as well as the city. “CPD officers abide by an ingrained code of silence and ‘warrior mentality’ wholly disconnected from the policies that exist on the books,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote in the complaint. “The ‘thin blue line’ reigns supreme. The city of Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing.”

New Study Finds “More Sweatshops Than Starbucks” In Chicago

The study found that the most common kinds of retaliation were getting fired, having hours cut, or, in the case of temp workers, being placed on a temp agency’s “Do Not Return” list—a form of blacklisting. Employers also retaliated by threatening to call police or immigration authorities, and sometimes even resorted to physical violence. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Jeff Schuhrke for In These Times – The report, Challenging the Business of Fear, was prepared by Raise the Floor Alliance, which is a coalition of Chicago worker centers, and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). Surveys and interviews were conducted with nearly 300 Chicago-area workers from a variety of low-wage industries, including warehousing, manufacturing, food service and retail. The study finds that among employees who dared to speak up about workplace injustices like unsafe conditions, wage theft, injuries, sexual harassment and discrimination, 58 percent experienced retaliation. Of workers who reported legal violations to regulatory agencies like the Illinois Department of Labor, Department of Human Rights, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 80 percent said their employer retaliated against them. Sophia Zaman, executive director of Raise the Floor Alliance, said at a press conference Thursday that retaliation has become “so normalized, it’s basically a way of doing business.” “Three quarters of our participants reported two or more violations of their legal rights in their current job. This is the definition of a sweatshop,” said Brittany Scott, senior research strategist at NESRI.

Oscar López Rivera Returns Home To Chicago – And To A Movement

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By Asraa Mustufa Asraa Mustufa for The Chicago Reporter – Earlier this year, former President Barack Obama commuted the sentence for Oscar López Rivera, who served 35 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and charges related to his work with the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacionala (FALN). The militant Puerto Rican independence group claimed responsibility for a series of bombings beginning in the 1970s that resulted in five deaths. López Rivera’s supporters argue that prosecutors presented no evidence linking him to any FALN act that resulted in casualties. On Thursday, López Rivera returned to his home neighborhood of Humboldt Park. In 1967, after serving in the Vietnam War, he became an organizer in the community, where he led a campaign to create Roberto Clemente High School and open an alternative school for Puerto Rican dropouts. He also co-founded El Rincon health services for drug addicts and helped establish a local office of ASPIRA, which supports the educational and leadership development of Latino youth.

11 Ways Chicago Is The Beating Heart Of The Disastrous Charter School Agenda

By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet – Chicago’s public school system has become a showcase for the negative effects of K-12 privatization, according to a new report that tracks how the city replaced struggling local schools with dozens of charters that didn’t perform better, yet deprived traditional schools of funds, students and public accountability. The report, “Closed by Choice: The Spatial Relationship between Charter School Expansion, School Closures and Fiscal Stress in Chicago Public Schools,” tracks 108 charter schools that opened between 2000 and 2015, a period when Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was shutting struggling schools, cutting district funding and reducing staff. It details and confirms what many charter critics have long said, that lobbying from pro-privatization forces swayed the city’ political leaders to impose top-down reforms that riled neighborhoods, undermined traditional K-12 schools, increased segregation and did not lead to schools with better academic results. Perhaps most insidiously, the report describes in great detail how the CPS system aggressively shut down struggling schools in neighborhoods where student numbers were dwindling, while allowing better-funded charters to open up nearby…