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Illinois

You Can’t Be Neutral In A Flooding House

Cicero, Illinois - A crowd swells outside an auditorium one summer evening in 2023, trying to enter a special town hall meeting. The air fills with chants: ​“Where’s our money?” and ​“El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” (“The people, united, will never be defeated”). Soon, police inform the hundreds outside that no one else is allowed in. It felt apt: We wanted answers about why our city was so dysfunctional, and the city couldn’t even host a proper meeting. I’m a journalist and also a Cicero resident, and I was there because I, too, was angry. Howard Zinn famously said you can’t be neutral on a moving train; it’s also difficult in a flooded house.

Alliance Unites To Free Survivors Of Torture And Wrongful Conviction

Chicago, Illinois – “You can't throw a stone and not hit someone who is affected by police torture and wrongful conviction here in Chicago, the torture capital of the United States,” said Merawi Gerima, a co-chair of the Campaign to Free Incarcerated Survivors of Torture (CFIST.) Gerima was speaking at the annual People's Hearing on Police Crimes on Saturday, February 24, at the office of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) in Woodlawn neighborhood on the predominantly Black South Side.

Northwestern U: Threatened With Prison For Distributing Parody Paper

Students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, produced a parody edition of the school’s paper, the Daily Northwestern, to call out the school’s stance on Israel’s war on Gaza. Some folks wrapped the fake front pages around some 300 copies of the actual school paper. This exercise in culture jamming got two students brought up on a charge that could have landed them in prison for a year. After widespread protest on campus, and national coverage in the Intercept (2/5/24) and Responsible Statecraft (2/5/24), charges were dropped against the students. After the appearance of the look-alike Northwestern Daily—bearing the headline “Northwestern Complicit in Genocide of Palestinians”—the parent company of the school paper, Students Publishing Company, announced that it was engaging “law enforcement to investigate and find those responsible.”

The UAW Strike Saved Their Shuttered Plant

Belvidere, Illinois — It’s been almost five months since JC Bengtson, an autoworker for 24 years, lost his job. ​“I miss working,” says the 55-year-old father of three daughters, all adults. ​“Right now I am unemployed and waiting to hear back.” We are sitting in the union hall of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1268, in Belvidere, Ill., not far from the sprawling Belvidere Assembly Plant. Bengtson worked there for 10 years before he was officially laid off in September 2023, right before his union went on strike. The auto giant Stellantis announced in December 2022 that it would permanently idle the facility that assembled the widely popular Jeep Cherokee, and by February 2023, the majority of jobs at the plant had disappeared.

Our Union Called For A Cease-Fire; It’s About Our Students

If you teach, your absolute worst nightmare is that something tragic happens to your students. Teachers don’t just think about students when they are in front of us; we think about them throughout each day and night. They are a central part of our lives. When a young person steps into our classroom, the first thing we do is work to connect. That’s the best way students learn. When a student doesn’t live up to their own potential, we take it personally. We obsess about what went wrong. Caring about students also means deliberately caring about the world we are helping them grow into. It has never been enough to only teach students when they are in the classroom; we have to advocate for them all the time.

Here’s How Evanston’s Streets Have Become Safer For Cyclists

There’s a wide spectrum of cyclists who take to the streets each week with the Evanston Bicycle Club. Newer, lower-speed riders mostly stay inside Evanston and surrounding suburbs, taking advantage of barrier-protected bike lanes and quieter residential streets. Cyclists with a bit more energy and experience go for longer rides up to Wilmette or Glencoe. But only the more advanced groups venture into the city of Chicago, said Al Cubbage, who last month ended a two-year stint as president of the club, which organizes multiple rides per week. Taking Clark Street down through Rogers Park means “taking your life into your own hands,” said Cubbage, a retiree who considers himself an intermediate rider.

A Word On The Meaning Of Political Self-Empowerment For Our Movement

Frank Chapman wrote this statement to call for unity in struggle by Black, Latino and working-class communities. Chicago saw great victories earlier in 2023 through a united front under a Black and Latino leadership, with the first-in-the-country elections for democratic civilian oversight of the police, and the election as mayor of a trade unionist, Brandon Johnson. Johnson defeated a racist who was backed by the Fraternal Order of the Police, Paul Vallas. Vallas is known in Chicago history for introducing neo-liberal policies, which included major attacks on funding for public schools. 90% of Chicago Public School students are Black and Latino.

As Chicago Punts On Apartment Safety, Denver Shows What’s Possible

The tenant of a two-story house in east Denver had been expecting Kevin Lewis when he knocked on her door this past June. After a brief introduction and a glance around the home, Lewis quickly checked the water pressure, power outlets and the cooling sources in each room. He reached a wiry arm up to a ceiling smoke alarm and pressed a button, prompting a chirp to echo through the house. “Music to my ears,” Lewis said, already halfway to the basement to make sure the boiler had a working gas line connection. Minutes later, Lewis was gone — on to the next house. Lewis wasn’t sent by the city to investigate a complaint, nor by a prospective buyer.

Pollution Displaces Black Residents; White Homeowners Profit

Englewood Chicago — Deborah Payne’s neighborhood of 35 years on Chicago’s South Side no longer exists. Dirt piles tower where families once gathered for Sunday dinners in single- and multifamily homes. Concrete lots cover backyards where children watched fireworks and caught lightning bugs. Streets that maintained generations of Black Chicago razed and left empty for railway cars. Today, less than 10 blocks from Payne’s old neighborhood, sits the repercussions of diesel pollution caused by the expansion of a railyard. Over a decade ago, the city, along with railroad giant Norfolk Southern, announced a plan to buy out Payne’s 12-block community of more than 200 households to replace it with the freight yard.

Activists Disrupt Thanksgiving Parade: End Genocide, Don’t Celebrate It

Today, pro-Palestine protestors disrupted Thanksgiving Day Parades in New York City and Detroit, all sending the same message: end genocide, don’t celebrate it. In Detroit, protestors marched in front of the Thanksgiving Day parade route carrying banners reading: “From Turtle Island to Palestine, genocide is a crime” and “Detroit stands with Gaza,” giving a spotlight to Palestine during Israel’s ongoing atrocities. In Manhattan, protestors disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an annual corporate parade watched nationwide, with signs and banners reading “Genocide then, genocide now.” 

FBI Attempts To Question Chicago International Solidarity Activists

On November 15, three FBI agents came to the Chicago home of an international solidarity activist in Chicago who had traveled to Venezuela. The activist wasn’t home, but the agent in charge gave the landlord his card. He asked to be let into the building, but the landlord refused and instead reported the visit to the tenant. The activist called the People’s Law Office, a well-known legal collective that defends political activists targeted by repression. The People’s Law Office attorney learned that the FBI claims to be conducting an investigation, that the activist, who the FBI would like to question, is not a target, and that it may involve a person, entity or trend (political/ideological) that FBI claims to have concerns about.

Students For A Democratic Society National Convention Held In Chicago

Chicago, IL – On October 14 and 15, roughly 160 members and affiliates of the New Students for a Democratic Society(SDS) from over 20 campuses met for their annual National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. The students came from all over the U.S. to unite under the slogan of “Students Defend Education, Unions Strike Back!” to highlight both the attacks of education, especially ethnic studies such as Black studies and American Indian studies, and the increased level of union activity in 2023. Attendees listened to panels and gave workshops over a variety of topics, sharing strategy and tactics with SDS chapters from across the country.

Federal Complaint Alleges University Conspired Against Palestinians

Students at the University of Illinois Chicago have filed a federal complaint against the school, alleging that staff discriminated against them because of their ethnicity and national origin. The seven students, six Palestinian Americans and one Jewish American, attempted to join an informational session over the videoconferencing platform Zoom in January about a study abroad summer program in Israel. During and after the video call, students say they were racially profiled, harassed and silenced by university staff and, later, by campus police. In the Zoom call, UIC staff denied the students with Arab and Muslim names admission to the session while other students who had Western-sounding names were able to participate.

Illinois Just Ended Cash Bail; Here’s How Organizers Made It Happen

Illinois is poised to eliminate the use of cash bail in the state’s carceral system following the passage of the Pretrial Fairness Act by the state legislature on January 13. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who has said he favors ending cash bail, is expected to sign the bill into law. The policy of conditional pretrial detention — holding accused people in jail until their trial, unless they can afford to pay bail — is currently practiced in all 50 states, although New Jersey did drastically reduce the use of cash bail. It’s a practice that necessarily penalizes poor people and disproportionately affects Black and Brown people, already overrepresented in U.S. jails and prisons.

Workers At A Chicago Safety-Net Hospital Went On Strike

Chicago, Illinois - Following an 11-day strike that galvanized a Chicago West Side neighborhood, around 200 hospital workers treating uninsured and underinsured patients have won and ratified a new contract they believe will help them better serve the community. Members of SEIU Healthcare, the mostly Black employees include nursing assistants, emergency room technicians, mental health workers and janitorial staff at Loretto Hospital, a 122-bed medical facility in the Austin neighborhood. Loretto is a privately run but publicly funded ​“safety-net” hospital, treating low-income patients regardless of their insurance, especially around issues such as addiction and mental health.
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