No Cop Academy-Chicago

It’s clear what it means when the establishment proposes dramatically expanding the militarization of police as their response to police brutality and killings.

There is a web of interconnections between the killing of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (Tortuguita), who was resisting the plan to build “Cop City” in Atlanta, resistance to a police academy in Chicago, and the epidemic of violence and killing by police in this country.

Thursday, January 31, we had an action, “Stop Cop City” Solidarity in Des Moines.

(See: )

My friend Jon Krieg, who works at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), recently told me about the resistance to a proposal for a police training facility in Chicago, similar to “Cop City” in Atlanta.

Debbie Southorn works for the American Friends Service Committee in Chicago, where she supports community efforts and youth organizing to end policing and reimagine community safety. In 2012, she co-founded the Chicago chapter of Black & Pink, currently serves on the National Committee of the War Resisters League, and is a Board Member of the Chicago Freedom School.  She’s written about policing and white supremacy for outlets including TruthoutIn These Times, and The Intercept.   

Sophia: What is the cop academy? What do you want people to know about it? Why is it dangerous?

Debbie: In July of 2017, the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced his plans to spend at least $95 million on a new cop academy on the west side of Chicago. He has been heralding this project as an important step towards reform of the police department, saying that this building will provide a clean slate for the Chicago Police Department (CPD). There are so many reasons why this is dangerous. We know that this isn’t about having a kinder, gentler Chicago police department. 

This facility is being built so that the police department can have an expanded shooting range, so that they can do more mock raids. This is not about de-escalation and anti-bias training. They are trying to say that this is a response to the scathing Department of Justice report which delineated the realities of racism and violence that are plaguing this department. The report was issued in response to the killing of Laquan McDonald and the subsequent cover-up. 

PART ONE: No Cop Academy: What you should know about Chicago’s proposed police academy by the American Friends Service Committee, Nov 19, 2018

From 2017-2019, Chicago Black youth powerfully organized and led an effort against the construction of a $95 million dollar cop academy, and demanded the city of Chicago fund youth and communities instead. This upcoming documentary chronicles the explosive #NoCopAcademy campaign through those who lived it. “Real community safety comes from fully-funded schools and mental health centers, robust after-school and job-training programs, and social and economic justice. We want investment in our communities, not expanded resources for police.” #NoCopAcademy

SoapBox Productions and Organizing

#NoCopAcademy is a grassroots campaign launched by Assata’s Daughters, Black Lives Matter – Chicago, People’s Response Team, For The People Artists Collective, and many more grassroots organizations to mobilize against Rahm Emanuel’s plans to spend $95 million for a massive training center for Chicago police in West Garfield Park on the city’s West Side. We refuse any expansion of policing in Chicago, and demand accountability for decades of violence. Instead, we demand resources for schools and youth. This video offers the unique perspective of students who attend school one block away from the current cop academy, and young people who live adjacent to the site of the proposed expanded cop academy. What does it feel like to go to school next to cops every day? What would it feel like to have a shooting range, live scenario trainings, and a swimming pool for police next door to your high school gymnasium? What would you really need to feel safe in your neighborhood? In addition to centering the experiences that Black youth and youth of color have had with police in their communities, this piece goes the extra step by highlighting the ways young people are at the forefront of one of the most pressing issues in Chicago. The youth organizing team of #NoCopAcademy are organizing meetings, engaging their neighbors, meeting with City Council, engaged in direct action – all to demand an end to the violences that Black young people have experienced at the hands of the police and the city alike, and to demand schools for kids, not cops.

#NoCopAcademy | IG: @nocoapacademy

Schools for Kids, Not Cops 

Protesters who oppose a police training facility in West Garfield Park were escorted from a City Council committee meeting on Tuesday. (Note: This video was originally published on May 22, 2018)

Police training facility protesters. Chicago Sun-Times

Police killing of Tyre Nichols should remind us of five lessons from 2020
In the face of normalized police violence and ongoing systemic racism, Mary Zerkel of the Chicago Peacebuilding Program writes about why we need to keep pushing for community safety for all beyond policing. Lessons from 2020 include:

  1. Reformist reforms don’t work.
  2. We need police out of traffic stops.
  3. We need police out of mental health response.
  4. Police must stop targeting social justice organizers.
  5. We need alternatives to police response to keep all community members safe.

Yes, policing is still deadly. The police killing of Tyre Nichols remind us: Let’s not forget the lessons of 2020 by MARY ZERKEL, American Friends Service Committee, JAN 31, 2023

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