EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is part of The Nation’s Take Action program, which we use to point our readers toward actions they can take on the issues we cover. To get actions like this in your inbox every Tuesday, sign up for Take Action Now.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Sign the petition to join over 25 Chicago-area and national organizations in supporting the #NoCopAcademy campaign to demand that $95 million be redirected into vital community infrastructure rather than expanding the Chicago Police Department.
Over the 4th of July weekend this year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to build a $95 million police- and fire-training academy in a predominantly black community on Chicago’s West Side. Emanuel claims that the center is needed to move forward with reforms after a Department of Justice report in 2017 confirmed what members of the community had been claiming for decades: that the CPD engaged in rampant discrimination, violence, and abuse against black and brown communities.
Activists working in the communities victimized by the CPD say that the project does nothing to address the lack of accountability for the department’s endemic racism and violence. They point out that the overarching demand of the DOJ report, and community activists working to end police violence for years, has been for meaningful police accountability, something that they say pouring $95 million into a new training center fails to address. Furthermore, while some have praised the project as a “development opportunity” for the neighborhood, much-needed resources in that same community are being cut. When Emanuel famously closed 50 schools back in 2013, six of them were located in the same neighborhood as the proposed police-training center.
The plan is just the latest version of ongoing divestment from communities of color alongside massive resourcing of police infrastructure. Chicago already spends $1.5 billion on police every year (that doesn’t include the hundreds of millions of dollars the department has paid out in misconduct settlements). That’s $4 million every single day, and more than the city spends on the Departments of Public Health, Family and Support Services, Transportation, and Planning and Development (which handles affordable housing) combined. Mental-health spending receives $10 million per year, and only $2 million per year is allocated to violence-prevention services. Just this year, Chicago Public Schools laid off another 950 employees, while CPD is in the process of hiring 1000 additional police officers.