Happening Now: BYP100 is shutting down the IACP Conference in Chicago. A smaller cohort of allied affinity groups is supporting the action by blocking the major streets in front of McCormick Place. Here is their public statement:
This week, the International Association of Chiefs of Police has brought their annual conference to Chicago. Law enforcement leadership from over 80 countries are in attendance, gathered with their corporate backers in the thousands at McCormick Place, to share tactics and strategy. Over the course of the week, mayor Rahm Emanuel, governor Bruce Rauner, police superintendent Gary McCarthy, and president Barack Obama will all be in attendance.
Today, Black Youth Project 100 and allied affinity groups are staging disruptions in various locations, attempting to shut down not just the IACP conference, but the city of Chicago itself.
We make up a smaller affinity group of this larger action, representing members of Assata’s Daughters, Black Out Pride, Fearless Leadership by the Youth, Fight for 15, Organized Communities Against Deportation, and Not One More. We are shutting down the intersection of 26th St. and Martin Luther King Drive, in front of McCormick Place. Our goal is to make entrance into the conference as difficult as possible, and to bring traffic to a standstill in the heart of Chicago.
Our reason for being a small part of this larger action is this:
We are witnessing an unprecedented mass disinvestment in the Black communities of our city. From Homan Square’s disappeared, to the closing of half the city’s mental health clinics, to Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s theft of public funds, Black communities are being robbed of their most precious resources, maliciously and intentionally, and offered nothing in return but harassment and abuse in the form of more prisons and cops. While Rauner slashes supports for homeless youth, mental health, HIV services, and child care, Emanuel’s proposed city budget for 2016 allocates a whopping 2.1 billion dollars–40% of the annual budget–towards policing.
Even as we block this intersection, the city of Chicago spends 4 million dollars a day on policing—more than it spends on mental health services in an entire year.
What this tells us is what we already know: That Black lives don’t matter to the city of Chicago; That the primary violence our communities face does not come from gangs and crime, but from structural violence in the form of evictions, school closings, budget cuts, policing and incarceration; That the systems born of chattel slavery to maintain Black lives as disposable commodities are as thriving now as they ever were.
What we understand is that the role of policing is not community safety, as we’ve long been taught. It is an apparatus which protects property and wealth, the power and social control of the elite, precisely by targeting, terrorizing and marginalizing Black communities on a consistent basis. As the state inflicts deep social and economic violence on our people, the police use physical violence to keep that structure in place.
The police do not protect us; They protect the status quo–one dependent on the demonization of Blackness.
Today, we stand as a multiracial collective, representing multiple organizations, ethnicities, faiths and genders, all united in the struggle for economic justice and Black liberation. While our action is led by Black people for Black people, we recognize that the struggle for Black freedom is our collective responsibility to carry out, and necessary for the justice sought by us all to be achieved.
In participating as a cohort within this larger action, these are the short and longterm goals of our collective:
Abolish Bail and Bond—End the racist, classist, and ableist taxation of oppressed people! Abolish bail, bond, and all fees associated with detention and incarceration!
Close All Youth Detention Centers—Stop holding our young people in cages, and provide them with public schools, arts, fair wages, and free mental health services instead!
Reopen All Schools and Mental Health Clinics—Stop replacing housing, healthcare and education with prisons! Reopen all closed schools and mental health clinics with the money stollen from our communities to bolster and bailout the private sector!
End the Criminalization of Survival—When local and federal government have removed all support systems and social services, fighting to survive is not a crime! Decriminalize sex work, drug use and possession, and release all those currently incarcerated with “Quality of Life,” drug, homelessness and sex trafficking related charges!
Cap the CPD Budget—The CPD is sucking resources from Black communities for the purpose of abusing them. Cap the CPD’s budget, including within it the millions doled out every year in reparations and lawsuits!
Close Homan Square and All Black Sites—The “War on Terror” has not been brought home; It began on US soil in Black and Brown communities. Close Homan Square and all other so-called black sites in the city of Chicago, and around the world!
Disarm the Police–We reject our communities being treated as a marketplace for violence. Disarm the police, divest from weapons manufacturers, and keep arms out of Black communities worldwide!
End Stop and Frisk—Stop and Frisk is a racist, classist, sexist and transphobic practice that targets our communities for harassment and violence. Safety begins when Stop and Frisk ends!
Our message is this: When you invite the world leaders of torture, terror and death into our city, you can expect disruption. When you steal money from our communities to provide a red-carpet welcome to the organizations that deny us safety, be assured that we will not be silent. When you starve the most vulnerable among us to bolster the systems that keep us hungry, know that we will fight back.
The brilliant future we look to, and the abolition we call for, is not merely based in the permanent dismantling of the police and prison systems. It is about rebuilding Black communities with the resources that have been stolen from them for the purposes of police and militarism. It is about investing in education, housing, healthy food, parks and gardens, community centers, affordable mental health services, and community safety based on our people having the things we need to live full, abundant lives. Guns and cages have nothing to do with this future we envision.
Until all Black people are free, none of us are free. Until all trans people are free, none of us are free. Until all women are free, none of us are free. And none of us are free until we have abolished police once and for all.
Power to the people!