Activists Camp At Homan Square To Protest 'Blue Lives Matter' Ordinance
Activists have been camped out across the street Homan Square, an alleged Chicago Police Department "black site," since Friday, protesting the proposed "Blue Lives Matter" ordinance headed for Chicago's City Council. They said in a Friday statement that they won't leave until the ordinance's sponsor, ordinance, Ald. Ed Burke (14th), recalls the ordinance, which would extend hate crime protections to past or present police officers.
“Demanding justice is not a hate crime,” says #LetUsBreathe co-director Kristiana Colón in an email statement on Friday, “and police are not a marginalized group. This ordinance makes it easier to punish people for exercising 1st Amendment rights and harder to hold police accountable for their crimes.”
A member of BYP100 and the #LetUsBreathe Collective told the Tribune, of the ordinance, that "[i]t threatens protesters in the name of protecting the most protected group."
At this point, activists affiliated with the #LetUsBreathe Collective have stayed at their campsite at Homan Avenue and Fillmore Street through this weekend's dangerous heat wave and storms that downed CTA stations, the Tribune reports.
The collective chose Homan Square as the site for their protest because it's an alleged off-the-books interrogation facility, where inmates' families often can't find them and attorneys are routinely denied access. If the stories of Homan Square are true—which the Chicago Police Department says, predictably, that they aren't—it supports the argument that police are anything but marginalized people in need of further protection.
However, according to their Friday statement, the activists want more than a recall of the ordinance. They want to see "divestment from police and investment in community resources," as they put it. They're working to build a vision of a world without police, and their initial camp site was laid out to support that. They put up seven tents, one for each of the resources communities need to thrive without police. They argue these resources include restorative justice, mental health, education, employment, housing, art and nutrition.
We reached out to the #LetUsBreathe Collective for more details on their ongoing protest, and will update this post if we hear back. Meanwhile, the protest is being documented on Twitter using the hashtag #FreedomSquare, where activists are also sharing requests for supplies with the public:
What's up y'all. Our needs right now are fly and bee traps that look like this. pic.twitter.com/Cn8wibqGoJ— #LetUsBreathe (@LetUsBreathe773) July 26, 2016