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Activists Block Street Outside City Hall With Coffin Installation To Protest Cop Academy, Gang Database

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 10, 2017 10:57PM


Activists briefly blocked traffic on Randolph Street outside City Hall Tuesday with a large-scale art installation to protest the city's gang database, as well as plans for a multi-million-dollar police and fire training academy to be built in West Garfield Park.

The installation included a series of silhouettes and bar-graph statistics that illustrate disparities between police budgeting and funds for public health and social services. Coffins were placed to represent "that 88 percent of the people hit or killed by the Chicago police between 2008 and 2015 are black or brown," according to Organized Communities Against Deportation, which organized the demonstration, along with with Black Youth 100.

Activists held a banner that read "Make Chicago Safer and More Welcoming for All" and chanted slogans such as "Hey Hey, Ho Ho Rahm Emanuel has got to go," and "No ban, No deportations, No more criminalization."

Protesters called for the City Council to vote against the allocation of $95 million to build the police training facility at Wednesday's meeting and urged that carve-outs, such as the city's gang-database carve-out, be removed from Chicago's Welcoming City Ordinance. Activists have used the hashtags #NoCopAcademey and #sanctuaryforall to draw attention to the efforts.

Activists staged the demonstration at around 4:20 p.m. Police officers started to clear the installation aside at around 4:45 p.m.

A Chicago police spokesperson told Chicagoist there were no arrests at the roughly 100-person demonstration.

A coalition of more than 20 community groups has called for funds to be directed to public schools, mental health clinics, better wages, and after-school and job-training programs, rather than the training academy.

The Chicago Immigration Working Group—a coalition of 14 local activist groups—has criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not closing "discriminatory" loopholes in the Welcoming City ordinance. The ordinance creates certain exceptions that allow local law enforcement to cooperate with federal agents on undocumented-immigrant detention, including for those who are included in the city's gang database, an index that civil-rights advocates have argued relies on flawed methods.