Category Archives: Chicago
By Mary Koptik
Four years ago Rahm Emanuel took office as the Mayor of Chicago in a city that was drowning financially. The over 600 million dollar deficit was understandably a main concern for Emanuel. His solution came in the form of a heavily reformed budget for the city. That proposal was met with approval, in fact, the 2012 Budget was passed in a unanimous 50-0 vote. In the hours leading up to the vote however, the support was not so clear cut. While council members understood that things had to change, there was dissent on who the burden would fall on. One of the areas hit the hardest, and thus one of the biggest points of contention, was mental health services.
It’s a scene you’d find in the international terminal at a global airport: men in long, crisp white thobes or jeans and a polo shirt; women in hijab styles ranging from floral turbans to floor-length draping scarves; men, women and children of every hue and profession inquisitively asking each other about destinations and their general lives.
On Friday in Chicago, a diverse crowd of 250 people commemorated Al-Quds Day that takes place annually in multiple cities around the world. This year’s event was held on the one-year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza. Speakers focused on the continuing siege of Gaza, the campaign to end the mistreatment of Palestinian children, and called for the U.S. to end military aid to Israel.
As June ushered in rising temperatures, the month also brought about focus to a unique and controversial topic: torture. June was Torture Awareness Month and in light of this, Chicagoland held major events to advocate and encourage an end to its use in any form and on any governmental level. Amnesty International, the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, hosted a rally on Friday, June 26 at Federal Plaza, which brought together individuals to celebrate recent victories in the fight against torture’s use and created an open space to highlight different narratives of torture, both international and domestic.
Last Sunday afternoon at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a sold-out crowd of over 500 activists, community leaders, organizers, poets, and artists came together for an event titled “Freedom Beyond Occupation & Incarceration: An Afternoon with Angela Davis and Rasmea Odeh.” This was not just an event with these two community leaders, this was a show of strength for a solidarity movement that wants an end to police brutality, an end to the racist prison system, an end to profiling of all minorities, an end to criminalization of activists, and an end to the occupation of Palestine.
Attorneys for Rasmea Odeh, Arab community leader in Chicago, have filed an appeal of her November 2014 conviction for “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” Her defense team states “justice requires Rasmea’s conviction be reversed and she be afforded a fair trial.”
On Saturday, May 30, 2015, the Metro Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), meeting in assembly, voted to approve a resolution entitled, “Resolution on U.S. Government Aid to State of Israel.”
On Tuesday, about four thousand Chicago teachers, parents, and their supporters rallied at the Thompson Center and marched down LaSalle Street to the Chicago Board of Trade. They demanded not only a fair contract for the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), but also for the just treatment of all communities in the city. Given the hostility of the city in contract negotiations and an anti-union governor who is continuing to push education and social services cuts, as one chant had it – “This is war!”
Pita Inn, the famous Chicagoland Middle Eastern restaurant establishment, has expanded to meet ever-growing consumer demand. After 33 years at its 3910 Dempster St. location, the restaurant moved 1 mile down the street, 4710 Dempster St., to a brand-new facility. It officially opened June 3.
On this day when Malcolm X would have been 90 years old, the State of Illinois has designated “May 19, 2015 and every May 19 thereafter as “Malcolm X Day.” The Senate passed unanimously a resolution proposed by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) and sponsored by State Senator Jackie Collins (D-Chicago 16th). Malcolm X is being recognized in the words of the resolution as “a singular human rights activist and one of the most influential African-American leaders in history.” His birthday on May 19 will be commemorated as a day of service in keeping with the values that Malcolm X represented in his life.