Category Archives: Chicago

Op Ed – Memo to Mayor Emanuel: Fire Yourself

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We’ve all seen the video. It’s late at night, a young man walking down the middle of the street, lit up by the headlights from a half-dozen police cars. Everything is happening in an eerie silence, because the audio on the dash-cam has been intentionally disabled by the police.

The Gentrification of Chicago’s Public Housing

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Chicago is one of many cities that has a notorious past with public housing. When most people hear those words “public housing”, media-driven images of poverty-stricken, crime-ridden Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor homes come to mind. While we have taken down those “projects” and have installed some new public housing buildings, we have a long way to go to make up for all the units that were torn down. Progress is slow. As of 2015, 100,000 people are on the CHA’s housing wait list. In 2014 when the list opened, 200,000 people entered their names into a lottery and 100,000 were picked to register for the wait list. This left thousands denied the right to wait for public housing.

Arab and Muslim Groups Protest Southwest Airlines Profiling at Stockholders Meeting

Photo by Bill Chambers

By Bill Chambers

On Wednesday morning, Southwest Airlines held its annual shareholder meeting in downtown Chicago. This year the stockholders were greeted by Arab and Muslim groups who were protesting the trend of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab incidents on Southwest Airlines flights. The groups also showed solidarity with the picketing pilots, flight attendants, and mechanic union members.

Op Ed – We Don’t Need Another Mayor Controlled Chicago Police Review Board

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Last week Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his proposal to abolish the current Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) and “restore trust”:

“Today I can announce that in the coming weeks, we will have the final details worked out on a comprehensive plan to fundamentally reshape our system of police accountability and it will be introduced at the following meeting of the full City Council on June 22. It will be based on the thoughtful suggestions made by my Police Accountability Task Force. It will also be informed by the conversations my administration is having with aldermen, community leaders, the U.S. Department of Justice and experts in the field. We want to make sure the police accountability system is trusted by the members of the Chicago Police Department and the residents of Chicago.”

Anita Alvarez Wants to Withdraw From Laquan McDonald Murder Case But Is It Enough?

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By Joseph Kerins

Following a petition filed in Cook County court by a coalition of 25 community organizations, prominent attorneys and civil rights activists, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has motioned to withdraw from the high-profile Laquan McDonald murder case against Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.

Boeing Faces Increased Opposition on Weapons Sales to Israel

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By Bill Chambers

For the fourth year in a row, anti-war activists protested outside the annual Boeing shareholders meeting in Chicago yesterday. For the first time this year, Boeing shareholders who oppose weapons sales to Israel have presented a resolution calling for the corporation to prepare a report detailing these arms sales. Boeing fought to have the resolution disallowed from the meeting. But they not only lost that fight, but with over 5% of the shareholders voting for the resolution, it will be brought up again next year to likely even greater support.

Rasmea Odeh Heads Back to Court in Ongoing Campaign Against Palestine Activism

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By Bill Chambers

On Thursday, Palestinian community leader Rasmea Odeh heard that she will return with her attorneys and supporters to the Detroit federal court for a status conference on Monday, June 13. Odeh had been convicted in 2014 of naturalization fraud and sentenced last year to 18 months in prison, removal of her US citizenship, and deportation. In February, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to District Court Judge Drain, saying he had wrongfully barred the testimony of a torture expert that was critical to Rasmea’s defense. At her trial, Rasmea was not allowed to tell the full story of her conviction of bombings in Israel in 1969 that was the result of a coerced confession made after she was tortured and raped by Israeli military authorities. Odeh was originally arrested in 2012 for a twenty year old “naturalization fraud” charge that was “discovered” while Justice Department investigators were frustrated in their failure to charge or indict 23 Palestine activists in 2010 for “material support for terrorism.” Muhammad Salah, also a Chicago area Palestinian victim of torture by the Israelis and the target of a politically-motivated prosecution by the Justice Department in 1993, died after a long fight with cancer on Saturday. The death of Muhammad Salah is a reminder that the campaign to deport Odeh is part of a much longer assault on Palestine activism that continues to the present day.

Op Ed – Chicago Police Reform or Community Control of the Police?

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Early on in the Police Accountability Task Force Report a democratic principle is set forth, namely, that “The police need to know who they work for — the community. The authority that they have belongs to the people.” Yet nowhere does this report address the fundamental democratic right of the people to control the police and so we are left with suggested reforms and recommendations for policy changes that are left in the hands of the very people that created the problem in the first place. If the police in fact worked for the community then we wouldn’t be campaigning for community control of the police.

Why is Interest in Chicago’s Local School Councils Declining?

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Local School Council’s (LSC’s) appear in all Chicago Public Schools. They are responsible for selecting the school’s principal, renewing that principal’s contract, monitoring the annual School Improvement Plans, and approving how school funds are allocated. Through the creation of LSC’s, principal tenure has been effectively ended, giving only four-year contracts.

Op Ed – The Way to End Police Crime is Community Control

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The only thing new in the office of Police Monitor, proposed Tuesday by Alderperson Leslie Hairston to replace the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), is that the Mayor would not appoint the Monitor. Instead the City Council would select the people who would select the person who the Council would then select as the Monitor. Hairston adds a few town halls to this merry-go-round, and that’s it for community input.