Build a Prison Close a School: 54 schools have been recently closed in Chicago (88% of students were black), 23 closed in Philadelphia (81% black), 26 in New York (60% black). What’s the difference between the Democrats and Republicans again, I forgot? Hundreds of teachers and school staff are being laid off in two of the largest cities in the country — both run by Democrats. In Chicago and Philadelphia, a total of 4,633 people, including many teachers, will lose their jobs. The closing of 54 Chicago Public Schools effected 30,000 students and 850 jobs.
Both cities, run by Democrats, claim they are closing schools because they need the money. Yet near both cities, money for prisons is somehow found. In Philadelphia, Republican Governor Tom Corbett magically found $400 million for State Correctional Institutions Phoenix I and II which will be the second most expensive prison complex in the state’s history. But the will to build prisons is not just a Republicans obsession.
Plenty of political energy by various Democrats, and the Obama Administration, is going into continuing to fund federal prisons in Illinois and Chicago. For three years straight, the Obama Administration has requested more money for federal prisons. In this year’s budget request, the Obama Administration asked for a budget increase for the third year in a row. The federal prison budget is now $8.6 billion. Obama has now surpassed Bush in funding prisons and the number of federal prisons incarcerated — 219,000 — half on drug related crimes. The total prison population topped 2 million in 2003 and shows no sign of decreasing even though states are running out of money to jail people.
Last October, Sen. Durbin announced that the federal government would buy the Thomson Correctional Facility, which can house 1,800 people, for $165,000. The need for jobs is a frequently used justification for building prisons. But how does it make sense to lay off 850 people from the Chicago School System while at the same time spending $170 million prison 150 miles away?
The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!
10:00 AM: Anti-Capitalist Demo @ City Front Plaza
12:45pm - 2:00pm: Occupy Chicago May Day Solidarity Speak Out @ Union Park, Randolph and Ashland
2:00pm - 4:30pm: International Workers Day March for Immigration Reform @ Union Park, march to Federal Plaza begins 3:00pm
4:30: Rally at Federal Plaza
Chicago’s School Closure Is The Largest In American History, Mainly Effects Black & Low Income Neighborhoods
Chicago school officials said Thursday that they plan to close dozens of schools in a bid to improve education and tackle a $1 billion deficit.
The move would shutter 61 school buildings, including 53 underused schools and one program. The cut represents roughly 10% of all elementary school facilities in Chicago Public Schools, the country’s third-largest school district.
CPS currently has 403,000 students, with seats for more than 511,000, and close to 140 of its 681 schools are more than half empty, according to the district. About 30,000 students will be affected by the plan, with about half that number moving into new schools.
According to WBEZ, 87 percent of schools that are being closed or having their buildings vacated are majority African-American. In total, 80 percent of kids affected by closures and other shakeups are black. About 42 percent of CPS students are African-American.
The Chicago Teachers Union opposes the closures, which it says would disproportionately affect African-American students. The union also warns the move would expose students to gang violence and turf wars, an apparent reference to neighborhood loyalties.
“This city cannot destroy that many schools at one time, and we contend that no school should be closed in the city of Chicago. These actions will not only put our students’ safety and academic careers at risk but also further destabilize our neighborhoods," said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.
Chicago police terrorized six children in the wrong apartment, demanding at gunpoint that an 11-month-old show his hands, and telling one child, “This is what happens when your grandma sells crack,” the family claims in court.
Lead plaintiffs Charlene and Samuel Holly sued Chicago, police Officer Patrick Kinney and eight John Does in Federal Court, on their own behalves and for their children and children.
The six children were 11 months to 13 years old at the time. Plaintiffs Connie and Michelle Robinson are Charlene Holly’s daughters.
The complaint states: “On November 29, 2012 in the early evening hours Charlene Holly was in the first floor apartment at 10640 S. Prairie in the front room helping minor Child #1, Child #2, Child #4, and Child #5 rehearse songs for their church choir. Charlene was also caring for Child #3, who was 11 months old. Child #6 was in the upstairs apartment alone.
"Charlene and the children heard a loud boom outside and a voice cry out ‘Across the street!’
"Defendant Officers John Doe 1-8 burst through the door to the first floor apartment dressed in army fatigues and pointing guns at Charlene and the children. The officers yelled at Charlene and the children to ‘Get on the ground!’ The officers referred to Charlene and the children as ‘m—-f—-ers’ numerous times …
"Charlene continually asked what the purpose of the detention was," the complaint states. "Finally, an officer produced a warrant and handed it to Charlene. The warrant was for an individual named ‘Sedgwick M. Reavers’ and the premises listed was ‘The second floor apartment located at 10640 S. Prairie Ave. A yellow brick two flat building with the numbers 10640 on the front of the building.’ In other words, the warrant clearly identified the proper location as the second floor apartment. Charlene, Samuel, and the children were in the first floor apartment …
The family claims that “the following day Charlene discovered the family dog, Samson, not in the basement where the family kept him, but in an upstairs laundry room. Samson could not have reached the laundry room without human assistance. On information and belief, defendant
Officers dragged and choked Samson from the basement with the dog pole and left him in the upstairs laundry room unattended, where he died.”
Samuel Holly also went to the police station the day after the warrantless search to complain, but “despite his numerous calls the night before, was told that he could not make a complaint and he ‘should have made a complaint last night," the family says.
By Steve Bogira
I posted here recently about the role of concentrated poverty in Chicago’s murder rate. I wrote that sufficiency of police protection was not the key issue in the murder rate—that “violent crime in Englewood and West Garfield Park will continue to run rampant as long as poverty’s clustered there.”
The chart above illustrates the relationship between concentrated poverty and homicide. I culled figures from a data set published earlier this month by the Chicago Department of Public Health. The chart shows the five poorest, and five least-poor, community areas in the city (based on the percentage of households below the poverty line), and their homicide rates from 2004 through 2008. Because concentrated poverty in Chicago is inextricably linked to being African-American, I’ve also included the percentage of African-Americans in these community areas, calculated from 2005-2009 Census Bureau estimates.
If the homicide rates in the poor black areas were twice the rates in the better-off white areas, that would be significant. The differences above, averaging about 13 to one, are staggering. This is what apartheid looks like.
Let’s remember how things got this way, in Chicago and a host of other northern cities. Policies throughout the first seven decades of the 20th Century—some governmental, some commercial—hemmed blacks in geographically. So did the bombing and burning of the homes of blacks who tried moving into white neighborhoods, and the shooting and stoning of these intruders. Racial segregation combined perfectly with racial discrimination in hiring and schooling to create vast areas of concentrated poverty—most notably in housing projects, but in other black neighborhoods as well. In areas of concentrated poverty, children are far more likely to grow up with one parent or no parent, neglected and abused, amid alcoholism and drug addiction. If you want children to become violent in their teens and early 20s, these are the right ingredients. Merely having more police around to catch them in the act is like throwing thimblefuls of water on a house fire.
The only thing more reprehensible than homicide rates so grossly disparate, from poor black neighborhoods to middle-class white neighborhoods, is that we’ve tolerated them for decades. It was this way long before the 2004-2008 period the rates are based on—and the situation hasn’t changed since 2008. In today’s Crain’s Chicago Business, Arthur J. Lurigio, professor of criminal justice and psychology at Loyola University, points out that in 2010, 52 percent of murders in Chicago occurred in just six of the city’s 25 police districts—areas “plagued by intergenerational poverty, gang infestation, single-parent households, social disorder, and economic blight." These precursors to violence, Lurigio writes, "can be addressed most effectively through the social, political, and economic revitalization of distressed neighborhoods.”
"Revitalization" is part of the solution—but it’ll never work without concurrent efforts to deconcentrate the poverty. There must be a far harder push for mixed-income housing throughout the metropolitan area, and more support for those who want to live in it. This requires federal leadership that’s been lacking. It also requires the cooperation of mayors across the region—but only one mayor has the clout to lead the effort. He should remind his colleagues that the region won’t thrive unless its central city does.
That’s what should happen, but it probably won’t, because of another feature of segregation that makes it so tenacious. The people with the power to spur Mayor Emanuel to act have little reason to do so when the disease of poverty is quarantined. If you live in Edison Park, Garfield Park is not your problem. The homicide rate in Fuller Park may briefly dismay us, but then we move on to the next thing. We hate hearing about the murders, but it’s not us, our neighbors, our family members, or our friends who are getting the heartbreaking middle-of-the-night calls.
On New Year’s Eve, our friend Alex C-G was violently arrested at a noise demonstration in solidarity with prisoners at Cook County Jail. Alex will have a bond hearing on New Years Day @ 11am @ 26th and California, and we intend to bond them out as quickly as possible.
Alex is active in Palestine solidarity work through Punks Against Apartheid, has worked with youth in Chicago, and has supported past solidarity actions for prisoners.
All money raised will go directly to bailing Alex out and to any legal expenses incurred. We know that Cook County Jail is a horrific place to spend New Years, and we want to free Alex as quickly as possible. Thank you for your support!
UPDATE as of 1/1/2013 12pm: We have found that Alex was taken to Maywood last night, which is the HQ of the Cook County Sheriffs Dept. There is no holiday bond court in Maywood, and they were not brought to 26th and California today, so it seems that the earliest bond hearing will be Wed Jan 2nd. An NLG lawyer will try to visit Alex this afternoon and also get more info on what the charges may be and the time and place for the bond hearing. Thank you to all who have donated and spread the word!
(Video) An angry crowd confronts Chicago Police after officers ran over Jamaal Moore, 23, with a police vehicle and shot him after a confrontation.
Police said the man was shot about 11:15 a.m. Saturday after attempting to flee the scene of a robbery when the silver SUV he was in lost control near the intersection of West Garfield Boulevard and South Ashland Avenue.
The crowd of witnesses, which included Moore’s relatives, became angry at the police. 5 minutes into the video, police clashed with crowd for unknown reasons. 9 people were arrested according to police, 5 were held on bail and face misdemeanor charges of mob action.
According to the City of Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority, where requests for investigations of police shootings and tasings are logged, at least 43 people were shot by police from January to September of this year.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Monday that essentially allows people in Illinois to record police officers, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The justices declined to review a lower court ruling that found the state’s “anti-eavesdropping law” to be in violation of a person’s free speech rights when used against anyone who records police officers.
By refusing to review the case, the high court leaves the ban on the law in place.
The law set out a maximum prison term of 15 years.
In 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to block prosecution of ACLU staff for recording police officers performing their duties in public places.
Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, said the organization “continues to believe that in order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police.”
Photo Caption: A Chicago police officer threatens to arrest a man for recording him at a checkpoint (video)