A Small Space on the South Side
A new coalition of community and environmental activists met for the first time last Thursday to discuss their effort to fight pollution on the South Side. Members of four groups from McKinley Park, Little Village, Pilsen, and the Southeast Side convened in a crowded gymnasium at the Rauner Family YMCA. The impromptu meeting space was organized after attendees quickly overcrowded the small side room originally intended for the gathering.
In the coming months before the February municipal elections, the Weekly will be profiling not only the candidates for public office, but also the grassroots movements that shape the political landscape in Chicago communities. Over the next few months, we will be asking mayoral and aldermanic candidates about their positions on each of these movements.
Does police spending reduce harm or cause greater harm?
On the night of April 3, an officer of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) shot a student in the grips of a mental health crisis. Charles Thomas, who had been wielding a metal pole and smashing windows, and who the officer identified as undergoing a mental health crisis before shooting him in the shoulder, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville to receive treatment. Over the following two weeks, he was charged with eight felonies, including assaulting a police officer.
Oftentimes, zakat is sent abroad to various countries suffering with injustices—but it is important to show that some of that same brutality is happening in the United States to people in jail,” said Nabihah Maqbool, an organizer with Believers Bail Out (BBO) and law student at the University of Chicago, earlier this month at a gathering of Muslim organizers at Augustana Lutheran Church in Hyde Park. BBO, a recently-formed coalition of Muslim organizations working with the Chicago Community Bond Fund, collects zakat—the portion of income Muslims are required to donate to charity—for the purposes of freeing Muslims in Cook County Jail who can’t afford to post bond.
Reparations Won!” a white sheet cake boasted in blue lettering. The names of survivors of torture by detectives within the Chicago Police Department hung from clotheslines draped across the walls. A dozen cardstock letters from CPD torture survivors who remain in prison dangled by pink string from the ceiling. On orange and pink post-it notes, questions like “What do you want the world to know about your mom?” and “What gives you hope?”—and corresponding answers like “Artists give me hope!”—colored the windows. A microphone stand arose from a makeshift stage set up in front of two large banners reading “Consent is Everything” and “You Are Never Alone.” Among all of this, over fifty activists, young and old—torture survivors, their mothers, and their allies—greeted each other, hugged, ate, and mingled.
At 11:30pm last Wednesday, a group of fifteen people was standing on a street in West Town, watching for the arrival of a truck. They were members of Chicago Animal Save, an animal anti-cruelty group, and they were holding a monthly vigil to protest the animal cruelty that goes ignored in slaughterhouses. Each member was ready to stand until the truck came, which might not happen until four in the morning. The truck would be bringing chickens for slaughter.
At a presentation held last month at the Grace Place Episcopal Church in Printer’s Row, the Coalition to End Money Bond released the most recent results of its community court-watching initiative. Their efforts tracked the implementation of an order, issued by Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans, that bond court judges set more affordable bonds for legally innocent pretrial detainees in the Cook County criminal justice system. This is the most recent result of the long history of activism for bail reform in Cook County—a history which began in the 1970s, as detailed in a three–part series in the Weekly earlier this year.
Kristiana Rae Colón is a poet, playwright, educator, and one of the founders of the #LetUsBreathe Collective