Local chapters of Black Lives Matter and Jewish Voice for Peace coordinated actions in Chicago, Illinois on the weekend of October 24-25, 2015. CPTers attended the events, employing our public witness, human rights documentation, and nonviolent direct action support skills. We’re in the middle of a month-long training of 10 new recruits; people from across the organization—administrative team, field team, and a trainee—participated.
On October 24, marches to stop police brutality rocked the entire United States, making visible the lives stolen by state violence (one African-American dies every 28 hours at the hands of police or Correctional Officer in the US). In Chicago, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) met at the convention center. They had been invited by the mayor to learn from Chicago Police Department (CPD). The CPD is notorious for corruption; recently victims of systemic Chicago police torture won a precedent-setting reparations payout (John Burge case). A survivor tearfully spoke at the pre-march rally. He urged us to keep up the pressure because there are still many people languishing behind bars in the city.
The IACP convention here infuriated the politicized, savvy youth that lead the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Our communities stand the most to lose from greater police coordination of their repressive actions,” said Page May, a grade school teacher and co-founder of We Charge Genocide a coalition to end police brutality. “How insulting that the mayor would invite them here, after he just closed down over 75 schools—nearly all in Black and brown communities, defunded mental health programs, and has not invested our tax-money back into our neighborhoods.”
CPTers stood at the blockade alongside Page (she along with a leaders like Charlene Carruthers of Black Youth Project 100 are under heavy surveillance) as we called for “funding black futures” and then supported the 66 young people who were arrested for disturbing the IACP conference: chained together they blocked intersections, walkways, and entrances for multiple hours.
Black Youth Project 100 leader Charlene Carruthers reminds her comrades that they are there because the Chicago mayor wants to allocate an additional $200 million to Chicago police department.
The demographic of the people that marched to end anti-black racist police violence on Saturday was broad—featuring international solidarity, queer, and Arab community organizers. While many of the youth from Saturday’s actions were still in jail on Sunday, some from that march, joined the picket of the Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) conference in downtown Chicago. We chanted, “not one more nickel, not one more dime! No more money for JNF crimes!” and “From Palestine to Chicago, occupation’s got to go!”
Organizers from Jewish Voice for Peace (the fastest growing Jewish organization in the United States) explained the connection between the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli military occupation.
“I left the JNF because they lied to my face when I confronted them about their evictions of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem” explained Seth Morrison as to why he left as a Board Member of the Jewish National Fund JNF-D.C. “The JNF’s actions for decades have been among the root causes of the violence we’re seeing today,” Morrision continued.
JNF is complicit in the displacement of Palestinian people and theft of Palestinian land and resources. The protest happened in the backdrop of rising violence across East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since October 1st, over 60 Palestinians have been killed and over 2000 injured by Israeli state and settler violence, and 8 Israelis have been killed and scores injured in individual attacks.
One thing these two protests have in common is our resistance to the way money is used in repression, displacement, and violence toward human beings. The central questions that started CPT were:
“what if people were willing to train as much for peace as militaries train for war?” and “what if peacemakers were willing to give it all for this cause, just as we expect soldiers to?” It is weekends like this that make me add a third question, “what if we dedicated as much money and resources to nonviolent, constructive experiments as we give to violent, destructive experiments?”