On February 20 the Party for Socialism and Liberation, ANSWER Coalition and members of the Democratic Socialists of America gathered outside Harvard’s Gund Hall to protest Rahm Emanuel’s speaking event at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.
About 50 people gathered at the entrance to the hall and denounced Rahm’s role in the cover up of the police lynching of a 17-year old African American boy, LaQuan McDonald, in 2014. In addition, protesters spoke out against the building of a nearly $100 million dollar police training academy fully backed
by the Mayor and the Aldermen in his pocket. The mayor of Chicago heralded the building of this training center as a gift to the Black community of Chicago, one that would bring investment and safety to the community. At the demonstration organizers with the ANSWER coalition made clear the hypocrisy of Rahm’s move and the falsehood that more cops mean more safety.
Nino Brown of the Party for Socialism and Liberation emceed the speak out and had this to say about Rahm’s invitation and building of the $95 million dollar cop academy:
“The history of the Chicago Police is a history of murder and outright barbarism. From the anti-Communist witch hunts and targeted destruction of left groups from socialists to anarchists, to the murder of Mark Clark and Fred Hampton and now to the murder of LaQuan, Rekia, Paul O’Neal and many others, the role of the police has never been to keep anyone but the rich, privileged and white safe.
“The mayor continues to squeeze funds out of public schools, he closed down nearly as many schools as Hurricane Katrina did when it hit New Orleans. At least 50 schools were shut down. Yet, instead of investing in the Black community, of giving the people community control over the police, what does this neoliberal pig of a mayor do? He plans to put a police training facility in the West Garfield Black community both gentrifying it and militarizing it at the same time. And this man is a Democrat, a so called “anti-Trumpist” that declared Chicago a “Trump free zone!” Well militarization, anti-Black racism, gentrification, police terror are all part and parcel of Trump’s politics – so who is this neoliberal tool trying to fool?
“We demand that Rahm be held accountable firstly for his cover up of the lynching of LaQuan McDonald – arrest Rahm! We demand, in solidarity with the masses of poor and working people of Chicago that no cop academy be built and that money be put into the hands of the dozens of community organizations of the #NoCopAcademy movement for genuine community development. Police do not keep the people safe, they keep the ruling class safe. They don’t need a training facility they need to be disarmed, defunded, and dismantled. We need robust and dynamic schools, free or affordable healthcare, real affordable housing, mental health counselors and social workers and more to have real “safety.” We must be keen to not let these phony ‘resistance’ Democrats, who are part and parcel of this racist state, come up with ‘solutions’ for our people. All their ‘solutions’ like their cop academy are just new problems for the people.”
The demonstration continued on until all the guests at the speaking event left, having to walk through the crowd of people who were chanting: “16 Shots and a Cover up!” “Disarm! Defund! Killer Cops you cannot run!” “Rahm Emanuel your a tool! Hands off Public Schools!”
Harvard students oeganize disruption
Prior to Mayor Emanuel’s appearance a group of 35 students and community organizations signed a letter denouncing Rahm’s invitation.
“In the last 15 years, Chicago has seen its African American population decline by roughly 200,000 residents as they have been priced out or pushed out of their communities. The lack of economic investment in communities of color and the failure to address violence contributed to the exodus. In 2017 alone, a person was shot in Chicago every 2 minutes and 27 seconds. The Mayor’s focus on downtown while ignoring broad swaths of the city means vital resources that address poverty and violence are not deployed to the places of most need.
“In 2013, Mayor Emanuel closed 50 public schools in the largest school closing in history, with no plan for the use of now vacant buildings and with little done to track the 11,000 students that were displaced. In 2018, Chicago Public Schools decided to close four high schools in Englewood, displacing hundreds of students while planning to build a new high school in the community – yet none of the current students are allowed to attend the new high school once it is built. Instead of funding these schools and providing them with the resources they need, the Mayor’s Administration is disrupting the education of Black students in Chicago. Students are resisting these policies, and we support them in their fight to keep their schools open.
“Although the City of Chicago already invests $1.5 billion on police every year, Rahm Emanuel plans to spend $95 million of taxpayer money to construct a Police Academy in the West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago, a neighborhood that is 95% Black. This egregious use of public funds will expand a police department that is notorious for its systematic brutality against Black residents of Chicago. Out of 400 police shootings being investigated in Chicago since 2007, only one has been found to be unjustified. This is the same police department that murdered LaQuan McDonald with sixteen bullets and continues to inflict violence on Black and Brown communities in Chicago every single day. We will not forget Rahm Emanuel and his administration’s role in covering up the case of LaQuan McDonald to secure his own reelection.
“The Police Academy is being built under the guise of training police officers to be more competent, but we recognize this rhetoric as a strategy to funnel more money into an institution that will continue to terrorize Chicago’s most marginalized communities. Many groups in Chicago vehemently oppose the Police Academy proposal. The #NoCopAcademy Campaign is a grassroots coalition that is calling for this project to be stopped and for $95 million to be invested in public services. #NoCopAcademy is made up of 54 organizations including Black Lives Matter Chicago, Assata’s Daughters, the Arab American Action Network, the Latino Union, National Lawyers Guild of Chicago, and many more. We wholeheartedly stand with #NoCopAcademy and the organizers in Chicago that are fighting to protect their communities from Rahm Emanuel’s violent policies.
“While expenditures on police and police infrastructure continue to rise, Rahm Emanuel has ensured that the city has become less affordable during his term. Taxpayers are paying more than $1000 more in taxes per year under his administration. Taxes on vital services have increased while service quality has not. These services are seeing their funding dry up under Rahm Emanuel’s Administration.
“It is our responsibility to challenge institutions of power, including our own university, and hold elected officials accountable for their racist, violent policies. Rahm Emanuel claims that his administration made Chicago a great place to live. We ask, for whom?”
Inside the event a handful of Harvard students were removed from the event for disrupting Rahm’s speech chanting “No Cop Academy!” and “16 Shots and a Cover Up”
An ANSWER Coalition banner reading “No $ 4 Pigs/Fund Black Futures” was taken away by police after the students disrupted Rahm’s neoliberal babbling.
Boston faces the same crisis as Chicago
Before the speak out ended, organizers with the ANSWER Coalition highlighted the importance of gearing up to struggle against cuts to Boston Public Schools as they faced slated cuts to their school budget which may lead to the closing down of some schools already cash strapped and under-resourced. Additionally, they raised the case of Terrence Coleman a 31-year old Black man with a disability who was assassinated by the Boston Police Department on October 30, 2016. The killers of Terrence Coleman, Paul O’Neal, LaQuan McDonald still walk free and the struggle for justice continues.
We must continue to build our movements and struggles against gentrification, austerity, and racist police terror. From Boston to Chicago the people will rise up and fight ardently for social justice and reparations to all the victims of this racist imperialist state.
Justice 4 LaQuan McDonald!
Arrest Rahm Emanuel!
Jail All Killer Cops!
No Cop Academy! Fund Black Futures!
Hands Off Public Schools!