Ac­tivists against cops at schools rally at home of Board of Ed of­fi­cial

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER tschuba@sun­times.com | @TomSchuba

As ac­tivists con­tinue to push to have cops re­moved from Chicago Pub­lic Schools, dozens of cur­rent and for­mer stu­dents took their fight to the front door of the re­sis­tant school board vice pres­i­dent.

The demon­stra­tion near the cor­ner of 18th and Mor­gan streets in Pilsen of­ten felt more like an endof-sum­mer block party, with mu­si­cians and dancers amp­ing up the crowd while at­ten­dees wrote col­or­ful mes­sages in side­walk chalk. Still, the fo­cus re­mained firmly on end­ing CPS’ mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar con­tract with Chicago po­lice and the ac­tivists’ de­sire to di­vert that fund­ing to other re­sources, like coun­selors and nurses.

“Youth do not need to be po­liced, ever,” said Tanvi Ka­p­a­tral, a grad­u­ate of Whit­ney Young Mag­net High School who helped or­ga­nize the event. “We’re here to end polic­ing ev­ery­where.”

The protest comes a day af­ter stu­dent ac­tivists met with Chicago Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Vice Pres­i­dent Send­hil Re­vu­luri, who they say re­mains op­posed to their pleas to re­move all cops from schools. The group or­ga­nized by Chicago Desi Youth Ris­ing and Pilsen Al­liance re­peat­edly called out Re­vu­luri, at one point at­tempt­ing to goad him out of his home.

In an emailed state­ment, Re­vu­luri said keep­ing chil­dren safe is one of the district’s top pri­or­i­ties, adding that he’s spent the past months speak­ing to stake­hold­ers about “how to make this hap­pen ef­fec­tively and eq­ui­tably.”

“I look for­ward to work­ing with them and oth­ers to en­sure that we ful­fill our re­spon­si­bil­ity to all our stu­dents to turn the slo­gans and en­ergy of the mo­ment into plans that reimag­ine safety and con­tinue the district’s progress keep­ing stu­dents safe and learn­ing, and elim­i­nat­ing their in­volve­ment with puni­tive dis­ci­pline and the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem as soon as we can,” Re­vu­luri said of the groups lead­ing the demon­stra­tion.

The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion voted 4-3 in June against a mo­tion to end the po­lice con­tract. But an­other vote is an­tic­i­pated at the Aug. 26 board meet­ing, when CPS of­fi­cials are ex­pected to pro­pose a re­vised con­tract for board ap­proval.

CPS also an­nounced a new spend­ing plan this month that in­cludes less than half of the $33 mil­lion bud­geted for po­lice last year. A big chunk of that cash, roughly $4.5 mil­lion, was cut out of the bud­get be­cause classes will be held re­motely in the fall. Mean­while, the vast ma­jor­ity of the more than 70 schools with cops have voted to keep them.

As po­lice face in­creased scru­tiny in the wake of a vi­o­lent down­town protest last Satur­day, the cou­ple of bike cops tasked with mon­i­tor­ing the event largely re­mained on the side­lines as speak­ers and per­form­ers took shots at the depart­ment and Mayor Lori Light­foot.

In re­sponse to the mount­ing crit­i­cism from stu­dents, Light­foot and CPS CEO Jan­ice Jack­son an­nounced a series of re­forms Wed­nes­day that will re­quire of­fi­cers to pass more strin­gent back­ground checks and send com­plaints to the Civil­ian Of­fice of Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity.

Karla De Je­sus, a grad­u­ate of Wal­ter Pay­ton Col­lege Prep who or­ga­nizes with Pilsen Al­liance, said she was up­set the an­nounce­ment came af­ter Light­foot “sent her cops to bru­tal­ize peo­ple” at last week­end’s chaotic demon­stra­tion.

“I don’t hear any young peo­ple who are say­ing that we need re­form,” said De Je­sus, now a sopho­more at Columbia Col­lege. “I hear all young peo­ple say­ing that we need to stop do­ing re­forms and just de­fund the po­lice, and that’s some­thing that [Light­foot] doesn’t want to do.”

AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES

Tanvi Ka­p­a­tral says, “Youth do not need to be po­liced, ever,” at the rally in Pilsen on Thurs­day night.

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