The National Week of Action Event Weekend was kicked off by an elegant welcome reception hosted by The Woman of God’s Design Ministry (WOGD) at Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) offices. COFI and WOGD welcomed Dignity in School members who made it out even after having traveled all day.
The National Week of Action Event hosted in Chicago, on Saturday October 27, 2018, sent a surge of energy through Chicago! Black and Brown POWER-PAC leaders from across the Chicagoland area, DSC members from across the country, young people, educators and advocates all converged at the Lawndale Christian Health Clinic’s skyline room in the heart of the city.
Brother Hashim Jabar, Director of Racial Justice Now! and Dignity in Schools Campaign National Week of Action Committee Co-chair began the Community Forum on Police in Schools by honoring the land on which Chicago stands and local indigenous tribes with a special mention to Chicago’s black founder – Jean Pointe Du Sable. He also paid homage to the bicultural power and constituency of POWER-PAC by opening up the day in Spanish. Hashim left us with a story passed on to him by his family, ““One stick is easy to break, but a bundle of sticks when put together is much harder to bend and much harder to break”. The power in unity was definitely felt and seen in the room today!
Mark Warren and Zakiya Sankara-Jabar introduced the book, Lift Us Up, Don’t Push Us Out, featuring DSC members’ work and passion. Zakiya shared her family’s personal story of school pushout. Karen Lynn Morton, Executive Director of The Woman of God’s Design Ministry and Co-chair Emeritus of POWER-PAC, gracefully facilitated the first panel made of up DSC members working on the issue of police in schools. Stanley Aneke from Youth on Board, Harold Jordan from ACLU Pennsylvania, Shamarla McCoy from Maryland Coalition to Reform School Discipline and Jessica Black from the Black Organizing Project shared their struggles and victories with law enforcement in their schools. They brought home the fact that over policing of black and brown students is not just Chicago issue, but a NATIONAL issue.
We are grateful to our advocacy partners, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, who presented on their findings in ‘Handcuffs in the Hallways: The State of Policing in Chicago Public Schools’.
Joseph Lipari, Deputy of Public Safety and Dr. Leigh Anderson, Chief Performance Analyst from the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General also presented on their investigative report ‘Review of the Chicago Police Department’s Management of School Resource Officers. Both of their presentations echoed what the community already knew, there is little to no oversight of school based officers in CPS.
POWER-PAC leader and Elementary Justice Co-chair, Charlene Campbell, reminded everyone that POWER-PAC’s long-term goal is to get Chicago Police Department out of our schools! However, she also highlighted the importance and urgency of implementing an MOU to limit the harm of police in schools until police are permanently out of CPS.
Lastly, Jadine Chou, Chicago Public Schools Safety and Security Director, responded to the POWER-PAC’s demand to keep our children safe from interactions with law enforcement. Jadine Chou committed to working in collaboration with POWER-PAC to implement an MOU between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department outlining roles and expectations of school-based police officers by next school year, 2019-2020. Congratulations POWER-PAC on your victory!
This Community Forum was a highlight on the journey and served as notice to the public that we will get Chicago Police out of Chicago Public Schools. POWER-PAC and WOGD are grateful to our DSC family for the love and support! We look forward to continue the work together!
By Janet Vargas
edited by H.A. Jabar