Action Now members on the move
2016 has been a busy year for Action Now. While fighting for economic justice and education reform, we have also demanded changes to the criminal justice system in Chicago, in light of the recent exposure of police violence that has wreaked havoc in our neighborhoods. Here is a quick synopsis to get you up to speed of where we are, and what is coming next:
ERSB - We have pushed for an elected school board that is representative of Chicago communities, as we are the only school district in the state that does not have an elected board. The current board is appointed by the mayor, with the voices of parents being shut out on major decisions. The issue has been put to a vote in the state not once, but TWICE by referendum, with almost 90% of voters in support of the measure. We are currently working with local organizations like Pilsen Alliance, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and Lugenia Burns Hope Center in pushing the Senate to vote on the issue during the fall veto session. State Senator Kwame Raoul (D- Chicago) is a sponsor of the bill and is pushing for the bill to be called to a vote, after changes are made that will improve the effectiveness of the law.
Progressive Police Oversight
Police Accountability - Our membership has picked up the pace in our fight for police accountability reform in Chicago. Over the summer, Action Now members attended both the South Side and West Side meetings sponsored by the city council to give community input on solutions to the problem of police violence on our streets. While this was a chance for our community members to voice their concerns on how to bring bad cops to justice in Chicago, much of the decision-making was done without community input. In early October, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city council passed the Civilian Office of Police Accountability Ordinance (COPA), an agency meant to replace the old police oversight agency (IPRA) that had been in place since 2007. Action Now is not in favor of COPA because there is not enough community oversight in the agency, as well as the problem of the mayor still having the power to appoint the person who will lead the investigative body. As members of Black Roots Alliance along with Worker’s Center United for Justice and S.O.U.L., we are working with aldermen, activists and community members to push the city council to amend the ordinance to include more oversight and a community focused election/selection process.
State Budget & Economic Justice
Families First, Banks Last Campaign - Through our membership with Grassroots Collaborative, we joined with multiple organizations from the Chicagoland area in demanding that Governor Rauner stop making payments to the big banks in bad interest rate swap agreements that cost our people millions of dollars every year. Even in the midst of a stop-gap budget passed during the budget crisis, that money should instead be used to fund early childhood education programs, anti-violence initiatives and after school programs that will help the most vulnerable in our communities. We will keep up the pressure for budget fixes that benefit all of Illinois, not just the wealthy and folks with connections to the powerful.
There is still much work to be done, in 2016 and beyond. We are hosting a community meeting on police accountability on November 19th. To find out more information, contact your organizer.