CHICAGO:CPT trainees join coordinated witnesses against state brutality in Chicago and Palestine

CPTnet
29 October 2015
CHICAGO:CPT trainees join coordinated witnesses against state brutality in Chicago and Palestine

Black Youth Project 100 leader Charlene Carruthers
(center, seated) reminds her comrades that they are 
there because the Chicago mayor wants to allocate an
additional $200 million to the Chicago Police Dept. 

Where does the money go? This question was just one of the the common themes in the coordinated actions of the Chicago chapters of Black Lives Matter and Jewish Voice for Peace coordinated on the weekend of 24-25 October 2015.  CPTers in the middle of a month long training attended the events, employing their public witness, human rights documentation, and nonviolent direct action support skills. Other CPTers from the administrative team and field teams also participated. 

On 24 October 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. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had invited them 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. 

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 seventy-five 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 May (she along with a leaders like Charlene Carruthers of Black Youth Project 100 are under heavy surveillance) as they called for “funding black futures” and then supported the sixty-six young people who were arrested for disturbing the IACP conference. Chained together they blocked intersections, walkways, and entrances for multiple hours.

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.  Participants 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 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,” Morrison continued.   Since 1 October more than sixty Palestinians have been killed and more than 2000 injured by Israeli state and settler violence, and eight Israelis have been killed and scores injured in Palestinian individual attacks. 

“It is important to remind donors of the JNF that by giving their money, they are complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” said Cody O’Rourke, a field worker for the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Palestine. 

Both protests called attention 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?”  CPT Executive Director Sarah Thompson noted, “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?”