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

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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?”

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