How Young Organizers Behind #NoCopAcademy Set A Foundation For Today's Movement

classroom with empty desks
Zain Murdock
December 5, 2023

In 2017, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to build a $95 million police and fire training academy – after years of police killings, rocketing police budgets, and a fight for torture survivors’ reparations.

And young people in Chicago’s West Side refused to have all that go down without a fight.

Young organizers used teach-ins, marches, die-ins, art exhibitions, press conferences, canvassing, visiting alderpersons, and much more to block the academy. They met every angle, from protesting the building contractors to disrupting Emanuel’s luncheons and dinners.

In fighting against Cop Academy, they encouraged community members to figure out what they wanted to fight for, including participatory budgeting. People envisioned housing, trauma counseling, and after-school programs as positive alternatives for that $95 million.

In the end, there were wins and losses. Emanuel didn’t run for re-election and Lori Lightfoot became the next mayor. A large cohort of youth activists was born, but the City Council ultimately approved Cop Academy in 2019.

Still, organizers collected their wisdom in a toolkit for other organizers in future endeavors.

With Cop Cities sprouting in Atlanta and across the country, that future is now. Like in previous Black liberation movements, we will build our wins on the foundation of previous committed work. And the legacy of the No Cop Academy actions will be a part of it.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: