I try as much as possible to document activism & resistance by youth in Chicago on this blog. I do this because I am profoundly committed to the idea of youth leadership development and voice. I am co-founder of the Chicago Freedom School and these issues are central to our mission. I also see the activism of youth in this city as critical to prison abolition.
Anyway, today over 100 people gathered on the Southside of Chicago on 61st & Cottage Grove as part of an event organized by youth from FLY (who I’ve referenced several time on the blog) and members of Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools (CSOSOS).
The Chicago Tribune reported on the event:
The protesters [sic] staged a “die-in” about 4:45 p.m. on South Cottage Grove Avenue at East 62st Street to make the case that school closures will force displaced students to cross gang lines. The protesters wore mock blood-stained shirts as they blocked traffic at the intersection before being arrested. Goldenberg said.
The protest was intended “to demonstrate to Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel the loss of life that he will be responsible for if he and his appointed school board go through with the proposed closures,” the group said in a press release.
DNAinfo Chicago offered more details:
Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, an organizer with Southside Together Organizing for Power, and others called the event — in which students blocked traffic in the intersection of 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue — a “die-in.”
Students wore mock-bloody clothes in an effort to show the effect they believe school closings will have: more violence and death for the young students forced to cross new gang territories.
“The message is that school closings are killing people,” Ginsberg-Jaeckle said. “Everyone knows what will happen when these kids start crossing these gang lines.”
The students laid down in the intersection, blocking traffic for several minutes before being taken away by police after refusing to leave, witnesses said.
Police could not confirm immediately confirm any arrests but said the protest was “peaceful.”
According to witnesses at the scene, the students were led away in handcuffs.
Kelly High School teacher William Lamme said two of his students were arrested in the protest.
“They wanted to do something to show how they feel,” said Lamme, a Kelly social studies teacher. “Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel is certainly creating a school for young activists.”
Nearly 100 activists, parents and students were at the event, initially arranged by parents from Fiske and Sexton elementary schools. Sexton is slated to close and merge its students into Fiske.
“We have to make our voices louder and our actions stronger,” said Lamme, who came to support his students. “This is civics 101.”
Here is a brief video of a student whose school is targeted for closure speaking the importance of keeping it open:
As per usual, the amazing and intrepid movement photographer, Sarah Jane Rhee was on the scene to document the student resistance. She posted her terrific photographs on Facebook. I share some of them below.