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StopITOA effort launches in Chicago

Photo: Sofia S. / AFSC
Photo: Tesh Silver - For The People Artists Collective / AFSC
Photo: Shahzeb Ahmed/MEDILL / Shahzeb Ahmed/MEDILL
Photo: / AFSC
Photo: Sainatee Ninkhong / Sainatee Ninkhong

For the past few months, together with numerous organizations, local & national, we’ve been building the effort to stop an anti-Muslim, hyper-militarized police training called the Illinois Tactical Officers Association.  The effort to #StopITOA has been lead by organizers from CAIR-Chicago, AFSC-Chicago, For The People Artists Collective, Assata’s Daughters, and more.  Below is a brief timeline that highlights our efforts over the past two months.

#StopITOA Campaign Launch: 9/12/16
We publicly launched the campaign, by releasing a Statement of Opposition to ITOA’s tactical training conference.  Within days more than twenty organizations had signed on to endorse.  

AFSC Chicago Office Break-in: 9/18/16
Overnight, our office was broken into, and the laptop & camera of a lead #StopITOA organizer were the only items taken.  We wrote a statement on the break-in and intimidation, which received hundreds of shares online.

Teach-in on Police Militarization in Illinois: 9/20/16
Together with #StopITOA organizers, we co-led a teach-in on the issues of law enforcement collaborations & police militarization, which was attended by over 50 people.  For highlights from that teach-in, check out this storify.  Resources that we shared are available here.

CAIR-Chicago Press Conference: 9/29/16
Organizers from the Center for New Community, Arab American Action Network, Organized Communities Against Deportations, Black Lives Matter-Chicago, AFSC Chicago & CAIR-Chicago spoke on the dangers of ITOA, and demanded an end to Cook County DHS’ relationship with the organization.  See the press release here, coverage here, and the livestream here.

 Art Build for #StopITOA: 9/29/16
Supporters of the campaign gathered to make art and t-shirts.

 Petition Launch: 10/3/16
After meeting with the manager of the venue, Stonegate Conference and Banquet Center, we decided to launch a petition demanding they refuse to host hate & violence.  It has been signed by over 3,000 people to date – it’s not too late to sign!

 Rally & Street Blockade: 10/9/16
On a crowded day downtown after the Chicago Marathon, well over a hundred supporters gathered in Millennium Park to hear speeches from #StopITOA organizers.  After a brief rally, the supporters marched north to join the people locking down and blocking the intersection of Michigan Ave & Whacker Dr.  The action, which brought together Arab, Muslim, Black, Queer, Latinx, and white allies under the banner #Unite2Disarm, chose to disrupt business as usual to demand an end to anti-Muslim & anti-Black state violence.  15 people were arrested, after blocking the intersection for over 90 minutes, and bringing SWAT teams to the scene. 

Watch the video of the action here.  Media coverage is here

Call-in to #StopITOA: 10/10/16
In an effort to continue to pressure the venue, Stonegate Conference & Banquet Centre, not to host the conference, our supporters called in throughout the day.  More info on the call-in can be found here

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The above efforts are the launch of longer-term organizing against militarization in Chicagoland, and we hope that you will continue to check our website for updates and announcements.