Grassroots Collaborative Statement on Jason Van Dyke Verdict

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It is difficult to feel any real satisfaction at a murder being called a murder. For the communities that we represent it was never a question whether or not Jason Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald. The only question was whether or not our court system is capable of holding a white Chicago police officer accountable for killing a young Black man. Today, as is far too often the case, our court system fell short, convicting Jason Van Dyke of 2nd-degree murder instead of 1st-degree murder.

The fact that there was a verdict at all was made possible by the dedication and courage of young people who are part of the Movement for Black Lives who continue to demand justice for Laquan and all victims of police violence. We still have so far to go before real justice is realized. We know that no verdict handed down by jury or judge will end police violence, stamp out white supremacy, or improve the lived realities in our neighborhoods. A guilty verdict can not erase the fact that Chicago failed Laquan McDonald and continues to fail residents across the city, especially in Black and Brown neighborhoods. We must do better.

We can and should honor Laquan by throwing out the old failed policies that are destroying the lives of our young people. Chicago must make a massive reinvestment in our neighborhoods and prioritize the needs of communities over the wants of luxury developers and well connected political donors. We must listen to the voices of Black youth saying no to a new cop academy. Instead of awarding the police department that produced officers like Jon Burge and Jason Van Dyke with a brand new training compound, complete with raid equipment and new shooting range, we should invest those resources in mental health facilities, supportive school-based services like counselors and nurses, affordable housing and a real jobs program.

Together we can create a city where a young man like Laquan can get the education, job, housing, and healthcare that he needs to live a good life.

What Does Emanuel’s Departure Mean for Chicago’s Progressive Movement?

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On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, Emanuel announced that he was not seeking re-election, after two terms in office. The news sent shock waves as did a similar announcement almost eight years ago to the day when longtime mayor Richard J Daley announced that he was done. In the next few days and weeks, many new candidates will likely emerge. Who runs will, of course, be of great interest. But what they run on will be much more important.

We have the opportunity now to build a truly new Chicago – one not dominated by Wall Street greed, but rather one where our communities get the resources they need to flourish.  Grassroots Collaborative and others are working to build a clear, bold platform, a people’s agenda, that lays out clearly what we expect the next leadership to champion. Taking on corporate power and white supremacy is key to winning a city rooted in our diverse neighborhoods and communities – the key to what makes Chicago great.

Mayor Emanuel has been referred to by many as “Mayor 1%” – a title he has more than earned. Emanuel is Wall Street’s mayor. He made tens of millions of dollars as an investment banker and has paid it forward in the form of huge corporate handouts through TIFs, interest rate swaps, and other financial gimmicks. He’s made banks rich off of police brutality bonds. At every turn, he put developers before neighborhoods and banks before our Chicago’s school children.

The outcome of Rahm’s reign is a city which is losing it’s Black population, seeing massive displacement of Black and Brown people within the city, living through tragic violence,and becoming increasingly unaffordable for all working class people.  Bankers and billionaires want a return on their investment – they are less interested in building strong, diverse cities, in which all people can thrive.

There are lots of reasons why Rahm Emanuel chose to not pursue a 3rd term.  Key is the committed and fierce organizing done by so many such as the Mental Health Movement, Erase the Database Campaign, Chicago Teachers Union, #NoCopAcademy, and so many other campaigns and organizations.

Now we are faced with an incredible opportunity and some key questions.  There is an inherent question to ask of us in this moment – what would it look like to govern free from Wall Street control? What does governing power look like for progressives, in a climate where corporate power dominates? What is the bold, transformative vision that we are organizing for look like, and how do we build the political power necessary to ensure not only that the next Mayor runs on that vision, but can govern that vision?

There are no quick answers to these questions. The 2019 elections does give us a moment now to step forward towards this vision, but of course, this is a long-term fight. There are many strategies needed – including getting money out of politics, creating independent Left political formations, militant direct action, resourcing Black and Latinx movement building, and more. Chicago progressives must keep organizing for a bold transformative vision rooted in an intersectional analysis.

 

At the Collaborative, one key strategy we are rooted in is making the connections between white supremacy and austerity. For years, in the context of budget cuts at the local and state levels, organizations’ demands at protests were to “stop the cuts” – and then, when what was implemented was slightly less awful than the original threat, folks (including us) would claim victory. Or we spoke about how cuts would hurt Black and Brown people most – saying things like the problem is “disproportionate impact.” Neither of these are wrong – but they aren’t exactly right either.

Anti-blackness drives austerity – it isn’t just that Black people are hurt more by cuts, but that the cuts are attempted because of the desired harm to Black people. For example, college in the United States was actually free when it was white students attending. When the civil rights movement led to more Black students applying to college, governments began de-funding public higher education to make college out of reach for Black people, with the final result hurting ALL low-income and middle-income students.

Anti-immigrant racism drives austerity as well – the recent attacks by the Trump administration to dismantle the safety net use anti-immigrant racism and anti-Muslim rhetoric as the reasons why the government should be smaller. The ultimate goal of the right is to destroy the government and privatize the common good – and attacking immigrants is key to that final end.

What does this all have to do with corporate Democrats like Emanuel? Absolutely everything. Emanuel’s economic agenda is rooted in austerity and anti-Black racism. His first budget centered on closing six mental health clinics in communities of color, to save a paltry few million in a $5 billion annual budget. He closed 50 schools in Black neighborhoods. Unless we are doing the work with grassroots leaders around how politicians like Emanuel are moving a racist corporate agenda, it is easy for people to believe the dominant narrative that this is the only way. Political education on racial capitalism is key foundation work that precedes our envisioning and demanding the radical feminist economy we need.

Rahm’s announcement was a reminder of the need for audacious hope. Of imagining the seemingly impossible. Of strategizing with a longer arc.  Organizing brought us to this moment – and it is organizing that is going to move us through.

No Public Dollars for Lincoln Yards

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Last week we joined with community residents from across the city for a press conference in front of the proposed site of the $5 billion dollar Lincoln Yards luxury development. Currently, the developer Sterling Bay is seeking up to $1 billion in taxpayer money to fund the building of a massive 70-acre mega development consisting of high rises, corporate headquarters, condos, and a new soccer stadium.

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At the press conference, we called for no public dollars to go towards the project because we know that we are not going to stop the violence and displacement of Chicago’s Black community by building new soccer stadiums and luxury condos.

Mayor Emanuel thinks that handouts to giant corporations will result in prosperity trickling down to everybody. But we know it doesn’t work that way. Taking away resources from our communities and giving them to developers for projects like Lincoln Yards only increases the economic and racial divides in our city.

We need to make it very clear to the Mayor and his corporate allies that we will not stand for the continuation of failed economic policies that have robbed our city of a huge number of Black families and made it harder and harder to live in Chicago unless you are rich and well connected.

If we come together across our neighborhoods and communities we can force our elected officials to invest in the things we need such as mental health services, vocational training, and great public schools. This is what will result in an improved quality of life of neighborhood residents and reduced violence.

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2018 People’s Gala

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Mark Your Calendars!

Our annual 2018 People’s Gala is on Wednesday, Sept. 26th. Come join us and members of the Chicago progressive community for an evening to celebrate our past years’ victories, and to re-energize and find inspiration for the work ahead. 

We are so thrilled to be recognizing the following outstanding movement leaders and organizers who have made immeasurable contributions to our fight for economic and racial justice:

Get your tickets here

HONOREES

2018 Labor Leader Award

Greg Kelley

President, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana

 

2018 Donahue Justice Award

Dr. Barbara Ransby

Scholar, Activist, Author

 

2018 Bold Campaign Award

#NoCopAcademy Campaign

 

2018 Founding Funder Award

Regina McGraw, Executive Director

Carmen Prieto, Associate Director

Wieboldt Foundation

 

2018 Founding Funder Award

Grace Hou 

President, Woods Fund of Chicago

Statement on Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Decision

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CHICAGO – Grassroots Collaborative unites labor and community-based organizations representing tens of thousands of Illinois residents whose families and communities will be hurt by today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision. The following is a statement by Grassroots Collaborative Deputy Director, Abbie Illenberger.

“Today’s ruling by Trump’s Supreme Court is the latest in a long series of attacks by billionaires and big business seeking to demolish any and all institutions that give a voice to working people.

These attacks have not been limited to the courthouse or Trump. Governor Rauner made undermining the bargaining rights of Illinois workers a cornerstone of his agenda and devastated our social service sector along the way. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has gutted our neighborhoods by shuttering clinics, closing public schools, and displacing Black residents in droves. The public employees harmed by the actions of Rahm, Rauner and now the Supreme Court are disproportionately women and people of color.

Despite the constant attacks on our people and organizations, we see opportunities for Illinois residents to come together like never before. Instead of letting wealthy elites, like the Koch Brothers, divide us by pitting worker against worker and neighbor against neighbor, Grassroots Collaborative member organizations are bringing people together. Just this year Grassroots Collaborative launched a new initiative in central Illinois. The Peoria People’s Project is uniting union members and other community residents to demand elected officials make their wealthy donors pay taxes for the great public services we deserve.”

 

Close the Loopholes

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Close the Loopholes!

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Job Posting: Art & Design Communication Intern

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Grassroots Collaborative is seeking a talented artist or graphic designer interested in helping to build power for working families through visual storytelling. The Art & Design Communications intern supports both organizational branding efforts and campaign work. They would be responsible for working with organizational staff and members to create strong visuals and work to help make Grassroots Collaborative organizing campaigns more impactful.

Download PDF of Job Description here: Art and Design Communication Intern

TITLE: Art & Design Communication Intern

SUPERVISED BY: Communications Director
SALARY/HOURLY, EXEMPT OR NONEXEMPT: Stipend internship of $3,000. 10-15 hours a week for 16 weeks.


ORGANIZATIONAL SUMMARY: Grassroots Collaborative (501c3) builds power with working families through strategic community-labor organizing, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and research. We organize to win progressive policies and systems-change that improve the lives of low-to-moderate income residents and communities of color. We utilize popular education to build consciousness, and build organization that unites residents to create transformative change for a more just society. Our affiliated 501c4, Grassroots Illinois Action, works to build community political power through issue advocacy and electoral strategies.

We have a strong record of leading bold campaigns that shift the narrative of racism, austerity and corporate power.

POSITION SUMMARY:  Grassroots Collaborative is seeking a talented artist or graphic designer interested in helping to build power for working families through visual storytelling. The Art & Design Communications intern supports both organizational branding efforts and campaign work. They would be responsible for working with organizational staff and members to create strong visuals and work to help make Grassroots Collaborative organizing campaigns more impactful.  

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Social media content creation: Work with the Communications Director on creating and maintaining a social media calendar that engages our online audience on our campaigns and promotes core progressive values.
  • Political Education & Leadership Development: Help support workshops and presentations that educate union members and grassroots leaders by helping to craft visuals and graphics that hbreak downdown complex economic and political structures so that they are accessible and easily understood by community members.
     
  • Visual Storytelling – Work with the Communications Director to create visuals and amplify public narrative about the need to curb the power of the finance sector, and for the wealthy to pay their fair share.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Excellent graphic design and visual communication skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication ability
  • Excellent team player able to meet deadlines
  • Comfortable working in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong support for the mission of Grassroots Collaborative and Grassroots Illinois Action
  • Demonstrated commitment to racial, social, and economic justice

    Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer. People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, example of design work, and reference to Nathan Ryan, Communications Director, hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please. Position open until filled.

No Amazon Without Us

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