Students Stage ‘Die-in’

The other day teenagers staged a “Die-in” in the lobby of Chicago’s City Hall after disrupting a city council meeting. Laying down like corpses in graves with cardboard tombstone, which bore the names of those shot by the police. They called for the defunding of the city police and the newly proposed police-training academy. They want the money to go to the cities marginalized neighborhoods instead.

The current police academy in Chicago is held together with duct tape and good wishes. With a history of leaky roofs, electrical problems, and lead poisoning for the range instructors, it is time to move into a facility that cannot just hold the new-recruit training, but in-service training the public cries out for.

So why are these protesters conducting their demonstration now? The new academy has been planned for some time and back in November, the city aldermen voted 48-1 to support the joint police – fire academy. The new academy would provide indoor and outdoor training facilities for both the City’s fire and police departments. Earlier proposals sought to locate a facility on the far Southside, but this more central location won out.

It’s an election year in Chicago. The world knows about Chicago elections and politics. I suspect the timing of this protest was to slam the current mayor, Rahm Emanuel. The ranks of those running for election in the mayor’s race continues to grow daily.

Let’s face it the results of a Department of Justice review of the CPD suggested improved training for new recruits as well as veteran officers. The citizens of the of the areas these protesters come from demand improved police training. Now they want to prevent that same training and reallocate the funds needed for other purposes. Yes, the city needs to improve schools, mental health facilities, and public health services but not at the expense of a modern police force. It makes little sense to demand training of the police and fail to provide for training facilities.

Forty-eight aldermen voted to support the training facility. One voted against it. Here in Chicago, votes like this seldom are decided on whether it is a good idea or not. It is a political decision. The mayor wants the training academy, so the aldermen vote for it. In this case, it’s a good idea. It’s a needed facility. During my 30-year career, we seldom had any additional training. Something as needed as CPR recertification wasn’t offered. I was trained in the academy as a recruit and that was it.

Roll call training was the norm. Later in my career online training came in. There was Taser training, expandable baton training, DUI Breathalyzer training and a few others, but the training the Department of Justice wants, and the citizens demand, isn’t offered.

The group staging this “Die-in” is organized by a West Garfield Park organizer. The new academy is proposed to be built in this area. You might think this would be good for the neighborhood. Most areas would welcome an influx of new people. It would bring money into the area along with an increased police presence. At least that is what the area’s local alderman was quoted to have said.

Clearly, the goal here is to embarrass the current mayor. The goal is not to shift funding from the police academy to schools and health facilities for the neighborhood. The young people laying on the floor in city call believe in their cause even though the organizers and supporters are using them as pawns. Perhaps that is why this protest received such little media coverage here in Chicago. People are used to these political games.

In the meantime, the police officers who really need a new academy will continue to use the current facility. Training the officers should receive, will be neglected. In the future, the officers will be condemned when they react as they have been trained, but that way is no longer politically correct.

Right now, the media loves the teenager protests. It is the trending “thing.” They fail to look for the person pulling the strings and their motive.

Sadly, here in Chicago, the activists who organize these protests are looking at a win-win situation. If they get ignored, they stand on their pulpit or soapbox telling all who listen how they’re fighting the good fight against the corruption. If their message is heard and they win their argument they tell all how they should be the leader. They never cared about the victims or the teens protesting.

I’m sure I sound like a grumpy old man. That’s what I’m becoming. Meanwhile to all the officers showing up for work each day, taking pride in their work and honorably discharging their duties, I salute you.

Stay Safe, Run Low and Zig Zag,

– Robert Weisskopf