At her keynote address to the 2016 Teachers for Social Justice Curriculum Fair, Mariame Kaba said “Now more than ever our task is to shrink the violent arms of the state. If we don’t they will be used against us in a magnitude this generation has not seen before.” Mariame was speaking in regards to the election of a white supremacist into the White House earlier this month. As activists, artists and organizers committed to ending militarization and state violence, her words hit close to home. We know that the task ahead is a daunting one. Our focus will likely need to shift away from campaigns like #StopITOA and more towards protecting and defending members of our communities. At the same-time, we want to reflect on what we were able to achieve together earlier this fall, and remind ourselves that we are in fact powerful.
Update from #StopITOA Organizers (November, 2016):
Thank you to our hundreds of supporters who joined us in demonstrating against the Illinois Tactical Officer’s Association on the first day of their Tactical Training & Conference, calling the manager of Stonegate to demand they refuse to host them in the future, and reading & sharing the numerous articles and news stories that we were able to generate. While we were not able to stop the conference from happening this year, in under six weeks we were able to achieve some important things for our communities:
- Building off of work that has come before us, we helped put militarization on the map in Chicago, as an issue that we can and must fight back against. We were able to generate media & social media attention locally, nationally, and even internationally.
- We disrupted business as usual for ITOA & Cook County DHSEM. Based on conversations with the Stonegate Manager, and others, it became clear that both ITOA & Cook County DHSEM were aware that we were mobilizing, and we disrupted their ability to organize the conference without having to consider the impact of their conference on our communities.
- We built new skills and new leadership as young organizers against state violence. In particular, we felt that this effort was very much informed by having several artists and cultural workers as lead organizers from For The People Artists Collective. It got us thinking about what it means to build campaigns with art at the center, and not as an afterthought.
- We worked across marginalized communities. Though many of the organizations involved in this effort have a history of working together to challenge police & state violence in Chicago, not all of them did. We were particularly honored to build together intentionally as young Muslim, Black, Immigrant, Latinx, Indigenous, queer & gender non-conforming, and white folks from across Chicagoland.
- We connected with a national network organizing against similar trainings. The War Resisters League and Stop Urban Shield provided immense support and we look forward to continuing to build power against militarization and state violence with them.
- We planted seeds for long-term work. We have no doubt that the next time we come together, there will be more of us and we will be stronger.
While this immediate campaign is on hold, we are committed to continuing to build together. Here’s what you can expect us to be up to in the meantime:
–Researching – working with folks to file FOIA’s, etc. Laying the groundwork for what could be a longer-term campaign.
–Strategizing – talking with local and national partners to figure out what’s possible and what’s most effective for a future campaign to stop militarized state violence.
–Educating – continuing to plan teach-ins and host events that keep the issues on people’s radar.
–Sharing – our lessons learned and how to organize against police militarization with our national partners, for people who notice a similar tactical training coming to their town, city or state.
–Building internally – developing our own skills and capacity to lead this work in the city and state.
–Supporting – other related campaigns and projects so that we can continue to build the relationships and gain the experience we need to #DemilitarizeChi
If you are interested in becoming involved or attending future events, for now, please let us know at stopITOA [at] gmail.com