Revolution Online, December 12, 2008

Chicago Police Get M4 Military Assault Rifles

In the spring of 2008, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Police Superintendent Jody Weis announced they would begin equipping all Chicago Police Officers with M4 military assault rifles. On November 20 youth with the “Live in Peace Campaign” organized by Chicago youth from the group Generation Y, called on people to join them at the Chicago Police Board’s monthly public session to protest putting these weapons of war into the hands of the Chicago Police. What follows is a correspondence from a youth in Chicago who is working on building a Revolution Club and attended the protest.

I went to the Chicago Police review board to join with youth from a group called Generation Y who were protesting deployment of M4 semi-automatic assault rifles by the Chicago Police. It was my first time going there and I didn’t know what to expect but when I got there it seemed like nobody was going to show up. I saw a couple guys I grew up with but it was just them and us.

The next thing you know a couple of vans pulled up with kids with signs and t-shirts saying “stop killing the youth” and they started marching — regardless of the weather, and it was cold. They started marching and chanting and there was all this energy they brought with them. It started off small but then it got bigger — until maybe 50 people were protesting. Then we all headed inside.

The Police Review Board hearing was kind of a weird set up — I was in the audience and you look to the head of the room and there is a panel of police. People got up to talk about how they felt about the machine guns being deployed. I was surprised because I thought it would be a lot of adults — but it was a lot of youth signed up to speak. And when they got up there they told the Police Board how they felt about deploying the M4’s in the hood — how they felt that deploying it was going to make it more dangerous for the youth.

The police board only gave people 2 minutes to speak and after two minutes they cut people off. How can you really understand how the youth feel in just two minutes? And if the youth continued to try to make their point the Chairman of the Police Review board threatened to end the meeting!!

During the protest outside the youth were telling me about how they saw the M4’s as being targeted at them. Here is what three of them told me:

“They are being used to keep us confined in our homes. Like to keep us from gathering in groups. If we rebel they will use them against us. I don’t think it is for the gang-bangers — because the gang-bangers don’t carry machine guns up and down the street. All I read about is the POLICE shooting people. And then planting guns on people. You don’t read about shoot outs between Gang-bangers and Police.”

“They are scared because they are out there shooting people and when we gather in large groups they are scared that we will fight back against them. If they have the machine guns people will be scared that the police will shoot them. All we are trying to do is stand up for what’s right.”

“Every time the police do something wrong we gather because they are doing something wrong. But now if they have machine guns they can say that we are a danger to them and they can shoot us because we are a crowd — or shoot us and say it is ‘Mob Action.’”

In front of the board lot of youth got up and were making good points about the M4’s but they weren’t talking how the police treat them everyday like they did outside. Still, whatever the youth were saying you could see that the Police Board didn’t care.

They told the Police superintendent that they wanted him to come and answer their questions at a youth summit they were having December 13 and he said he’d be out of town. But when they said, “OK, we don’t know your schedule — you give us a date when you can meet with us.” He refused to give them a date. He said they had to write him a letter. They knew this was a way to put them off.

“We sent you letters already—but our request was denied.” And they kept insisting on the Superintendent giving them a date until the meeting nearly got shut down. The superintendent tried to justify giving cops machine guns like it was for protecting the youth—like if a gunman attacked a school — which was bullshit and everybody knew it.

Someone pointed out “It seems really funny because it would be one thing if people were out there marching saying, ‘give the police M4’s’ but you don’t have that. You have people marching saying DON’T give police M4’s and you are doing it anyway.”

The youth that spoke showed the anger they felt at the police’s plan to put M4’s aimed at them out on the street. Afterwards I talked to a lot of the youth that spoke up. I admired their courage to speak out about something really important and I thought they would be interested in Revolution. I was explaining about our Party and our Revolution Club. I was inviting them to Revolution Books, and was inviting them to join the Rev. Club because we share some ideas about the injustice of the system and we should fight together to change it. I didn’t get much feedback because they had to get back home right after the meeting. But people were giving me their eMail addresses and phone numbers so I could get back to them later.

I was also getting out the Special Issue of Revolution Newspaper, “The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of the System, and the Revolution We need.” Youth were saying, “Yeah, this what we really need. We need to get this to more people.” The M4’s is basically attacking them and the paper showed the whole history about that.

When I said, “We need revolution,” most of the youth didn’t really know much about it but really wanted to understand it. They knew it meant a change. There was one guy who told me, “That is the only real way change could come about. Revolution is what we need but we are going to need everybody to put their part in it — we can’t do it by ourselves. It could happen but it is going to take us.”

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