Farmers Reject Nicor’s Pipe Dream

Pembroke Township, Illinois - At the end of a maze of dirt roads lies a 40-acre teaching farm called Black Oaks Center, where local residents gathered on a Sunday in November 2021 for a farmland restoration workshop and community gathering. “If you all want to bust wood again, they’re out there,” said Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter — who runs the center with her husband, Fred Carter — to the newest arrivals. Some joined the group clearing felled trees for off-grid homesteading, while others stayed inside to warm up and chat.

In addition to raising food and hosting classes, Black Oaks has become a hub for organizing against a proposed natural gas pipeline some locals say threatens the area’s farming way of life, which is rooted in environmental stewardship.

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As Omicron Rages, Teachers And Students Fight For Safety Measures

Chicago Teachers Union members voted by 77 percent on January 4 to go fully remote until effective Covid mitigations to protect educators and students were approved by members and enacted, or until the current Covid surge subsided.

Within a week they had a tentative agreement on mitigation measures. Members ratified it January 12 by 56 percent and returned to in-person teaching.

With citywide positivity rates over 20 percent and hospitals overwhelmed, Chicago Public Schools had already faced staffing shortages the first few days of the year. When the district failed to implement adequate testing protocols, CTU members determined that the safety of students and educators once again required remote learning.

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Chicago’s COVID-19 Fight With Teachers Hangs Over A Second Week

Disputed issues included testing and metrics to close schools. The Chicago Teachers Union wants the option to revert to districtwide remote instruction, and most members have refused to teach in-person until there’s an agreement, or the latest COVID-19 spike subsides. But Chicago leaders reject districtwide remote learning, saying it’s detrimental and schools are safe. Instead, Chicago opted to cancel classes as a whole two days after students returned from winter break.

Chicago Public Schools face the same pandemic issues as other districts nationwide, with more reverting to remote learning as infections soar and staff members are sidelined. But the situation in union-friendly Chicago has been amplified in a labor dispute that’s familiar to families in the mostly low-income Black and Latino district who have seen disruptions during a similar safety protocol fight last year, a 2019 strike and a one-day work stoppage in 2016.

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Chicago Teachers Voted To Teach Remotely Amid Omicron Wave

As Covid-19 cases surge to record levels, the 25,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is once again in a standoff with the city’s school system to increase safety measures for educators, students and communities.

After Mayor Lori Lightfoot repeatedly refused the union’s proposals for stronger Covid-19 mitigations in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) amid the fast-spreading Omicron wave, 73% of CTU members voted Tuesday night to temporarily teach remotely. In response, Lightfoot and CPS cancelled all classes Wednesday and locked educators out of online learning platforms.

“The mayor was extremely angry at the idea that people inside the schools would take action for ourselves,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey.

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Antifascists Call For Mobilization In Chicago Against Neo-Nazis

Antifascists in Chicago have issued a call for a community mobilization against the neo-Nazi group, Patriot Front, who has stated that they plan to rally alongside the March for Life anti-choice demonstration on January 8th.

Patriot Front is the same group that is behind a wave of racist and anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism across the US, but is perhaps best known for its role in the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017, when the group was called Vanguard America.

In leaked audio from a recorded meeting in December filled with racial slurs and screams of “White Power!,” Patriot Front leader Thomas Rousseau claimed to have a good working relationship with March for Life organizers, and that the group planned on joining them at their next rally in 2022.

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The Obama Presidential Center Will Displace Black People

The soon to be constructed Barack Obama Presidential Center poses a great danger to the surrounding Black neighborhoods on the South Shore of Chicago. In fact, thanks to this $500 million, 19-acre homage to the 44th president, there may not be any Black people living there much longer.

Families are already facing rent increases and homes that were once moderately priced are now unaffordable to Black working people. These market manipulations are integral to the gentrification model of urban development. The end result is always a displaced and dispersed Black population.

This crisis is but the latest Obama slap in the face to the people who loved him the most. His 2008 presidential campaign stump speeches were replete with the worst stereotypes about Black men.

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El Milagro Employees Locked Out Of Factory During Walkout

Little Village – An employee-led work stoppage at the El Milagro tortilla factory turned into a lockout Thursday night.

The employees at El Milagro tortilla factory partnered with Arise Chicago to stage a two-hour walkout at 2140 S. Western Ave. as they call for safer working conditions and higher wages. But they were locked out with their belongings inside, and they were only allowed to collect their personal items after hours of negotiations with the factory’s leaders.

Workers were allowed back in Friday morning to work, but an armed security guard was present.

The walkout had been planned beforehand. Workers informed management they would leave the factory at 5 p.m. Thursday and return after two hours.

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Controversy Mounts Over The Use Of Gunshot Detection Sensors

On a humid afternoon in late August, dozens of activists gathered at an intersection in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood to protest the Police Department’s use of ShotSpotter, the gunshot detection system. Days before, news broke that the city had quietly extended its multimillion-dollar contract with the company, outraging residents and some councilmembers.

Alyx Goodwin, one of the event’s organizers, pointed to a light pole bristling with what looked like microphones. They were acoustic sensors used by ShotSpotter to pick up the sound of gunfire and alert police. 

“Once you see one, you start to notice them more,” said Goodwin, who works as a deputy campaign director for the Action Center on Race and the Economy, an advocacy group.

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Chicago Area Mechanics Speak Out About Isolation Of Their Struggle

After more than three weeks on strike, mechanics in the Chicago area, members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 701, are being kept in the dark about negotiations and isolated from their brothers and sisters in the same local and the wider working class as a whole.

The mechanics have shown their willingness to fight against the New Car Dealer Committee (NCDC) of Chicago and the car dealerships’ concession demands. On July 31, one day before the beginning of the strike, the mechanics voted down the NCDC’s contract proposal by 99 percent and voted by 97 percent to strike.

But throughout the past month, the IAM leadership has isolated the strike and worked on behalf of the NCDC as conscious strikebreakers to an even greater extent than during the last strike in 2017, which lasted for seven weeks.

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Chicago Passes Union-Backed Bill For Civilian Oversight Of Violent Cops

In July, Chicago’s city council passed a modified version of police accountability legislation that activists have spent years fighting for, backed by major public sector unions and Black labor leaders.

Though stripped of some of its stronger measures, the new law is one of the most prominent pieces of police reform legislation to pass since last year’s uprisings after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. A civilian commission will now be empowered to pick the head of the police investigatory body and change the rules and policies under which the police operate.

In Chicago, the law reflects increasing public scrutiny about how the police function. The city has seen a string of high-profile revelations of police killings, brutality, and general misconduct targeting Black and Latino people.

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Organizers Battled To Block A Police Training Academy

The organizing toolkit released Monday is an archive of the No Cop Academy campaign from 2017 to 2019, protesting a $95 million police training facility in West Garfield Park. The materials document the tactics activists used to build a powerful coalition demanding that City Hall invest in schools, mental health clinics and social services rather than pouring more money into Chicago Police.

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Chicago Eliminates Another Arne Duncan Initiative

Chicago Public Schools Lincoln Park High School

While Arne Duncan was superintendent of schools in Chicago, he received over $10 million from the Gates Foundation to begin “turning around” low-performing schools. He supported the creation of The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), which subsequently took over 31 schools, some of which raised test scores but were criticized for pushing out low-scoring students. One of AUSL’s goals was to train teachers for urban schools.

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Financialization Created Chicago Public Schools’ Fiscal Crisis

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is in a deep and enduring fiscal crisis. After decades of budget cuts, Chicago’s public K–12 schools have been hollowed out, magnifying the hardships of stagnant wages, rising housing prices, and more faced by the city’s working class. Pundits have predictably blamed CPS’s fiscal crisis on either the greedy teachers’ union (Republicans’ and a few austerity-minded Democrats’ scapegoat) or on conservative suburban and rural “downstate” politicians in Illinois hostile to urban children’s plight (most Democrats’ scapegoat).

But Chicago is a one-party city, controlled by the Democrats, in a solidly blue state, where Democrats usually control the state government.

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On Contact: Police Abuse And Torture

Chris Hedges discusses police abuse and torture with civil rights attorney Flint Taylor. Taylor’s new book is ‘The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago’. With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office, Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases exposing the corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department and throughout the city’s political machine, from the alderman to the mayor’s office. The book takes the reader from the 1969 murder of Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton and Panther Mark Clark – and the historic 13-year trial that followed – to the pursuit of chief detective Jon Burge, the leader of a torture ring within the Chicago Police Department that used barbaric methods including electric shock and suffocation to elicit false confessions…

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