Chicago Freedom School Victory!
The City Rescinds the Illegal Cease and Desist Order Issued on May 30
Today, we are proud to announce Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) has rescinded the illegal and fraudulent cease and desist order it issued to CFS on May 30, 2020!
On May 30, 2020, young Black and Brown people took to the streets of downtown Chicago to protest racist police brutality and state violence. The City responded by raising bridges, shutting down public transit, blocking off roads (making it virtually impossible for ride-sharing services to travel freely), and instating a mandatory curfew with less than an hour’s notice. This effectively boxed young people who were protesting police violence into a few short blocks of the downtown commercial sector.
We were there for young people who protested that day, some of whom were struck, disrespected and harmed by the police at the protests. We offered them pizza, snacks and water (for free), bathrooms, phone chargers, care and a place to rest. We made sure they had masks and gloves and socially distanced themselves. We helped them reach their loved ones and, with the help of community allies, arranged rides to get them home. We offered a safe space when the City was intentionally creating a dangerous one.
The City responded by sending Chicago Police and members of the BACP to our door at 11 p.m. that night. They claimed they got a complaint that we were acting in violation of our business license by “feeding and housing protestors,” insinuating this was a crime, which it was not. They searched our space, took photos, and, upon seeing empty pizza boxes and bottled water, alleged that we were acting in violation of our business license by commercially preparing and serving food–essentially accusing us of operating as a restaurant. Before leaving, they issued a cease and desist order with the threat of shutting us down and arresting Chicago Freedom School staff if we provided food to people at our premises.
We believe that the attack on our space was a deliberate attack on the young Black and Brown people in this city who dare raise their voices against police violence and oppression and an attempt to intimidate anyone who supports them.
We knew that every aspect of this was illegal and fraudulent so we challenged it in federal court filing a lawsuit, on behalf of CFS, ED Tony Alvarado-Rivera and Wellness Director Jacqulyn Hamilton on June 25, 2020. We demanded the rescission of this illegal cease and desist order. Today, that order has been rescinded and the false accusations and bogus searches will cease and we no longer have the threat of arrest looming over our heads.
It was important for us to get this order rescinded before this weekend. Superintendent Brown has already announced his intention to have the CPD conduct illegal sweeps and excessive detentions of young people over the July 4th weekend. We know from the disproportionate arrests of curfew violations we have seen this past month, that this will lead to the disproportionate arrests and detentions of Black people.
We are in deep gratitude for the leadership of CFS youth organizer Essence-Jade Gatheright who sent out the signal to young people in need on May 30th. Young Black people have always led the way to justice. We are proud of the bravery she showed on that day and every day since.
We are also so grateful for your support. You helped us feed young people and keep them safe that night and have continued to help us as we support the organizing of Black and Brown young people in the city of Chicago and beyond.
Last, but not least, we are honored and awed by the work of our lawyers Joey Mogul of the People’s Law Office and Sheila Bedi of the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and their teams. Thank you for your dedication to justice. Thank you for making sure that Chicago Freedom School can continue the liberatory work we have been doing for over a decade. Thank you for standing for us and the young Black and Brown organizers of this city.
Thank you. WE WON!