Breaking: Chicago school justice advocates are occupying City Hall. Daley Plaza @ 4PM. Updated.

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Photo credit: Sarah Jane Rhee/


Following a weekend of marches through the west side and south side of Chicago – marches that connected schools that would close and schools that would receive students from schools that are closed – hundreds gathered in Daley Plaza on Monday afternoon.

The CPS board will vote Wednesday as to whether they will close the largest number of public schools in American history.

On Friday CTU President Karen Lewis fired up memories of the Civil Rights Movement, calling the three days of marches across the city an “old-style civil rights march.”

At the rally this afternoon she mocked CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s claim that the protests represented the “status quo.”

Does anyone in this city believe the Mayor represents the latest chapter in the Civil Rights Movement?

Or that his honor, born into privilege on Chicago’s wealthy north shore, represents a movement of progressive change?

The status quo is ten years of failed school reform that has included one school closing after another.

Nothing has changed but the scale of the fail.

Earlier in the afternoon 26 protesters were arrested for blocking elevators on the first floor City Hall.

It is a foreshadowing of future acts of civil disobedience if the board votes to close schools.

“No matter what the board does on Wednesday, we are not done,” said President Lewis.

She promised that the CTU and allied groups would register 250,000 voters.

“And they won’t be voting for the Mayor,” she said.

Saturday coffee.

On the front door of Brian Piccolo Elementary School, Chicago.

Our favorite barista is back from a trip to Spain. As we were having our coffee, she brought by her boyfriend from Argentina and introduced us.

“Remember the customers I told you about who gave me the Occupy Wall Street posters?”

That would be us.

Then we were off to Brian Piccolo school on the west side where parents are occupying the building to stop Rahm’s closing plans.

Early Friday the parents tried to get a meeting with Rahm. No luck.

Some of the parents are inside. Some have set up camp outside. Piccolo is on Keeler off of Augusta in West Humboldt Park, among the poorest communities in Chicago.

Rahm wants to hand Piccolo over to private management, the Academy for Urban School Leadership. Recent studies fail to support any evidence that there is improvement in most of the schools run by AUSL.

Here is Declaration #1 from the Piccolo Occupation:

Declaration #1 from Piccolo occupation

11:49pm – February 17th, 2012

We, the Piccolo Occupation, are putting our childrens’ education first. Piccolo has failed because CPS has refused to invest in public education. The school has struggled for years but you have taken out all the programs, classes and opportunities to learn. We have had 3 principals in the last five years.We have not been able to work with anyone on a long-term basis to address the chronic disinvestment in our school. CPS and City Hall have failed us and our children. Your goal is to privatize the education system by giving it to corporations that support the mayor. We have been ignored, you have ignored our children and now you are trying to make money off of them.

The Chicago Public Schools is in violation of its own remediation and probation policy. CPS is in violation of the Illinois School Code and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. CPS is in violation of Illinois Senate Bill 630. Because of this, a moratorium has been introduced in the Illinois Legislative Assembly by the School Facilities Taskforce. We are enacting our moratorium for ourselves with this sit-in due to the fact that CPS not once has laid out the necessary corrective action for Brian Piccolo or Pablo Cassals along with the Local School Councils for getting them off of probation during the last five years. The School Improvement Plans for Academic Achievement (SIPAA) at these two schools have lacked the budgetary resources to bridge the achievement gap of our student populations. Further, the SIPAAs along with the budgets at the time of their signings have not had real community input. Therefor, these actions could very well be civil rights violations. At the recent CPS hearings, the former principle of Cassals testified that not once in the last five years had CPS met with her nor with the LSC about any of the necessary corrective action for Paola Cassals to be removed off of probation.

Because CPS has been not willing to meet with or listen to us, this is what we want:

1) A meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

2) A meeting with at least five of the Chicago School Board members present.

3) The removal of Piccolo and Cassals from the turnaround list.

Show some support today and head over to Brian Piccolo at Keeler and Augusta.

 Then on Monday at 4PM head over to Lake View High School at Ashland and Irving Park where the Chicago Teachers Union is holding a rally to tell Rahm to support public schools, not close them.

Scott Olsen returns.

In October we showed you the video of Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen. He was wounded, shot in the face by Oakland police during an Occupy Oakland protest.

Democracy Now!:

Scott Olsen, former Marine who served two tours in the Iraq War and was critically wounded after being shot in the head by a police projectile at Occupy Oakland. He was hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured skull, a broken neck vertebrae, and brain swelling. He was released from the hospital last month, but his recovery process is only just beginning. Scott is a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Scholastic News: Tool of OWS.

First Pat Robertson Jerry Falwell claimed the Teletubbies promoted the Gay lifestyle. Whatever.

Then Kyle Olson toured the country promoting his book which claims that Click Clack Moo. Cows that Type is pro-union propaganda. Which it is. And I’m glad.

Now WorldNetDaily, an outlet for the goofiest of the right-wing goofballs, is upset that Scholastic News is pro-Occupy Wall Street.


Villaraigosa says he raided Occupy LA to protect kids. 13,000 homeless children in LA.

Following the police raid on the City Hall Occupy LA encampment, LA’s Democratic Party Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa the LA Times reported:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided it was time to evict Occupy L.A. protesters from the City Hall lawn after learning that there were children staying there.

Given the smattering of assaults and other incidents reported at the camp, “the chaos out there could produce something awful,” he said in an interview with The Times.

Meanwhile Think Progress reports that there are an estimated 13,000 homeless children in Los Angeles.

An even more pertinent point is that Los Angeles already has thousands of children on the streets. A 2011 report estimated that there were 13,500 homeless students in the area. One would hope that if the city of Los Angeles was willing to send thousands of riot gear-clad police officers to evict an encampment of nonviolent protesters supposedly out of concern for children, that it will be making an even more intense effort over the coming days to alleviate the situation of the thousands of homeless children in the city. Perhaps the city could even team up with a broad-based social movement protesting economic injustice to do it.

Overnight news: LA and Philly raided.

After raiding the Occupy LA camp site, Democratic Party Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that a “first amendment area” would be set up on Spring Street.

In case you mistakenly thought that the US was a first amendment area.

Villaraigosa said that the City couldn’t stand by and allow people to sleep out in a public park in LA. Apparently the Mayor doesn’t get out around his city much, which has among the largest homeless populations in the world.