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Video interviews give some clarity to motivations as protests begin against Hit List and charter expansion... Ten arrested at City Hall during sit-in demanding moratorium on school closings and charter expansion

Ten people were arrested at Chicago's City Hall on the night of November 2, 2012, according to Chicago teachers and others who were there. The arrests came following a sit-in led by community groups and teachers demanding that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel meet with the groups and announce an immediate moratorium on school closings and charter expansion in Chicago. The arrests came at the end of the day on which Chicago Public Schools issued a press release saying it would ask the Illinois General Assembly for a waiver of a state law requiring the school system to reveal its annual school closing list (called the "Hit List" by activists) by December 1 of each year.

The November 2, 2012 march at Chicago's City Hall demanded a moratorium on school closings and charter school expansions.The protest involved several unions, community activists, parents, and teachers. Photo by Kenzo Shibata.By law, CPS officials are supposed to announce the criteria for closings by November 1 (which they did), hold hearings on the criteria, and then announce their closing list by December 1. For the past several years, CPS has then held hearings on each individual school in January and voted on the Hit List at the February meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. According to Chicago Teachers Union organizing department chief Norine Gutehanst: "At 11 pm ten people were arrested at City Hall-2 active teachers, 2 retired teachers, and 6 parents & community members. They were taken to the First District Station for processing, and have not yet been released.

"Earlier in the afternoon, approximately 200 people from a variety of community organizations, and including CTU members, crowded the Fifth Floor of City Hall to demand a Moratorium on school closings and charter proliferation. Mayor Emanuel's office refused to schedule a meeting between the community groups and the Mayor, and began a sit-in, in which over 150 people participated. The sit in continued until approximately 11 pm, at which time 10 people were arrested."

The last of those arrested were released at 5:20 a.m. Gutekanst reported. "The last of the 'City Hall ten was released at 5:20 a.m. this morning," she noted. "They were released in I-bonds and given a court date. Spirits were high at the First District Police Station as a group of a dozen supporters waited for hours and then greeted the arrestees with cheers, hugs and chants. A TV camera arrived to film interviews with several arrestees before 5 am, so hopefully some of it aired on today's morning news."

Activists made videos during the event: The URL for this video is...

Two other videos were made: The first video interviews parent (Jeanette Smith).

The second video interviews teacher Carrene Beverly-Bass, a teacher. The URL for this video is: http://youtu.be/R4USDkcUXvI. Both were planning on being arrested.

Above, some of those who protested the Hit List and charter expansions at Chicago's City Hall drew special attention to the Hyatt hotels, which are owned by various Pritzkers and other investors. Billionaire Penny Priteker has been serving as one of seven members of the Chicago Board of Education since she was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2011. She voted in February 2012 for all 15 school closings and other changes despite the evidence presented at every hearing. Penny Pritzker still sits on the Board of Hyatt hotels, which is receiving TIF funds from the City of Chicago. Photo by Kenzo Shibata.The activists had attempted to set up an appointment with Mayor Emanuel, and were refused. Earlier in the day approximately 200 people crowded the Fifth Floor of City Hall to demand a Moratorium on School Closings and Charter Expansion. One hundred fifty protestors, after being denied a meeting date, began a sit in, that ended at 11:00 p.m. with 10 arrests.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES REPORT ON THE ARRESTS NOVEMBER 3, 2012

Chicago Police arrest school closing protesters camped outside Rahm Emanuel’s office

By Lauren FitzPatrick Staff Reporter November 2, 2012 9:10PM

Parents, educators and community activists protest against the closing of CPS schools outside of City Hall on Friday, November 2, 2012.

Chicago Police arrested protesters Friday night who camped outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Fifth Floor office in City Hall to call attention to school closings.

Police said “several” people were arrested after refusing to leave. Chicago Teachers Union Vice-President Jesse Sharkey said police hauled away 10 people at about 10 p.m.

The protest began late Friday afternoon outside City Hall’s La Salle Street entrance.

“No more school closings,” they hollered hours after the Chicago Public Schools announced a new plan to figure out which school buildings to close and which to merge.

Their number grew to more than 100, their chants more elaborate, “Hey Rahm, we’re no fool, you will not close our schools,” as they made their way up to the Fifth Floor and parked outside the mayor’s office.

The protesters, in red Chicago Teachers Union and blue Action Now T-shirts , kept up the chant outside the mayor’s office. Earlier this week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel reiterated his plan to close some schools. The activists accuse the mayor of closing neighborhood schools so he can hand them over to charter operators.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE STORY REPORTS DELAY REQUEST BUT IGNORES STORY ABOUT CITY HALL ARRESTS

CPS wants to delay decision on school closings. New chief Byrd-Bennett wants deadline moved from Dec. 1 to March 31, By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Chicago Tribune reporter, November 3, 2012

With community concern growing over school closings, Chicago Public Schools officials on Friday said they are asking for a four-month extension for producing a list of targeted schools.

State law requires the district to inform schools targeted for closing, consolidation and phase-out by Dec. 1. CPS' new schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, said she wants an extension until March 31 to allow time for a "rigorous" community engagement process.

Byrd-Bennett has appointed a nine-member commission to seek community input and make recommendations on schools to be closed.

"This is not designed to delay tough decisions," said Byrd-Bennett, who again acknowledged that the community has little trust in CPS.

"It is only through such an open and transparent process that we can forge the consensus we need to do what is best for our children and best for the city," she said, speaking Friday morning at the Chicago Urban League.

Opponents of school closings, led by the Chicago Teachers Union, are already organizing. About 100 union officials and community activists rallied Friday afternoon at City Hall. The union is calling for a moratorium on school closings and is demanding an independent audit on the financial and educational impact of shutting down schools.

In a statement, CTU President Karen Lewis said she "appreciated" that Byrd-Bennett has recognized the school closing process was flawed but does not support a delay in the district's announcement.

"They should not change the law because they have a change in leadership," Lewis said.

Under the district's proposal, the commission would produce written reports in January and March but the list of schools targeted for closing would not likely be ready until later in March, said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.

Critics of the district were suspicious.

"They're going to use the commission process to say, 'We did everything we can to engage the community, but we're still going to close down schools,'" said Dwayne Truss, vice chair of CPS' Austin Community Action Council. "The commission is just designed to get them to an already determined destination."

Earlier this week, CPS said school closing decisions will be based solely on school utilization. CPS officials said half of the district's schools are underused and nearly 140 are more than half-empty, and it has estimated savings of $500,000 to $800,000 per school should underused facilities be shut down.

At the same time, the district has signed an agreement with the charter community, vowing to add 100 new schools, 60 of them charters, in the next five years.

"Where's the logic of going on a new school spree at the same time they're telling us there's too many schools?" asked CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

Sharkey later told protesters at City Hall that the school system should stick to the Dec. 1 deadline.

"March is much too late," he said.

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Comments:

November 4, 2012 at 6:46 PM

By: Hugo Gonzalez

School closing fight now

November 2 was my birthday I turned 14. This almost ruined my birthday going to school to hear my school might close. Then that good honest people were arrested for speaking up for me. Rahm Emanuel why are you doing this? You sound like a hypocrite saying we need new schools and closing others. My strike leader said at the end of the strike we won this battle but not the war. These kind of people are corrupted they only help their friends and themselfs. Quote from strike, "We want teachers. We want books. We want the money that Rahm took!"

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