Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city’s 9:00pm curfew will continue throughout the weekend amid a full week of massive citywide protests against police misconduct.
Lightfoot told reporters at a press conference during a question and answer session that she did not enter into the decision to put the city under a curfew “lightly,” and said it was an “absolute necessity” to do so.
Chicago has seen citywide protests and civil unrest since last weekend in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Floyd’s killing has sparked nationwide protests and unrest against police brutality and misconduct, and calls to defund police departments have been amplified both locally and nationwide.
Protest marches occurred throughout the city on Thursday, with large contingents of people marching in the evening on the Southside and Near West Side. Demonstrators marched from a Chicago Public Schools District headquarters around 47th and Dearborn to Chicago Police Headquarters near 35th and Michigan, and from Lincoln Park to the Chicago Police Training Academy, followed by the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.
Demonstrators at both marches called for CPS to cancel its contract with the CPD, and the defunding of CPD and diversion of those resources to be invested in things like nurses, counselors, mental health clinics, and other social services.
“Why are there officers in my school and we don’t have enough social workers?” China Smith of the group Good Kids Mad City, told ABC7 Chicago. “Why are there officers in my school and we have to share counselors for a whole class of 2020?”
Prior to the march they helped organize, members of Good Kids Mad City handed out food and water to residents in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
— GoodKidsMadCity (@GKMC18) June 4, 2020
We had so much fun & it felt so good #FeedTheBlock again! Be we also had to remind y’all that we want to #DefundPolice & invest in our communities!#PoliceFreeSchools #GoodKidsMadCity pic.twitter.com/szczSDzAEB
— GoodKidsMadCity (@GKMC18) June 4, 2020
“We as a city are tired of being told we do not have enough money to support citizens,” wrote student organizers of the march that began at Lincoln Park High School said in a post on Facebook. “That we don’t have money for nurses, counselors, mental health clinics, affordable housing, equitable transportation. We are tired of being harassed and abused by police officers in schools. We are tired of the school-to-prison pipeline that is directly attributable to the tradeoff of spending on police rather than schools.”
The Chicago Teachers Union said it supported the protests and efforts made by student organizers, saying that the mayor must fund “social workers, counselors and restorative justice, not police in our schools.”
“Last year, CPS took $33 million from classrooms to pay for police in schools. Those funds should have been invested in school nurses, social workers, counselors and trauma supports in school communities suffering from trauma and economic hardship,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey in a statement emailed to press. “Instead, CPS continues to channel resources into policing, making students feel even less safe and undermining their education. This must end. Our students need adequately resourced public schools that provide education, nurturing and support.”
Mayor Lightfoot dismissed the calls to cancel the CPS contract with CPD.
“We’re not gonna do that,” Lightfoot told reporters. “Unfortunately, we need security in our schools. We spent a lot of time a year ago working through challenges we had seen with police officers in our schools.”
Multiple protest marches and actions across the city are scheduled throughout the weekend, and began Friday morning.
As to when the curfew would be lifted, Lightfoot said that it was her “expectation and hope that we will have multiple days of peaceful protest” over the weekend and that would factor into her decision as to when to lift the city’s curfew. “Yesterday was one of the first days where we had just purely peaceful protest. We’ll look and see what the weekend brings and if we continue to see this I’ll be the first one to embrace eliminating a curfew, but we’re not there yet.”