Black History in Niles
In our last Dispatch newsletter we wrote about the Black history of Niles and we were happy to bring this as a public comment to the February Village of Niles board meeting. You can watch how that went down on our Youtube channel here.
Community Relations Commission
After several years of unsuccessful engagement with the Community Relations Commission (CRC), it’s become clear that it’s just another form of policing and surveillance. It was discussed at the last meeting that any complaint of discrimination must go directly to the police. Months earlier, a complaint over police harassment was also deferred to the police after the complainant requested a transformative justice solution instead.
The mission of the CRC might confuse community members who may see it as an alternative to engaging with violence workers. There are many good reasons people would want to avoid police interaction. Please beware that complaints submitted to the CRC absolutely will go to the police.
CAMPAIGN UPDATE: #SAVENILESLIBRARY
2023 Library Board Election
While our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign fought against the destructive agenda by Trustees Joe Makula, Carolyn Drblik, Olivia Hanusiak, and Suzanne Schoenfeldt we are not endorsing any candidates. There has been some confusion recently as to the stance of the Niles Coalition and we wanted to make that clear.
Elmwood Park Public Library
Our neighbors down the street in Elmwood Park are facing a similar attack on their library (EPPL). Book Riot covers the story:
“In many ways, what is happening at EPPL mirrors what has been happening just a few miles north at the Niles Public Library, where the board seized control of the library to ram their agenda in without consequence or pushback. EPPL’s Board has remained fairly unchanged over the last several election cycles, but with the rise of conservatism across the nation and in the Chicago suburbs, the power once held by white men has been slowing receding as the diversity, equity, and inclusion programs ensure more access to education, skills, and jobs for people of the global majority.”
Eyes on EPPL! 👀 The Elmwood Park Public Library board meeting is tomorrow March 16th.
Protections Against Book Banners
With attacks on libraries happening across Illinois, new legislation has been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to encourage libraries to steel themselves against incoming attacks by creating stronger policy.
“The legislation, which has the backing of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, would allow the secretary of state’s office to deny state grants to public libraries, including those in schools, that don’t adhere to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which holds, among other things, that ‘materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.’
As an alternative, libraries could develop a written policy to ‘prohibit the practice of banning specific books or resources,’ the bill states.”
Ultimately we can’t rely on such legislation, the real protections will come from stronger library communities.
Speaking of book banning, read this fascinating twitter thread written by and featuring #SaveNilesLibrary allies. It details the attempts to ban Persepolis, the graphic novel memoir by Marjane Satrapi. This all happened in 2013 in neighboring Chicago. Included are several citations to articles written about the banning and the resistance that rose up. Great stuff, check it out!
For the People
A new effort called For the People is getting started to protect public libraries against right-wing efforts to privatize and neutralize libraries. There is an event with incoming President of the American Library Association Emily Drabinski coming up on March 21. Here’s a handout they are sharing called: 10 Ways You Can Get Involved in Your Local Library. There are many ways to get involved and we love seeing the people rise up!
Niles Cop Pulls Weapon
The Evanston Round Table reports that a Niles cop employed as a security guard at Evanston Public Library put people in danger. In one year at the Niles Police Department he:
“…pointed his gun at people, failed to follow body camera protocols and gave conflicting stories about the incidents, Niles Police records reveal.”
Dangerous cops avoid taking responsibility for their “misconduct” and get passed around from community to community.
When trying to make sense of contradictions or patterns of outcomes it is often useful to invoke the rule of thumb “POSIWID”. That stands for “the purpose of a system is what it does”. Think about the systems responsible.
Thanks for reading!