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We’ve been busy and can’t wait to tell you all about what we’ve been up to!
Neighbors United Against Hate Rally
Our rally against hate with Action Ridge was a huge success! On Sunday May 15 we welcomed a crowd of supporters ready to take back the streets against hateful acts in our coalition-wide community. Speakers included Nan Parsons, Elizabeth Lynch, Kim Schaefer, Jill Manrique, Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton, and State Senator Ram Villivalam.
We took a pledge against hate and marched throughout the neighborhood chanting as we went along. You can watch the whole video on Niles Coalition’s Youtube channel: Neighbors United Against Hate Rally May 2022 and read press coverage at Journal & Topics. Big thanks to everybody who came out and committed to combating hate in all its forms.
Support for Arab & Palestinian People
One of the organizers for the Neighbors Against Hate Rally was Niles West District 219 school board trustee Jill Manrique. She even addressed the crowd at the rally. In her speech she encouraged people to show up and “get uncomfortable in big ways and in small ways”. Jill walks the talk because a week later she attended the Niles West graduation wearing a kuffiyeh in support of the oppressed people of Palestine.
As a result she was viciously defamed by hateful racists. The US Palestinian Community Network invited us to join them in solidarity with Jill Manrique in support of the Arab and Palestinian community at the next D219 board meeting. We were honored to show up and put our pledge into action. But we weren’t the only ones. What we witnessed that evening was an amazing organic show of solidarity and support. The public comment period was packed full of comments in support of Jill’s brave action and a strong message was sent that hate has no home in Niles West or anywhere in our community!
You can see the press conference here:
and the public comments here:
Community Relations Commission
The Village of Niles Community Relations Commission has been expanded and is accepting applications. The deadline has been extended to June 15 so people have a few more days to apply! ACT FAST! Here is a link to the application.
In April’s newsletter we told you about the school lunch program for children that was unable to continue this year due to lack of staff at the Niles-Maine District Library. After months of us raising awareness of this travesty, the library put the squeeze on staff to make it happen. Of course they didn’t end their contrived and brutal “hiring freeze” to help, they just added stress to the staff while cutting other programs. Our library deserves to be full funded and Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula need to END THE HIRING FREEZE NOW!
Niles-Maine District Library Board Meeting – June 15 2022
It’s budget time again at the library and Trustee Makula is on his usual cruel tear to slash the budget until it bleeds. On the chopping block is the Teen Underground that is specifically tailored to the needs of teens by our expert librarians. Joe Makula is *not* a librarian but can’t help himself imposing his whims on the library we built over the course of generations in our community. Please come out to the board meeting Wednesday and speak out against these drastic cuts.
Niles-Maine District Library Regular Board Meeting
June 15, 2022 6:30 PM
Niles-Maine District Library – Commons Meeting Room
6960 Oakton St. Niles, IL 60714
Our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign organizers and allies continue to show up and leaflet at the library to make sure all patrons know about this continuing attack on our library. We’re dedicated to our goal of saving the library so future generations can have this crucial resource available.
Thanks for reading!
In partnership with Action Ridge we hosted a rally to reclaim our streets against the growing scourge of white supremacy across our communities.
Journal & Topics: United Against Hate Rally Marches Through Niles, Park Ridge
Niles Coalition has celebrated the 1 year anniversary of our founding. It was the attack on our Niles-Maine District Library that acted as the inciting incident bringing us together to create the #SaveNileslIbrary campaign. More and more community members have been reaching out and folks have been connecting with our organizers at local events. We’ve been meeting up with our neighbors in Niles, Skokie, Park Ridge, Glenview, and more! Please read below and find out about some recent events we’ve attended as well as upcoming opportunities for you to join us!
On April 24th along with allies from Action Ridge, Niles Coalition organizers helped greet attendees at the first of a series of Cook County United Against Hate events. About 200 community members and elected officials showed up and shared messages about our opposition to hate and antisemitism.
➡️ Join us on Sunday May 15th as we unite with our neighbors from Niles, Park Ridge, Skokie, Glenview, Chicago and the surrounding area at our Neighbors United Against Hate event at Jonquil Terrace Park in Niles.
On April 20th many of our organizers, unionized library staff members, and other supporters showed up with signs and leaflets to raise awareness of the unnecessary and destructive hiring freeze that anti-library trustees instituted last May and have refused to lift. Niles-Maine District Library’s staff keep providing services that our community wants and needs, and we’ll keep showing up for them and doing what we can to get the word out about the reckless cuts Trustees Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula have forced on all of us. Please help us spread awareness by sharing savenileslibrary.org with your friends and neighbors.
There are TWO MORE Library Board Meetings you can participate in this month, on Wednesday 5/18, and Tuesday, 5/31, both start at 6:30 PM at 6960 W. Oakton Street in Niles. Public comments are only allowed in person shortly after 6:30, so if you are unable to attend in person at that time and want your message heard please respond to this email, or send your message to <email@example.com>. If you can please arrive early and join us outside the library to show solidarity and share information with the public.
Reminder about the June election
June 28th is election day this year. The spring primary was moved to June, please make a plan to vote by mail or in person and mark your calendars now! Here’s a page where we’ve collected links and information.
Thanks for reading, see you in the streets!
Here’s a tool to check your voter information: https://www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/your-voter-information
- If you or someone you know is not yet registered/have moved since you last voted here’s how to register in suburban Cook County: https://www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/voter-registration , or call (312) 603-0906
- If you or anyone you know wants to vote by mail for any reason here’s how to do so in suburban Cook County: https://www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/ways-to-vote/vote-by-mail
- If you don’t vote by mail here’s information on early voting (where you can also register to vote if you’re not yet registered/have moved): https://www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/ways-to-vote/early-voting/early-voting-locations
- Here’s the Cook County Clerk’s page where you can find all of the candidates, referenda, and write-in candidates for your local and state-wide races: https://www.cookcountyclerkil.gov/elections/current-elections/2022-elections
Hello friends, the weather is warming up and we are getting out! Looking forward to seeing more of everybody this spring and summer!
You might remember that back in February a number of racist hate incidents happened in our community. The initial response from the Village was nonexistent which was very disappointing but a reminder that we will have to look out for us. In crafting a response we have partnered up with Action Ridge and a coalition effort with 14th District Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Commissioner Britton introduced a Resolution Against the Rise in Anti-Semitism and in Support of Cook County’s Jewish Population which was unanimously passed by the Cook County Board. We also have plans for a continuing local effort including an event in May. Stay tuned for those details. Reach out if you would like to help!
Community Move About Event
Our first official event of 2022, our Community Move About during National Library Week, was a great success! We had three speakers and a ~2mi walk through neighborhoods near the library. Community members were able to meet and talk with each other along the way, including several Niles Coalition organizers, members of other local groups like Bike Walk Niles, Go Green Niles, Action Ridge, as well as candidates for the upcoming state- and county-level primaries (the primary got moved to June this year) including Michael Rabbit running for State Representative of the 15th District. Hot topics attendees were chatting about include the hiring freeze that’s choking our library and the loss of the Free Summer Meals Program. You can read more about this in the Chicago Tribune. Be on the lookout for more events like these in the future!
Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform
There’s a new effort in Skokie aimed to “revitalize democracy and promote inclusive civic engagement”. That sounds fantastic and it’s something we’re endorsing. We could use some of that magic in Niles for sure. They have a kickoff event on Tuesday April 19th (tonight!), see you there!
Niles Community Relations Commission
Appointments for the Community Relations Commission are next month in May. To be on the list please be sure to apply by sending in this form. You can also BCC us on the email to leave a paper trail for accountability. Not familiar with the Community Relations Commission? Read more here. We’ve been working with Mayor Alpogianis on reforming the Community Relations Commission so it can fulfill its mission to improve community relations.
Emily For President!
An ally in our fight to #SaveNilesLibrary is now the president-elect of the American Library Association! Emily Drabinski reached out to us early in our efforts to protect the Niles-Maine District Library to understand how libraries like ours are threatened throughout the country. We’re thrilled by her win and look forward to the growing support for libraries and workers.
No More Food For Children
The Niles-Maine District library was a site for the federally-funded Free Summer Meals Program for several years. This year they don’t have the staff to maintain this program so youth in our community will have less access to nutritious meals for children during the summer school break. This is the result of Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula decimating our library staff.
⚠️ ACTION ITEM: Board Meeting Wednesday
April 20 at 6:30pm is the next Niles-Maine District Library board meeting. We’re asking people to come out to pressure trustees Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt and Joe Makula to end their hiring freeze. The library continues to struggle for lack of staff to provide for a library experience our community deserves. This chaos is intentional and we must show up and resist before it’s too late! Agenda is posted here.
Thanks for reading, see you in the streets!
The people of Niles deserve transparency. We know an open government strengthens democracy and builds trust. Unfortunately, in Niles, actions and decisions that affect our Village government occur behind closed doors. Most residents remain unaware of these actions, but we all pay the price.
We showed up at the February Village of Niles board meeting to implore the board to “improve its appointment process for the various committees to engage a diverse slate of applicants” and we are serious about this. We had front-row seats to how the Community Relations Commission has failed us all. We insist that the Village of Niles fulfill its most basic responsibilities to our community by making sure all people are being represented. We can’t fall back on the ways we’ve been doing things. We need a new intentional effort to fill these committees.
Here is a list of the various committees, commissions, and boards that residents of Niles can apply to volunteer on: Village of Niles Boards, Committees & Commissions. The application form for all of these can be found here: Village of Niles Committee Interest Form.
At the May meeting of the Village of Niles Board of Trustees the trustees will vote on appointments that the Mayor will propose, so now is the time to submit your application if you are interested in participating in one of these commissions/committees/boards.
White supremacist attacks on our community
Recently, white supremacy has flared up in our community. Just like the attack on our library, this one speaks to a deeper issue. Contending with this latest act of terror will require us to come together in community. The Niles Coalition is reaching out to local stakeholders to collaborate on an anti-hate campaign. If people polluting our community with white supremecist bigotry is something that irks you, we hope that you will join us to fight back. Please reach out here: https://www.nilescoalition.org/sign_up/
#SaveNilesLibrary Campaign Update
Library Board meetings are now an exercise in resistance. There are many casualties from the anti-library campaign waged by local right-wing raiders. However, our coalition of concerned community members have stayed the course and support current and former library staff who are concerned about the actions of reckless board members. Here’s what former Assistant Director and Business and Operations Manager, Greg Pritz, who resigned at the end of 2021, had to say: “If enough people believe these misleading statements, the Niles-Maine District Library will never be able to dig itself out of the financial hole that Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula are digging for it.”
Pritz couldn’t remain silent about the Board of Trustees activities and warned us in a Letter to the Editor printed in the Tribune on February 28, 2022. Read it here: Don’t be fooled by grossly inaccurate statements about Niles Library’s funding.
The next board meeting is this Wednesday at 6:30. Join us to bear witness and grind these gears of injustice to a halt! Be sure to meet one of our friendly organizers!
Also BTW National Library Week is April 3-9 this year, and we’re organizing a ride/walk/roll/stroll that will start at the Niles-Maine District Library in the afternoon on Saturday, April 9th. We’ll share the time, route, and other details soon.
Niles Youth Community
The voices of the youth are often ignored so it is crucial to not only listen but follow their lead on issues that affect them most. We showed up for the students of Niles West and we will continue to do so. The racist attack by anti-facemaskers is just the latest incident that got media attention due to the student rally. We have so much more work to do in our schools. Our Niles Youth Community caucus is a crucial part of coalition building. If you or young people you know are interested in organizing in Niles, please reach out at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Thanks for sticking with us!
The Niles Coalition was founded to foster social justice in our community. The use of racial slurs in our schools and the distribution of antisemitic flyers in our neighborhoods are just the latest acts of white supremacy that have no place in Niles. While these acts have done immediate harm to our family, friends, and neighbors that deserve immediate care, we also want to recognize the long-term work it will take to build the loving community we all deserve.
If you have recently received one of the antisemitic flyers, or experienced other forms of targeted bigotry please report this to the Village of Niles at 847.588.8000 or email@example.com (and CC us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can ensure that the Village responds appropriately to these matters). In the coming days and weeks we’ll be sharing more information and resources. We welcome all community members to join us at nilescoalition.org.
Protesters Denounce Hate Speech and Racism at West, The Niles West News by Emma Schieffer and Ella Lindemann
Antisemitic flyers found on driveways, lawns in Park Ridge and Niles, Chicago Tribune by Jennifer Johnson