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Actions for Evanston Allies

Hello Evanston!

This email is going out to our allies in Evanston for two local opportunities to make a difference.

Evanston Ceasefire Resolution

Evanston community members have been working hard the past several months to bring a ceasefire resolution to city council. Unfortunately the city council has been resistant to opposing the USA backed genocide so people power is urgently needed! Please sign this petition today and share with your neighbors:

> Evanston Residents in Support of a Ceasefire Petition

Fundraiser to Support Black IL Teacher Targeted By Moms4Liberty

There are only a few days left to raise the full amount Jasmine Sebaggala needs to fulfill her legal obligation levied against her by the judge. This unfair ruling sets a dangerous precedent and we can’t allow Jasmine to bear this burden for her anti-racism work!

Please donate what you can and share this fundraiser.

>Support Black IL Teacher Targeted By Moms4Liberty

Thank you for your support.

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DISPATCH Newsletter December 2023

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Hello Niles community!

This is our last newsletter for 2023 and instead of a recap we are holding the tension of current events and the urgency that brings. Please read on for how your support is so crucial at this time.

Justice for Teachers!
The negative blowback from anti-racist awareness cultivated in the Black Lives Matter 2020 uprising is now affecting the marginalized of our communities most. As white people abandon their fleeting solidarity of collective liberation, the agitation from that now puts targets on the people most vulnerable. As we’ve seen with the attack on our public library, public schools are now under attack. And again, it’s the backbone of these public institutions, the workers, who are targeted.

We were proud to rise in solidarity with the Abolition Coalition in Skokie as they fought for racial justice in our schools. Now, one of our most beloved partners in that effort is facing harsh punishment from these racist systems. Jasmine Sebaggala is a Black school teacher who is facing a right-wing campaign against her valiant efforts. This is your opportunity to help *directly* to fight this fight.

Please donate generously with this GoFundMe: Support Black IL Teacher Targeted By Moms4Liberty

Read more about this attack here: Stephen Miller comes to Skokie.

Watch the press conference: Dec 29 Press Conference with Jasmine Sebaggala and Supporters

Justice for Journalists!
Chicago Tribune journalists have done some great work investigating and reporting upon many local issues in and around Niles. Without their support, the awareness of local struggles would have been limited.

Please support these workers by writing a letter to the Tribune company officials and telling them how valuable their efforts are to our community. Here a tool you can use: Save the Tribune: Tell the company why you value its journalists

Life During Genocide
It’s surreal to go through life business as usual while our government sponsors and supports ongoing apartheid and genocide carried out by the state of Israel. In our last newsletter we wrote about the direct connection in Niles with genocide through Woodward Inc.

In the summer of 2022 we showed up in solidarity with USPCN for D219 school board trustee Jill Manrique when she was attacked for supporting Palestinian students.

Now it is time to continue our solidarity and show up for our partners in USPCN and the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine. USPCN has been constantly organizing actions across the country and all over Chicagoland. Read more about their incredible efforts here: Stop the U.S.-sponsored Israeli genocide, and fight for the liberation of Palestine!

Keep an eye on USPCN’s Instagram for opportunities to show up to local actions in support of Palestine and against genocide!

Liberate the Libraries!
As our #SaveNilesLiabrary campaign sunsets, we anxiously look to the future. As we’ve seen, our Niles-Maine District Library wasn’t saved by a new board afterall. It was the workers who persevered and struggled for *years* to make that happen. We have been building relationships with workers and organizers across the country. We are huge fans of Libraries for the People who have an explicit leftist mission in strengthening and expanding public libraries. In just one year they accomplished so much. Read about that here: Year One of For The People Leftist Library Project (and be sure to subscribe to their newsletter.)

What can Libraries for the People look like for Niles?


Happy and safe holidays to all and we look forward to a 2024 where we can harvest the fruits of justice through the many years of cultivation by the connected justice movements.

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DISPATCH Newsletter November 2023

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Hello community!

During the pandemic, all public meetings went remote on Zoom, proving the capabilities of municipalities to quickly accommodate access for local communities. In May of 2021 the Village of Niles reverted back to in-person board meetings only, no remote participation at all for community members. That privilege was apparently reserved exclusively for trustees. In a 2022 memo for the 5 Year Capital Improvement Plan a general comment was recorded:

Comment-Public Engagement: Since we have proven that Zoom can be a tool for residents to engage in public meetings, we need to offer this

Still to this date there is no remote participation allowed for Village of Niles community members for public board meetings. There are a myriad of valid reasons that people cannot make in-person meetings and that should not exclude them from having their voices heard in a public forum. In fact, their voices are the ones that should be prioritized!

The board has been generally unresponsive to community voices. The latest example being the zero response to the public outcry over the privatization of our crossing guards.

Elders of our community are decrying this lack of engagement. Any community member who attends the Village of Niles board meetings will recognize frequent public commenter Louella Preston. She is a former trustee of the Village of Niles board and always has some gentle advice for the current administration.

Rosemary Palicki is another former trustee who came out in defense of the Niles-Maine Public Library and sometimes weighs in at Village of Niles board meetings. At the recent board meeting on November 14, 2023, Both Louella Preston and Rosemary Palicki implored the board to vote no on agenda item (Item 12.l) to cancel the December board meeting. Ms. Palicki even encouraged a town hall to facilitate broader public engagement. Instead, the board offered no discussion when voting to cancel the December meeting anyway.

Ms. Palicki followed up in public comment admonishing the board that she found it “…very, not only disappointing, but insulting…” that not a single trustee offered the common courtesy of a response to the public feedback. She herself forewarned this when she departed her position of trustee in 2015:

“If you hear that everyone on the board always agrees and never has a question or never raises opposition, start worrying and demand better of them.”

The board president (“mayor”) has consolidated power for a rubber-stamp board to serve at his whims and that is a dire situation for Niles.

What’s the solution? For that, continue reading…


Our original goal of the #SaveNilesLibrary campaign was to shift power back into the hands of the library and away from neoliberals seeking to defund it. For some that meant looking towards the 2023 election but it became clear to Niles Coalition organizers that the cause was more systemic. Certainly the new board didn’t inspire us to finalize, or sunset, this campaign just yet.

When we last sent out a Dispatch in October, we wrote about how the Niles-Maine District Library board needed to do the right thing and raise the annual tax levy enough to give the library a fighting chance to rebuild after the devastating attacks by the previous board.

A lot has happened since then and we are thrilled to update you that the Niles-Maine District Library Union has a ratified contract AND a proper tax levy!

The library staff worked tirelessly and so many community members wrote letters of support, attended rallies and protests, spoke out in person, and in solidarity made it possible for the library union’s bargaining team to win a fair contract.

With a contract in place the union has tools to defend against future attacks, and for this fiscal year, a levy to help build back up! This is as close as the #SaveNilesLibrary campaign can come to achieving the original goal so it’s time to officially sunset this project. We will follow up with a postmortem of the lessons we learned from this struggle because it will be important for the next fight. Libraries will continue to struggle and that is true across the country unfortunately.

For now, it’s time to celebrate; congratulate the workers and yourselves! Thank you!


Speaking of the continued struggle…

Fight for public schools
We know public institutions are in the crosshairs by centrist and right-wing neoliberals. During our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign we heard disparaging comments towards other taxing districts that include schools and parks. We’ve even noticed it at recent Niles-Maine District Library board meetings by members of the public and by library board trustees suggesting people try to cut funding to local schools. The solution is not to undermine other forms of public support but to work in solidarity because these struggles are interrelated. Keep your eyes and ears open in your public schools.

One great resource to do that is the Illinois Families for Public Schools. They were instrumental in helping to expire the “Invest in Kids” program. This program was essentially a private school voucher scheme to benefit private companies and private schools with public tax dollars diverted away from public schools. Another win to keep public funds benefiting the public, but we can’t wait for another neoliberal attack. We need to be ready for it by building left power!

Automated license plate readers (ALPR) chatter
Folks in surrounding communities like Glenview have been noticing cameras going up to spy on the public. These are leased from private companies profiting off the criminalization of community members. We’ve been monitoring the situation ever since Niles installed these things as well. See for more info.

Genocide in Niles
Living life during a genocide is a surreal experience. Some take solace in the distance from the tragedy but international struggles are national and local. The USA is sending billions to help bomb Gaza with local companies cashing in. Recently the youth movement organization Dissenters, blocked the entrance to Woodward Inc. in Niles demanding a #freePalestine and an end to the siege! As Fannie Lou Hamer said: “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”



Thanks for making it this far! What is the solution to our democracy troubles in Niles? It’s more complicated than simply finding better candidates or voting more. For Skokie it was electoral reform. As we reported in November 2022, the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform won all three of their referendums for a more fair election process. The final vote to implement these reforms is actually happening Monday December 4th at Skokie Village Hall! Please also check out Trustee James Johnson’s run for Village Clerk at Congrats to Skokie and good luck!

What can we do in Niles?  🤔

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DISPATCH Newsletter October 2023: Neoliberal Niles

DISPATCH - The official newsletter of the Niles Coalition for October 2023 IMAGE: Header image that resembles a distressed postcard that reads "Dispatch official newsletter October 2023" with the Niles Coalition logo portrayed as a postage stamp in the lower right-hand corner.


Greetings community! When we embarked on our mission to #SaveNilesLibrary as our flagship campaign, we knew that we didn’t know exactly what needed to be done, but it would become clear as we tried to do it. We didn’t have to start from scratch though. We have a rich history of wisdom handed down by leftist organizers, activists, and scholars.

That is how we identified neoliberalism at the heart of this attack on our Niles-Maine District Library. Naming the issue allowed us to organize ahead of the problematic board instead of constantly reacting. But that board didn’t arise from thin air, it came from Niles.

Niles’ current mayor said the quiet part out loud during the previous election when he said “Running a Great Village, Library, or Park is like Running a Successful Business”. Treating social structures like a business is at the core of neoliberalism. We didn’t need a mailer sent directly to our homes in Niles to know that this was eating away at our community. We noticed this pattern with the library but it suggested other public institutions would also be targeted.

Sure enough we saw this with the recent privatization of the crossing guards hoisting expenses onto the schools. We launched a letter-writing action in solidarity with crossing guard workers. Two hundred forty letters (thank you!) were sent to Village of Niles Trustees yet not a single email reply was sent to concerned community members. The board members don’t have our back.

The Village board is on a privatization spree with the installation of Flock surveillance cameras (which privatize public spaces), the management of the Niles Family Fitness Center, garbage collection fees (a tax cut for the wealthiest few), and ongoing TIF issues (which siphon our tax dollars into the pockets of developers). That’s just some of the recent stuff too!

The future of our public spaces rest in our collective contributions, not in the whims of profit-motivated businesses. The time to organize against this was years ago! Our mission is clear; left power in our communities!


Whew, Niles-Maine District Library (NMDL) has not yet been saved. The problems at the library could not be solved by an election alone, much to the chagrin of many who pinned hopes on a simple swap of board members. It was through our collective struggle that we understood the historical conditions of this recent attack.

Our library workers continue to work without a contract and we continue to lose staff who leave for other libraries with higher wages that are properly staffed and appreciated. At NMDL there is still no permanent full-time Facilities Manager, several other vacant positions continue to go unfilled, and the library is being run by a part-time interim director.

Board members who as candidates promised to reduce spending on legal fees and work swiftly for a union contract with increased staff salaries now instead argue with constituents who remind them of their unkept promises, with some board members repeatedly interjecting throughout public comments to make excuses for their lack of urgency in finalizing a contract. The trustees ask for more patience while month after month they continue to pay the huge legal bills associated with their strategy of dragging out negotiations with the union.

They just budgeted even more toward this fiscal year’s legal fees, and this Wednesday, October 18th, will mark yet another monthly board meeting with no news of a contract. This will also be the meeting where NMDL trustees will be discussing the annual tax levy, which was dramatically cut in the previous 2 years so needs to be raised this year. At the September meeting we heard trustees ask to see the figures for a flat levy and for the option of raising it as much as possible (since the amount it can be raised is limited based on a formula), so this is an opportunity for them to follow through and do the right thing in support of the library they are tasked with advocating for, and yet currently the levy options document attached to the agenda only shows two options, a 0% increase and a 5% increase. There is still time for them to make the rest of the levy option information available to the public.

We are still showing up for the library staff because the workers ARE the library and we are in solidarity! We support them in their many public comments. Meanwhile the board spends time restricting free speech and plundering the budget for personal preferences.

Solidarity is important, so to #SaveNilesLibrary we need to save all libraries! We were so excited to chair a panel at the Socialism 2023 conference entitled “Public Libraries and the Neoliberal Threat” featuring library workers steeped in the fight to defend this crucial community commons. Hopefully we’ll be able to share the audio from this panel soon!


Anti-racist orgs across the world are coming out against the occupation, apartheid, and now genocide of the Palestinian people. Jewish Voice for Peace are calling for a CEASEFIRE NOW and urging folks to contact your representatives. Black Women Radicals have curated a reading list. We are in solidarity with the people of Palestine! 🇵🇸

Journal & Topics reports that Niles-Maine District Library board trustee Jason Trunco will not resign his seat as a library trustee over his behavior that banned him indefinitely from park district property. This is a person we are subjecting our library administration and staff to?!


Did you know that Niles is a council–manager form of government? According to the overview on Wikipedia, it’s “much like a publicly traded corporation”. The Village of Niles is more like the Corporation of Niles and residents are its employees. If that is true, where is our union?

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ACTION ALERT! Respect our community crossing guard workers!

ACTION ALERT! Respect our community crossing guard workers! Niles logo in the background with a heart and an image of a crossing guard in the heart.

Earlier this week our dedicated Village of Niles crossing guard workers were abruptly terminated from their positions by the Niles Police Department and Village trustees.

Please take a moment and join our letter-writing campaign here:

Respect our community crossing guard workers!

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DISPATCH Newsletter March 2023

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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.

To understand why and how this happens, No More Police and Prison By Any Other Name are great books and they are available through libraries, including the Niles-Maine District Library.


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.

Persepolisgate History

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!

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DISPATCH Newsletter February 2023

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Hello friends, welcome back to the DISPATCH! We have more to say than we can squeeze in this month, buckle up!

Black History & Resistance in Niles

February is Black History Month and this year’s theme is Black Resistance. Mayor George Alpogianis read a proclamation in recognition at the recent Niles Village Board of Trustees Meeting.

That got us thinking about our own Black history, here, in Niles. That may sound unexpected to some for a variety of reasons but this holiday was created to bring awareness to Black people in a society that continually invisiblizes them.

For example, did you know that Farm on Franks was the brainchild of Shawn Phillips? In 2013:

“Niles resident Shawn Phillips brought the idea of starting a community garden to Niles park commissioners last month. Phillips said he envisions a garden where residents could be given small beds to grow their own fruits, vegetables or flowers.”

This is the kind of community engagement that inspired us early in our work at the Niles Coalition and Shawn has been helping us understand the needs of our community.

Jabez Patterson is the creative force behind The Library Scoop Podcast of the Niles-Maine District Library. Utilizing his teaching skills and passion for providing engaging and supportive instruction in his roles in Digital Services at NMDL, his contributions were greatly appreciated by patrons and peers. For four years his podcast highlighted the stories of people in our community; episodes featured his interviews with librarians and other workers, patrons, electeds, businesses, and local history. The podcast lives on at the Niles-Maine District Library so be sure to subscribe and catch up on past episodes. Now a Programming Librarian in Adult Services at Oak Park Public Library, Jabez is recognized for his community-forward in-person and virtual programming.

A foundational element of the Niles Coalition is the community-building by Milcah Baraona. Early in our founding we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Niles Senior Center was cranking out progressive programming already! For example, the Culture Club program Milcah created expanded her work to the broader community for intergenerational events with social & identity topics.

At the last Village of Niles board meeting Trustee Niedermaier reported progress on a Cycling Without Age program which was also a project we were facilitating with Milcah. We were looking forward to a partnership to create events that could bring us all together with our elders. Unfortunately after she brought complaints and a lawsuit for workplace discrimination, she was terminated by the Village of Niles. She is a huge inspiration for us and what was done to Milcah has caused such a great loss to our community.

In our search for more examples of Black history in Niles we reached out to the Niles Historical Society. They also referred us to Milcah’s work and provided additional leads to follow up. They would like to add more to their files and we know people in our community must have more! If you are such a person please reach out to us!

Public Speaking Workshop Recap

Organizer Pam sits on a stage leading a workshop in front of an audience of people in a library conference room.

On February 4th Niles Coalition gave a Public Speaking Workshop. It was attended by around 15 people of all ages who participated enthusiastically. It was a great way to learn or improve public speaking abilities, and was a good outreach opportunity. A number of people asked for the class to be ongoing rather than a one-time event, and plans are in progress to make this a reality.

Niles Senior Center Racism

On Thursday February 2nd the Niles Senior Center held a “murder mystery” luncheon event. Racist symbols were a part of this organized event and photos containing those symbols were posted to Facebook. This is an ongoing pattern for the Niles Senior Center and we have yet to hear a plan on how the Village intends to address this ongoing issue.

Community Relations Commission Update

Community members have been engaging with the Community Relations Commission in good faith with several submitted complaints. Recent history with this commission hasn’t been promising so we are keeping an eye on how they are engaging with the community. The web page was updated with complaint procedures and an online form. What happens to these complaints is still yet to be seen.


#SaveNilesLibrary Horizon

When we first created #SaveNilesLibrary two years ago, getting to the April 2023 election was the goal. In the course of this campaign we learned so much more about this particular struggle. Learning by doing is a crucial piece of organizing and we intentionally made room for it. It is soon time for a refreshed campaign that incorporates this learned knowledge for more impact. The upcoming April election can only offer the possibility of a reprieve. Just enough time to regroup and double-down on protecting our community. Whether or not Joe Makula wins, the motivating factors will remain and we need to grasp them at the root!

More Niles-Maine District Library Board Censorship

On the left stands a woman reading a public comment at a podium, on the right is Trustee Joe Makula shouting her down.

Library board members continue to fail in their duties at what should be boring but productive board meetings. President Carolyn Drblik’s absurd decorum to censor public speech grows seemingly with each meeting. Trustee Makula shouted down our organizer with:

“You’re out of order. Public speaker, you better watch yourself.”

We’ve been here before with our allies at the Citizen Advocacy Center. We will continue to fight against this illegitimate board. You can watch the video here.  Also come see us in person at the next meeting this Wednesday the 15th at 6:30 or catch the live broadcast here. We won’t stand for any more censorship!


CivicLab Set to Illuminate ALL Illinois TIFs

Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF) were the subject of a resolution recently passed at the Village of Niles board meeting. With growing awareness of the harmful nature of TIFs, this resolution in *support* of TIFs is unfortunate. The experts at CivicLab were recently awarded a grant to examine all the TIFs of Illinois for 2020 as a part of their TIF Illumination Project. We are patiently awaiting the results of their finding for Niles!

Libraries at the End of the World

Emily Drabinski, Incoming President of the American Library Association and ally of our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign is being featured in a fantastic upcoming event. It is called Essential to the Public: Libraries at the End of the World and co-sponsored by Project Nia and The Barnard Center for Research on Women.

Libraries are also under attack by organized extremists who use censorship as a bludgeon against one of the few public institutions still standing. From Florida to California, Michigan to New York, book ban attempts are swiftly followed by efforts to defund the library. As progressives, we must be as organized as they are, putting libraries on the top of our organizing agenda.

This is directly related to our struggle in Niles so this is not one to miss! RSVP here.


Sometimes it’s what you don’t hear about that tells the story. Pay attention to what is *not* said.

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DISPATCH Newsletter January 2023

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Hello friends, it’s time once again for our monthly newsletter we call the DISPATCH! Here are quick snippets of some of what’s going down around our community.

D219 Black Student Union Support

On January 10th, anti-racist orgs, parents, and other community members packed the Niles West/North D219 school board room to implore the board to heed the voices of the Black Student Union. These were the demands:

  • Mandatory hate speech training for all staff in the district, so they know how to prevent and respond to hate speech incidents, so they can start healthy conversations, and so they stop reading and using slurs in the classrooms. Students would be part of the training.
  • A mandatory hate speech unit or course for freshmen where students learn the etymology of harmful language.
  • Address the problem of racial discrimination exercised by security and lunch staff or not adequately addressed by security and lunch staff.
  • A concrete plan for recruiting Black staff.
  • A concrete plan for retaining Black staff.
  • The addition of a second equity officer so that one can be dedicated to supporting staff and the other can focus on student support.
  • Ensure Black history is taught throughout the year and goes beyond slavery or well known civil rights heroes.

Video of that meeting can be viewed here with reporting by The Daily Northwestern: Niles parents protest anti-Black racism at D219 meeting. Change is long overdue and there is no excuse for this to be such an issue still!

Public Speaking Workshop

The Niles Coalition is proud to present a Public Speaking Workshop! This is a two-hour interactive class to help you be a better public speaker. Whether it is for public comments, meetings (hint, hint), presentations, interviews, etc. Together we will discuss and practice various tips and techniques to help you clearly and concisely get your message across. All are welcome. We look forward to seeing you there!

Date: Saturday February 4th, 2023
Time: 12pm-2pm
Location: Niles-Maine District Library
6960 W Oakton St, Niles, IL 60714
Meeting Room A

Presenter: Pam Wolff – Pam is a Niles community member and an organizer in the Niles Coalition. She has decades of experience in performing and speaking before audiences and is excited to be able to teach this class.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2023

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. After an extensive campaign of surveillance and harassment by the US government, they finally assassinated Dr. King at the age of 39. That assassination continues to this day as many people who oppose his views now try to co-opt them posthumously. Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail (video) is a particularly important tool for fighting racism and is as relevant now as the day he wrote it.


The Niles Coalition has repeatedly made these demands of the Niles-Maine District Library board.

  1. Swear in Umair Qadeer
  2. End the malicious hiring freeze
  3. Expedite a contract with the Niles-Maine District Library AFSCME31 union
  4. Trustees Drblik, Schoenfeldt, and Makula must resign immediately

Well we’re happy to report that Umair Qadeer was finally sworn in and that enabled the board to finally set about ending the hiring freeze. Board President Carolyn Drblick along with her cronies Suzanne Schoenfeldt & Joe Makula tried every underhanded trick in the book to stop them but they were easily outmaneuvered and THE HIRING FREEZE IS GONE!

Joe Makula also lost his lawsuit trying to remove another trustee from the board. Read about that here: Judge rejects Niles Library trustee’s legal attempt to unseat another trustee: ‘Brought shame to our board and library’

Now it’s time to support our library’s staff who toiled under this hostile regime for so long, and get our library back!


In the past two years we have learned a lot through engaging in social justice issues in Niles. We have a number of projects on the backburner as we try to build up our capacity. Some things we’re looking at currently are:

  • LGBTQIA+ pride efforts
  • anti-Black racism
  • worker oppression in the Village of Niles
  • youth criminalization
  • police and big data surveillance
  • economic injustice through TIFs

Stay tuned!


Thanks for staying with us because us is all we have.

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DISPATCH Newsletter December 2022

Header image that loos like a distressed postcard that reads "Dispatch official newsletter December 2022" with the Niles Coalition logo portrayed as a postage stamp in the lower right hand corner.

Hello neighbors, it’s time once again for our monthly newsletter we call the DISPATCH! Here are some quick snippets of what’s going down in Niles.

Lincolnwood Library Solidarity Update

The community came together at the latest Lincolnwood Library board meeting to say NO to book bans and anti-LGBTQIA+ bigotry. Niles Coalition organizers showed up and stood together in unity at the podium for a public comment. Organizer Pam Wolff said:

“When you ban or hide or move a book or an activity for LGBTQIA content, you are sending a message to our community that LGBTQIA people don’t matter, aren’t wanted, don’t belong. And when you call us controversial, you send the message that we are lesser, not valued, inhuman.”

You can see the whole video of the meeting here and read more from Caroline Kubzansky at the Chicago Tribune. Stay tuned to Library Defense who organized the response and of course we will report back any updates as well.

Anti-Black Racism at D219

Even after the student-led protest last February, Niles West & Niles North High Schools still have yet to reckon with anti-Black racism in schools. The Black Student Union mobilized an action at the recent D219 school board meeting to raise awareness. They brought two simple proposals to the D219 school board. The first is better recruitment and retention of Black staff. The second is anti-racism training for all students and staff. Several Black students gave testimony to their personal experiences with racism. Supportive students, parents, and community members packed the board room bearing witness to the powerful comments. Enough is enough, it’s time to listen to Black students!

Read more from Sophia Lannoye at Niles West News.


Our local senators and representatives worked to get legislation amended and sent to the governor for his signature. This will ensure that the Secretary of State’s office can finally appoint a qualified 7th trustee to our stymied Niles-Maine District library board. After the Governor signs the bill, Umair Qadeer will be appointed.

Meanwhile, the campaign for the April 2023 election has begun. The Reclaim Our Library slate of pro-library candidates includes Becky Keane, Umair Qadeer, Jason Trunco, and Roberto Botello.

The Save Niles-Maine District Library PAC has asked us to share these steps you can take now to support pro-library candidates:

  1. Go to and click on “Get Involved” to volunteer for things like putting up a yard sign or canvassing.
  2. Every donation, even a few dollars, makes a difference. If you can, please click on “Donate,” to support signs, events, and flyers for the campaign.
  3. “Like” the Facebook page for the PAC and encourage your friends to like the page by sharing to your personal Facebook feed.

In our area there are several local food pantries, including through Niles Township and Maine Township. There’s also a small pantry right in the vestibule of the Niles-Maine District Library, so when you’re packing up your library materials to return to the library you can also bring non-perishable foods to easily donate!


Anti-LBGTQIA+ Attacks

Attacks on LBGTQIA+ people across Illinois continue to rise due to right-wing agitation. Locally we see this at the Lincolnwood Library, and on our very streets in Niles. We’ve received several alarming reports of pride display vandalism. This harassment has no place in our community and we are discussing solutions. LBGTQIA+ people deserve to feel safe and proud here in Niles, let’s make that happen! Please reach out with any ideas, input, and additional reports.

Niles is Under BigData Surveillance
Niles is allowing the installation of “automatic license plate reader” (ALPR) surveillance cameras around Niles. These cameras are owned by billionaire-backed private capital and are problematic in so many ways. To learn more, we are co-hosting an ALPR 101 educational webinar event with experts in this technology.

Panelists include:

Moderated by Arti Walker-Peddakotla of Freedom to Thrive Oak Park & co-hosted by our amazing friends & neighbors at Lucy Parsons Labs!

Please register at this link and bring your questions to this informative event!! <>


Thanks for joining the struggle. Together we can build the community we all deserve.

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[DISPATCH] November 2022

::Community organizations like Niles Coalition fight for social justice. Meanwhile, right-wing forces are encroaching upon our communities. They are spreading misinformation in the guise of “zombie” newspapers. While many saw right through this and voted accordingly in the most recent election, these papers are agitating local bigots. When the Lincolnwood library was under attack, we showed up. In October they came out in bigger numbers. This is a trend we are watching and steeling ourselves to fight. Library solidarity!

::Closer to home we saw a pride flag stolen and vandalized in one of our neighborhoods in Niles. Neighbors have expressed support, and returned the damaged flag after it was found. We will continue to make it clear that we’re united against those sorts of attacks on members of the community.

::We’re happy to report that the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform won ALL THREE of their referenda in the recent election! We were early supporters of this effort and were proud to endorse this fight back in April 2022. The out-of-touch Skokie Caucus Party threw everything they had at them to maintain their firm grip of control. They were no match for the diligent organizers of Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform. Congrats to those AMAZING people!


::Since day zero of our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign we knew the next library board election would be a crucial fight. A lot of our work went towards creating a supportive environment to uplift appropriate candidates. A new political action committee (PAC) has been formed called the Committee to Save Niles-Maine District Library. We know and support these folks who will support the candidates necessary to #SaveNilesLibrary!

We’ve given our web address to the PAC. So now when you visit that url it will go directly to their site where you can learn more about supported candidates, donate much-needed funds, and volunteer!

Candidates endorsed by the PAC will officially announce their campaign for the library board TONIGHT! Come meet the candidates, hear about their vision, and show your support for the campaign.

Where:Niles-Maine District Library

When:Monday, November 14, 6:30pm

You can continue to find information about Niles Coalition’s #SaveNilesLibrary campaign on our website at under the Campaigns menu.

::In October some of our organizers attended the library’s Not So Haunted Open House. We passed out these fliers to spread awareness of this threat to Niles-Maine District Library. We had a blast connecting with hundreds of other attendees who share a love of the library.

the flier we were handing out, organizers dressed up as a mouse, a tree and an air dancer.


::Niles Coalition organizers attended the recent Community Relations Commission (CRC) meeting. We asked that the Commission as well as all other committees in the Village make their meetings more accessible. We suggested a number of improvements. There is ongoing confusion among the commissioners whether the Village will allow the CRC to be what its mission suggests it should be.

::The mayor announced another new political party with a slate of candidates running for the Village of Niles Board of Trustees. We haven’t heard about their platform yet. In neighboring Park Ridge, the League of Women Voters conducted a study on why so few people run for office in the Park Ridge City Council: Rarely Running . If you’re considering running for local office and would like help connecting with like-minded folks please reach out to us at


::Thank you for all your support. Whether it’s fighting to save our public institutions (like the Niles-Maine District Library) or defending the existence of our own community members, we know there is a rich history of successful solutions of the past and present. We are hoping our experiment here in Niles will create the community we all deserve.

Niles Coalition logo with web address