Protesters calling for the disbandment of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) occupied the street in front of Provost Ka Yee Lee’s home Saturday evening, in an action reminiscent of the sit-in at UCPD offices earlier this summer.
More than 50 people are taking part in the occupation on the 4900 block of South Greenwood Ave. Organizers set up make-shift barricades on either end of the street, and stations where people can write letters to Lee, who took over as provost in January. Slogans written in chalk — “Love Not Cops,” “Silence is Violence” — adorned the street.
The action, which began in front of U. of C. President Robert J. Zimmer’s house at 59th Street and University Avenue earlier in the afternoon, is the latest in a series of summer protests organized by Care Not Cops, a group of university students calling for the university to disband UCPD and fund community organizations across the South Side.
At the protest, organizers also called for the school to implement an ethnic studies program, as well as cultural centers for students.
“We don’t only want to defund UCPD, but we want to invest in our communities …. We are calling on admin to divest from harmful things like UCPD and invest in cultural centers, buildings that serve as a place for solidarity and student power among students of color to build,” said Chioma Nwoye, an organizer with Cultural Centers Now, part of campus group UC United.
“We need money for housing, harm reduction, job training. Violence is a symptom,” said Asha Edwards, an organizer with Assata’s Daughters, a local grassroots organization.
Edwards, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago, referenced an incident in which the city demolished a community garden run by Assata’s Daughters on U. of C.–owned land along Garfield Boulevard. Much of that street has been redeveloped into an “arts block,” including the Greenline Arts Center and the Arts Incubator.
“That street is really expensive now — I know some community members who have been displaced,” said Edwards.
About 100 protesters marched from Zimmer’s house to UCPD headquarters, the site of an overnight sit-in this past June. Afterward, the group headed north, stopping by Levi Hall, the building on campus where most people in the administration work. They then moved into Kenwood along Ellis Avenue, passing by former President Barack Obama’s house on 51st Street.
Once the march reached the 4900 block of Greenwood Avenue, one organizer announced there would be an occupation, and asked the people in attendance for some ground rules. “Love each other,” one person said. “Respect each other,” said someone else, after a pause.
Another pause ensued, until someone said, “Learn from one another.” A fourth person concluded: “And don’t talk to cops.”
This story will be updated with any new information.