Whittier struggle update: Oct 4-8

click on image for video of Press Conference at Occupied fieldhouse October 8:

From press conference of the Whittier Moms on Oct 8, day 24 of the occupation:

“This is a call-out to the remaining 160 Chicago public schools who still do not have their own library — STAND UP !!”

Updates from this week at La Casita, the occupied fieldhouse at Whittier Elementary School:

Mon, October 4: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) turn off the gas leaving parents and children with no heat. As temperatures drop and school officials still refuse to meet with parents, it is clear their strategy is attrition.

Tue, Oct 5: Mothers testify at the Illinois Facilities Taskforce, an independent state commission to oversee school closures and capital improvement allocations for public schools. Taskforce stunned; shame CPS for turning off gas and demand a report.

Weds Oct 6: City council passes ordinance ordering CPS to turn gas back on and to halt demolition; Illinois Facilities Task Force charged with establishing recommendations on how to repair/rebuild. “I don’t know what genius at the board of education made this decision, but whoever it is ought to see what it’s like to live overnight in a 35-degree dwelling place,” says Alderman Edward Burke, 14th ward. CPS CEO Ron Huberman announces his plans to resign. Former Obama Chief of Saff Rahm Emanuel begins his campaign to run for mayor of Chicago. Whittier parents and kids surround his car and interrupt his “listening tour”. He does not listen.

Thu, Oct 7: a small group of 7 representatives from la Casita meet with Alderman Solis to demand his full support in maintaing the Casita open and continuing with its program, allocating the TIF money that was going to be used for demolition toward renovation instead. Embattled Moms challenge the records Solis presents in the meeting. In the evening Solis stops by the occupied fieldhouse personally to meet with the rest of the group. He tries once more to present a generic letter of support. Mothers say: not good enough and demand Solis rewrite to include their specific demands. After patient dictation, Solis includes word-for-word demands in his official letter. Solis also demands meeting with Chicago CEO Ron Huberman on Oct 13 to reach official resolution.

Friday, Oct 8: Jose Alvarez, former deputy chief of staff to CEO Arne Duncan, currently director of operations of CPS “New Schools” unit (ie man in charge of tearing down existing facilities to make way for privatized schools), comes by to deliver an official letter stating there will be a 6 moth halt to the demolition. Mothers surround him and tear up the letter: “not good enough!”. They then proceed to scold Mr Alvarez and, in an amazing display of Mother Power, sit him down to dictate his homework: he handwrites a letter committing to a meeting between Solis, the parents and Huberman. Mr Alvarez, powerful Mr Alvarez, is then unwelcomed with stern warnings about any future misbehavior. At 10:30 PM, gas is turned back on.

CPS must not have realized what happens when you threaten the kids of militant mothers.

update from parents – whittier interview

here you will find an interview with two of the moms after a long and hard confruntation with Alderman Solis

update on day/week as struggle escalates

Whittier Parents and Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel has got his eyes on the prize: the dream of speculative capital otherwise known as Chicago, the world’s best-greased political machine, the logistics management epicenter, ground zero of financial governance from futures markets to the theoretical invention of neoliberal economics (and well-groomed boys who brought it to you first) to climate exchange. White House chief of staff?? Chump change, Obama is not likely to produce a dynasty. Emanuel is getting into the real game this time.
Today began Rahm’s “listening tour”, a form of armored vehicle whizzing about branding the guy as open, engaged and in touch with the people — and what could be more dialogical, what could be more empathetic than listening? Democrats claiming jurisdiction: we’re your only saviors from the “bad guys”, its us against them… it is a kind of incorporation, life as an exposure to death.

The Whittier Moms and their kids blocked Emanuel’s car today and enforced a little bit of listening upon him.

Whittier Occupation, day 20

CPS has sent People’s Gas to shut off the service for the Whittier Field House. The previous attempts to shut down water failed when the plumbers dispatched decided they were union men and refused in their words, to “cross picket lines”. The demolition contractors also were successfully blocked, and even the cops hesitated and then backed off when protestors stormed the barricades and surrounded the schoolyard. In all these instances, parents and protesters were able to trigger nervousness or empathy in the individuals dispatched against them; hesitation turned into resistance and solidarity, albeit grudgingly so.
But this was not so in the case of People’s Gas and its workers; service was promptly shut off, leaving the fieldhouse with no heat, on one of the coldest days of the season so far. Clearly People’s Gas is not really… people’s gas. So, whose gas is it, anyway??? (research topic for future post).