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Chicago students rally against racist campus cops

By staff

 Students protest racist policing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. | Fight Back! News/staff

Chicago, IL – On Friday, January 26, over 50 people gathered on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus to protest the racist and discriminatory practices of the UIC police department. The protest was called jointly by Students for Justice in Palestine and Students for a Democratic Society in response to two separate instances of racist policing and discrimination at the University.

The first instance was the revelation that UICPD had a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia that helped storm the capitol on January 6, working as an officer. The administration was informed about the officer's ties more than a year ago after an investigation by the Anti-Defamation League. The administration has refused to fire the officer even as State's Attorney Kim Foxx has announced that the officer will not be allowed to testify in court because of his far-right ties.

The second instance came in November when a Palestinian student was arrested, handcuffed, and kept in a holding cell for hours by UICPD simply for writing “Free Palestine” on a wall. As both of these incidents came to light, SDS and SJP decided to hold a joint rally condemning the racist UIC police department and administration and demanding the Oath Keepers officer be fired and that UICPD issue a written apology to the Palestinian student for its unjust and discriminatory arrest.

As a crowd of students formed, activists leading students in chants of “CPD, KKK, IOF you’re all the same!” and “From UIC to Palestine protesting is not a crime!” before SDSer Angel Naranjo kicked off the rally with a fiery speech.

Naranjo began their speech by reiterating the demands of the protest before pointing out the hypocrisy of the UIC administration, stating. “UIC claims that it will not tolerate any ‘discrimination or harassment against any person because it is directly opposed to what the university stands for.’ However, UIC seems to have perfectly tolerated hiring a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right fascist paramilitary organization, to the UIC Police Department.” Naranjo went on to attack the bloated police budget pointing out how, despite UIC claiming to value diversity, the $10 million budget equates to more than all the university’s ethnic studies and cultural programs combined.

The next speaker, Celine Taki of SJP, spoke about the unjust arrest of the Palestinian student by UICPD in November. Taki began by pointing to the clearly discriminatory nature of the arrest, saying, “The man who called the cops on this student went as far as to run through traffic and described her as wearing a headdress or hijab. Out of close to 130 cases of vandalism, it was only this single one that resulted in an arrest.”

Taki also spoke about how this arrest fits into a broader pattern of UICPD discriminating against Arab and Muslim students, stating “This targeting of hijabi students is not just a one-time occurrence; when we flyered a year ago, we had the cops called on us for absolutely no reason and they grabbed the only hijabi there, a clear case of targeting. With the events since October 7, the climate has become one reminiscent of post-9/11. Palestinian and Muslim students, especially those who wear hijab, feel more threatened and vulnerable than ever and UICPD has done nothing to make us feel secure instead.”

After the speakers finished, the crowd marched to the UIC administration office and rallied outside, chanting “UIC you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” and “Make it loud make it clear, fascists are not welcome here!” before dispersing with a promise to continue to demand an end to the discriminatory and racist practices of UICPD.

#ChicagoIL #StudentMovement #InJusticeSystem #PoliceBrutality #OppressedNationalities #ArabAmerican #SDS #SJP #International #Palestine