Veronica Rodriguez (AKA "V" or "Vero") started organizing in high school at age 16, by founding a club called Student Voice Committee. In this club, students organized and pressured their administration, school culture and focused on creating a space for students to voice their concerns and make calls to action. Later, these skills and conversations carried over outside of school for them and they became actively involved in the fight for #NoCopAcademy, education & racial equity, anti-militarism, gentrification, abolition, and so much more. Fun fact: V is now banned from their high school because of the pressure and organizing that took place when they were a student.
BrownTown reflects on the first half of 2020 with Veronica Rodriguez and Asha Edwards. The gang shares their experiences since the global uprising against police brutality and white supremacy following the police killing of George Floyd. As the broader movement for Black Lives is re-ignited and police defunding and abolition moves into the mainstream discourse, this conversation serves as a referendum on adultism, the push to get cops out of schools, and how to organize a new mass consciousness amongst the previously apathetic.
The team begins by diving into how V and Asha began their movement journey while in high school. V community defines adultism and its interconnectedness to other system of oppression. With that, the Black and Brown hosts and guests lean into the importance of solidarity in the struggle against anti-Blackness in American and globally. Everyone shares their experiences in late May, early June from dealing with police violence firsthand to having uncomfortable conversations with loved ones. V, Asha, and BrownTown compare and contrast this moment in activism versus pre-coronavirus presenting multiple ways to learn, fight and show up for Black lives and life-giving institutions. They zoom out to discuss the language of the media, how resistance is nothing new, and what other municipalities are doing with their police departments (1, 2) before digging into the national and specifically the Chicago push to get cops out of schools (1, 2, 3). Originally recorded July 1, 2020.
As we optimistically yet cautiously continue to fight for liberation, we remember the beautiful words of Assata Shakur, "it is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."
BIG shoutout to the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), Black Abolitionist Network (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, News), Students Strike Back (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), Chicago Freedom School, and the #CopsOutCPS campaign!