Greetings, CICS Leaders-
As we brace for what feels like a watershed moment in Chicago’s long history of police violence against young Black and Brown people, I’m thinking of our communities, our students, and our school staff and leaders. As you likely know, the verdict in the trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who four years ago shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, is expected soon.
Whatever the verdict, this is an emotional time for the community as we face a continuing pattern of police violence against Black and Brown people that is both undeniable and horrifying. As educators, it is important that each of us stand up as advocates and defenders of youth like Laquan McDonald. Only 17 at the time of his death, Laquan had a challenging upbringing. He was diagnosed with mental illness and had learning disabilities, but had been making progress in overcoming those obstacles, working with a mentor, attending an alternative high school and learning job skills.
As tensions and emotions surface during this upcoming verdict, the safety of our students and staff is paramount. Today, tomorrow and beyond, we will remain firmly rooted in an unflinching commitment to equity and the active, intentional affirmation of the worth, value and agency of all our students.
Whatever the decision, Chicago needs to make profound changes that address this history and pattern of racism and police misconduct head-on. We have a long road to the healing and reconciliation that our communities and our young people deserve. I encourage you to open space for kids and adults to process and have their voices heard.
In partnership with our school management organizations, we are focused on ensuring that each campus remains safe and fully supported by coordinating on plans and sharing resources. If there is anything you need, please reach out to your SMO leader or me directly.