Thursday, June 23, 2011

Night 1 of the re-newed 24-7 occupation of La Casita...


On Wednesday morning the police, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) security and construction crews showed up a La Casita, the field house on the grounds of Whittier Dual Language Academy in the Pilsen neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest side. As the construction workers setup up fencing that blocked access to La Casita from three sides, the police tried to prevent Whittier moms from entering La Casita. True to form, the moms ignored the police and marched right past. Soon after word was sent to the majority of Whittier Parents Committee members who were at that moment supporting the teachers at a rally at a school board meeting downtown. Suspicions are high that CPS was deliberate in their choice to show up with a demolition team on the very morning that La Casita would be least defended. But once again, CPS underestimated the Whittier moms and their determination to defend their community center.

Things had been heating up for a couple weeks. Ever since CPS announced its intentions to build the library, not in La Casita as requested by the Parents Committee, but instead inside the school building, taking over a special needs classroom for the purpose. CPS has largely broken off communication with the Parents Committee, and refused to answer their questions about what would happen to the special needs students who were losing their classroom. The Whittier parents also question CPS’ use of the funds that were originally intended for renovation of La Casita. It appears that some $18,000 of the over $500,000 raised through the parents activism, was used to pay an architectural firm, for a walk through at Whittier that resulted in the recommendation to use the special needs classroom for the library. The Whittier parents point out that they arranged for the pro-bono work of an architecture firm who have put forward a impressive plan for the renovation of La Casita that the parents claim will be paid for with the funds they helped raise.

Over the course of the day, the parents uncovered a document from CPS verifying that CPS had contracted on May 31st to have a company demolish La Casita and move forward with plans to create a soccer field for use of a neighboring Catholic high school. It appears that CPS has clearly violated ever aspect of the agreement reached with the parents committee after there 43 day occupation of La Casita last Fall. With the threat of demolition once again hang over their heads, a 24-7 occupation of La Casita has recommenced. As of 3:45 AM as I write this, a crew of supporters is well into their first over night shift. Outside a man in a vehicle seems to be keeping close tabs on who enters and who leaves La Casita. It is unclear whether he is with the police or with CPS security, but the message seems clear - the minute La Casita is no longer defend, the demolition team will be mobilized to move in.

I appeal to all of you who have been inspired by the bold, militant struggle of the Whittier Parents committee over the last year, to join the fight once again. Maintaining a 24-7 occupation is no easy feat. Your time, your energy, your support is desperately needed. You can find out more at...

www.saveourcenter.com

But more importantly come down to La Casita. Anytime, day or night, and lend your support... 1900 W. 23rd St.

La Lucha Continua

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