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The ITT List

Monday, Aug 11, 2008, 12:13 pm

Chicago 2016: Not On Our Backs

By Jarrett Dapier
The Windy Citizen, a new website devoted to Chicago news, politics, arts, and culture, reported Friday on the efforts of Communities For An Equitable Olympics (CEO 2016), a group of community groups and labor organizations in Chicago formed to fend off the destruction of minority communities, jobs, and housing as Chicago pushes hard to win its bid to host the 2016 Olympics. The group is unopposed to Chicago's Olympic bid--and believes hosting the Olympics can be good for the city--but is organizing, as one activist says in the article, "to create the political will that it will take to make sure that the people that are here when the Olympics start are the people that are here when the Olympics are done.” During a rally at a hospital set to be demolished to make way for an Olympic Village, activists were clear on the threat the Olympics present to low-income communities:

“What people don’t realize about the Olympics,” said Jitu Brown, an organizer for KOCO and CEO 2016, “is that it can be used as a tool to eliminate a population that the city doesn’t want here right now because of what they say the land value is... We support Chicago getting the bid, but not on our backs.”

South Side resident Dollie Perkins-Moore, who is also a leader with KOCO, agrees.

“Right now there is no place for us as a whole to even be a part of this," she said. "How can you bring the Olympics here when my boys go to Doolittle Elementary School, and they don’t have a computer lab, they don’t have a music room? The Olympics is not going to do anything for my boys right now.


What is not mentioned in this article are the efforts of other community groups like Black People Against Police Torture, a group that opposes the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid on the grounds that a city that has never accounted for the rampant torture of criminal suspects by Chicago police commander Jon Burge and others, (and on State's Attorney Richard M. Daley's watch) doesn't deserve the honor of being chosen to host the Olympics. This group, profiled by Salim Muwakkil in the July, 2008 issue of In These Times, intends to make enough noise that the Olympics committee must consider their message:

“How can a city that has been condemned by the United Nations for allowing its police to engage in systematic torture of black men be worthy of hosting the Olympic games?” asks Patricia Hill, a primary organizer of Black People Against Police Torture, the group at the forefront of opposition to the Chicago Olympics...

“Daley and his cronies have yet to learn the lesson that you cannot brutalize black men with impunity,” she says. “Look at the current rash of police shootings and brutality in our communities. If we have to deny Daley the object of his desire to teach that lesson, so be it.”


Considering the record of the country in which the Olympics are currently playing out, my suspicion is that the Olympics committee couldn't give one whit about human rights. But, it's important our voices be heard on this matter. Especially in a city as segregated as ours.



Jarrett Dapier is a former assistant publisher at In These Times. Previous work for ITT includes interviews with playwright Christopher Shinn and Fugazi guitarist, Ian Mackaye. He currently works with teens at the Evanston Public Library where he runs a recycled drumming program and directs stage adaptations of young adult literature. He lives in Evanston, IL.

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