The Weekly: Week Nine Recap

Jordan Mangi and Madison Smith

Heightened police presence at NUCNC protests, Angela Davis speaks at Black State of the Union, District 202 reports a widening racial achievement gap and the Evanston City Council is trying to ban beer pong on private property. Check out The Weekly: Week Nine Recap to hear directly from the reporters and editors who covered The Daily’s most recent top headlines.

MADISON SMITH: From the Daily Northwestern, I’m Madison Smith.

JORDAN MANGI: And I’m Jordan Mangi. This is The Weekly: a podcast that breaks down our top headlines each week.

MADISON SMITH: Student group NU Community Not Cops returned to in-person action this week after police pepper sprayed protestors and arrested one student on Halloween night. Last Monday, November 12, students gathered to eat donuts and read abolitionist literature in downtown Evanston, and were met with an unprecedented police presence.

JORDAN MANGI: NUCNC also held a teach-in series this week in preparation for Dr. Angela Davis’s appearance at Northwestern’s virtual State of the Black Union.

MADISON SMITH: Meanwhile, in the city of Evanston, Evanston Township High School District 202 released their annual academic report card and found a large achievement gap between White students and Black and Latino students. But this is not a new issue — the district has unsuccessfully tried to combat this gap in the past.

JORDAN MANGI: And finally, the Evanston City Council is trying to place a ban on outdoor drinking games on private property, including beer pong. Stay with us to hear directly from the reporters and editors who covered these stories.

MADISON SMITH: After NUCNC’s Halloween protest, where police pepper bombed protestors and one student was arrested, the group held several days of virtual events, including medic training, protest marshall training and abolition teach-ins.

JORDAN MANGI: The group then returned to in-person actions this past Monday, November 12, with a march and sit-in in downtown Evanston. Assistant Campus Editor Tal Schatsky covered Monday’s protest. Tal, what was NUCNC’s plan for Monday?

TAL SCHATSKY: They posted on their Instagram and Twitter, “Come hungry for breakfast and bring your favorite abolitionist literature,” and the plan was just do a brief march and sit-in. They marched to Fountain Square and had Dunkin’ Donuts and bagels and doughnuts and coffee for everyone, hot cocoa. And people took turns reading excerpts from different iconic pieces of abolitionist literature. But the thing that surprised everyone was the police presence. Right off the bat, there was at least a one-to-one police (to) protestor ratio, if not more.

MADISON SMITH: Can you tell me a bit more about that? What was the police presence like at the sit-in?

TAL SCHATSKY: There was no more than 60 protesters and at least 70 cops, in full riot gear some of them, and also the bicycle police. They followed the protesters all the way from Salvation Army to Fountain Square, restricted them to the sidewalk in a really tight police line, threatened arrest if anyone stepped off the sidewalk onto the street. And then basically just, like, marshalled them on their way to Fountain Square. And then once the group assembled in Fountain Square, formed a tight police line across like the street so no one could enter the street from the square.

MADISON SMITH: Were the police officers members of University Police or the Evanston Police Department?

TAL SCHATSKY: It’s Evanston Police Department’s jurisdiction. But for many protests EPD has enlisted the help of this third party — basically crowd control service — called the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System’s Mobile Field Force. And they’ve come in extremely large numbers in riot gear and on bikes to regulate protests over the past few weeks. And they’ve been the majority of police presence for most of the larger actions. So on Monday that 70 police, that was all NIPAS. And then Evanston police was present at Fountain Square, but they were kind of hanging back in the corners. They had a paddy wagon, so it seems like they were prepared to make arrests if necessary, but they weren’t involved, they weren’t standing on the police line.

JORDAN MANGI: There was another NUCNC protest on Wednesday that was a partnership with student groups APAC, the Asian Pacific American Coalition, and Kaibigan, the Phillipine-American student association. This had a much smaller police presence. So what was the tone of the protest like on Monday and how was it different from Wednesday’s?

TAL SCHATSKY: The protest was an extremely chill vibe — obviously protests can have a wide range of feelings and moods and this one was very relaxed. It’s kind of like a block party vibes, people were eating doughnuts and reading literature. It was very chill. Wednesday’s protest had almost no police in comparison to Monday.

MADISON SMITH: Thank you so much for talking to us, Tal.

JORDAN MANGI: This isn’t the only action NUCNC held this week. The group also put together an educational series called “Y’all Better Not Embarass Me in Front of Angela Davis,” which was four days of workshops about police and prison abolition held over Zoom.

MADISON SMITH: For Members Only, Northwestern’s Black Student Alliance, invited world-renowned activist and abolitionist Dr. Angela Davis to speak virtually to Northwestern students. The event was billed as the State of the Black Union, an event that FMO hosts annually.

JORDAN MANGI: Davis spoke to students Thursday night, November 12, over Zoom about the prison-industrial complex, the importance of learning from incarcerated folks and the intersectionality of abolitionist practices. Davis began the night by voicing her support for NUCNC and the work they’ve done over the past several months.

ANGELA DAVIS: Let me thank you for your activism. I am so impressed by the work that you’re doing, the abolitionist work to get police off campus. I want to begin by saying that I am so happy that you decided to address abolition up front, recognizing that piecemeal reforms will never effectively address the damage that has been wrought by structural racism.

MADISON SMITH: The event was facilitated by Prof. kihana miraya ross, who collected questions from students ahead of time. Davis also took questions from the audience, including from a watch party in Fountain Square hosted by NUCNC.

ANGELA DAVIS: Abolition is the framework. Abolition is the backdrop. But abolition will require radical change, and radical change does not happen instantaneously. It happens as a result of the cumulative efforts of organizers and artists and advocates and writers and prisoners and, you know, all of us. And so I’d like to think about the fact that we begin with a broad framework. A capacious sense of what it is we want to accomplish and, ultimately, it’s about changing the world. Ultimately it’s about creating a new world.

JORDAN MANGI: And in city news, Evanston School District 202’s school board presented their annual academic report card at a board meeting on Monday, November 9. The academic report card measures student performance from the senior graduating class. The Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act sets four benchmarks on the report card: GPA, attendance, English scores and math scores.

MADISON SMITH: Development and Recruitment editor Maia Spoto reported on this story. So Maia, what did this year’s academic report card look like?

MAIA SPOTO: The school board for Evanston Township High School District 202 divided their report into sections by race, which is what they do every year. And the differences in achievement were startling. Basically, to give you some numbers, as an example, they found that 32 percent of Black male seniors from the class of 2020 did not meet a single one of these college readiness guidelines. 26 percent of Latinx males also did not meet a single one of these guidelines. This is compared with 4 percent of White males. So that’s a crazy difference. And the board members were basically like, this is wild, this is terrible. But this is also not a surprise. And they were like, we see this every single year, it’s not getting better. In fact, by some measures, it’s actually getting a lot worse. So for example, last year, the percentage of Black male students not meeting a single guideline was 5 percent lower than it is this year.

JORDAN MANGI: Has the school board addressed this issue in years past?

MAIA SPOTO: I looked into some past Daily articles, and basically in 2019, in the spring, Cassidy Wang, she reported on these new board members entering the ETHS D202 board, basically saying that they were going to work to reduce the opportunity gap and the achievement gap by partnering with D65, which is the elementary and middle school district in Evanston and Skokie. And they were also going to work to partner with outside community organizations in Evanston to basically support students outside of their classes and outside of their homes. And guess what they said would be a solution this time: that same strategy. So they’ve been working on it for a year and nothing has happened.

JORDAN MANGI: What did school board officials have to say about this year’s report?

MAIA SPOTO: Jude Laude said basically that he knows we’ve kind of thrown everything at the wall, seeing what would stick. Nothing has stuck. And considered taking this fight to the teachers and having the teachers target those students who are having F’s in the gradebook for two weeks, three weeks on end. And basically putting the onus on the faculty members to reach out and pay more attention to their students who are struggling. And I know that Monique Parsons, the vice president of the Board was like, “This is frustrating, I am so angry. I wish the community would be as angry at this as I am.”

JORDAN MANGI: In other city news, Evanston Patch’s Jonah Meadows reported on a possible beer pong ban from Evanston’s City Council, instigated by a “lack of action by school administrators and absentee landlords.” Maia is currently reporting on that story.

MADISON SMITH: So Maia, what’s going on here?

MAIA SPOTO: So, this is an effort that’s mainly led by Ald. Judy Fiske. She serves the 1st Ward. And that’s a ward that has a lot of interface with the Northwestern community. She brought up to the Human Services Committee meeting that she wanted to put a ban on students playing drinking games on their yards, their porches, their sides of their homes that are visible to neighbors and can be heard by neighbors. So basically, a ban on outdoor drinking games, let’s move beer pong inside of the house, because residents were saying that the beer pong was loud. It was disruptive. It was destructive. They were saying that people who went up to students complaining about the beer pong games were basically getting cursed out by the students.

JORDAN MANGI: What have student responses to this been?

MAIA SPOTO: I asked one boy how he would tell an Evanston resident his feelings about the ban. He said essentially, “I think I would approach them with hostility, because people have been drinking on their front porches for 100 years every Saturday and Sunday. And this is a micro management. It is overstepping on the city’s authority to deal with Northwestern students on their own properties. This is private property here.” By the way, Evanston does outlaw public drinking on places like beaches, parks, roads, alleys, shops but this private ban is totally new.

JORDAN MANGI: In the comments of the Evanston Patch article, some Evanston residents opposed the ban, saying that forcing students to play drinking games inside would be a bad idea in the middle of a pandemic and that the City Council should leave it up to the university to regulate its students.

MADISON SMITH: What have other city council members had to say about this potential ban?

MAIA SPOTO: Some alderwomen, such as Robin Rue Simmons from the 5th Ward, Cicely Fleming from Ward 9, are saying that Northwestern should be the one getting involved here. Maybe this isn’t something the city should regulate. Because the legality of that could spiral, and suddenly you have people drinking wine on their front porch playing tic-tac-toe and now that’s a drinking game and that’s illegal. But they’re basically saying NUPD needs to step up their game, which is interesting given the current criticisms of NUPD, so some residents did say that they are concerned an ordinance like this would exacerbate the criminalization of Black and Brown people in Evanston. And that this would come at a very bad time given the current movement to abolish the police and that council members should be more responsible. It has mainly been floated around in committee meetings. I don’t know if they will put it to a vote. Right now, they’re working on a pretty contentious budget vote. And that’s getting pushback from both the left and the right in Evanston. And so I think this is kind of low on their priority list.

JORDAN MANGI: Maia, thank you so much.

MADISON SMITH: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Madison Smith.

JORDAN MANGI: And I’m Jordan Mangi. We’ll see you next week for another episode of the Weekly.

MADISON SMITH: This episode was reported by Jordan Mangi, Jonah Meadows, Maia Spoto, Tal Schatsky and myself, Madison Smith. This episode was produced by both Jordan Mangi and myself, Madison Smith. The audio editor of the Daily is Alex Chun. The digital managers are Jacob Ohara and Molly Lubbers. The editor in chief is Marissa Martinez.

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Twitter: @madisonlorsmith and @jordanrose718

Stories Referenced:
NUCNC, student protesters eating “breakfast” and reading abolitionist literature met with unprecedented police presence
NUCNC and FMO talk transformative justice ahead of Angela Davis address
Kaibigan, APAC join NUCNC, stand in solidarity with movement to abolish NUPD
District 202 board members discuss racial academic achievement gap, proposed tax levy
Beer Pong ‘Devastating’ Neighborhoods Around Northwestern Campus
ETHS report on student achievement shows continued racial disparities