EFBL and NUCNC honor Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright in march for police abolition

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Madison Smith/Daily Senior Staffer

Protesters march down Sheridan Road toward Weber Arch. There, organizers from NUCNC and EFBL gave speeches advocating for abolition.

Waverly Long, Emily Sakai, and Maia Spoto

Following months of separate actions and organizing, Evanston Fight for Black Lives and NU Community Not Cops joined in protest Sunday to honor the lives of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo and advocate for the abolition of police.

“The city of Evanston and Northwestern intentionally divide us,” an NUCNC organizer said. “They want to keep Northwestern community members separate from Evanston community members because they know that together we can win.”

The protest came days after Chicago Police Department released footage of an officer killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo in late March, and just over a week after a Brooklyn Center, Minn. police officer killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

The crowd of over 700 included toddlers in strollers, Evanston Township High School and NU students, elderly residents, bikers and several dogs. Organizers expressed frustration with Sunday’s turnout — which was less than a fifth of the size present in May 2020 and called on those present to sustain their activism between protests.

“When George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery were murdered last year, 5,000 people came out in Evanston to march and demand change. I don’t see 5,000 people out right now,” an EFBL organizer said. “Where are they today? And what has changed? Nothing.”

Organizers also discussed the University’s failure to meet NUCNC’s demands to defund and disband University Police and invest in life-giving institutions for Black students. Last fall, the organization hosted more than 30 consecutive days of action advocating for police abolition.

EFBL, a youth abolitionist organization led by recent ETHS graduates, formed in late spring 2020 and has since held protests, sit-ins and other actions working toward abolition. They’ve called on City Council to defund the Evanston Police Department by 75 percent.

About 10 EPD vehicles were present during the action, including an arrest van. Protesters reportedly saw vehicles affiliated with the Northern Illinois Police Alarm System on Green Bay Road as they dispersed.

At the height of the march, the crowd spanned approximately three blocks. Protesters participated in a variety of chants, played music and held up signs. The action drew residents to their porches and lawns; some joined in the protest, while others filmed on their cell phones.

Residents and students march in a dense crowd along the street between a row of houses and a lawn of grass.
Residents and students chant and hold up signs as they march on Lincoln Street toward the Weber Arch. During the march, the crowd spanned approximately three blocks. (Madison Smith/Daily Senior Staffer)

 

The march ended at the Weber Arch, where community activist Michael James led the crowd in a chant while drumming. An organizer then read a land acknowledgment, which was followed by speeches from EFBL and NUCNC organizers.

One NUCNC organizer related the action to the traditions of her mother’s homeland, where villages honor the death of a community member by marching together. The speaker said the purpose of marches is to not only advocate for abolition, but also to build community and support one another.

“(Marching together is) an acknowledgment that grief and loss, while felt deeply at an individual level, can be shared as a community,” the speaker said. “Many of us are out here because we have been holding on to so much grief and so much loss this year. It feels good to be together and to express that grief.”

Additionally, organizers asked the crowd to make calls on behalf of protesters still in jail after Brooklyn Center police arrested over 100 of those demonstrating following Daunte Wright’s death. Between speeches, protesters called Brooklyn Center’s attorney and sheriff to demand prosecutors drop all charges and immediately release those jailed.

Among the crowd of protesters were former 2nd Ward aldermanic candidate Darlene Cannon, 4th Ward alderman-elect Jonathan Nieuwsma and former mayoral candidate Sebastian Nalls.

Cannon told The Daily she protested in solidarity with Adam Toledo — and with her son in mind.

“I live in fear every day that because he has dark skin, a cop is gonna be judge, jury and executioner against him,” Cannon said.

She said she hopes the next City Council will allocate more funding toward affordable housing, social services and de-escalation strategies to reduce violence in Evanston.

Cannon also said she’s gained a following from her aldermanic run and plans to continue engaging with the community to hold council accountable.

“I think Evanston does a really good job of talking about equity and inclusivity,” Cannon said. “We talk the talk, but we don’t walk the walk.”

In March, Nieuwsma told The Daily he supports reallocating police department funding to human and social services.

Nieuwsma, who attended the march with his wife and children, told The Daily Sunday he felt it was his responsibility as an alderman-elect to be present at the action to ensure Evanston’s public safety budget aligns with residents’ values.

“It’s important to see the support that exists in the community for radically rethinking how we approach public safety,” Nieuwsma said.

A protester, part of a group of protesters marching down Sheridan Road, holds up a sign with “Say their names” written in red text against gray paper.
Protesters march down Sheridan Road. Some held signs honoring victims of police violence, and others held signs calling for police abolition. (Madison Smith/Daily Senior Staffer)

EBFL and NUCNC organizers concluded the event with a call to action, urging attendees to treat each other with love and respect to build a community without police, and to continue to fight for abolition.

“We demand that it ends here and now,” an EFBL organizer said. “We demand the destruction of all police and prisons, and we need you all to stand with us each and every day.”

A previous version of this article misstated the date of an EFBL demonstration last year and the affiliation of a quoted organizer. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Twitter: @em_sakai, @waverly_long, @maia_spoto

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