Abolition Coalition of Skokie, Evanston/Northshore NAACP lead rally against police brutality


Olivia Alexander/The Daily Northwestern

People gather at Oakton Community Center Park in Skokie during a rally Saturday afternoon. Speakers included educators, city officials, pastors and community organizers.

Olivia Alexander, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

Content warning: This story contains mentions of police violence. 

Around 100 people joined the Abolition Coalition of Skokie and the NAACP Evanston/Northshore Branch in rallying against police brutality at a rally Saturday. 

The rally, held at Oakton Community Center Park, came less than a week following the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The event invited community members to “stand together” in solidarity with those across the country mourning loss and violence against Black, brown and BIPOC people.

The Abolition Coalition of Skokie is a group of five BIPOC mothers with the mission of abolishing “the anti-Blackness and white supremacy” that perpetuate system racism in housing, healthcare, education, economics, policing and government policies. The group began organizing after sharing experiences of discrimination in several districts and in January held a press conference addressing racism in Niles Township High Schools District 219. 

“Yes, we are moms, but this is serious work and we don’t take that lightly,” coalition member Monique Cooley-Hicks said. “Just this event today — we spent a lot of time organizing and putting it together, making sure that our people we invited to speak share our mission, our goal, what we want to do for our community.”

Keith Robinson, local educator and Skokie’s first Black trustee, spoke about both his personal experiences with police profiling as well as the impact George Floyd’s murder had on his own activism, which he said left him with the desire to do something more. 

Robinson said the community must seek out ways to heal and acknowledged it will take a collective effort to do so. He encouraged attendees to stay engaged and continue to vote and hold elected officials like himself accountable. 

“Policing as we know it must change,” Robinson said. “Systems of accountability must be mandated — racial equity implicit bias training (and) trauma informed release models can help transform and regain the trust in this community.” 

Patricia Savage-Willams, president of the Evanston Township High School/School District 202 school board and equity liaison at New Trier High School, cautioned attendees against “being too celebratory” of the Chauvin verdict.

“I agree with the President when he said that the verdict is a step toward addressing systemic racism and police misconduct, but it’s not enough,” Savage-Williams said. 

Savage-Williams also spoke out against conservative legislation aimed at reducing voting access to marginalized communities.

She reminded attendees that this is not only happening in Republican states, but that it’s also happening close to home, and local elections matter.

“So what’s next?” Savage-Williams asked. “We must protect our right to vote. And we must always vote, just as aggressively as we voted in that last election. You have to do that every single election.” 

Organizer Angela Sangha-Gadsden said the five women leading the coalition work tirelessly. Outside of leading community events like the rally, the group meets with elected officials, campaigns for local candidates and spends hours doing research. They hold community meetings the first Saturday of every month. 

Sangha-Gadsden said she often considers her work’s impact on her children. She said it’s difficult to take time away from them to write or research before a meeting, but she always remembers that the time is spent for them and other children who look like her own. Sangha-Gadsden said the group couldn’t “sit by” and keep watching children continuing to be mistreated in their community. 

Organizer and coalition member Jasmine Sebaggala also said she often thinks about the time she misses with her kids because of this work, but she does think community members are rallying behind the organization’s efforts more so than before. 

She said Niles Township High Schools District 219 board members, staff and Skokie trustees were present at the rally on Saturday, something Sebaggala sees as indicative of increased support for the group’s goals. 

“I feel like they’re listening to us,” Sebaggala said. “They’re just starting to understand what we’re saying.” 

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Twitter: @oliviagalex

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