Chicago’s police chief has agreed to hold monthly meetings with a group of black activists who are high school students.
The members of Black Lives Matter Youth had planned a demonstration earlier this week to protest racial tensions at Marist High School in the Mt. Greenwood neighborhood.
After police shot and killed a black man in Mt. Greenwood last Saturday, tensions have been especially high there.
On Friday, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson met with six members of the Black Lives Matter Youth group, Marist High School Principal Larry Tucker, and 19th Ward Alderman Matt O’Shea.
Maxine Wint is an organizer with Black Lives Matter Youth and a high school student at Kenwood Academy on Chicago’s South Side.
“This meeting was very productive and we look forward to the officials that we met acting on the demands that we gave them,” she said in a press conference after the meeting, which lasted for more than two hours.
Eva Lewis, another member of Black Lives Matter Youth, is a senior at Walter Payton College Prep on the city’s Near North Side. She enumerated their demands.
“Superintendent Johnson agreed to hold mandatory workshops that educate officers on the efforts of Black Lives Matter as an organization. He agreed to have monthly meetings to discuss police brutality and systemic racism and the criminalization of brown and black children in school,” Lewis said. “Alderman O’Shea agreed to conduct town halls centered on making the neighborhood more progressive and safe for residents of all kinds.”
Lewis said the group also made demands to the Marist High School Principal Larry Tucker to maintain the safety and education of the school’s students of color.
“I want to commend them for their courage in bringing us—for forcing us, actually, to come to the table to talk to them about their concerns,” Superintendent Johnson said.
Johnson said he has personally committed to meeting with the students on a monthly basis.
“They forced us to have to tackle that head on, and we should,” he said.
Alderman O’Shea described the meeting as a productive conversation that’s “opening up dialogue, working towards peace”.
“[We’re bringing students from these schools and students from Marist High School in my community together, to talk about a topic that many are uncomfortable with, and that’s race relations in our country and our city. I thought today was a great first step, and I look forward to working with these young ladies and others,” O’Shea said.
Greta Johnsen is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @gretamjohnsen