by FTP – Chicago
This revolutionary work would not be possible without the support of: Chicago Recovery Alliance, GetMePPE Chicago, Anakbayan-Chicago, NUCNC, Abolitionists at NU, and North Chicago Prison Letter Writing Coalition.
Since July 1, 2020, For the People-Chicago has been engaging in SICA (Social Investigation and Class Analysis) in the Northern Rogers Park neighborhood off the Howard L in Chicago. Situated on the border of Chicago and the white wealthy suburb of Evanston, as well as between Loyola University and Northwestern University, Howard is a predominantly black neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, a fact rarely addressed by the mainstream media given their preoccupation with establishing the South Side narrative of Chicago.
Infamously called “The Jungle,” a name that has been said to have a variety of origins, some of which include: the narrow streets and apartments that cast a shadow throughout the day, the establishment of speakeasies during the Prohibition Era, and, most notably, the increase in drug use, gang violence, and hyper-criminalization by the pigs, Howard, like most black neighborhoods in the so-called united states, has been hit by an influx of drug use, gang-related deaths, unemployment, and houselessness. As revolutionaries like George Jackson told us, black people exist in a colony within the so-called united states, an economic condition of neoslavery. Jackson writes in Soledad Brother,
Here in the black colony the pigs still beat and maim us. They murder us and call it justifiable homicide. A brother who had a smoking pipe in his belt was shot in the back of the head. Neoslavery is an economic condition, a small knot of men exercising the property rights of their established economic order, organizing and controlling the life style of the slave as if he were in fact property. Succinctly: an economic condition which manifests itself in the total loss or absence of self-determination. Only after this is understood and accepted can we go on to the dialectic that will help us in a remedy.
Jackson’s words still ring true today. Since our initial investigative efforts and the beginning of the pandemic, we have heard multiple community members report an increase overdose related deaths and gang-related violence. Whenever we ask folks what’s needed in their community, they often tell us “everything.” It’s an all-too-common response in the Black colony. Unfortunately due to capacity and limited resources, FTP-Chicago was unable to address all of the issues presented to us over the past few months. However, we decided, along with community members, that one of the most urgent ways to respond to the needs of the people would be to establish a People’s Survival Program at Willye White Park. Inspired by the Black Panther Party’s “Survival Pending Revolution” programs, comrades organized around one of the most fundamental needs of a revolutionary movement— life.
One of the ways that racial capitalism exerts its power over the masses is by creating barriers between those who are most vulnerable and the resources that could help those most in need. In our harm reduction trainings, we often note the various reasons why people use drugs, one of these reasons is that most people are trauma survivors and often the most accessible way to cope with and manage such trauma is drug use.
Thus, we began setting up trainings on how to respond to an opioid overdose in progress and practice harm reduction (the practice of meeting drug consumers where they are rather than imposing a moralistic standard on how one ought to use drugs) in our communities. With the help of Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA), comrades learned about naloxone (an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose) as well as the safest way to revive a person who has overdosed on opioids. CRA donated resources and materials to construct harm reduction kits, and we were able to establish our first weekly distribution on October 17. We handed out naloxone kits (overdose response kits), safer snorting kits, condoms, lube, PPE, food kits, and political education material. Since then, the program has expanded as community members have expressed a need for safer smoking kits, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and ready-made food. In addition, we have had to conduct bystander intervention (an alternative to a formal copwatch when there are not enough comrades present) when the pigs have harassed community members, as well as informal self-defense education for sex workers who have experienced sexual violence.
It’s been over a month since we’ve started the Roger’s Park People’s Survival Program with the assistance of community members– who we hope will be the beginning of an organizing committee– and added a winter coat distribution in order to address the needs of our low-income and unhoused community members. The people are aware of the community’s needs and will allow us to continue to deepen our social investigation, build organs of political power, and organize the people for revolution. We will continue to provide programs that meet the needs of the masses and engage the masses in political education on self-determination. We Keep Us Safe! All Power to The People!