Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is planning on building a new $95 million police training academy in the city’s Garfield Park neighborhood, but a prominent musician has added his voice to the wave of criticism against the decision.
That musician is Chicago-native Chance the Rapper, who addressed the issue at Thursday’s City Council meeting. Chance, who recently began a series of donations to Chicago Public Schools facilities to help fund music programs and other after-school activities, said that the money would be better used in other areas.
“There’s a lot of ways to transform the city that don’t have anything to do with police training,” Chance said. “We don’t have $95 million. They are just asking you for $10 million today to purchase the land, but we don’t have the rest of the money to do it, so why let them go ahead with this right now?”
The rapper cited his work with CPS schools in his remarks, bringing up institutions like Orr Academy and others that he has helped with donation amounts far smaller than the $95 million potentially earmarked for the academy project.
The $10 million in funding to purchase land for the training center was approved by the City Council's Housing Committee on Monday, and the full council took up the measure on Wednesday.
The new police training center would be located in the city’s 37th Ward in the 4300 block of West Chicago. Ald. Emma Mitts, who represents the area on the City Council, told the meeting of aldermen that the facility would help address issues brought up by the Justice Department in a January report that discussed police violations and problems within the department.
“If there’s something in your ward, I listen to what you have to say,” Mitts told the council. “I respect you being representative of your constituents. Don’t let this get in the way of you doing your job by (preventing) me from doing my job.”
Mayor Emanuel echoed those concerns in his remarks, saying that the new facility is part of his push to rehabilitate a department that has been rocked by scandal recently, including the LaQuan McDonald case and other high-profile controversies.
Emanuel was not in the council chambers when Chance began to speak, and he made note of it before he delivered his prepared remarks.
“I guess the mayor had to step out, but it’s cool,” he chided. “It’s cool because I’m here to talk to you guys.”