During a Chicago City Council meeting about a proposed $95 million dollar, 30-acre police and fire training academy on Wednesday, Chance the Rapper stepped up to the mic to speak out against the plan, saying the money would be better spent funding education and mental health services in the community.
After a short kerfuffle over speaking order, the Grammy Award-winning artist began his remarks by introducing himself, saying, “My name is Chance the Rapper, and I’m here representing the City of Chicago.”
“I think you guys are familiar with the work that I’ve been doing—thank you guys—working very closely with Orr Academy, which is right down the street from where this proposed police academy is going to be at,” he said in a live stream of the remarks.
The school, with just $100,000 in three years, is about to make some transformative changes. It would be awesome, though, if we could get them pools at their school, or a new library, or a museum, or any of the things that are proposed in the budget for this $95 million cop academy.
After pointing out that the meeting was only to consider allocating $10 million to purchase the land for the proposed academy, while the remainder of the funds have not yet been secured, Chance pressed the council for a reason why they were allowing the project to move ahead.
“There’s a lot of ways to transform the city that don’t have to do with police training,” he said. Later, he made his plea in even stronger terms, asking several times: “What is y’all doing?”
You can watch his remarks beginning at 3:30 in the video below:
The proposed police and fire training facility would provide first responders with a place to “receive specialized, scenario-based training, get hands-on practice in real-world situations and improve collaboration in emergency response,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said when they unveiled the proposal in early July. The academy is part of the city’s response to the Justice Department’s investigation into the Chicago Police Department, which found systemic civil rights abuses by officers.
Tuesday’s remarks are far from the first time Chance has delved into the nitty gritty of Chicago’s education funding (or lack thereof). Earlier this year, Chance—the son of one of Emanuel’s former top advisers—donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools and promised an additional $10,000 for every $100,000 raised for the system through his SocialWorks nonprofit.
“You guys have a lot of power up here,” Chance the Rapper told the council members. “That’s the reason why I showed up at 8:00 AM.”
As his allotted speaking time ran out, Chance offered to take pictures with everybody in attendance if it would help his cause. He later made good on his promise, and was swarmed in the hallway outside the council chambers
Notably absent during Chance’s comments was Emanuel himself, who left the council meeting shortly before the rapper began speaking.