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Green Party's Jill Stein Says Chicago Needs A New Mayor

By Josh McGhee | September 9, 2016 9:11am
 Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein held a rally at the Peoples Church of Chicago in Uptown Thursday.
Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein held a rally at the Peoples Church of Chicago in Uptown Thursday.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — After a long day in Chicago, which included a walking tour of the City's West Side, Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein did not hold back addressing her supporters Thursday night in Uptown.

During her rally at the Peoples Church of Chicago at 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Stein called for a new mayor in Chicago, a civilian-controlled police board and the demilitarization of police, schools and communities, along with addressing a host of national issues.

"It was inexcusable that the murder of Laquan McDonald was covered up for a year until that video was released. That was absolutely unjustifiable, immoral and inexcusable," she said to the roars of the crowd packing the first and second floor of the church. "So we call for change in Chicago starting at the top, where responsibility ultimately lies for that crisis and the ongoing crisis."

Labeling police violence as an "epidemic" and the activists standing up against it as "courageous," Stein called for a civilian-controlled police board with the power of subpoena and a budget independent of City Council and the mayor.

She also called for an independent investigator to "investigate every case of death or serious injury at the hands of police."But police violence isn't the only "crisis" plaguing the communities of Chicago and communities across the U.S., she said. Stein also decried street violence, labeling it a symptom of "systemic racism that is part of the ongoing legacy of the criminal institution of slavery, which we must put an end to for once and for all.

Stein, who was born in Chicago and raised in suburban Highland Park, received round-after-round of applause Thursday in the North Side neighborhood known for its community organizing and its diversity. But the biggest cheers stemmed from her stance on education, which includes abolishing student debt guaranteeing tuition-free, public education from preschool through college.

For Martha Aguirre, 21, of Albany Park, Stein's call for the need to "share the real history of what happened when slavery turned into lynching, turned into Jim Crow, turned into segregation, turned into redlining, turned into mass incarceration, turned into the war on drugs, turned into school segregation, turned into school closures, turned into police violence," put her above Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in her eyes.

"I think she's the best option we have right now," Aguirre said.

"I’m currently studying to be a Chicago Public School teacher and I am a graduate of CPS, and educational justice has always been one of my top priorities. I really like that she spoke about this justice issue that is really affecting our city and our students."

Last month, the Editorial Board of the Washington Post dubbed her candidacy a "fairy tale," arguing that Stein's "policy ideas are poorly formed and wildly impractical."

Aguirre disagreed with that assessment and said she wants to vote for the most deserving candidate, not the lesser of two evils.

"I definitely don’t think [Stein's campaign] is a fairy tale. I think it can happen; we just need to come together as a nation to make this possible," Aguirre said.

Stein, who took up the mantle of anti-coal activism starting in 1998, has never held elected office outside the Representative Town Meeting of Lexington, Mass. In 2012, when she also ran as the Green Party candidate for president, she received about 0.4 percent of the national vote.

Thursday, she too denounced the Post's assessment, saying the newspaper "may not understand that justice is not a fairy tale."

"One of the things they just couldn’t get their minds around is this idea that we can actually solve the climate crisis at the same time we solve the economic crisis by creating a Green New Deal now," Stein said.

The Green New Deal, which is inspired by the New Deal programs of the Great Depression era, is a four-part program that calls for an emergency job program creating 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100-percent renewable energy by 2030, she said.

"We have an ongoing recession — depression — whatever you want to call it. We have an economic emergency and we have a climate emergency they must be solved together," she said.

Before heading to Chicago, Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, were charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief after allegedly spray-painting construction equipment at a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

The 1,172-mile pipeline would tap into an estimated 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the pipeline will disrupt culturally significant sites and threaten its environmental and economic well-being, according to CNN.

Court documents said Baraka painted "Decolonization" and Stein's campaign spokeswoman said Stein painted "I approve this message" on the equipment, according to NBC News.

Stein acknowledged the arrest warrants, but said the developers, Energy Access Partners, are the ones that should be arrested.

"This is an absolutely historic moment and, in fact, Indigenous legends tell of this moment," she said. "They say when the Earth is sick and dying the Indigenous people will come together and lead the way forward for us all to save humanity and Mother Earth."

Forty-one year-old Jason Dye, of Humboldt Park, was debating between Clinton and Stein, but said Stein's clear stance on the pipeline solidified his vote.

"Hillary was silent on it," he said. "Tonight was pretty much like I [had already] heard, but it was nice to see it in action."

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