Members of Chicago City Council had a surprise public guest Wednesday. Chance the Rapper showed up to ask the alderman to put education before building a new police academy.
The hip hop artist, Chicago native and education advocate spoke for a few minutes urging the council to invest in schools and social services rather than a $95 million police and fire training facility.
“There’s a lot of different services that need to be funded, mental health services, obviously, schooling is my big thing, but there’s a lot of ways to transform the city that don't have anything to do with police training,” said Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett.
The rapper lost the battle. The council voted 48 - 1 in favor of paying almost $10 million to purchase the 30-acre vacant lot in West Garfield Park.
Alderman Emma Mitts of the 37th ward, serves the area the facility will be built, is looking forward to an increase in first responders on the west side.
“I appreciate Chance the Rapper,” said Ald. Mitts. “Sit down with me and hear my perspective because I live there, sit down with my community and let them tell you what they want to see, when they can’t take their kids to school - we want more police.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel who disappeared before Chance took the mic, later clarified he had to call his mother.
“Don’t ever be late to calling a Jewish mother on her birthday,” said Mayor Emanuel.
He said he too, appreciates the passion, but says the city continues to invest in schools.
“Every classroom (debated since 1964) has air conditioning, new play lots,” said the mayor. “I do not want to see our kids learning in hallways and stairwells, but that does not mean our police and fire have to be in facility from 40 years ago.”
In response to the vote, Chance tweeted "We know. This whole thing is illogical. Lets just step back and figure out the things we really need."
The mayor points out that the newest police academy was built in the 1970's. This project will be partially funded by the sale of public land and facilities.