48th Ward Neighbors for Justice started in summer 2019 as a group of neighbors stymied by Alderman Harry Osterman’s lack of commitment or opposition to important issues, such as #NoCopAcademy (the campaign to stop a $95 million police academy from being built on the West Side), the call for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (an ordinance that would grant community control of CPD through a democratically elected board), and affordable housing.
48th Ward Neighbors for Justice is an independent political organization that organizes residents around shared goals and builds community within our ward boundaries through direct actions, issue-based campaigns, and electoral organizing. We aim to create a space where our neighbors feel comfortable advocating for specific causes that impact them. We are imagining a new world together, one that values trust and caring over cruelty, and people over profits.
An independent political organization (IPO) is a political action committee. IPOs exist to build political power independent of elected officials. IPOs are a unique Chicago mechanism that can bring people together for issues-based and electoral campaigns, and seek to meet the material needs of their neighbors. Other IPOs include 33rd Ward Working Families, United Neighbors 35th Ward, and Northside Action for Justice.
48th Ward Neighbors for Justice is composed of general membership and a steering committee. Members work in committees (such as Education, Housing, Political Education, and Restorative Practices) that generally meet every week or two, or as needed, to advance work in response to the needs of our community. Our steering committee is composed of nine elected individuals who make sure that the organization is healthy and functioning, that our work stays on track with our larger mission, and that goals are being met.
Current steering committee is Dave Pitak, Mary Difino, Andrew Carr, Joel Thorson, Cait Guerra, Vino Mazzei, Nathaniel van Wienen
We know that building power and organizing for justice cannot happen in this ward, or anywhere, without deep multiracial solidarity, and we are uninterested in visions for the ward that center only White interests and White people. On an organizational level, this looks like building connections and trust with multiracial organizations across the ward and city, following the lead and amplifying the demands of communities most affected by the issues we work on, and committing to an anti-racist culture within 48th WN4J. We are not interested in tokenizing or instrumentalizing our neighbors of color to meet diversity quotas; we are invested in building solidarity and dismantling racism.
Historically, read about the the Young Patriots, an organization of poor Whites in Uptown/Edgewater who allied with the Black Panthers and the Young Lords to form the Rainbow Coalition in 1969. Adding many other activist, ethnic, and socialist groups, this coalition made advances in opposing violence from both the police and street gangs, and threatened the White supremacist political machine that continues today.
Presently, there are organizations active in the ward that we share some goals with, such as Edgewater Mutual Aid, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, ONE Northside, Northside Tenants Network, Northside Action for Justice, Edgewater Environmental Sustainability Project, Anti-Racist Andersonville, Indivisible IL-9, Chicago DSA Northside Branch, and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). Of course, the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU 73 organize the many employees of our public schools in the ward. The Loyola Worker Coalition is fighting for union representation for thousands of workers at Loyola University, including adjunct faculty. Groups like the Uptown People’s Law Center and Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing do incredible work protecting tenants and advocating for improvements to the legal status quo that is weighted against renters.
We don’t know yet! We want elected representatives that represent our shared mission statement and interests. If elected officials do that, then we don’t have to worry about electoral organizing. The answer isn’t yes or no, and it really depends on how much Alderman Osterman listens to his constituents.
Fill out our Interested Neighbor Form (It’s like we both swiped right on our very own Tinder) and we’ll ask you to join an IPO Welcome (our first date minus the awkwardness). From there, we’ll offer you a one-on-one with a current member. After that, we invite you to join officially as a dues-contributing member (we have volunteer and monetary dues options). Whether you support the movement with labor or money, joining as a member will give you access to our Slack channel where the organizing magic happens and allow you to vote in our elections and other decisions.