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Lucy Parsons Labs 2021 Year in Review


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Thanks to the undying and persistent support of our sponsors and volunteers over the last six years, this past year we have achieved more than we ever thought was possible. This year, Lucy Parsons Labs was awarded the Ron Sable Award for Activism by CrossRoads Funds. We are honored to be recognized for our efforts in fighting for a just and humane world for our collective futures. As we reflect on a year full of difficulty and uncertainty, we are grateful for the progress we’ve made toward our collective goals and for the possibilities that lie ahead. We want to share with you all of the projects, both completed and continuing, that are made possible by your support. LPL is at a pivotal organizational moment as we reconstitute our board of directors and imagine success in the next five years.

We have worked tirelessly within the Coalition to Stop ShotSpotter to prevent the city of Chicago from furthering scientific racism and deploying harmful algorithms. We’ve also worked together to canvas, organize, and raise awareness about ShotSpotter in heavily surveilled communities through political education and local teach-ins. As a result, we believe that we will successfully cancel Chicago’s contact with ShotSpotter in 2022. Additionally, we now know more than ever about ShotSpotter’s interactions with the city thanks to the public records requests submitted by our now second-ever paid fellow, Fletcher.

Donations and support like yours have helped challenge injustices in the public and private sectors through litigation. Lucy Parsons Labs won a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections describing their pandemic plan and are currently awaiting for documents related to correspondences with the director. IDOC experienced several dozen deaths during just the first half of the pandemic and has refused to be transparent about how it planned to keep inmates healthy. We worked with the Invisible Institute to make the Green v. Chicago documents, a lawsuit that would reveal more than 50 years worth of CPD misconduct files, accessible to the public through the Citizen’s Police Data Project. Following our successful lawsuit with CPD last year, we exposed the corruption of the University of Chicago CrimeLab by receiving and making public all University of Chicago CrimeLab email metadata from 2007 through to the end of 2020. We also won a vital FOIA lawsuit that released data showing the location of all licensed vacation rentals and Aibnbs in Chicago. Now neighbors are using the data to report illegal Airbnbs, a practice that contribute to gentrification and displacement of working class families, on 311 or to their local aldermen. We also open-sourced our entire FOIA & digital security presentations which are now available here.

LPL filed over 400 public record requests to put the spotlight on injustices across the country. Using public records requests, LPL member Matt Chapman exposed texts between McDonald’s CEO, Chris Kempczinski, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot that included horrific comments about the murder of Adam Toledo.

Matt also published a revealing article about corruption in the Lightfoot administration after Joanna Klonsky was brought on as a pro bono consultant in 2019, potentially violating political hiring rules. We also uploaded a curated set of the Jones Day email leaks to DocumentCloud, Airtable, and Dropbox.

OpenOversight, LPL’s flagship police oversight project, has expanded to several more cities across the US, expanding the public’s ability to access important information about their local law enforcement.

Successes like these expand the freedom of information most needed by the public and have been in our journey towards collective liberation.

The past year has shown the absolute necessity for solidarity and collective action during times of crisis. We continued to support Chicago solidarity networks and, after one completed, we helped them hand out over $13,000 to residents in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. LPL became a fiscal sponsor for the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Solidarity Network as well as Burlington Food Not Cops. With the help of Lincoln Square Ravenswood Solidarity Network organizers, we were able to secure a $50,000 grant through the Chicago Food Sovereignty Coalition that will help our neighbors all across Chicago secure their access to stable sources of food. In order to increase the accessibility of public records, we also held a FOIA workshop for organizers with Defund CPD. Finally, LPL was also able to sponsor three femmes facing felony charges for political activism in retaliation for filing lawsuits for police brutality by fundraising their legal fees.

Acts of mutual aid and solidarity during these times of pandemic, war, and escalating political strife are vital and provide us avenues to reimagine our collective futures on this planet. We must continue our acts of radical solidarity with our neighbors and the international community to push back against surveillance, capitalism, and the growing climate of war. With your support we can continue to build the world we want and that struggles to be born.

In Solidarity,
Freddy Martinez
Executive Director, Lucy Parsons Labs

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