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Activist Green to announce 2019 mayoral bid
by Matt Simonette
2018-04-15

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Activist and advocate Ja'Mal Green is set to officially announce a campaign to be mayor of Chicago.

Green, 22, who heads up the Majostee Allstars Community Center in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, was set to make an official announcement at a speech at Roosevelt University April 18.

"Over time, I've been going into communities all over the country," Green explained. "I travelled for Bernie Sanders, as a surrogate for him, and I've been in a lot of of communities here in the city of Chicago, mentoring young people and as an activist on many issues," he said. "Taking in all the problems and the many things that haven't been done, I talked to some people that I thought would be good candidates to run, and they all declined. I asked myself, 'Who is going to run? We can't afford to have this mayor another term.'"

Green maintained that, "There is not one community Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken care of well—not the Latino community, not the Black community, not the white community, not the LGBTQ community. There's no community I can say he's really behind. I felt like [I] had the best chance at getting him out of office."

Green has been active in protests against police violence and in 2016 was arrested in a demonstration at Taste of Chicago. He ultimately pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, accepting a plea bargain to avoid a prolonged trial, he said at the time. Policing is one of the issues that Green said he would want to focus on and, as mayor, he would push for licensing and insuring city police officers as among the means to hold Chicago Police Department ( CPD ) accountable.

He explained, "You'd have police officers having to get a license, a licensing committee that would revoke or suspend a license based on those infractions, and it would go along with their pay. … Insurance companies would be able to assess the liability and figure out whether they want to insure them or not."

Green added that such a system would ultimately save the city, which has had to pay out vast sums for wrongful police actions, "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Another key concern is education, and Green said he will propose a program that offers Chicago Public Schools graduates three options: community college, vocational programs or an "entrepreneurial boot camp."

The programs would be free, he added, "as long as you gave hours back to the City of Chicago. Basically, your payment is community service or city engagement throughout your time, depending how much money the city is spending on you. That would make tomorrow's leaders. People would not be waiting around or sitting around, trying to figure out what to do next."

Among Green's goals for the Chicago's LGBT population would be pushes for anti-bullying initiatives in schools as well as engagement to reduce anti-LGBT stigma in churches.

"We've got to bring religious leaders and the LGBTQ community together," he said. "If you are a church and are 501c3, and are banning people because they are different, how are you preaching a message of 'we're not to judge,' or 'come as you are?'"

Green pointed to the low turnout for younger voters in the March 20 primary election and added that, "Young people want to see something new."

He maintained that he can offer just that, adding, "As mayor, we would have an administration that is inclusive and bridge the gap between all these communities."

[An earlier version of this story said Green is a prominent member of Black Lives Matter; BLM said he is not part of their organization.]


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