1,000 signatures reached
To: Charles Baptist, General Manager of the Stonegate Conference & Banquet Center
Join us to demand that Stonegate Conference & Banquet Center not host anti-Muslim speakers, militarized police trainings, and arms dealers! Next week, the Illinois Tactical Officers Association (ITOA) is holding its 29th annual conference, a five day long SWAT training and weapons expo. It is taking place October 9th – 13th at the Stonegate Conference and Banquet Center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, just one hour outside of Chicago. The notoriously brutal and racist Chicago Police Department has a history of collaborating with ITOA for tactical training , and ITOA has a long-standing relationship with the Cook County Department of Homeland Security.
Why is this important?
ITOA promotes police use of military tactics with toxic racism and Islamophobia. Their keynote speaker this year will be anti-Muslim bigot and Fox News regular Dr. Sebastian Gorka , a self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert who has served in an advisory role to countless government and military agencies, from the CIA to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The conference will train local police and EMTs to operate “like tactical squads in the military” and incorporate “new data and surveillance technology” in their work, directly contributing to racialized law enforcement violence against communities of color in the Chicagoland area.
While Chicago is still reeling from budget cuts that have resulted in the closure of over 50 public schools, mental health clinics, and severe cuts to social services, the city spends over $4 million a day on the Chicago police alone. ITOA is directly involved in training and arming those police, even using empty school buildings  as training grounds  for Cook County officers.
The impact of ITOA reaches far beyond the Chicagoland area. With police departments from around the country, US Marshalls & DHS agents, and former & active military personnel attending their trainings and conferences, ITOA sets a national precedent for police militarization across law enforcement agencies in the United States. SWAT trainings like those occurring at this year’s ITOA conference take place in cities across the country year round, which lead directly to increased violence against Black communities, immigrant communities, and those already experiencing police violence. Weapons manufacturers from around the world also use the ITOA conference to sell military-grade equipment to local police forces–equipment that shocked the country when it was deployed against civilians in places like Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge.
As part of the growing movement against policing, we call on Stonegate to end their contracts with the 2016 ITOA Tactical Training Conference. We are appalled that this venue would participate in the proliferation of arms and anti-Muslim, anti-Black bigotry in Chicagoland. Sign this petition to Stonegate general manager Charles Baptist to remind him that police violence & racism are bad business, and bad for business.
This campaign is supported by:
For The People Artists Collective
American Friends Service Committee – Chicago
The People’s Response Team
War Resisters League
Council for American Islamic Relations – Chicago
Organized Communities Against Deportations
Black Lives Matter – Chicago
Students for Justice in Palestine – Chicago
Arab American Action Network
Invisible to Invincible: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago (i2i)
Center for New Community
Anakbayan – Chicago
Iraq Veterans Against the War
National Lawyer’s Guild – Chicago
Black and Pink – Chicago
Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago
Showing Up for Racial Justice – Chicago
Chicago League of Abolitionist Whites