Protesters upset about the impending closure of Bronzeville’s Dyett High School took to the fifth floor of City Hall on Tuesday evening, alternately jeering Mayor Rahm Emanuel and singing “We Shall Overcome.”
While the crowd of about 50 chanted slogans such as, “Hey Rahm, do we matter?” a smaller group of 11 protesters chained themselves together about 4:30 p.m. in a ring around the George Washington statue outside the front doors of Emanuel’s office.
Chicago Public Schools officials have given Dyett High School a slow death, with the school being phased out one grade at a time. This year — expected to be its last — only 13 seniors attend the school at 555 E. 51st St.
Several students at the protest said it has been hard to stay motivated this year because the school environment is depressing.
“We deserve a chance at dialogue. We deserve equal rights like every other school. Even though we don’t have the numbers,” said senior Willie Doles, 18.
“This year so far it’s been sad. At Dyett, there’s no hope in there,” said Chrisean Criddell, 17, also a senior.
Earlier, well-known activist Jitu Brown, who was among those chained together, said Dyett had good enrollment numbers and was performing well until CPS decided to phase it out beginning in 2012.
Emanuel “will have to answer for the sabotage of Dyett High School,” Brown said. “There’s a lower set of expectations, systemically, for these babies than the babies who go to Lake View” High School.”
About 6:15 p.m., Chicago Police threatened arrests and herded the protesters who weren’t chained together into elevators and off the fifth floor.
Those who remained chained together were there well into the evening, according to police and activists who were getting updates on their smartphones from those still inside.
Police at City Hall indicated that they planned to wait until the group gave up.