Upcoming PIC-Related Events in Chicago – September

Ending September 28No Selves To Defend Exhibition at Art in These Times, 2nd floor of 2040 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 USA. Details are HERE.

September 4 at Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted — Celebrate Jane Addams’ Birthday with transgender and prison rights activist Miss Major

12:00 – 4:00 PM
Wikipedia Queer/Trans Edit-a-thon, Reserve A Seat

When the Hull-House staff realized that our beloved and fierce speaker for the 2014 Jane Addams’ Birthday Conversation did not have an entry in Wikipedia, we knew we needed to help queer the most popular encyclopedia in the world. The stats are clear — the overwhelming majority of Wikipedia editors are straight men, and the content reflects the demographics. Only 9% of editors identify as women, and only 1% of editors identify as trans. Join us to help queer Wikipedia! Bring your laptop, power cord, and ideas for entries that need updating or creation. We will have folks on-site to show you the ropes, and plenty of pizza to keep you going.

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
2014 Jane Addams Birthday Conversation
“The Ebb and Flow of Resistance” with Miss Major – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2014-jane-addams-birthday-conversation-the-ebb-and-flow-of-resistance-with-miss-major-tickets-12803659089

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy has dedicated a lifetime to justice. She is a black transgender woman, a Stonewall veteran, a participant in the 1971 Attica State prison uprising, a former sex worker, and a leader in the prison rights movement. Today, Miss Major is the Executive Director of the Oakland-based Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project, advocating for transgender people inside and outside of prison and forging a culture of resistance and resilience. While many LGBT activists are honored for their work in affecting policy, a significant theme in Miss Major’s personal history has been that interpersonal caring and connection in itself is a revolutionary act.

September 6, 6 to 9 pm at Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted Street, Hidden Expressions v2 Release Party with special guest Monica Jones — Join us for an evening of food, music, and community. Zines for sale!

We invite you to celebrate the release of the Transformative Justice Law Project’s (TJLP) Hidden Expressions Volume 2, a zine showcasing fabulous stories, artwork, erotica, how-to guides, survival tips, and poetry created by and for incarcerated transgender and gender nonconforming people. The goal of this publication is to combat the isolation and silence that the prison-industrial complex inflicts by connecting incarcerated trans and gender non-conforming people with each other, as well as with their friends, family, allies, and the larger Prison Abolition movement, both inside and outside of prisons and jails.

About Monica Jones:
Monica Jones is an LGBT and sex worker rights activist. She is a student at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work and a member of SWOP Phoenix (Sex Worker Outreach Project). Monica will be travelling to Australia to intern at the sex worker organization Scarlet Alliance. In May 2013, Monica was wrongfully arrested and then convicted in April 2014 of “manifesting prostitution.” With the help of the ACLU and SWOP Phoenix, Monica is appealing the conviction.

About Hidden Expressions:
This volume is the result of two and a half years of mail correspondence and collaboration among three transgender women in prison and one trans woman on the outside. With this ‘zine, we aim to share our wisdom, stories, and strategies with each other, to support the revolutionary organizing that is happening already on the inside, and to set ourselves on our own path to liberation. We believe that as a collective of transgender people impacted by the prison system, we have the responsibility to support each other’s survival, and working on this ‘zine alone has breathed life into the four of us and our contributors. We are deeply inspired by these artists, writers, and revolutionaries, and we are thrilled to celebrate their resilience and resistance!

The first volume of Hidden Expressions is available for free download at http://www.tjlp.org, and the second volume will be posted following the release party.

Co-Sponsors:
Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois, SWOP Chicago, Project NIA

If you are unable to attend and want to support Monica directly, donations are accepted via paypal to: freedom.for.monica@gmail.com

September 10, 6 p.m. at United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Avenue, Circles & Ciphers Community Peace Circle – Join Circles and Ciphers for a bi-weekly community peace circles and in our efforts to make Rogers Park a Restorative Neighborhood.

September 12, Noon at Northwestern University School of Law, 420 E Superior St Chicago. Nell Bernstein presents her new book Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. RSVP here.

September 13, 1-3 pm at Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave. The End of Juvenile Prison, book talk with Nell Bernstein “Burning Down the House

Nell Bernstein 9-13 Poster_v2-page-001

September 14, 2-4 pm at Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St. No Selves to Defend, No Rights to Respect: Blackness, Self-Defense and Violence. Details are here.

September 16, 5:30-8 pm. We Charge Genocide monthly meeting. Email wechargegenocide@gmail.com for location and other details.

September 16, 6 pm at Powells Bookstore, 1218 S. Halsted St.
Stop Policing Bodies! : Community Forum on Police, Sexual Assault, and Restorative Justice: Join FURIE to discuss the history of the anti-rape movement, the role of police in perpetuating rape culture, and restorative anti-prison methods for building a new antirape movement in the 21 st century! This event is organized by FURIE – Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation. To learn more about this event or how to get involved, email furie.chicago@gmail.com. Details are HERE.

September 24, 6 p.m. at United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Avenue, Circles & Ciphers Community Peace Circle – Join Circles and Ciphers for a bi-weekly community peace circles and in our efforts to make Rogers Park a Restorative Neighborhood.

September 25, 7-9 pm at SAIC Sullivan Galleries, 33 S State St, 7th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60603 — Creative Resistance in a Prison Nation: Monthly forum highlighting Chicago-based creative projects addressing mass incarceration in a prison nation. Details about this event are HERE.

Presenters: Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), Temporary Services and Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP)

Description: In the last decade, a growing number of artists, organizations and activists in the Chicago area have created artwork and developed responses to what is now termed a prison nation The U.S. locks up more people than any other nation in the world and exhausts more resources on confinement and punishment each year. One in 99 adults in the US is incarcerated; the financial and social costs to tax payers and communities is staggering. Conservatives, liberals and members of the left have all called for policy changes, yet when violence and poverty rage in Chicago neighborhoods, the common response is a call to lock more people away for longer prison terms.

Each month, several artists and groups will give short presentations on current work and share their experiences, challenges and successes. The presentations are open to the public and all are welcome to an “open mic” to present their own projects and events at the end of the evening. Please join us in this lively discussion as we imagine and activate collective solutions addressing the state of our prison nation.

Creative Resistance in a Prison Nation is organized by Sarah Ross and Kevin Kaempf with support by the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Sullivan Galleries.

September 27, 1 to 4:30 pm at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Spertus Lounge (Room 244). Policing, Violence, Resistance, and Alternatives:A Workshop. Details are here.

September 14: No Selves to Defend, No Rights to Respect – A Conversation

No Selves to Defend, No Rights to Respect: Blackness, Violence, and Self-Defense

by Molly Crabapple (2014)

by Molly Crabapple (2014)

This summer has placed a brighter spotlight on police violence with the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford and more. In addition, Marlene Pinnock was brutalized on the side of an LA Freeway while Denise Stewart was violently dragged out of her apartment naked by a dozen cops. There have renewed efforts to make clear that #BlackLivesMatter.

These instances of state violence are mirrored in the unjust prosecution of Marissa Alexander, a Florida mother of three who fired a warning shot to save her life and is facing 60 years in prison if convicted.

All of these incidents raise questions about the value of black life in the U.S., self-defense, state violence, the gendered & classed nature of our response, and more.

On the occasion of Marissa Alexander’s birthday, join the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander (CAFMA), the Porch Project at the Hull House Museum, Project NIA, We Charge Genocide and the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women for a conversation about these issues.

Sunday, September 14
2 to 4 pm
Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St.

Refreshments and cake will be provided
FREE to all participants

RSVP on Facebook and/or by emailing freemarissachicago@gmail.com.

September 27: Policing, Violence, Resistance and Alternatives

Policing, Violence, Resistance, and Alternatives:

Saturday September 27, 2014

1 to 4:30 p.m.
Roosevelt University, Spertus Lounge Room 244, 430 S. Michigan Ave
Pre-Registration is HERE.

Suggested Donation sliding scale – $10 to $30 (Funds raised are donated to We Charge Genocide to support a trip to the United Nations Committee on Torture in November). No one is turned away for lack of ability to pay.

by Gordon Parks

by Gordon Parks

This workshop will introduce participants to the work of Chain Reaction, a participatory research and popular education project with the goal of supporting conversations about alternatives to calling police on young people. Driven by our political goal of ending youth incarceration, Chain Reaction volunteers held workshops and recorded audio and video at youth centers and other spaces around the city, including a center for LGBTQ youth and youth experiencing homelessness. Youth told stories about being targeted by police because of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and age. Their experiences with police often set off a chain reaction that funnels youth into the prison industrial complex, a system that targets people of color, transgender women, and other folks from marginalized groups.

The workshop will provide an overview of a history of policing and police violence. Participants will then learn about the work of Chain Reaction and listen to some of the stories we collected. Through interactive activities and personal storytelling, we will explore what alternatives to calling police exist for those considering relying on police interventions within our communities, and imagine the ideal chain reaction we could set off in response to fear, violence, or harm in our communities. We will also ask what role adult allies can play in promoting alternatives to calling the police on young people and diverting young people from the prison industrial complex.

Finally, Project NIA and the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective have developed several resources (including zines, curricula, and pamphlets) that can be used to foster conversations with youth about policing. We will share these resources with workshop participants.

Pre-registration is REQUIRED. Please register here (only if you are certain to attend as space is limited).

Suggested Donation sliding scale – $10 to $30 (Funds raised are donated to We Charge Genocide to support a trip to the United Nations Committee on Torture in November).

This workshop is organized by Project NIA and is co-sponsored by the Mansfield Institute for Justice and Social Transformation at Roosevelt University and We Charge Genocide.

August 19: The Monument Quilt in Chicago

Join us on August 19 to witness and interact with a historic display of The Monument Quilt in Chicago. The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories of survivors of rape and abuse, alongside messages of love and support from allies in the movement to upset rape culture. By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal.

mqp-chicago_il

The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how America responds to rape. We are building a new culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed.

The Chicago display of the quilt is part of Force:Upsetting Rape Culture’s summer tour across the country https://themonumentquilt.org/public-monument-to-rape-survivors-tours-the-united-states/ to learn more about the tour and how to get involved in the project.

Display Lead Coordinators:
Rape Victim Advocates and Mujeres Latinas en Accion

Supporting Partners
1. Project NIA
2. Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women
3. Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
4. Project&
5. Adrienne Spires
6. Jane M Hussein Saks
7. Chicago Women’s Health Center
8. Affinity Community Services

RSVP on Facebook here

For more information on becoming a supporting partner of the Chicago display, please email events@rapevictimadvocates.org

Upcoming PIC-Related Events in Chicago – August-September

July 18-September 21No Selves To Defend Exhibition at Art in These Times, 2nd floor of 2040 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 USA. Details are HERE.

August 13, 6 p.m. at United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Avenue, Circles & Ciphers Community Peace Circle – Join Circles and Ciphers for a bi-weekly community peace circles and in our efforts to make Rogers Park a Restorative Neighborhood.

August 20, 6 p.m. at Hull House Museum (Porch), 800 S. Halsted St. RE-THINKING & RE-IMAGINING COMMUNITY SAFETY? An Intergenerational and Interactive Discussion. Facebook event page is here.

August 21, 6 pm at ICAH, 226 S. Wabash Ave suite 900, ‘We Charge Genocide: Copwatch Training for Community Members,” Community members are invited to learn about how to more safely monitor and document police violence against Chicago’s young people. RSVP on Facebook here. Details & flier are here.

August 22, 7 p.m. at Wilson Abbey, 935 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60640. “Torture Behind Bars: What Can We Do?”
Alan Mills, veteran attorney and an expert in the field of prisoner rights, is the featured speaker. Torture Behind Bars will inform, equip, and mobilize churches and social activists to bring systemic change as well as reach out to individual prisoners. Bring your questions! Admission is FREE. All are invited. Facebook event page is here.

August 27, 6 p.m. at United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Avenue, Circles & Ciphers Community Peace Circle – Join Circles and Ciphers for a bi-weekly community peace circles and in our efforts to make Rogers Park a Restorative Neighborhood.

August 29, 7 pm at Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th St, Chicago, Illinois 60637 “ATTICA (1974) film screening and discussion” – Facebook event page is here.

September 12, Noon at Northwestern University School of Law, 420 E Superior St Chicago. Nell Bernstein presents her new book Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. RSVP here.

September 13, 1-3 pm at Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave. The End of Juvenile Prison, book talk with Nell Bernstein “Burning Down the House

Nell Bernstein 9-13 Poster_v2-page-001

RE-THINKING & RE-IMAGINING COMMUNITY SAFETY? An Intergenerational and Interactive Discussion

community safety images

When: Wednesday, August 20th
Time: 6 to 8 pm
Where: Hull House Museum Porch, 800 S. Halsted Street
Facebook event page is HERE (if you are on FB, you can RSVP here) and if not RSVP at projectnia@hotmail.com, we need to plan for food and supplies so please let us know if you plan to attend).

In 2009, rapper King Louie coined the terms “Chiraq” and “Drillinois.” Since then, “Chiraq” has appeared in the lyrics of rappers like Lil’ Reese, Chief Keef, and most recently Nicki Minaj. The term has found its way on t-shirts and other merchandise.

chiraq Recently, there’s been pushback with some expressing their displeasure with the term through social media hashtags like #antichiraq.

Yet throughout the ongoing conversations, it is still unclear what (if any) meaning(s) the term “Chiraq” holds for the majority of Chicagoans. Has the term become a proxy for a broader concern about community safety?

According to a recent Tribune article, police call a 2-block by 4-block patch of South Shore where apparent gang conflicts have erupted into three mass shootings in a little over two years: Terror Town. Is there a relationship between the terms “Chiraq” and “Terror Town.” What are the material and psychological consequences of using such terms to describe communities and lived experiences?

Project NIA has embarked on a year-long journey to re-think and re-imagine community safety. Join us for an interactive and intergenerational discussion that will include writing, art-making, and storytelling.

Read this powerful essay written by 5th graders from the Bradwell School of Excellence in South Shore.

Some of the student writers and their teacher will join us for the discussion.

Project NIA Seeks Volunteers for Short-Term Documentation Project

Project NIA is seeking a couple of volunteers who are interested in documenting efforts to interrupt the school to prison pipeline in Chicago. Specifically, we will be producing a report that highlights some of the key accomplishments by local students, community members, parents, educators, and advocates to address the school-to-prison pipeline (STPP) in Chicago.

by Seth Tobocman

by Seth Tobocman

The report will be released in early October in time for the National Week of Action Against School Pushout.

What We Need:

Interviewers — These volunteers will set up and conduct in person and phone interviews with key stakeholders in Chicago who are addressing the school-to-prison pipeline. These interviews will mostly happen in August.

Transcribers — These volunteers will transcribe interviews.

Filmmakers/Videographers — These volunteers will participate in some in-person interviews and will create a short 5 minute video documenting some of the key accomplishments in the effort to end the STPP in Chicago.

Ideal volunteers are self-starters, can work independently, have good communications skills, and care about the issue. If interested, please contact Mariame at projectnia@hotmail.com.

Upcoming PIC-Related Events in Chicago – July-August (Updated)

by Molly Crabapple

by Molly Crabapple

July 18-September 21No Selves To Defend Exhibition at Art in These Times, 2nd floor of 2040 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 USA. Details are HERE.

July 23, 6-9 p.m. at 914 N. California – Black and Pink Chicago – Orientation and Info-Session for New Volunteers. Facebook event page is here.

Interested in Black & Pink? Want to find out how to get more involved?

Join Black and Pink for a workshop on the prison industrial complex and how LGBTQ people are impacted, followed by an info-session on Black and Pink: Chicago’s current projects and how to get involved. We’re hoping to have lots of new volunteers join our work! This is a great event for anyone new to thinking about these issues, or who’s been wondering how to plug in.

At this event, you’ll have a chance to speak with current Black & Pink: Chicago organizers about our different working groups and projects (such as becoming a pen pal, reading and responding to mail from inside members, supporting free-world pen pals, and political education).

July 23, 6 to 8 pm at Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted Street.
Policing Black Youth: A Teach-In on Chicago’s “Grass Gap”. Facebook event page is here.

The Black Youth Project 100’s Chicago Chapters hosts a teach-in about the racialized system of policing and criminalization in Chicago. The “grass gap” is a term that refers to the racially discriminate system of policing marijuana use. Numerous studies have shown us that people of all races and in all kinds of communities use marijuana at about the same rate. However, Black people and communities bear the brunt of policing and incarceration due to possession of marijuana. In Chicago, the ratio of Black to white marijuana arrests is 15 to 1. Join us to learn more about this particular aspect of a system of mass criminalization and imprisonment, about BYP100’s national campaign to end the criminalization of Black youth, and about our local organizing here in Chicago.

This event is in partnership with the Porch Project of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and is free & open to the public.

July 24, 6 to 7:30 pmCommunity Prayer Vigil for those in Prison or Detention Centers

On Thursday Join folks for a Community Prayer Vigil for those in Prison or Detention Centers
Where: Lot between Bridgeport Homes and Police Station
When: Thursday, July 24, 6pm – 7:30
Why: Bring the community together around an issue that often causes shame. Fight the shame with blessing and prayer Give Hope. Put hope into action. Mobilize the community to fight against mass incarceration – through organizing and direct action.
How: Bring names and photos of loved ones imprisoned or detained. Bring candles or use one of ours. Wear white. Invite friends. Listen, speak, sing, and pray.

If you are interested in helping plan, call Pastor Tom at First Trinity – 312.842.7390. Or email pastor@firsttrinitychicago.com.

July 24, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, 2700 W. Wilcox Street, Chicago – Reclaim Campaign Public Meeting with Chief Judge Evans -
Public meeting at which Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans will commit to the goals of the Reclaim Campaign to prevent violence by reducing the population of the Cook County Jail through increased restorative justice and mental health diversions.

Register to attend this meeting here.

July 25, 5:30 p.m.: Sticks and Stones and Stories – Storytelling for Self and Survival. Storytelling to fight back. Storytelling in Solidarity
The more we are injured by oppressive institutions and trauma in our lives, the more we are identified by the stories told about us, and not the stories we share about ourselves. This event is about sharing personal experiences of forcible displacement. That can happen through incarceration, deportation, detention, eviction, or other systems that exist to confine us to a single identity: criminal, unfit, illegal, homeless, invisible. We can fight that violence against us. We can share something about our lives and how we see ourselves, and find love and support in the process. That solidarity makes us infinitely more powerful, unstoppable, and ready to fight back! Join us.

What: Story Sharing Event plus Dinner
Where: 114 N Aberdeen, Chicago
When: Friday, July 25, 5:30 pm

This event is co-organized by Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander, Black on Both Sides, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration. Contact Holly for more info: 630-258-8552, holly.krig@gmail.com

July 25 – 6 to 8 pmThe War on Drugs: The impact on Austin past, present and future, 5820 West Chicago Ave.Facebook page is here.

Join your neighbors on Friday, July 25th from 6pm-8pm for a community discussion and talk back on the impact of the drug war in Austin. This event is hosted by the Westside Writing Project and the Social Justice News Nexus, a journalism project at Medill at Northwestern University. Both have been documenting how drugs and the war on drugs have impacted Austin.

We will explore the history of the so-called “drug war” in Austin, youth perspectives on drugs, and how the community is responding. Come with your opinions and your voices. This event is also the premiere of a mini documentary exploring two blocks near the Laramie El stop filmed by SJNN fellow Ahmed Hamad. Refreshments will be served.

July 26, 2 p.m. at Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637, Theater East: A Community Gathering and Rally in Support of Marissa in solidarity with Stand Our Ground Week of Action. We invite all community members to join us in song, performance, poetry and more. This is a family-friendly event. Facebook event page Here.

July 27, 2 p.m. at Hull House Museum Dining Hall, 800 S. Halsted St. Screening and Discussion of 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story. Followed by a visit to an exhibition of art by incarcerated youth.

Join us on Sunday July 27th at 2 p.m. as we screen the new documentary “15 to Life” (http://15tolifethefilm.com/) at the Hull House Museum (800 S. Halsted St).

15 to Life follows Kenneth Young, a man in his twenties who received four consecutive life sentences after being convicted of armed robbery at the age of 15. The film follows the Supreme Court trial that could free him from his sentence, or sentence him to a life in prison.

For over a decade Kenneth believed he would die behind bars, until in 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled life without parole sentences for children who haven’t killed unconstitutional. In Tampa, Florida we follow Kenneth Young’s legal battle for release. Recruited by his mother’s crack dealer to rob hotels, Kenneth needs to prove that he is rehabilitated and that the judge who sentenced him to life was wrong to throw away the key.

The screening will be followed by audience discussion at the Chicago Art Department in Pilsen where we will view The Artists Will…Not Be Present — Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy Program’s annual exhibition of student writing and art which is on display.

The event is free but RSVP is required at projectnia@hotmail.com.

This event is a collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series. It is organized by Project NIA and co-sponsored by the Jane Addams Hull House Museum and Free Write Jail Arts Program.

All details are in this flier.

July 30, 6 p.m. at United Church of Rogers Park
1545 W. Morse Avenue, Circles & Ciphers Community Peace Circle – Join Circles and Ciphers for a bi-weekly community peace circles and in our efforts to make Rogers Park a Restorative Neighborhood.

August 2, Noon to 5 p.m. at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Congress Lounge (2nd floor). “We Charge Genocide:” Youth Hearing About Police Violence.

FINAL_Youth_Hearing_Flyer-page-0

August 4, 6 to 8 pm at Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted Street. Reparations for Chicago Police Torture Survivors: A Teach-In – see Facebook page here.

Honor and demand justice for survivors tortured at the hand of former Commander Jon Burge and his “midnight crew.”

Come to this teach-in to learn more about the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors and how to effectively lobby the Chicago City Council for its passage.

The Reparations Ordinance would provide financial compensation, psychological counseling, vocational training, a formal apology and more for torture survivors and their families.

Read the ordinance here.

This teach-in is sponsored by the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and Amnesty International.

August 22, 7 p.m. at Wilson Abbey, 935 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60640. “Torture Behind Bars: What Can We Do?”
Alan Mills, veteran attorney and an expert in the field of prisoner rights, is the featured speaker. Torture Behind Bars will inform, equip, and mobilize churches and social activists to bring systemic change as well as reach out to individual prisoners. Bring your questions! Admission is FREE. All are invited. Facebook event page is here.

New Exhibition Opening 7/18 – No Selves To Defend: Criminalizing Women of Color

NO SELVES TO DEFEND: CRIMINALIZING WOMEN OF COLOR – July 18 and September 21, 2014 – at Art In These Times

In the words of writer Mychal Denzel Smith, “Marissa Alexander was just trying to save her life” when she was assaulted and threatened (again) by her estranged husband. When she retrieved a gun and fired a warning shot in self-defense, she could not have imagined being convicted and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison. Yet we know from history that too often women who protect themselves from unrelenting violence are criminalized.

‘No Selves to Defend’ features the stories of women of color who have been criminalized for self-defense. The exhibition examines the contested meanings and historical and contemporary understandings of self-defense. It seeks to locate Marissa Alexander’s story within a broader historical context and legacy. The exhibition also addresses the campaigns and mobilizations that emerged to resist their criminalization and demand their freedom. Finally, it considers how we can support current survivors of violence who have been criminalized for self-defense.

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The exhibition includes original art by Micah Bazant, Molly Crabapple, Billy Dee, Bianca Diaz, Rachel Galindo, Lex Non Scripta, Caitlin Seidler, and Ariel Springfield. You can find a preview of the art HERE. It also includes ephemera and artifacts from Mariame Kaba’s collection.

The exhibition is organized by Project NIA, Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women and the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander. It is co-curated by Rachel Caidor and Mariame Kaba.

The exhibition is made possible by generous individual donors who contributed to a summer fundraiser. The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network is co-sponsor of the Opening Reception.

‘No Selves To Defend’ will be accompanied by discussions and other events. Everyone is invited to participate.

Visit Art in These Times – Art ITT is located on the 2nd floor of 2040 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647

The exhibition is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 10 to 5 p.m.

Group tours will be available on select Saturdays. Please contact projectnia@hotmail.com to schedule a group tour.

Please join us on Friday July 18th from 6 to 9 p.m. for the Opening Reception for No Selves to Defend. RSVP via Facebook Page

A Review of Our Spring Legislative Session 2014…

During this legislative session, we at Project NIA, supported some bills that passed while others stalled in the legislature. We also actively opposed one particular bill that stalled in the Senate. Below is a recap.

BILLS WE SUPPORTED THAT PASSED

As a member of the Campaign for Common Sense Discipline led by VOYCE, we supported SB2793 which passed both houses and awaits the Governor’s signature.

SB2793 requires:

1. The public reporting of data on the issuance of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, and removals to alternative settings in lieu of another disciplinary action for all publicly-funded schools in Illinois. The collected data would be disaggregated by race and ethnicity, gender, age, grade level, limited English proficiency, incident type, and discipline duration.

2. Illinois School Districts that are identified in the top 20% in the use of suspensions, expulsions or racial disproportionality would have to submit an improvement plan identifying the strategies the school district will implement to reduce the use of exclusionary disciplinary practices, racial disproportionality, or both.

After several years of co-leading Coalition for Juvenile Expungement Reform and leading the Unmarked Campaign, with the backing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, SB0978 passed both houses of the IL General Assembly. We supported an earlier, more robust version of the bill and organized to collect hundreds of witness slips as the bill moved through the legislature. The final bill is a more modest step but it is a step in the right direction.

If the Governor signs SB0978 into law, it would erase some arrest records for children who weren’t charged or convicted of an alleged crime. These are mere arrests. SB0978 requires the Illinois State Police to delete its arrest records for these minors. The bill excludes alleged sex-related offenses, higher-level felony arrests and those occurring within the previous six months.

The Governor signed SB978 on Saturday. It is now law and here’s what the new law allows:

“Expungement would be limited to most but not all misdemeanors and low-level felonies committed after Jan. 1, 2015; records would only be expunged if the juvenile has not been charged formally with the crime; and this kind of expungement would only apply to those juveniles who have not been arrested for any other reason in a six-month period following the initial arrest. Arrests classified as Class 2 felonies or higher and all sex offense arrests (including misdemeanors) would not be eligible for this kind of “automatic” expungement.”

Here’s attorney Carolyn Frazier explaining SB978 on Politics Tonight here.

BILLS WE SUPPORTED THAT STALLED

We also advocated for SB2760 this session. The bill stalled in the Senate.

SB2760:

Amends the School Code. Provides that (i) prior to being asked any question or being requested to make any statement while in the presence of a police officer, a student must be informed of the right not to answer any question or to make any statement in the presence of a police officer; (ii) prior to being asked any question or being requested to make any statement while in the presence of a police officer, a student must be informed of the right to have a parent, a guardian, or an attorney present during such questioning or request for a statement; (iii) prior to being asked any question or being requested to make any statement while in the presence of a police officer, a student must be informed that any information given in the presence of a police officer may result in an arrest and in the issuing of a summons and may be used in school discipline and in criminal prosecution; (iv) prior to the presence of a police officer during the questioning of a student or of a request for a statement, the school principal shall approve the presence of the police officer during the questioning of or while making a request for any statement from the student; and (v) prior to the presence of a police officer during the questioning of or while making a request for any statement from a student, a parent or guardian of the student must be given notification of the opportunity to be present during the questioning. Sets forth provisions concerning the notification, school principal and police officer consultation, and tracking and reporting data. Effective July 1, 2014.

BILLS WE OPPOSED THAT STALLED

We strongly and consistently opposed HB4775 which passed the House UNANIMOUSLY and thankfully stalled in the Senate.

As passed in the House, HB4775:

Allows a school board to suspend or authorize the superintendent of the district or the principal, assistant principal, or dean of students of a school to suspend a student for a period not to exceed 10 school days or to expel a student for a definite period of time not to exceed 2 calendar years, as determined on a case-by-case basis, if (i) the student has been convicted of (rather than charged with) a violent felony and (ii) the board or, as authorized by board policy, the superintendent of the district or the principal, assistant principal, or dean of students of the school determines that the student’s continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school. Provides that the board may also authorize the superintendent of the district to immediately refer or transfer the student to another attendance center or alternative school if the student has been charged with a violent felony. Effective immediately.

We oppose this bill on the grounds that it simply feeds the school-to-prison pipeline.

Finally, those of you who support our work know that we spent all last year opposing a mandatory minimum gun bill (SB1342). The bill stalled in the House this session. Instead, the House and Senate passed HJR 96 which “creates the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee to examine the impact of the current sentencing structure, ensure that the enforcement and punishment of crimes does not disproportionately or unfairly affect certain racial, ethnic, or minority groups, and propose solutions to address the issues that exist within the current sentencing system.”

We believe that the push for a mandatory minimum gun law is not dead and will eventually be resurrected at a later date. We are keeping our eyes and ears open and will be ready to mobilize should it be re-introduced in the Fall session.

We thank all of you for being so responsive to our calls to support and/or oppose various pieces of legislation that we view as either helpful or unhelpful in the struggle to dismantle the PIC. The struggle continues…