NIA Events

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

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.


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 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

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

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.

nstd final final copy-page-0

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 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

May 19: National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth Kickoff March

Please join us and several other Chicago groups on Monday, May 19, at 5pm at Paderewski Elementary School at 2221 S. Lawndale Avenue (a school that was shut down by CPS last year) for an action and march to kick off the 2014 National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth.

Cell Block by "Mickey" - Lucharte

Cell Block by “Mickey” – Lucharte

After sharing some poetry, hearing some speeches from young people, and participating in a symbolic collective action (using padlocks – so bring one or two with you), we will march to the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center on Roosevelt and Ogden (2.5 miles).

Marching from a closed school to the youth detention facility symbolizes our commitment to advocate for better use of public funds; namely more funding for schools and extracurricular activities, jobs and vocational skills development, behavioral and mental health services, community-based alternatives to incarceration, and other restorative justice measures.

Please join us and spread the word to your colleagues, youth, and friends. This timely action and march comes after the United Nations Human Rights Committee recently urged the United States to end the practice of transferring minors to adult court, and the Juvenile Justice Initiative issued its report on the devastating impact of transferring minors to adult court in Cook County.

Co-sponsors of the march include (please let us know if you would like to add your group to the list by emailing Mariame at

Black and Pink – Chicago
Black Youth Project 100 (Chicago Chapter)
Canaan Community Church
Circles and Ciphers
Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce
Chicago Freedom School
Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools (CSOSOS)
Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women
Conscious Souls in Action at Rudy Lozano Leadership Academy
Free Spirit Media
Gender JUST
Health and Medicine Policy Research Group
HumanThread Center/Gallery for Arts & Education
Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
The Immigrant Youth Justice League
International Socialist Organization
Kuumba Lynx
Lawndale Christian Legal Center
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
A Long Walk Home
Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration
Occupy Rogers Park
Organized Communities Against Deportations
Overpass Light Brigade Chicago
People Organizing Peace Systems (P.O.P.S) Movement Chicago
Project NIA
Radical Public Health
Revolutionary Poets Brigade
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (Francis W. Parker Chapter)
Sustainable Schools Action Team (Alliance for Climate Education)
Union Solidarity Committee of United Auto Workers Local 551

May 28-30: Freedom Dreams…Freedom Now

The UIC Social Justice Initiative invites you to attend the Freedom Dreams…Freedom Now conference commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer 1964. There are dozens of scholars, artists and activists participating from around the country. Please email with any questions. For a full list of conference sponsors, see HERE.

Project NIA is a proud community partner for this event. We hope to see you at the end of March at Freedom Dreams…Freedom Now!

Space is limited so register HERE TODAY!


April 27: Tulia, Texas Screening and Discussion

Please join us on April 27…


Watch the film and stay for the panel discussion which will include:

Alex Bahls — Students for A Sensible Drug Policy (University of Chicago Chapter)

Angela Caputo — Chicago Reporter

Jasson Perez — Black Youth Project

Eliza Solowiez — First Defense Legal Aid

You can find information about the entire Injustice For All Film Festival and can register HERE.

April-June 2014: PIC and Criminalization Events (Updated)

April 24, 2014 —  Roosevelt University, 1 p.m. —  A Summit on Counsel for Children During Police Interrogations —  You are invited to examine the impact of the 2008 European Court of Human Rights decision extending counsel to children (and adults) during police interrogations and its implications for children in Illinois, particularly those at risk of adult trial and incarceration. Register HERE.

April 24-May 3, 2014 Injustice For All Film Festival — Across Chicago.

Our screening and discussion of Tulia,Texas is on April 27, 2014. Details are HERE. JOIN US!

April 29, 2014Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander Membership Meeting – at Chicago Freedom School, 719 S. State Street #3N, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

April 29, 2014 – Join Chicago Public Schools and Project NIA for a discussion about School Discipline. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Alternatives Inc., 4730 N. Sheridan Road. The discussion will focus on CPS’s suspension and expulsion reduction plan. Come hear what their plans are and offer your input and suggestions for change. Register HERE (especially if you need childcare). Free and open to everyone. Food will be provided.

May 1, 2014 — UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The Right To Play Exhibit Opening — 4 to 7 p.m.
FREE, All ages welcome.

Celebrate May Day at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum! Join us for the opening of the museum’s newest exhibit, Unfinished Business: The Right to Play, which explores the history of the social movements that created the first playgrounds, fought for an eight-hour work day, and suggested that time off from work could create a more just world. On May 1, the museum and courtyard will be bustling with activity: field games, food trucks, DJs, live music, and performances by the Jesse White Tumbling Team and other youth ensembles. Rain or shine, we invite visitors to exercise their right to play!

Exhibit Highlights:

● “Eight Hour” songs: In partnership with the Hideout, the Studs Terkel Festival, and the Logan Center, JAHHM invites five local bands to reimagine labor songs composed by Progressive ­Era activists. Listen to records that feature new and old renditions of the songs.

● Prison Neighborhood Arts Project Collaboration, Freedom and Time: In collaboration with the Prison Neighborhood Arts Project, JAHHM showcases
an animation by incarcerated artists at Stateville Prison. Drawing on PNAP’s distinctive model of teaching and art­making, artists spent a semester exploring freedom, play, and time with teaching artist Damon Locks.

● Another World Is Possible: The eight-­hour workday movement called for “eight hours work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what we will.” A century later, activists and thinkers continue to imagine ways to structure economies and work that allow all people to experience their full humanity. JAHHM presents four of these models as interactive infographics.

● Freedom Dreams: Activists and community members consider the questions, “What is freedom? When have you felt the most free?” Their responses will hang in the exhibit for visitors to read and contemplate.

● Jolly Romp: Take a swing on a kinetic sculpture by the Stockyard Institute’s Jim Duignan.

● Right to Play Zine: Learn about why Hull-­House reformers thought play was a crucial component of social change and try out some of their favorite games.

May 2, 2014 — American Jails: The Final Frontier for Correctional Reform– 2 to 4:30 p.m. — Discussion featuring Michael Jacobson, Director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance, former Director and President of the Vera Institute of Justice, NYC Probation and correction commissioner, and author of Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration.

Where: Loyola University Chicago, Philip H. Corboy Law Center, Power Rogers & Smith Ceremonial Courtroom, 10th Floor, 25 East Pearson St

RSVP: The event is free, but please RSVP by emailing or calling JHA’s Office Manager Dan Hoffman, 312-503-6300.

Over the past two decades, increased attention has been paid to sentencing reform and the incorporation of evidence-based practices in the fields of criminal law and procedures as well as in institutional and community corrections. From revisions in sentencing structures to treatment-focused specialty courts, efforts have been undertaken by states, the federal government, and a wide range of advocacy groups to reduce reliance on prisons and to enhance the quality and effectiveness of community corrections.However, less attention has been paid to the roughly 3,000 U.S. jails, where more than 13 million people cycle in and out of detention annually.

American Jails will feature national and local experts on correctional reform, including Michael Jacobson, David Olson of Loyola University Chicago and John Maki of the John Howard Association. They will provide an overview of reform efforts that have been attempted across the country to reduce the reliance on jails and a discussion of the challenges and issues facing the Cook County Jail, the largest single-site detention facility in the United States.

May 10, 2014 – African American Cultural Center at UIC — 1 to 5 p.m. — Introduction to the PIC 101 — Pre-register HERE.
This 4-hour workshop provides participants with an introductory understanding about the role and impact of prisons in the U.S. Participants will engage in interactive activities that focus on understanding the history and economic underpinnings of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).

Saturday, May 10, 2014
1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
African American Cultural Center (Library, 2nd floor)
University of Illinois at Chicago (Addams Hall)
830 S. Halsted
[You actually have to enter the campus to find the building; it's tricky so read the signs on the buildings or ASK FOR DIRECTIONS]

Bring your lunch
This workshop is facilitated by members of the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective.

May 16-17, 2014National Forum on Police Crimes with Angela Davis

May 28-30, 2014Freedom Dreams…Freedom NOW – Join us for an intergenerational interactive gathering of scholars, artists & activists to wrestle with the past and imagine & organize for a better future.Speakers & Participants include: Angela Davis, Julian Bond, Robin D.G.Kelley, Rosa Clemente

June 2-4, 2014Reconnecting The Pathways — A statewide juvenile justice focused conference. Registration is now open and is on a sliding scale.

June 14, 2014 – Columbia College — 1 to 4 p.m., Understanding Prison Abolition 101 — This workshop is facilitated by Project NIA and members of the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective. Details to come. Bring Your Lunch. $10 to $20 sliding scale. Space is limited.