Illinois Juvenile Justice Legislative Updates

Thanks to our friends at the Children and Family Justice Center (Northwestern University School of Law), we have summary of juvenile justice related legislation passed during this GA session.

Three significant pieces of legislation concern youth subject to adult sentencing or who are in the deepest end of the juvenile system:

HB 2471 – brought by Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children member Restore Justice Illinois, with technical and legal expertise provided by the Children and Family Justice Center’s Shobha Mahadev and Scott Main, this bill is a step towards bringing Illinois into compliance with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions holding youth “categorically less culpable” than adults and requiring courts to take into account how children are different. The bill applies to any youth in adult court; eliminates mandatory life without parole for juveniles; creates a list—based on factors enumerated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama—of youth-specific mitigation evidence that a court must consider (in addition to what a court already considers in aggravation and mitigation) in determining an appropriate sentence; and empowers judges, where appropriate, to depart from mandatory firearm enhancements.

HB 3718 (known as the “automatic transfer reform” bill) – provides an amenability hearing in juvenile court to most youth who are currently excluded from juvenile court and sent directly to adult court, including:
All youth aged 13-15, regardless of charged offense;
All youth aged 16-17, unless charged with first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated battery with a firearm;
Youth previously charged or tried in adult criminal court.

Concerning youth who will continue to originate in or be transferred to adult court, the bill expands judicial options for criminal sentencing and requires data and outcome reporting for youth subject to adult charges and sentences.

SB 1560 (known as the “DJJ right-sizing” bill) – bars commitment of youth to state facilities for status offenses and misdemeanor offenses, limits the time youth spend on aftercare supervision following release from state facilities, and requires that youth facing new adult charges be subject to local bond or pretrial detention rather than being returned to a state facility in advance of trial.

In addition, the General Assembly also passed legislation:
1. Reducing certain cannabis possession penalties for youth and adults, adding some record confidentiality protections for youth facing municipal tickets for violations (HB 218)
2. Barring children aged 12 or under from being admitted to a juvenile detention center unless a local youth service/crisis housing provider is contacted first but cannot accept the child (HB 2567)
3. Increasing communities’ ability to establish and participate in local juvenile justice councils (HB 4044)
4. Limiting the use of suspension, expulsion, and zero-tolerance policies in publicly-funded schools (SB 100)
5. Incentivizing educational attainment by youth and adult offenders by reducing the waiting period to seal eligible offense records upon receipt of a degree/certificate (HB 3149)
6. Increasing police accountability to communities [“body cam” guidelines; “receipts” for frisks and searches; data reporting on all stops culminating in detention] (SB 1304)

Young Leaders for Justice: An Update

March 28, 2015

March 28, 2015

On February 14th, a group of young people gathered at the Chicago Freedom School (CFS) to participate in the inaugural session of the Young Leaders For Justice (YLJ) program. YLJ is the result of a collaboration between CFS and us at Project NIA.

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We conceived of this program as an opportunity to support young people ages 17 to 24 to develop their knowledge about criminalization and to learn new organizing skills. Over the past 8 sessions spanning 4 months, participants have learned about the dynamics and nature of the prison industrial complex, oppressive policing, the juvenile justice system, healing justice, using social media as a tool for organizing, and more. In the final couple of sessions, participants will learn about strategies for grassroots fundraising and will participate in a walking tour of Chicago. YLJ participant Dan reflects on what he’s learned so far:

“Throughout this program, I have learned so much about living in America in 2015. I’ve had a chance to talk with so many wonderful people who have ideas that will positively impact the world. We’ve discussed the school to prison pipeline, prison industrial complex and so many concepts that have restricted the freedom and movement of black and brown bodies. I decided to apply for this program so I could better understand how this world works. I have received more than I thought possible through this program. What I’ve learned in these sessions will carry with me for the rest of my life. We were never meant to survive, so we must act and build to remember.”

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This program is also born of a need for more spaces in Chicago for young people to engage in collective political education. A couple of YLJ participants commented on this in a reflection about the program. Latia highlights the importance of being able to develop critical consciousness for action:

“Being a part of this program has allowed me to critically think about and analyze the history of policing and mass incarceration. In this space, we are able to ask questions and look at the prison culture in ways that are impactful. We are able to talk about the world in ways that can create change. It is great to be around like-minded, passionate people that are eager to create a new way of living. I have learned so much from each individual and I am eager to put all of our discussions and lessons into action. The question of imagining a world without prisons is one that we should all think about!”

Hugo stresses coming to consciousness about state violence through his participation in the program:

“We have been problematizing the idea of prisons, capitalism, police and other tentacles of the State. It has been a radical experience to be part of a group where everyone is open-minded and transparent. If there were more places and opportunities like CFS/YLJ, the world would be a better and revolutionary place.”

May 16, 2015

May 16, 2015

The YLJ program is rooted in a philosophy that activism is a life-long pursuit so it’s therefore important that it be infused with an ethic of care (including self-care). Some participants shared their reflections about the impact of this program on their identities and selves. Josephine spoke to the effects of YLJ on her personal development as an activist and human being:

“The YLJ workshops have been crucial to me as an activist and as a person living in Chicago. It has made the city and the history of its people, particularly black people, very intimate to my own sense of self and convictions on justice. The workshops not only teach us how to be more efficient, erudite activists of color, but teach us how to take care of ourselves, how to take up space, how to “be okay” in our bodies. The workshops have been holistic and healing and I always leave feeling full with a knowing that I am learning and becoming the kind of human being I need to be.”

YLJ has helped participants to see their worlds with new eyes. This has been a recurring theme throughout the sessions. Makiah, a high school senior, describes an awakening over the past few weeks:

“I’m learning to think critically about the patterns I see every day. You notice instances where cops are present. You, as a POC, know that you are targeted unjustly. But this program really gives you insight. We can all sit down and have conversation. We leave knowing, okay, this is what is going on. And this is why. And then we all go back to our own communities making all these new connections. We all have these suspicions about what it happening but we get them validated in this program. Now we’re in a phase of learning, ‘what now? what do I need to do’.”

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Lynda speaks to incremental changes in her perspective as she’s learned more about criminalization through YLJ:

“I notice the impact of my experience with YLJ in small ways. I have slowly developed a more critical lens when it comes to police in our communities. When my neighborhood association printed posters with the words ‘we call the police. We report all suspicious activities to the police,” I viewed it as a narrow-minded approach to safety. While we live in a police-centered world, we can’t rely on them to keep us safe. I still don’t have the answers but at least I now question more deeply.”

At the end of the 10 sessions of political education (end of June), some YLJ participants will execute action projects over the summer. We are excited to see how they apply the knowledge that they have gained through tangible projects. Stay tuned for future updates this summer!

We have cobbled together resources to run YLJ over the past few months. We received no significant foundation funding and have relied almost entirely on individual financial and in kind donations to make the program happen. We at Project NIA have volunteered our time to plan and co-facilitate this program because we are committed to youth leadership development. However, there are program costs that we have incurred including food and stipends for participants. We are still fundraising to support our work. If you are able and feel moved, please make a donation HERE today. All donations are tax-deductible to full extent of the law.

City Council Makes History In Passing Reparations Legislation For Burge Torture Survivors!

image by Monica Trinidad

image by Monica Trinidad

Chicago, IL – This morning Chicago Police torture survivors and their family members attended a Chicago City Council hearing to witness passage of historic legislation providing reparations for the torture they and scores of other African American men and women survived at the hands of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command. Some of the torture survivors and family members traveled from out of the City and State to attend the hearing.

The reparations package is the product of decades of organizing, litigation, and investigative journalism, and represents the culmination of an inspiring intergenerational and interracial campaign led by CTJM, Amnesty International, USA, Project NIA and We Charge Genocide, re-invigorated by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Forty-six organizations endorsed the ordinance, the U.N. Committee Against Torture specifically called on the U.S. Government to support the passage of the legislation and scores of Chicagoans attended demonstrations, rallies, sing-ins and a Citywide Teach-ins over the last six months to urge Mayor Emanuel to support the reparations ordinance.

“Over the course of the past 6 months, a coalition of individuals and groups organized tirelessly to achieve this goal. Today’s historic achievement, passage of the reparations ordinance, is owed to the decades of organizing to bring some justice to the survivors of Burge and his fellow officers’ unconscionable torture. We have successfully organized to preserve the public memory of the atrocities experienced by over 110 black people at the hands of Chicago police torture because we refuse to let anyone in this city ever forget what happened here,” said Mariame Kaba, founder and executive director of Project NIA.

The reparations resolution represents the first time Chicago’s City Council has formally acknowledged and taken responsibility for the police torture that occurred in Chicago, and recognized its obligation to provide concrete redress to the survivors and family members. In addition to the establishment of a $5.5 million Reparations Fund for Burge Torture Victims, the City will provide survivors and their families specialized counseling services at a center on the South side, free enrollment in City Colleges, and priority access to job training, housing and other city services. Additionally, a history lesson about the Burge torture cases will henceforth be taught in Chicago Public schools and a permanent public memorial will be erected to commemorate the torture and survivors.

“It is the first time that a municipality in the United States has ever offered reparations to those violated law enforcement officials,” said Joey Mogul, a co-founder of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, partner at the People’s Law Office and drafter of the original reparations ordinance. “This holistic model should serve as a blueprint for how cities around the country, from Ferguson to Baltimore, can respond to systemic racist police brutality.”

The final legislation was the product of an agreement reached with Mayor Emanuel, CTJM and Amnesty International, USA on the eve of an April 14, 2015 hearing on the original reparations Ordinance introduced into City Council by Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward) and Howard Brookins (21st Ward) in October of 2013.

While torture survivors, family members, and activists were pleased with the reparations package passed today, they noted that much more work needs to be done to address racially motivated police violence in the City of Chicago.

“Today is an important and historic day, and the result of a courageous, decades-long effort to seek justice. But this is not the end. We must make sure that this curriculum places torture under Burge in a broader context of ongoing and endemic police violence. We must expand counseling and treatment services so they’re available for all survivors of police violence. And more broadly, we must fight for an end not only to these horrific acts of torture, and police shootings of Black youth, but also against the daily police harassment and profiling of young people of color in Chicago and across the country,” said Page May, an organizer and activist with We Charge Genocide.

The Reparations Ordinance was drafted to provide redress to approximately 120 African American men and women subjected to racially-motivated torture, including electric shock, mock executions, suffocation and beatings by now former Police Commander Jon Burge and his subordinates from 1972 through 1991. Although Burge was convicted on federal charges for perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from the torture cases in 2010, he continues to draw a taxpayer funded pension.

Burge Torture Reparations Ordinance Passes Out of the Finance Committee!

Today, the Burge Torture Reparations Ordinance unanimously passed out of the Chicago City Council’s Finance Committee.

On the eve of a hearing on the Burge Torture Reparations Ordinance (April 14), Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) and Amnesty International – USA reached an agreement on a reparations package with Mayor Emanuel and his administration. The legislation is historic and will be the first time a City in the U.S. has provided reparations to victims of racially motivated police violence. If passed, the legislation will provide concrete redress to the torture survivors and their family members, including a formal apology; specialized counseling services; free enrollment in City Colleges; a history lesson about the Burge torture cases taught in Chicago Public schools; a permanent public memorial to the survivors; and it sets aside $5.5 million for a Reparations Fund for Burge Torture Victims.

The legislation comes after an impressive grassroots campaign co-led by Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Amnesty International – USA, Project NIA and We Charge Genocide.

Tomorrow, on May 6th, the full Chicago City Council will vote on this historic legislation that will provide reparations to the Burge Torture Survivors and family members. The largest gathering of Burge Torture survivors and family members will assemble to watch the City Council vote on the legislation.

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Join us at 10 am at City Hall for the vote!

For those who cannot make the meeting, we will gather at Chicago Temple for a celebration lunch after the vote. We anticipate being there around noon. All are invited to join us at Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, James Parlor Room, 2nd Floor after the City Council Vote.

Upcoming PIC-Related Events – May 2015

May 2, 9 to 1 pm – Student-Led Discipline Conference at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren. (Free garage parking available) – Register HERE.

This is an opportunity for students to share their perspectives on discipline and restorative practices, and to collaborate with community members and CPS on solutions for making our school discipline systems more effective and fair. FREE breakfast, lunch, giveaways, and raffle prizes!

May 4, 6:30 pmEmory Douglas: Arts & Resistance — at Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, 5733 South University Avenue, Facebook RSVP here

Emory Douglas in conversation with local artists and activists about arts, resistance and revolution. With Cairá Lee Conner from We Charge Genocide’s Radical Education Project, and James T. Green, 2014-15 Arts + Public LIfe/CSRPC Artist-in-Residence. Co-presented by CSRPC with The Black Death Project, a Mellon Collaborative Fellowship at the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry.

May 6, 10 amHistoric Vote on Reparations for Burge Torture Survivors — City Hall

Come to City Hall on Wednesday, May 6th, at 10am, when the City Council votes on the reparations legislation. We need your help to pack City Hall and stand in solidarity with Burge torture survivors. Let’s show a strong show of support as we urge the City Council to vote to approve the reparations ordinance.

May 7, 6 to 9 pmSentenced: Architecture and Human Rights — Art In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee Ave

An art exhibit about the architecture of incarceration featuring:

• a full-size model of a solitary cell
• drawings of solitary confinement cells by people currently being held inside
• rarely-seen designs for execution chambers built in the US
• other artwork made by prisoners held in solitary confinement

May 9, 1:30 pmSafety Beyond Police: Creative Brainstorm Session — at Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave.

In July, We Charge Genocide, Project NIA and hopefully many more Chicagoans will kick off a ‘Safety Beyond Police’ consciousness-raising campaign. Our aim is to engage our various communities through messaging and discussion to consider more expansive ideas of safety. The campaign is in its infancy and we welcome contributions and ideas from anyone who is interested in developing the campaign. To begin, we invite all interested individuals to a creative brainstorming session where we will develop ideas around messaging for the campaign. We make a special appeal to artists, designers and others who can help us to imagine new ways to craft messages and to convey ideas.

May 9, 11 amMother’s Day Vigil with Moms Incarcerated at Cook County Jail — at Cook County Jail

This year Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration invites individuals and groups to join us as we honor the many moms (and daughters and sons) inside Cook County Jail. We’ll gather near Division 17, which houses pregnant women and women struggling with addiction and mental illness. We insist that they never be forgotten behind those walls–on this or any other day.

May 9, 2 to 5 pm — Opening of The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates — at Northwestern University, Fisk Hall, 1845 Sheridan Road, room 217

Julie Green, Professor of Art at Oregon State University, will present her project The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates. Following this talk, Green will be joined by Rob Owen, Clinical Professor of Law at Northwestern, and Elliot Reichert, Curator of Special Projects at the Block, to discuss issues of representation, the criminal justice system, and social justice. A reception at the Block will follow this conversation. This exhibition runs until August 9, 2015.

May 12, 7:30 pmIn Loving Memory of Rekia Boyd  — at Depaul University

“We the members of MOVE are hosting a Candle Light Vigil for our slain sister Rekia Boyd. We have not forgotten the many women who have fell victim to the same injustices which continue to plague black men. We are coming together to remember our sister and calling the nation to acknowledge that #BlackWomenslivesmatter”

May 14, 6 pmWhat Assata Teaches About Black Lives Mattering: A Teach In — Depaul University, 2320 N. Kenmore –  RSVP is REQUIRED  here. Space is limited. We prioritize the participation of young organizers of color.

Assata Shakur’s life and legacy have been invoked recently as young Black people resist police violence and criminalization. What, in fact, are some of the lessons that we can learn about our current historical moment by focusing on Assata’s life and her resistance? Join Project NIA and other local groups on May 14th for a teach-in about Assata’s resistance and its application to current Black Lives Matter organizing.

May 15, 7 pmScreening: The Thin Blue Line — at Block Museum of Art

Randall Dale Adams lived through a nightmare. In 1976, someone shot and killed Dallas police officer Robert Wood. In 1977, a Texas court convicted Mr. Adams of the crime and sentenced him to death. The Supreme Court took up his case, and in March 1985, Errol Morris arrived in Texas to work on a documentary about psychiatrist known as Dr. Death for his damning testimony. Adams’s case fascinated Morris, who at the time held down a day job as a private detective. Applying those investigative skills, Morris crafted The Thin Blue Line. The movie stirred an outcry about the case and launched Morris’s career. In 1989, the Texas justice system released Adams from prison. Adams died in quiet obscurity in 2010, the New York Times reporting his death some eight months after it had occurred.

May 16, Noon to 6 pm — Creative Practices for Envisioning a World without Police — at HI Chicago Youth Hostel, 24 East Congress Parkway – Space is limited. Registration is required here.

Using science fiction and exploring emergent strategies such as adaptation and resilience, we will work together to generate community based practices for resolving conflict and addressing interpersonal violence without unjust police systems. We’ll start the day by creating a science fictional Chicago in which to explore alternatives to policing, and then explore lessons from the natural world through the science of emergence to see what practices the community can generate to create more possibilities for a just future.

May 16, 1 to 5 pm — Robeson High School Peace Rally.

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May 16, 2 pmRace Matters: From Chicago to Palestine – Mass Incarceration and the Militarized Policing of Youth — at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St, Oak Park, IL 60301

Please join Charlene Carruthers, Ethan Viets-VanLear, and Ahmed Hamad as they discuss the connections between struggles against police and military repression, mass incarceration and juvenile detention by communities of color in the US and Palestine.

May 18, 8:30-4:30 pm —  Schhool to Prison or Cradle to Career: Imagining a Different Pipeline,  Philip H. Corboy Law Center, 25 E. Pearson Street, 10th Floor. You must register here.

Why not a “ cradle to career” instead of “school to prison” pipeline? What is the school to prison pipeline and how and why did it evolve? What has the impact been in Chicago on childhood, children’s futures, and communities? To what extent is implicit bias at work? What can we do differently to confront the challenges faced in the schools by children, their families, and our communities? This one-day multidisciplinary program will explore current responses and new directions for lawyers, social workers, educators, law enforcement, psychologists, and child advocates to better serve children in our communities and our schools and move us toward a cradle to career pipeline.

May 19, 3 to 5 pm Building Partnerships for a Brighter Future: Making the Commitment to Improve the Juvenile Justice System — at Roosevelt University – Chicago Campus, 430 South Michigan Avenue, Library, 10th Floor

This forum will bring together system stakeholders and community based partners to engage in a dialogue that promotes the agreed upon “Commitment to Improvement in the Juvenile Justice System in Cook County” document. We will aim to elevate partnerships and collaboration between community and systems stakeholders that will lead to better outcomes for our youth.

May 19, 6 pm — Seen from Inside: Perspectives on Capital Punishment — at Block Museum of Art
In partnership with the Center for Capital Defense and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, the Block will host a series of acts exploring various perspectives on capital punishment—an exhibition overview by Block Curator of Special Projects, Elliot Reichert, followed by a capital case closing argument enacted by a death penalty defense attorney, a conversation with a former prisoner exonerated from death row, and insights from a family member of a homicide victim.

May 20, noon to 7DAMO DAY — Location TBA

Dominique Franklin Jr. who was also known as Damo by friends passed away on May 20th, 2014. He was murdered by the Chicago Police Department. Dominique was a brother, a son, a friend, and family of many people in the city of Chicago. We created this event not only to protest the perpetual Racist brutality carried out by the State and all its affiliates, but also to Celebrate the Life of someone filled with so much light. We gather May 20th to greet death with Life. We gather to show the system they cannot take us away without hearing from us. We gather for Damo. (THIS EVENT IS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE OF COLOR AND FRIENDS/FAMILY OF Dominique)

May 21, 5:30 to 7:30 pmSending Kites: Letters & Poems to Incarcerated Children (National Week of Action against Incarcerating Youth) — Hull House Museum (Dining Room), 800 S. Halsted St.

As part of the National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth (http://savethekidsgroup.org/2015noyouthinprison/), please join us on May 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 for an interactive session focused on incarcerated children.

With support from writer, artist and educator Bobby Biedrzycki, participants will collaborate to write letters, poems, prose to incarcerated children. All items will be included into a zine that will be mailed to children incarcerated in Illinois youth prisons as part of Liberation Library.

This is an all-ages event with a special invitation to young people to attend.

May 21, 7 pm Screening: The People vs. Paul Crump — at Block museum of Art (Evanston)

Before making his splash in Hollywood, 26-year-old Chicago-born director William Friedkin made a short documentary about Paul Crump (at that point the youngest death row inmate in Illinois history) to be shown on television the night of his execution. The film depicted the alleged torture by the police that Crump endured. The People vs. Paul Crump was not publicly screened, but Friedkin expeditiously showed it to the Illinois governor who commuted Crump’s sentence. The documentary’s use of reenactment anticipates Errol Morris’s famous use in the similarly themed The Thin Blue Line (screening May 15).

May 23, 2 pmKick the Kickbacks — at Little Village Community Church

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May 25, 11 am to 2 pmRemember Rekia and all of our Fallen — Douglas Park, 15th and Albany

As we honor the servicemen and women who have lost their lives in the many wars this country has waged, remember that there is no plot in Arlington Cemetery for the lives lost in the war waged on Black lives – a war that has been disguised as the “war on drugs,” the “war or crime,” the “war on gangs,” a war fought in America’s city streets, in its classrooms, detentions centers, its playgrounds and parks. Black Americans are dying in a centuries-old battle that we didn’t sign for, and this Memorial Day, we honor our deaths and celebrate our lives.

Join the #LetUsBreathe Collective in Remembering Rekia and all who have fallen in the war on Black lives. We will meet in Douglas Park, where Officer Dante Servin confronted Rekia Boyd and murdered her with impunity. We will lift up her name and the names of all Black women and girls, trans and queer lives, men, boys, and veterans and build them an altar. Then we will celebrate our ancestors and that we are still breathing with a spoken word and music performance & picnic.

Bring an object to add the memorial, your art, your heart, (some food to share!) and your love.

May 27, 6 pmWhen You CAN’T Shake It Off – at Block Museum of Art (Evanston)
A cell phone camera captures the death of Eric Garner. White men toting assault rifles film confrontations with police officers over their right to openly carry firearms. A video of a cop lip-synching to Taylor Swift goes viral. Join Will Schmenner, Block Cinema interim curator, and Harvey Young, Northwestern University associate professor, as they discuss the role and use of social media in creating a national conversation about race, law, and the limits of police power. How does civil resistance operate in the Internet era?

May 28, 7 pm — Screening: Un condamné à mort s’est échappé (A Man Escaped)

Bresson loosely adapted this thriller from the memoirs of André Devigny, a French resistance fighter held in a German prison during World War II. One of the masterpieces of this unrivaled director, Bresson strikingly mixes the tedium of jail with the nail-biting suspense of the preparations for escape. At every turn, this darkly Catholic film wonders aloud whether the dumb luck also needed to attain freedom comes by chance or by the grace of God. This is perhaps the only film about death row that throws away all questions of guilt and asks, what does it mean to be saved from certain death?

May 29, 6 to 9 pmDandelions in the Concrete: Growing Our Roots — Cortelyou Commons, 2324 N Fremont St, Chicago, Illinois 60614

Please come join in celebration and community for one of our favorite evenings of the quarter, and BCEV’s last Dandelions of the academic year. Dandelions is an open event that welcomes students, faculty, community members, and their friends and families to create a space that cultivates a sense of transformation and healing for all bodies and people. There will be arts and crafts, food, storytelling, self care practices, and creative performances. We also hold an open mic starting around 7 pm, and we’d love for you to bring something to perform or share with the community!

Dandelions is also a night dedicated to relationship building and practices of transformative justice within communities at DePaul and Chicago. AND, it is the perfect opportunity to meet new people.

Take Action: File A Witness Slip for HB2567 Today

HB2567, HCA#1 requires that prior to admitting a child ages 10-12 to a county juvenile temporary detention center, a determination be made that a local youth service provider is not able to accept the child. Illinois allows children as young as 10 to be confined before trial in county juvenile detention centers. Detained children are isolated from their families, their schools and their communities, and studies reveal significant harm to children from even a short period of detention. This bill requires that for 10-12 year olds an effort is made for an alternate placement such as with a provider in the Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services (CCBYS) network.

This bill passed out of the House with bi-partisan support on April 15, 2015. Sen. Heather Steans is the senate sponsor of the bill. Text of the bill is available here. Here is a FACT SHEET.

This bill is now up in the Senate Criminal Law committee, Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.   Please file a witness slip in favor of this bill. You can do so here.

How to File A Witness Slip:
1. Click HERE (after reading the steps below)
2. Under Section I, fill in your identification information
3. Under Section II, fill out your organization if you are representing one or write “self” if you are representing yourself. You can also fill in N/A.
4. In Section III, select “Proponent”
5. In Section IV, select “Record of Appearance Only,” unless you are submitting other forms of testimony, in which case select those as well.
6. Agree to the ILGA Terms of Agreement
7. Select the “Create Slip button

On the Brink of Historic Legislation: Reparations for Burge Torture Survivors

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The City of Chicago is poised to enact historic legislation which will provide long overdue reparations to the Burge torture survivors and their family members.  This legislation is the culmination of years of dedicated activism, advocacy and organizing.  Thanks to the truly inspirational campaign co-led by CTJM, Amnesty International, Project NIA, We Charge Genocide with the support of actions by BYP100 and the Chicago Light Brigade, and to everyone who worked long and hard over the past six months—the Burge Torture Reparations Ordinance is on the brink of passage.

Today at a special hearing of the Finance Committee of Chicago City Council, it was announced that an agreement was reached with Mayor Emanuel and the Ordinance co-sponsors Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward), Howard Brookins (21st Ward) and Joe Moore (49th Ward) on the terms of a comprehensive reparations package for those who survived torture at the hands of former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and police officers under his command.

However, the fight is not over yet—we still need alderpeople to vote in favor of this legislation in the Finance Committee in a couple of weeks and at the full City Council meeting on May 6, 2015. We ask for your help to ensure that this historic legislation is passed and swiftly implemented to bring a measure of justice to survivors of Chicago’s police torture scandal.

A Reparations Package for Burge Torture Survivors

Rooted in a restorative framework and reflecting critical provisions of the original Reparations Ordinance filed in October of 2013, the reparations package the City has agreed to includes a myriad of remedies that aim to meet the concrete needs of the Burge torture survivors and their family members. It will include:

  1. A formal apology from the Mayor and City Council for the torture and abuse committed by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and police officers under his command;
  2. A permanent public memorial acknowledging the torture committed by Burge and his men;
  3. Inclusion of a lesson in the Chicago Public Schools 8th and 10th grade U.S. History curriculum on the Burge torture cases;
  4. Provision of trauma and other counseling services to the Burge torture survivors and family members on the South Side of Chicago based on the model of services provided by the Marjorie Kovler Center and Heartland Alliance;
  5. Free tuition or job training at Chicago’s City Colleges for Burge torture survivors, their family members, including grandchildren;
  6. Job placement for Burge torture survivors in programs designated for formerly incarcerated people;
  7. Priority access to City of Chicago’s re-entry support services, including: job training and placement, counseling, food, housing & transportation assistance, senior care, health care, and small business support services;
  8. Financial compensation to the Burge torture survivors who are still with us today.

The City will set aside $5.5 million to establish a Reparations Fund for Burge Torture Survivors.  Every person found to have a credible claim of torture or abuse committed by Burge or his men at Area 2 and 3 Police Headquarters from 1972 to 1991 will receive the same exact amount from the fund.

It is important to note that the passage of this legislation does not foreclose a Burge torture survivor who is later exonerated from suing the City at a later date.  But if they choose that course of action, they cannot take part in the financial reparations offered here.  Like many class action lawsuits, people can choose to opt-in or opt-out from filing for and receiving these reparations.

This package is not perfect. The financial compensation is not the amount we struggled for. But it does bring us closer to our goal of each claimant receiving $100,000. To quote torture survivor Darrell Cannon: “This isn’t the world.  It’s just a small piece of the world … but we are in the world!” Additionally, the counseling services will not initially be offered to all people who have been tortured by law enforcement officials.  We have always recognized that law enforcement torture did not begin or end with Burge and there are many others in need of these services as well.  But our hope is that with private fundraising and other donations we can develop a center on the South side that can provide holistic services for others who have been affected by police violence.  As torture survivor Anthony Holmes shared, “There’s still so much work to do … Don’t let this struggle be for nothing. Keep going forward, together.”

A Strong Message

The legislation now before Chicago City Council sends a strong message that activism and organizing matter in the ongoing struggle for human rights and social justice. The City of Chicago is for the first time acknowledging its responsibility for gross human rights violations, violations recognized by the UN Committee Against Torture, and committing significant resources to begin to repair some of the harms inflicted on the torture survivors, their families and the communities from which they come.

A Historic Victory

Remarkably, this legislation marks the first time in U.S. history that a city has passed legislation providing reparations, including financial compensation, for police violence.   The City of Chicago’s recognition that people who were tortured by law enforcement officers deserve compensation and redress—regardless of any crime that they were accused of or may have committed—is an important recognition that torture is never excusable and the ends do not justify the means.  Every individual’s dignity matters.

Community Dinner to Discuss the Legislation and On Going Struggle

You’re invited to a Dinner for Reparations this evening from 6 to 8 pm at Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn. This will be a chance to share updates, discuss recent developments especially following the hearing, share food and build together. No cost to attend. Thank you to Project NIA and CTJM for helping provide food!

We Still Need YOUR HELP to Make This Historic Victory a Reality!

This fight is not over.  We still need you to call your Alderperson to urge them to vote in favor of the Chicago Reparations Ordinance at the next Finance Committee meeting.

You can find their names and numbers here.

Once the legislation passes out of the Finance Committee, we need you to call your alderpeople once again to urge them to vote to pass the Reparations Ordinance on May 6 at the full City Council meeting. You can find your alderperson here.

We will post other action items here.

Come out and be part of achieving a measure of justice and making history on May 6th! Join us at City Council and show your support for the Burge torture survivors, family members and the Chicago Reparations Ordinance!

With Hope for Justice.

See you on May 6th!

 

Update on the Burge Torture Survivors Reparations Fight

We are thrilled that Alderman Ed Burke, Chair of the Finance Committee, announced that the committee will hold a hearing on the Reparations Ordinance on Tuesday, April 14 at 10 am. In recent months, Project NIA and our friends at Amnesty International, BYP100, Chicago Light Brigade, CTJM and We Charge Genocide have stepped up to organize marches, demonstrations, rallies, sing-ins, exhibition-ins, teach-ins and more to demand a hearing and passage of the ordinance; and our efforts are paying off. As torture survivor Darrell Cannon told the Sun-Times: “People power has a way of getting the attention of the hardest of hearts of politicians.”

Now that we have a hearing, we need you to show up on April 14 at City Hall to demonstrate your support for the ordinance!

april14hearingHow You Can Support the Campaign for Reparations
Leading up to the hearing, please help us keep up the momentum and continue to build support.  Here’s what you can do:

  1. Please call the finance committee members listed here, and ask them if they plan on attending the finance committee hearing on 4.14.15 at 10 a.m.  Ask them to commit to doing so.  It is important for the aldermen and women who support our ordinance to attend that meeting and publicly demonstrate their support for our ordinance with their presence and their votes.
  2. Here’s how you can “Fight for Reparations in 10 minutes or Less.” Please participate and invite others to do the same.
  3. Join us on March 31, 2015 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at a rally outside of the Mayoral debate at WTTW studio. Chicagoans are talking about reparations. The Mayoral candidates must do the same.
  4. Come meet others in the movement at a potluck on April 1st, from 6 – 8 p.m. at Grace Place, 637 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60605
  5. Attend, host and spread the word about #TeachBurge Teach-Ins taking place through mid-April.
  6. Attend a screening of End of the Nightstick, a documentary about the struggle to expose brutal interrogations and torture by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, on April 12, 2 pm, at Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria). Part of the 2nd annual Injustice for All film festival organized by Trinity Church. If you are planning to attend the hearing on 4/14, we especially encourage you to stay for the discussion following the screening. We will be explaining what to expect at the hearing.
  7. Please donate to the Reparations Now Campaign. Every dollar counts as we continue to seek justice for Burge police torture survivors.

Chicago Police Torture and Reparations Exhibition-In at City Hall

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (3/18/15)

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (3/18/15)

The commitment and creativity of activists involved in this struggle has been truly inspiring. Take a peek at the Chicago Police Torture & Reparations Exhibition-In (captured in Storify), a dramatization of the history and legacy of Chicago police torture through an interactive art exhibition and teach-in at City Hall, right outside Mayor Emanuel’s office, organized by us and friends.  Read our friend Kelly Hayes’s recap of the event here. Check out a set of terrific photos of the exhibition and teach-in by Sarah Jane Rhee and Tom Callahan HERE.

Kuumba Lynx Brings Down the House at #LTAB2015

Don’t preach about terrorism when you keep it breathing and beating.”

On Saturday, an incredible group of young poets and activists from Kuumba Lynx showed Chicago what it means to speak out against the cycle of police torture and genocide. They blew the audience away – and made clear the need for reparations, for making amends. Watch the brilliant performance that won the Louder Than A Bomb team finals, and listen closely.

If you would like to get more involved in the campaign for Reparations for Chicago Police Torture Survivors, please email  justicememorials@gmail.com.

For more information on the ordinance and the Chicago police torture cases check out www.chicagotorture.org.

Upcoming (Chicago) PIC-Related Events – March 2015

The following are some events happening in Chicago that are focused on the PIC. Please feel free to email niapoetry@gmail.com if you’d like to include your event on the calendar.

February 13-May 9 Try Youth As Adults Photo Exhibition

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Until April 11thCrime Then & Now: Through the Lens of the Chicago Tribune – Roosevelt University, Gage Gallery 18 S. Michigan Ave

The spring show at the Roosevelt University Gage Gallery is Crime Then and Now: Through the Lens of the Chicago Tribune. Compelling photos related to crime in Chicago since the 1920s are on display for the first time at the Gage Gallery as part of the ongoing series, Above the Fold: 10 Decades of Chicago Photojournalism. The show tells the story of crime photography and how it has changed over the decades through 65 Chicago Tribune photos from the early 1920s through the present. The show is co-curated by Chicago Tribune picture editor Michael Zajakowski and the Gage Gallery’s Tyra Robertson. The show runs through April 11, 2015.

March 1, 11:30 am — Rest in Peace March – info here: http://bit.ly/RESTINPEACEMARCH

Join your community for a Rest in Peace March from Rosehill Cemetery to the nearest Chicago Police Department. This procession is safe for all ages and each person stands up for black people needlessly killed by police. The Rest in Peace March is a symbolic walk of the dead back to the hands of their killers and we ask that everyone wear black in mourning. Peace signs, flowers, and music are welcome. We will take our prayers to the doors of the police. R.I.P.

START:
Rosehill Cemetery
Western Ave & Bryn Mawr Ave

END:
Chicago Police Department
5400 N Lincoln Ave

March 1, 4 pm — Black + Pink Pen Pal Orientation — UIC

Hello current and prospective pen pals! Black + Pink Chicago is hosting a pen pal orientation to talk about pen palship, the Prison Industrial Complex and our Abolitionist framework and also to match new pen pals and write first letters!

All present pen pals are warmly welcome and encouraged to attend! There will be something to learn and share for everyone. If you are a current pen pal and you have something (e.g., words, artwork) from your inside pen pal that they’d like to share, please let us know.

March 2, 6 pm — Reparations Not Black Sites: Rally for the Run Off — Daley Plaza

Jon Burge began his parole on February 13, and will collect a city pension. The city spent $20 million dollars defending a torturer who will now live out his days in sunny Florida, at our expense. And yet his victims go uncompensated. Rahm didn’t think he would have to answer to them, or anyone else he has harmed, because of his multi-million dollar war chest. Now he knows better. Lets remind him that a mayor is always answerable to the people.

March 4, Noon-1:30 pm — Gender in the City: Street Harassment & Safety — 400 S. Peoria, Lunch Provided, FREE.

March 5, Noon to 2 pm — Justice not Homan, Shut the Torture House Down 3379 W Fillmore St. Chicago, IL

We are outraged by the existence of the notorious Homan Square facility, where Chicago police illegally hold civilians, torture, intimidate and deny them their rights! We clearly understand that the Homan Square facility would not exist without the complicity and protection of Mayor Emanuel and Anita Alvarez, Illinois Cook Co District Attorney. We demand Homan be shut down now!

Contact: Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression (312) 513-3795 contact@naarpr.org

March 5, 5:30 pm — Restoring Justice – Film Screening & Community Discussion, North Lawndale College Prep – Collins Campus, 1313 S. Sacramento Avenue — RSVP HERE.

Join The School Project, Free Spirit Media, and Ebony.com
for a community discussion and film screening of The School Project: Restoring Justice

5:30pm Reception
6:00pm Film Screening and Community Discussion including panelists:
Mariame Kaba, Project NIA and Karen VanAusdel, Chicago Public Schools Office of Social & Emotional Learning

Light refreshments will be available. Event is free and open to the public.

About Restoring Justice:
The School Project’s third segment, Restoring Justice, young documentary filmmakers from Free Spirit Media explore the impacts of discipline policies on students, school communities, and society. Historically, excessively punitive policies have served to push allegedly disruptive students out of class and school and have fueled the school to prison pipeline (a term that illustrates the severity of the issues). The film that this event centers around examines the movement toward more youth-centered, restorative justice practices, which began as a grass-roots effort and have subsequently been adopted to district leadership.

March 8, 6 pm — International Women’s Day with Rasmea Odeh — U.E. Hall, 37 S. Ashland Ave.

March 8, International Women’s Day, born of the struggle of working women, of immigrants, in New York 100 years ago – is a day of celebration and resistance. There can be no more fitting way to mark the occasion than to revisit the past struggles and victories won, in order to continue to build the struggle for women’s liberation.

We’ll have as our special guest Rasmea Odeh. Her courage and strength as she faces ongoing persecution by the U.S. Dept. of Justice has made her a symbol of Palestinian women’s resistance, and of women in the struggles for national liberation all over the world.

Sponsored by Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, the American Party of Labor, and Anakbayan

March 10, 4 pm – Chicago Police Torture Teach In: Burge and Beyond — Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St.

March 11, 8 pm – Women to Celebrate – 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd
In honor of Women’s History month, We Charge Genocide will be hosting an event celebrating women who have made significant contributions to Chicago’s organizing communities in the last year. This year’s “Women to Celebrate” event will focus on women whose work challenges state violence, in all its forms. This includes women whose work is focused on ending police brutality, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and pushing back against criminalization.

March 14, 2 pm — The Homestretch Screening and Resource Fair

The Homestretch follows three remarkable homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a more stable future. Each of these smart, resilient teenagers – Roque, Kasey, and Anthony – challenge stereotypes of homelessness as they work to complete their education while coping with the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age. Through haunting images, intimate scenes, and first-person narratives, these teens take us on their journeys of struggle and triumph. As their stories unfold, the film explores their plights within the larger issues of poverty, race, juvenile justice, immigration, foster care, and LGBTQ rights.

This free screening will be followed by a discussion and a resource fair, with local organizations that are tackling the issues of housing insecurity and homelessness. The Resource Fair features activities, performances and more.

March 18, Noon to 5 pm — Chicago Police Torture and Reparations Exhibition-In – City Hall

Join us on March 18 as we dramatize the history & legacy of Chicago police torture through an interactive art exhibition and teach-in at City Hall. We encourage educators to bring your students as we share information and art that will raise awareness about the impacts of police violence and the importance of reparations. It will be a unique experience that we are bringing right to the Mayor’s doorstep.

CTJM_exhibition-inposter2 (2)

March 18, 6 pm – Talking About Injustice: A Free Community Conversation in Chicago with Bryan Stevenson — Thorne Auditorium at Northwestern University School of Law

Join Facing History for a free Community Conversation with Bryan Stevenson, attorney, human rights activist, and author of “Just Mercy.” Stevenson is one of the country’s most visionary legal thinkers and social justice advocates. A MacArthur fellow and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson is a leader of the movement to fight mass incarceration in the United States. His electrifying TED talk on the subject of injustice has been viewed nearly two million times.

As part of Facing History’s national series of Community Conversations, sponsored by The Allstate Foundation, this event is free and open to the public, but you must register HERE to attend.

March 19, 11:30-2 pm, 2015 Loyola Race & Law Symposium: “A Post Racial Police State: Examining the Role of Racial Bias in Police Action.” – Phillip Corboy Law Center, Kasbeer Hall, 15th Floor, 25 East Pearson Street – RSVP HERE..

Loyola University Chicago’s Race and the Law Symposium is designed to bring awareness to legal issues that affect minority communities. In 2008, the Los Angeles Times published the article “Obama’s Post-Racial Promise,” which examined how the election of America’s first black president ushered in a new and improved era of race relations in our country. To the contrary, the killings of unarmed African American men by law enforcement officials in the past year has casted more than a shadow of doubt on the premise that we have truly moved past racial bias in our society. Within the last year, the killings of Mike Brown, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, and most recently, 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the hands of law enforcement officials, have made our society question what role racial bias may play in law enforcement actions. Our esteemed keynote speaker and panelists will explore this issue while offering solutions based on their professional and personal experiences

This year the panel consists of Jay Stanley – Senior Analyst with ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, Tom Dart- (JD ’87) Cook County Sheriff, and Stan Willis – Civil Rights and Criminal Defense Attorney. The Special Address will be given by Jasson Perez – National Co-Chair of Black Youth Project 100.

March 19, 4 pm — No Selves to Defend: Criminalizing Women of Color For Self-Defense, Columbia College, 624 S. Michigan Avenue, Collins Hall, Room 602

Mariame Kaba will be discussing “No Selves to Defend,” an exhibition that she organized and co-curated, that features the stories of women of color who have been criminalized for self-defense. The exhibition also addresses the campaigns and mobilizations that emerged to resist their criminalization and demand their freedom. “No Selves to Defend” explores the intersection of gender justice, racial justice and mass incarceration. Mariame will address how she uses cultural work in her anti-prison organizing by focusing on her work with the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander (CAFMA). Time permitting, she will also share the example of Black/Inside, an exhibition that she organized and co-curated about the history of black captivity and freedom in 2012.

March 21, 1 pm — Rally for Rekia & All of Our Sisters — Douglas Park
Please join the family of Rekia Boyd in celebrating her life, grieving her murder, and demanding NEVER AGAIN.

Please meet FURIE and allies in Douglas Park at 15th & Albany promptly at 1pm for a rally and speak out. It will have been three years since Rekia was murdered. Rekia Boyd was only 22 when she was shot in the back of the head and killed by an off-duty Chicago police detective.

March 24, 5 to 7 pm — NLG Police Brutality Panel — JMLS, 315 S. Plymouth Court

The JMLS chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is having a panel on police brutality. There are five speakers on the panel:

-Page May: an organizer with We Charge Genocide, to speak on local organizing and bringing local issues to an international arena
-Mariame Kaba: an activist, writer, and co-founder of Project NIA, to speak on larger social and historical issues of police abuse
-Iveliz Orrellano: a civil rights attorney and JMLS alumna, to speak on legal remedies available to address police misconduct
-Joey Mogul: a civil rights attorney, author of Queer (In)Justice, and Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project organizer, to speak on combining litigation with organizing and policy work
-Rozette Long: a family member of a person killed by the Chicago Police Department who was subsequently arrested at his vigil, to speak on the experience of abuse, the litigation process, and the effect it had on those around them

Food and beverages will be provided.

nlgpolicepanel

March 25, 7:30 pm — Writing Lives: Books Beyond the Prison Bars — Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St.

Join Chicago Books to Women in Prison along with authors Crystal Laura and Maya Schenwar for readings from their recent and acclaimed books, and for conversation with all of us on making vital connections behind bars, prison issues and more at this special event.

March 26, 12:30 to 2 pm — Matthew Freeman Lecture. Carlos Javier Ortiz: Images of the Aftermath of Violence on our Communities — Roosevelt University, Sullivan Room, 430 South Michigan Avenue — RSVP HERE

Award winning and critically acclaimed photographer, Carlos Javier Ortiz, will discuss the importance of art as activism, his most recent photo documentary work, “We All We Got.”

March 26-29Incite! Color of Violence 4 Conference, Beyond the State: Inciting Transformative Possibilities

This gathering will mark INCITE!’s fifteen years of engaging in grassroots organizing projects, critical conversations, national actions, transnational campaigns, and community building strategies to end colonial, racial, and gender-based violence against women of color, trans and queer people of color, and our communities.

COV4 will highlight emerging strategies and new frameworks that focus on ending violence without relying on policing, mass incarceration, restrictive legislation, and other systems of violence and control.

March 28, 1:30-4:30 pm — Understanding the IL Juvenile Justice System — Pre-registration is REQUIRED to attend.

Join us on Saturday March 28 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm for the workshop “Understanding the Illinois Juvenile Justice System: the Basics.” This introductory workshop will provide basic information about the points of contact for youth with the juvenile justice system as well as information about rights that young people have in the system. The workshop is appropriate for community members, parents, educators, young people, and organizers who have minimal knowledge about the juvenile justice system.

March 30, 6 pm – Black Trans Lives Matter—featuring CeCe McDonald and Monica James – Depaul University, 2320 N Kenmore Ave

Transmisogyny and racism are stealing the lives trans women of color. News media erase their murders, and police abuse and unjustly arrest the living. CeCe McDonald and Monica James stand for solidarity and struggle to defend Black trans lives.

March 28: Understanding the IL Juvenile Justice System – A Workshop

Join us on Saturday March 28 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm for the workshop “Understanding the Illinois Juvenile Justice System: the Basics.” This introductory workshop will provide basic information about the points of contact for youth with the juvenile justice system as well as information about rights that young people have in the system.

The workshop is appropriate for community members, parents, educators, young people, and organizers who have minimal knowledge about the juvenile justice system. At the end of the workshop, participants will:

a. Know the points of contact for youth in the juvenile justice system.
b. Better understand some of the issues that young people in conflict with the law experience.
c. Learn about the rights that youth have in the system.
d. Be able to identify some of the existing resources that can support young people in conflict with the law in Chicago.

The workshops are youth-friendly. Workshops are offered at no cost to participants. However PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Sign up to register for this workshop HERE.

Saturday, March 28
1:30 to 4:30 pm
David Weinberg Photography, 300 West Superior Street, Suite 203

Pre-Registration REQUIRED HERE

We are excited to partner with the Try Youth As Youth exhibition to offer this workshop. Come early to view the exhibition before we kick off the workshop at 1:30 pm.

TYAexhibition