Black & Blue: A Series of Events in Chicago

Project NIA invites you to join us for a series of events about policing, violence, and resistance (March 18-March 29). This series is inspired by the work that we & our allies created and developed in 2012. Co-sponsors of these events include: the UIC Social Justice Initiative, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls & Young Women, and Community Cinema (Chicago).

All events take place at the Pop-Up Just Art Space, 729 West Maxwell Street. RSVP to

Black & Blue: Art about Policing, Violence and Resistance
Project NIA believes strongly in the value and importance of creative resistance. We use art (in its various forms) to communicate with a broad array of individuals about the injustice of the prison industrial complex. To that end, we invited artists (youth & adults) to contribute prints and posters relating to policing, violence, and resistance. We are thrilled to be able to exhibit art created by Billy Dee, Eric Garcia, Leigh Klonsky, Eva Nagao, Mauricio Pineda, youth from La Lucha Arte, students from Bowen High School, and others. The exhibition opens on March 19th with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Join us. In addition, you can still contribute art to the exhibit until March 28th.

Monday March 18
7 to 8 p.m. – Online screening and discussion of Frontline documentary, Law & Disorder: The New Orleans Police Department in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. [co-sponsored with Community Cinema]
Information about how to register is here.

Tuesday March 19
5:00 to 7 – Opening Art Exhibit
7-8:30 – Panel: Historical Moments of Policing, Violence, & Resistance
Join the authors and creators of a series of pamphlets about historical moments of policing, violence, and resistance for a discussion.

Panelists will discuss what we can learn from community resistance to police violence in mid-20th century Harlem, the Burge Torture cases, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Oscar Grant, the Mississippi Black Papers, and Red Summer. We will also discuss the relevance of these historical incidents for today.

Speakers (To date): Lisa Dadabo, Billy Dee, Sharlyn Grace, Mariame Kaba, Emily Mannakee, Olivia Perlow, Mauricio Pineda

Wednesday March 20
6 to 8 p.m. – The Invisibility of Police Violence against Women & Girls of Color

Discussions and considerations of police brutality often focus on men as the primary victims of this violence. We know however that women are also the targets of violence by law enforcement.

On March 21, 2012, Rekia Boyd, a young African American woman, was with her friends enjoying an unusually beautiful Chicago March day. The four friends decided to walk to the store up the street. In order to do so they had to cross through an alley. Dante Servin an off-duty detective with the Chicago Police Department had recently moved into this gentrifying neighborhood.

Detective Servin was reportedly upset with late night noise behind his home across from Douglas Park and from his car had told a group of four people to quiet down. There were words, an object raised, and the detective fired his gun repeatedly.

Antonio Cross was hit in the hand. The object he had raised was a cell phone. Boyd was hit in the head and pulled off life support the following day.

Antonio Cross was charged with assaulting a police officer and is presently awaiting trial. The State’s Attorney asked for a continuance this past January because they were “not ready,” the new trial date is set for March 13, 2013 at 9am at 3150 Flournoy.

Dante Servin has been placed on administrative duty and no charges have been filed against him.

Join several speakers including Mariame Kaba (Project NIA, Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women), Crista Noel (Women’s All Points Bulletin), and Shira Hassanwho will discuss the invisibility of police violence particularly against women and girls of color.

Thursday March 21
6 to 8:30 p.m. – Screening & Discussion: Death of Two Sons: The Story of Amadou Diallo and Jesse Thyne

41 Shots
On Feb. 4, 1999, four New York City Police officers killed African immigrant Amadou Diallo on his own doorstep in a hail of 41 bullets. The inhumanity of Amadou’s death outraged African-Americans, so often the victims of such violence themselves, and people of all ethnicities took to the streets in protest. And yet, despite all the publicity, how many of those marching in Diallo’s name could tell you what his native language was or place Guinea on a map?

Two Lives
Jesse Thyne knew Amadou’s history better than any other American. An exuberant Peace Corps volunteer from Pasadena, CA, Jesse was assigned to Amadou’s home village in Guinea, West Africa. He’d been “adopted” by members of Amadou’s family and lived in their house. While Amadou sold hats and gloves on a New York City street corner to save money for college, Jesse was learning to speak the local language and teaching Guinean children math.

When Amadou died, people in Guinea turned to Jesse for an explanation. Jesse was present at Amadou’s funeral, where he sat with the Diallo family and served as a translator for American journalists.

Two Tragic Deaths
In January of 2000, almost a year to date after Amadou’s death, Jesse was killed in a brutal car accident on a Guinean highway. The taxi driver responsible for Jesse’s death spent three years in a Guinean prison – a harsher-than-usual punishment. Amadou’s killers walked free.
Jesse’s death, like Amadou’s, was used as a rallying cry against endemic problems. While thousands of Americans protested Amadou’s death, thousands of Guineans came together to march for road safety awareness in a country notorious for reckless driving. Like Amadou, Jesse was repatriated to his home soil for burial. Both families had premonitions and dreams foreshadowing the deaths of their sons, and both deaths had a profound spiritual impact on their nation’s religious communities.

One Story
Death of Two Sons follows the life histories of Amadou and Jesse as their dreams led them to each other’s home countries. The film looks at the religious, social and political implications of their deaths, raising painful and difficult questions about race and global disparities of justice. Beyond examining the broad societal aspects of these events, the film leads us to a very personal truth: that the loss of any human life is equally tragic. Death of Two Sons shows the common humanity shared by these young men, their families, and their nations.

Finally, read this moving letter written by Mos Def back in 1999 about Amadou Diallo’s killing.

Saturday March 23rd
4 to 6 p.m. — Intergenerational Readings about Policing, Violence, and Resistance

Join youth and adults from across Chicago as we share and read poetry and prose about police violence.

Bring an original piece of writing or bring your favorite existing poem or prose to share.

Also experience the terrific art from the Black & Blue exhibit.


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