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.


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 (, 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


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.

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

For more information on the ordinance and the Chicago police torture cases check out

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 if you’d like to include your event on the calendar.

February 13-May 9 Try Youth As Adults Photo Exhibition


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:

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.

Rosehill Cemetery
Western Ave & Bryn Mawr Ave

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

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
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.

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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.


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.

2/14: A People’s Hearing on Chicago Police Torture Reparations

Project NIA to Participate in People’s Hearing on Chicago Torture Reparations Ordinance

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (City Hall, 1/15/15)

photo by Sarah Jane Rhee (City Hall, 1/15/15)

CHICAGO — Project NIA will be partnering with Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Amnesty International USA and We Charge Genocide to hold a People’s Hearing this Saturday, Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. CST to discuss the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors. Despite ongoing and repeated requests for a public hearing, the City Council has not scheduled a hearing, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has failed to take meaningful steps to move the ordinance forward.

Therefore, the people of the City of Chicago, are holding a People’s Hearing. Mayoral candidates have been invited to come and state their position on the Ordinance so that voters know where they stand and the chief co-sponsors, Howard Brookins Jr. (21st ward) and Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward) will discuss the ordinance and its passage.  Reverend Hatch of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church (NMP) will also speak in favor of passage of the ordinance.

The Ordinance, which would provide meaningful redress to over 110 African American men and women tortured by notorious former Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives, has been stalled in the City Council Finance Committee for over a year, although it has the support of over half of the current City Council members. Saturday also marks the day Burge is expected to be released from house arrest after serving less than four years in prison for perjury.

The People’s Hearing will also feature testimonials by survivors of Burge torture and community leaders who will give voice to the specific objectives of the Ordinance. Young poets from Young Chicago Authors will perform original poems inspired by the history of Burge torture and the struggle for restorative justice.

Saturday, Feb. 14 at 1:00pm – 3:00pm in CST


Chicago Temple, the Sanctuary
77 W. Washington St
Chicago, Illinois 60602

RSVP on Facebook

Upcoming (Chicago) PIC-Related Events – February 2015

January 28 & February 11 A Threat To Justice Everywhere: From Ferguson to Chicago, Depaul Law School, 25 E. Jackson Lewis building room 803

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January 31-February 6 Build Presence: A Movement Supportive Happening for Racial Justice

Build Presence invites you to participate in a public interactive art project for study, action, and solidarity in support of the growing movement for Black-centered racial justice and an end to police brutality and overall systemic violence.

The event will take place Saturday January 31st and then Tues-Friday noon to 4 pm, in the Cultural Center’s first floor public studio space. Thank you to artist and curator Alexandria Eregbu for opening her studio residency to host this event.

This public installation will be a site where meditative action cultivates presence and embodied knowledge. By providing visitors with various opportunities to educate themselves and act on that knowledge, we hope to foster awareness, empowerment, solidarity, and momentum.

Build Presence is created by a group of feminists who are queer and non queer, women and non women, artists and non artists, of color and non color.

Thursdays and Fridays, January 29th-February 6th — TRACK 13: A playformance for Deonta Mackey. Special performance February 10th. 7pm. Tickets HERE (pay what you can)

In February of 2014, before Ferguson, before Eric Garner, 16-year-old Deonta Mackey mugged an off-duty Cook County sheriff who then shot and killed him. Before police brutality became the focus of national attention, Free Street’s Young Fugitives agreed that black lives matter. Using physical theater and mime, “Track 13” explores youth violence, police brutality and the conditions of both. Young people grow up with meaning projected onto their bodies by society, the media, and the people who live on the block, meanings often based on skin color.

February 1, 11 am to 4 pm — Justice for Stephon: A Freedom Ride for #BlackLivesMatter — starts at Village Leadership Academy, 1001 W. Roosevelt. If you plan to join the Freedom Ride, you MUST register HERE.


February 1, 2 pm — Cornel West: “The Radical King” — University of Chicago, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel 5850 S. Woodlawn.
The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture Annual Public Lecture presents Dr. Cornel West discussing his new book, “The Radical King.”

February 5, 7 pm — 2015 Kent Lecture: Hill Harper, Mandel Hall, 1131 East 57th Street

The State of Black Youth: How We Fare in a System of Brutality and Incarceration

Hill Harper is an award-winning actor, best-selling author, and philanthropist. Harper starred on the CBS TV drama CSI: NY from 2004 to 2013. As of March 2013, he joined the USA Network spy drama Covert Affairs. Harper is the author of four New York Times bestsellers and he has earned seven NAACP Image Awards for his writing and acting. He is founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, dedicated to empowering underserved youth through mentorship, scholarship, and grant programs.

Hill Harper 2015

February 7, 10 to 3 pm — Racism, Police Violence, and Health “Teach In” — UIC School of Public Health Building, 1603 W. Taylor St, Auditorium Room 109. Admission is free (organized by Radical Public Health)

“Hands up Don’t shoot” can be heard throughout the world. Over 120 days after the killing of Michael Brown, protestors continue to mobilize as the movement grows. RPH, and MSAPH present a “Teach In”, with community leaders, students and those who have dedicated their time peacefully protesting for social justice on the ground in Ferguson. Come dialogue with us on this Public Health issue. Please RSVP if you plan to attend, breakfast and lunch will be provided!


February 7, 6 to 8 pm — Why Ayotzinapa? – ¿Por Que Ayotzinapa? — 1011 W 18th Street

Foro Comunitario / Community Forum:
Las voces de la rebelión / Voices of the Rebellion

1) Autodefensa comunitaria contra narcos y el gobierno estatal: enfoque en caso de Nestora Salgado, presa política.
2) Aguas ancestrales vs corporaciones transnacionales – La lucha indígena contra la extracción de recursos naturales: enforque en los presos políticos de la comunidad Yaqui
3) La batalla por la costa: Ganancias de empresas transnacionales y la guerra del narco. El narco-estado y beneficios corporativos: puertos, extracción de recursos naturales y el comercio global. (

1) Community self-defense against narcos and state government: political prisoners Nestora Salgado
2) Ancestral waters vs transnational corporations – Indigenous struggles against resource extraction: focus on Yaqui political prisoners.
3) The battle for the coast – Transnational profits and the narco wars. The narco-state and corporate profits: ports, resource extraction and global trade. (

February 10, 4 to 6:30 pm, Ferguson and its afterlives, University Church, 5655 South University Avenue

What can solidarity, alliance and organization look like in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter? Join activists in discussion! Dinner will be provided. The location is wheelchair accessible.


February 11, 6 pm, Making Connections, Building Alliances to End Police and State Violence, Depaul University, Schmitt Academic Center (SAC) 161, 2320 N. Kenmore Avenue


February 12, Noon to 4 pm — Richard Ross: Images of Juvenile Justice — Roosevelt University, Gage Gallery 18 S. Michigan Ave. Register HERE

Richard Ross will be presenting a workshop for Roosevelt University students and other young people in Chicago. He will focus on ways to utilize photography as story telling through which we can create spaces to allow for the often ‘silenced’ voices to be heard.

February 12, 5:30 pm — Stop the School to Prison Pipeline — Fruitvale Station — film screening and discussion with CTU, the Police Accountability Council and Social Justice Initiative — Gallery 400, UIC, 400 S. Peoria St. You must RSVP HERE.

Why do young black men in the Chicago Public Schools get suspended disproportionately and 11 times the expulsion rate of district schools within charter schools? What is the relationship between budget cuts, school closings and the school to prison pipeline? How do racially unjust police practices play out in the school system and what can we do about it?


February 12, 5:30-9 pm, Opening Exhibition Reception: The Forgotten: Chicago Youth Lost to Gun Violence (2011/13), Josef Glimer Gallery, 207 West Superior Street — To RSVP please email or call 773.704.7246 — Exhibition runs through Friday, February 27, 2015

Uplift Community High School Students’ series of mosaic linoleum relief prints represent the spirits of youth claimed to senseless violence on the streets of Chicago. These prints, presented alongside works by noted Chicago artists, all respond to the horror of the growing youth violence in Chicago.

Inspired by the play The Gospel of Loving Kindness, this exhibition portrays the souls of children murdered in Chicago. Our goal is to honor the memories of a generation too often lost in obscurity. Our hope is to bring their lives, aspirations and dreams to the forefront. Our wish is to call attention to the horror of the war that is taking place almost daily on the streets of Chicago.

February 13-May 9 Try Youth As Adults Photo Exhibition


February 14, 1 to 3 pm — Rally for Reparations: A People’s Hearing, Chicago Temple 77 W. Washington St.

The time is now to pass the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors. Chicago has waited too long to provide meaningful redress for over 110 African American men and women tortured by notorious former Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives. This racially motivated violence included electric shock, sexual abuse, suffocation, and beatings. The City of Chicago has acknowledged this torture, and the UN has called for redress. Yet scores of survivors still suffer from the ongoing impact of the trauma they endured — without compensation, assistance, or recourse.

The Reparations Ordinance has been stalled in the City Council Finance Committee for over a year. Despite ongoing and repeated requests for a public hearing, Finance Committee Chair Ald Burke has not scheduled a hearing, and Mayor Emanuel has failed to take meaningful steps to move the ordinance forward. Therefore, we, the people of the City of Chicago, are holding a People’s Hearing.

Reparations 2.14 Event Flier

February 18, 3 to 8 pm — UnWanted: Immigrant Detention-Deportation & Mass Incarceration — UIC Student Services Building, 1200 W Harrison St. — RSVP to Ryan Viloria at

Come to this unique IRRPP screening event to discuss the links between immigrant detention-deportation and mass punishment and incarceration. How does the prison state reinforce injustice related to race, ethnicity and sexual orientation? What are the factors driving persistent injustice against immigrants, women, queer people and people of color?

We will have two simultaneous screenings of “Documented,” about undocumented Americans, and “Out in the Night,” about the New Jersey Four. A panel discussion with dinner between screenings will draw the connections between these forms of state control. Come for one documentary or both but make sure to attend the panel discussion. Panelists include Renata Hill, one of the four women featured in “Out in the Night,” and blair dorosh-walther, director of “Out in the Night.”

3pm- Simultaneous screenings of Documented and Out in The Night
4:45pm- Panel discussion and dinner
6pm- Simultaneous screenings of Documented and Out in The Night.

Documented, by Jose Antonio Vargas
In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine. Documented chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his public struggle as an immigration reform activist/provocateur; and his journey inward as he reconnects with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years. A broken immigration system leads to broken families and broken lives.

Out in the Night, by blair dorosh-walther
One hot night in August 2006, a group of young African American lesbian friends are harassed in a gay friendly neighborhood of New York City. They defend themselves and a fight ensues. Charged with gang assault and labeled a “Lesbian Wolfpack” in the mainstream media, four of the women begin an emotional and psychological battle as they claim self-defense. Trailer:

February 19, 5:30 to 8 pm – Fruitvale Station Viewing — Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn (organized by NLG Chicago)

February 20, 7pm, They Don’t Give a Damn: The Story of the Failed Chicago Projects

Premiere screening of this vivid and revealing documentary about the demolition and ‘transformation’ of the notorious Chicago housing projects. In 1999, the City of Chicago undertook The Plan for Transformation, a redevelopment agenda that purported to rehabilitate and construct a total of 25,000 new public housing units. The film provides a look at the worldview of the displaced residents: their identity formation, their perceptions of public housing, their thoughts and feelings about redevelopment, their underlying fear of neighborhood gentrification, the cultural myth that perpetuates status value, adult learning, and the implementation of Chicago’s transformative plan.

Based on the book Where Will They Go?: Transforming Public Housing by Dr. Dorothy Appiah, the film was developed by director Kenny Young, producer Phil James, cinematographer Jeffrey T. Brown and producer Karon Hamlet. Screening will be followed by a discussion with the author, the filmmakers, and Audrey Petty (University of Illinois, editor of High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing), moderated by Jacqueline Stewart (University of Chicago, Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College).

February 21, 1 to 4 pm, American Denial You must RSVP HERE. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington St.

In the wake of recent events that have sparked a national dialogue on race dynamics, American Denial explores the impact of unconscious biases around race and class, using Gunnar Myrdal’s 1944 investigation of Jim Crow racism.

Follow the story of foreign researcher and Nobel Laureate Gunnar Myrdal whose study, An American Dilemma (1944), provided a provocative inquiry into the dissonance between stated beliefs as a society and what is perpetuated and allowed in the name of those beliefs. His inquiry into the United States’ racial psyche becomes a lens for modern inquiry into how denial, cognitive dissonance, and unrecognized, unconscious attitudes continue to dominate racial dynamics in American life. The film’s unusual narrative sheds a unique light on the unconscious political and moral world of modern Americans. Archival footage, newsreels, nightly news reports, and rare southern home movies from the ’30s and ’40s thread through the story, as well as psychological testing into racial attitudes from research footage, websites, and YouTube films.

1:00 PM – 1:30 PM:
Come early to take the Implicit Bias test. Tablets will be provided (courtesy of Chicago Freedom School) and test assistance provided by Chicago Council on Science and Technology. You can also take the test in advance HERE.

1:30 PM – 2:00 PM:
Carlee Beth Hawkins of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Project Implicit will lead a presentation and discussion about implicit bias before the film.

How do basic mental processes impact our perception, judgment and action as social beings? In what ways do we develop expectations, beliefs and attitudes about social groups? Could the discovery of our own implicit bias be a starting point towards changing attitudes and behaviors?

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM:
Screening of the film American Denial

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM:
A discussion about racism and implicit bias in the U.S., with David Stovall, Associate Professor of Education Policy Studies and African American Studies at UIC, Ric Wilson, artist and organizer with BYP100 and young leaders from Chicago Freedom School.
Moderator: Brandis Friedman, Correspondent, Chicago Tonight, WTTW

Presented by ITVS and WTTW in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Chicago Council on Science and Technology and the Chicago Freedom School.

February 27, 10 to 3 pm — Young Adults: Moving From Prison to Pathways of Hope – Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, 10th floor Library — Register here.

Please join Mansfield Institute & JJI as they engage in dialogue on a more effective approach for young adults in conflict with the law. They will discuss successful global initiatives, learn about potential community alternatives such as restorative justice as well as possibilities for legislative changes in order to support this population.

Featured Speakers:
Brent J. Cohen, Policy Advisor, Office of the Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Ralph Grunewald, PhD. Professor, Legal Studies Program, University of Wisconsin Madison

February 27, 6 pm , Dandelions in the Concrete: Peaceful Transitions — Depaul University, Cortelyou Commons
2324 N Fremont St, Chicago

Please come join us in celebration and community for one of our favorite evenings of the quarter. 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.

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!


February 28 — 1 to 4 pm — Caged Streets: An Exploration of the School-to-Prison Pipeline — Loyola University Chicago, 6430 N. Kenmore Ave, Cuneo Hall Room 218 — RSVP by Feb 18 at

Youth ages 14-24, Free art workshop, lunch provided.

January 2015 Upcoming Events…

There are a number of upcoming events that we are either co-organizing or co-sponsoring this month. Below is a list.

January 15, 9 am — Sing-In For Reparations – City Hall, 2nd floor.

Keep up the pressure to to demand passage of the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors. On October 16, 2013, a Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors was introduced in Chicago’s City Council. It has already garnered the support of 27 alderpeople.

Despite ongoing requests from Chicagoans, the Finance Committee of Chicago’s City Council, headed by Alderman Ed Burke, has not yet scheduled a hearing for the ordinance.

At the next Finance Committee meeting on January 15, we will sing-in for Reparations at City Hall, 2nd floor.

January 15 – 6 p.m. — Reclaim MLK Day, 1001 W. Roosevelt
“On January 15, 2015, an intergenerational coalition of activists and community members, led by youth of color, will be holding a march and rally aimed at reclaiming the radical legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Grade schoolers, high school students, young adults, and longtime activists have collaborated on this march, rally, and call to action. We are asking organizations and groups of concerned community members around the city to organize their own daytime actions, and join us at 6pm for a march and rally that will begin at a local school (1001 W. Roosevelt, at the corner of Morgan and Roosevelt), and end at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.”

We are proud to co-sponsor this event.


January 22, 5 to 7 p.m. — Students Teach: Racial Profiling From the Classroom to the Street — Register HERE.

An educational after school event bringing together a diverse group of CPS students, Chicago youth leaders, social justice organizations (particularly youth and education oriented ones) CPS teachers and other educators. We are proud to co-sponsor this event.

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January 24 – 9 to 5:30 p.m. — Watching the Watchers: Strategies to End Police Violence – Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave (Congress Lounge, 2nd floor)

Join us along with members of We Charge Genocide and other organizations and unaffiliated individuals for a day-long discussion about strategies to end police violence.

Workshops and discussion topics will include the role of ICE and deportations in our communities, how to create more sustainable citywide jail support, the creation of a permanent revolving local bail fund, the role of art in movement-building & resistance, youth leadership within the movement, the impact(s) of oppressive policing on women and trans people, and more….

Who Watches the Watchers (1)

January 27, 6 to 8:30 p.m. — “The Princess Who Went Quiet:” How To Talk To Kids About Incarceration – Grace Place 637 S. Dearborn St

Chicago-born artist Bianca Diaz has written a beautiful children’s book titled “The Princess Who Went Quiet.” In Bianca’s own words:

“This comic was inspired by the stories that many people have shared with me about how incarceration has impacted their own lives, the lives of their family members, and the life of their communities. Thank you so much for letting me listen.”

Join us on Tuesday January 27 from 6 to 8:30 pm as we address how to talk to kids about incarceration. We will be joined by formerly incarcerated parents who will share their experiences. We will also share resources (including Bianca’s book) that can help open up discussions about incarceration with children.

This event is co-sponsored with Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, 96 ACRES, Free Write Jail Arts Program and the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander.

Project NIA: 2014 Year in Review

In 2014, we at Project NIA continued our efforts to end youth incarceration and to support young people in conflict with the law. We taught hundreds of people through workshops, we wrote reports that reached thousands, we organized direct actions to garner the attention of those in power, we produced curricula that were used to teach thousands, we curated an exhibition that reached hundreds of people, we advocated for policies that will impact thousands across the state and we also collaborated with dozens of partners along the way. Below are some of the highlights of 2014.

We are so grateful to everyone who has and continues to support our work. In 2014, we had hundreds of small donors along with grants from a few Foundations who believe in what we do. We cannot survive without your ongoing support. We have big plans for 2015 and we hope that you will join as we continue to work towards the abolition of the prison industrial complex.

2014 was a year of transition and change for us at Project NIA. In February, we said goodbye to Circles and Ciphers, a project that we helped catalyze and incubated for 4 years. Circles has grown into an independent project and it continues to do inspiring and important work with young people across Chicago. Please support their critical work in the coming months and years. We are proud of all they have and continue to accomplish.

Happy New Year! May 2015 bring us more justice and some peace.

Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

In February 2014, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released school discipline data broken out by various demographic categories for the first time on their website. This was due in part to our advocacy efforts through the Chicago Student Safety Act Coalition which we convened. The coalition included several allies from across the city. The most recent 2013-14 school discipline data was released by CPS in December.

In April, in collaboration with CPS, we organized and co-hosted a forum on school discipline to gather community input for changes to the CPS discipline code. CPS released a revised discipline policy in June. We continue to offer our input on school discipline policy through the Chicago Collaborative for Supportive School Discipline convened by CPS.

Also, in April, we organized and facilitated a free workshop titled “Understanding the School-to-Prison Pipeline 101” attended by over 40 educators, parents and community members.

In May, we convened and co-organized a Locked Up and Locked Out march and rally as part of the National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth. The march and rally were attended by hundreds of youth and adults from across Chicago. For details about this action, you can read here and see more photos here.

by Sarah Jane Rhee (5/19/14)

by Sarah Jane Rhee (5/19/14)

As part of our ongoing commitment to make data and research accessible to our communities, we developed several fact sheets about CPS suspensions and expulsions in 2014. We also shared data fact sheets from others including the Mayor’s office.

In 2014, the advocacy and organizing of Project NIA and other local groups, including COFIVOYCE, and Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law (CLC), achieved major victories in the fight to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. In October, we released a white paper written by Dr. Michelle VanNatta that documented the gains and as well as some ongoing challenges in creating positive futures for Chicago’s children. The paper can be accessed here.

For the third time in five years, we participated in the Dignity in Schools Campaign’s National Week of Action Against School Pushout (October 4-11). On October 8, with financial support from DSC, we organized an event called Pushed Out: An Interactive Youth-Led Experience of the School to Prison Pipeline in collaboration with Free Street Theater. It was a sold out event with  a performance by Kuumba Lynx and culminated in a light action by the Chicago Light Brigade (photo below).


Visit our School-to-Prison Tumblr for more information about our week of action efforts, quizzes to test your knowledge of the STPP and other related information.


Upcoming PIC-Related Events – November 2014 (Updated)

November 14, 2-4 pm — SJP-Columbia and Chicago Faith Coalition, invite you to: Kick Off Campaign for No Way To Treat A Child – Featuring co-founders of Military Court Watch, Gerard Horton – International lawyer, and Salwa Duaibis, Women’s Centre For Legal Aid and Counseling, from Ramallah, West Bank

Documentary Screening: “Block by Block,” showing life on the West Side of Chicago, by Palestinian filmmaker, Ahmed Hamad

Join us for a discussion of the systematic injustice Palestinian children face on a daily basis by the Israeli military and police; and the injustice Chicago youth of color experience at the hands of police here.

When: Friday, November 14, 2014, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash, Conway Center, Chicago.

Light Refreshments

Contact: Military Detention, No Way To Treat A Child Campaign, NWTTCC, Chicago Faith Coalition,; Paula Roderick, mobile 312-342-0575

November 15, 12:30 to 4 pmP IS FOR POWER #3: PanoptiCAN’t : genealogies of surveillance and revolutionary socio-spatial alternatives to opression – at La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W 18th St, Chicago

What is architecture’s place in the mediation between individual experiences of power and systemic interjections of it? The contemporary spatial models for jails, especially in Cook County, have been modeled upon failed iterations of Bentham’s Panopticon, evolving into even more pervasive modes of surveillance today. This New Normal exists within jail interiors, exterior facades, and natural landscapes. The oppressive forms they take include: a lack of differentiation between spatial/natural elements; fluorescent lighting as a tool to confuse the body; few chances for private moments; square footage as a litmus to ‘humane’ minimums; and physical separation as a direct challenge to emotional interaction between inmates and others. This workshop will (1) discuss genealogies of oppression through the lens of surveillance and (2) establish a dialogue of revolutionary socio-spatial alternatives to these power playsthat will fundamentally challenge not only existing models of jails like Cook County, but also their necessity entirely.

 Led by Andrew Santa Lucia and Angelo Santa Lucia. RSVP HERE.

November 15, 4-6 pm: Disability Incarcerated Book Event — Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St.

In this event, celebrating the publication of the anthology Disability Incarcerated Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada, editors Liat Ben-Moshe and Chris Chapman and contributor Mansha Mirza will discuss different aspects of the interface between disability and mass confinement. They will also highlight how such analysis is inseparable from racism, colonialism, global geopolitics, and capitalism. Following their talks, they will facilitate a conversation amongst attendees about how these analyses might impact their own work, and how we can build toward a non-carceral future.

CART (on site captioning) and refreshments provided. Books will be on sale. The venue is wheelchair accessible. Co sponsored by Access Living, The UIC Department of Disability and Human Development, UIC Department of Occupational Therapy and the UIC Disability Resource center.

November 15 6-9pm: The Material that Went to Make Me

You are invited to an exhibition opening and auction of original works at:
South Side Community Art Center
3831 South Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60653

November 16, 3 pm — Book Launch — Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better by Maya Schenwar (CAFMA Member) – The Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. RSVP on Facebook

Join us for the launch of Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better! Maya will read from her book and discuss the impacts of prison on families and communities–and how people around the country are taking action to create a world beyond prison.

Royalties from launch book sales will generously go to the Marissa Alexander Legal Defense Fund.

November 17, 6 to 8 pmBridging the Divide
You are invited to a special presentation and dynamic discussion about Bridging the Divide. Bridging the Divide is a creative dialogue project that increases understanding between young people, law enforcement officials, and other community members. Over the summer and early fall of this year, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago partnered with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to provide training in conversational methods, such as cafes and peace circles, and to implement these methods at the District level.

Through this partnership, the YMCA and CPD developed a toolkit that can be used by other organizations to help improve youth and police relationships in their communities.

Monday, November 17, 6-8 p.m. | Discussion begins at 6:45 p.m.
YMCA’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention
1608 W. 21st Place, Chicago, IL

RSVP to Ryan Hollon by Thursday, November 13, via email at

Attendees will receive the toolkit, which includes:
A story album featuring the voices of both Chicago youth and Chicago Police Officers
A question deck that offers a flexible curriculum for community conversations
A poster series that helps expand basic ideas about community safety

Nov. 22, 3-5pm In a Different Era: Prison and the Black Arts Movement More details here
In the 1970s, artists in the Black Arts Movement and others taught in Illinois prisons through existing State programs and with the support of outside institutions, such as colleges and museums. Many local artists taught or performed in Illinois State Prisons. Join us for a conversation with some of these artists to discuss the legacies of their work and the implications for our current prison nation.

Panelists include: Phil Cohran, musician and co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and founder of the Affro-Arts Theater; Preston Jackson, sculptor and Faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Masequa Myers, performer, producer and Director of the South Side Community Art Center; Useni Perkins, poet, playwright and author of “Home Is A Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children”; Nathan Wright, Executive Director of the Etiquette Foundation of Illinois and formerly incarcerated artist.

November 23, 7 pm — Film Screening: Control — Arnold J Damen Student Center Cinema, Loyola University Chicago – 6511 North Sheridan Road

CONTROL is documentary about the stunning way that the criminal justice system can simply drift into a teen’s life, casually threatening to undo a family’s decades of hard work and planning. In most ways, Luther (sometimes “Mouse”) is a normal teen – snarkily commenting about his dad’s cooking and overly-confident about his ability to handle himself with the troubles he faces. In many other ways, he has had a rough go of it. He had to help raise his brothers while they moved in and out of foster homes. Both his mother and father have spent time in jail. His mother tells her story of ardently working to get her kids back with confidence and grit. She’s similarly clear-eyed about Luther and the challenges he’s facing. The film opens with a bold assertion of its cinematic and journalistic point-of-view. You jump right into a loud, overlapping argument in Luther’s echoey bedroom among his friends, with Luther giving the film’s back-story (he was picked up after checking in on a fight he wasn’t involved in) while his friends gently mock him for getting picked up. The film drops you right into Luther’s life, and doesn’t give you too many traditional documentary conceits to hold on to. It’s a powerful film of deceiving simplicity about indifferently destructive forces in civil institutions and one young man’s attempts to avoid too-common ensnarements.


November 24, 6:30 pm – Chicago Free Marissa Solidarity Action — Chicago Cultural Center

Join the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander and The Chicago Light Brigade for an action in solidarity with Marissa Alexander. This light action is taking place just a few days before jury selection begins (December 1) in Marissa’s retrial. RSVP on Facebook.

Chicagoans have contributed funds, organized teach-ins and devoted countless volunteer hours to support Marissa and her legal defense. We invite you to join us in the final days before her retrial to show your support and to share community with others.

Bring a poem about domestic violence and/or incarceration to share and read.

Spread the word to others. Speak out about domestic violence and mass incarceration.

When: November 24
Time: 6:30 pm
Where: Chicago Cultural Center (front steps), 78 East Washington Street.

Co-sponsored by Project NIA and the Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women


Upcoming PIC-Related Events – October 2014 (updated)

October 15, 6-8 pmPublic Forum on Confronting Immigrant Detention and Mass Incarceration — Roosevelt University, 425 S. Wabash, Room 616.

Join Moratorium on Deportations Campaign (MDC) for a Public Forum, sponsored by the Roosevelt University Stop Mass Incarceration Network

Mass incarceration and the detention of illegalized immigrants are distinct, but they also overlap but overlapping systems. In this participatory session we will map out the complex relationship between these systems and focus on migrant detention as an experimental form of captivity and control. We will also consider how proposals for immigration reform push for a further expansion of border militarization and domestic enforcement. How could we reject this kind of reformist politics and move towards an abolitionist vision?

Details are here

October 15, 6 pmLGBTQ Student Life’s 2014 OUTober Keynote Speaker Cece McDonald – University of Chicago, Law School Auditorium

October 15, 7 pmBeyond ‘Police Militarization‘ — University of Chicago, Harper 140, 1116 E. 59th St. — free and open to all  See Facebook event for more information
The possession and deployment of military-grade equipment by American law enforcement agencies has recently gained the attention of mainstream politicians and media outlets. But is this a standalone trend? Should we speak of ‘militarization’ in isolation?
Students for Sensible Drug Policy at UChicago has invited Jack Cole to present on the issue.  After being a New Jersey State Trooper for 26 years, Jack founded Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of former and current police officers concerned about how their forces deal with the populations they’re allegedly protecting. Jack has presented in 26 countries, and before the legislatures of Canada, Denmark, the European Union and New Zealand. The recipient of a Masters in Public Policy, he also does research into race and gender bias, brutality and corruption in law enforcement.

Lessons in Self Defense Poster FINAL October 16, 6 to 8:30 pm at Depaul University, at Schmitt Academic Center / Rm. 154, 2320 N. Kenmore Avenue (corner of Kenmore and Belden) — Lessons in Self-Defense: Women’s Prisons, Gendered Violence, and Antiracist Feminisms in the 1970s and ’80s. Join Dr. Emily Thuma who will share her research followed by a conversation with Mariame Kaba. RSVP on Facebook

Emily Thuma is an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her teaching and research focus broadly on the cultural and political histories of gender, race, sexuality, and empire in the United States. She is currently completing a book about feminist activism against violence in the context of the politics of crime control, policing, and imprisonment in the U.S. in the 1970s and ’80s.She has also long been active in LGBTQ and feminist anti-violence and prison organizing efforts.

Mariame Kaba is the founding director of Project NIA (, a grassroots organization with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. Her work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and supporting youth leadership development. Mariame has a long history of anti-violence organizing and education. She has co-founded several organizations including the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women (, the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team ( Her current project ‘No Selves to Defend’ examines the criminalization of women of color for invoking self-defense. Mariame runs the blog: Prison Culture where she writes about issues of juvenile justice, prisons, criminalization and transformative justice.

October 16 – 11 to 2 pm COMMUNITY SYMPOSIUM ON A CIVILIAN POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY COUNCIL – Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th Street, Chicago, IL

join as police crime survivors, community members and activists assess where we are at and where we need to go in terms of building a broad, united all inclusive front against police crimes and the intensifying drive to turn our country into a police state, that will brutally crush and attempt to destroy all progressive, democratic movements for justice, equality and peace.

October 17 – 8:30-3:30 pmDiscipline in Schools:Moving Beyond Zero Tolerance – Philip H. Corboy Law Center, Power Rogers & Smith Ceremonial Courtroom, 25 E. Pearson Street, Chicago. Registration and information HERE

October 20, 12:30-2:30 pm, Marissa Alexander Teach-In — A teach-in examining the ways in which criminal legal systems have penalized battered women of color for trying to defend themselves. University of Illinois at Chicago — Rm 286 ROOSEVELT ROAD BUILDING / RSVP –

October 21 – 5:30-8 pmWe Charge Genocide Monthly Meeting – email for details including location.

October 22 – 9 to 11 am at Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted. We Charge Genocide CPD Violence Against Youth of Color Report Release – Join members of We Charge Genocide as they share key findings of their report to the United Nations about Chicago police violence against youth of color — RSVP on Facebook or by email:

October 22 – 6 pm at 3151 W. Harrison (11th Police District) – Break Down The Wall of Silence: Protest Against Police Brutality

WCG Moment of Silence Flier

October 28, 5:30 pmKids for Cash Film Screening – Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Angell Reading Room, AUD Library, 10th floor — RSVP HERE.
After the Columbine school shootings, a small-town judge in Pennsylvania decided he’d keep kids in line by any means necessary. Under his reign, 3,000 children were taken from their families and imprisoned, often for years, for crimes as petty as creating a fake MySpace page. When one parent dared to question the judge’s harsh brand of justice, the judge revealed his ulterior motives. That judge, now in prison, shares his story with the filmmakers.
October 30 – 6-8 pm at SAIC Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State Street, 7th floor – Chiraq and Its Meaning(s): A Release Party – As part of an exhibition at SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries titled A Proximity of Consciousness: Art and Social Action,Project NIA and Temporary Services are collaborating to create a publication in Publishing Clearing House a makeshift print shop in a 39-by-20-foot space within the gallery.

The publication titled “Chiraq & its Meaning(s)” includes visual and written submissions from youth and adults across Chicago.  Our goal is to document how some Chicagoans are thinking and talking about violence & safety in the city in this historical moment.
Join Project NIA and Temporary Services for the release of the publication on October 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. Included in the event will be readings, poetry, audio and visual contributions to the project.

We will also have special performances by members of Kuumba Lynx and others.

Date: October 30
Time: 6 to 8 pm
Location: SAIC Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State Street, 7th floor