NIA Events

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.

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

TYAexhibition

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.

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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.

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

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.

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

WHERE:

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

RSVP on Facebook

Volunteer Opportunity: Books to Youth in Prison

In the next few weeks, we plan to launch a pilot program similar to Chicago Books to Women in Prison.

Chicago Books to Youth in Prison will be a volunteer-led project that collects and distributes books to children in three Illinois Youth Prisons. The project will also invite donors to write letters to incarcerated youth.

by Peter Yahnke

by Peter Yahnke

Details of this project are still to be determined. For now, we are seeking potential volunteers who might want to become leadership team members to develop and execute the project.

Come to our initial meeting on February 3 at 6 pm at Civil Lab 114 N. Aberdeen for a preliminary discussion, to learn more and to contribute your ideas.

Please RSVP to confirm attendance by Saturday January 31st to niapoetry@gmail.com.

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.

reclaimmlkFINAL

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).

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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.

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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 (www.project-nia.org), 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 (www.chitaskforce.org), the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (www.rogersparkywat.org). 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 – can@uic.edu

October 21 – 5:30-8 pmWe Charge Genocide Monthly Meeting – email wechargegenocide@gmail.com 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: wechargegenocide@gmail.com

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
RSVP HERE

Upcoming PIC-Related Events – October 2014

October 8, 6 to 8 pmPushed Out: A Youth-Created Simulation of the School-to-Prison Pipeline (part of the National Week of Action Against School Pushout) SOLD OUT.

October 9, 7 to 9 pm at Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted Street – Creative Resistance in a Prison Nation Monthly Series (Featuring: Project NIA, Storycatchers Theatre, Lucky Pierre)

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

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 (www.project-nia.org), 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 (www.chitaskforce.org), the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (www.rogersparkywat.org). 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 21 – 5:30-8 pmWe Charge Genocide Monthly Meeting – email wechargegenocide@gmail.com 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: wechargegenocide@gmail.com

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 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
RSVP HERE