The Chicago chapter of World Can’t Wait teamed up with Stop Mass Incarceration Network last Saturday to take a challenge to Fighting Bob Fest: “Which Side Are You On, Madison?”
Fighting Bob Fest is an annual gathering in Madison of progressive people from around Wisconsin, people who we expected to be aware of the wanton murder of Black and Brown people by police and the movement to stop it. We were not wrong. But knowing that begs the question, the one we put to everyone we met: Which side are you on?
We used strong visual messaging to project that challenge (see photos).
In all we raised $500 while continuing to put out the larger goal and the need to send 100 families to New York, including to send buses from Madison. We found a lot of potential to follow up on, including all the people who gave us their contact information, the organizers from other groups that we got to know, and the stacks of palm cards and posters people took to get out in their circles.
The population of Madison itself is only 8% Black, and yet 75% of the youth held in juvenile detention are Black, making it another gateway to mass incarceration. This spring the city was rocked when young, unarmed Tony Robinson was murdered by Madison police and students from two high schools walked out and occupied the State Capital. Still, his murder was ruled “justified.” So the reality of lives stolen with impunity was right there in their own backyard. And Tony’s family has been outspoken in their support for Oct. 24:
We posed sharp questions throughout the day: the window of awareness and clarity about police murder of mainly Black and brown unarmed people is being closed. One after the other these murders are being settled as “justified,” with no prosecutions of police, while protesters across the country are facing charges, some very serious (friends in Chicago face felonies for basically not getting out of the street fast enough for police).
Media at a national level and some police officials label the Black Lives Matter movement a hate group and “terrorist.” Coming from the lips of police officials that is not just a (ridiculous) slur but a threat of even more serious charges.
In the face of all this, we need a national response that shows the world the magnitude of the problem, bringing together all these stories. The reality is that, after centuries of oppression, now this system doesn’t have jobs for Black people (in large terms, as a group), and is incarcerating and criminalizing Black people at unprecedented rates. A fascist social base is being whipped up to support murdering unarmed people in the streets, so which side are you on? This historical moment won’t last, you have to throw in with this effort now. The point is not to dismiss anyone’s existing agenda, but insisting that we ALL need to speak together about this right now.
An older white man came up while we were still setting up, hanging up the Stolen Lives banner, and told us that he had been badly beaten up by police twice after coming back from Vietnam. “You want to know why I’m still alive? Because I’m white. Ask me for $100 (to donate to the campaign).” Another older white man said he had been a cop for 2 years some time ago, “I had to quit. They were all just such assholes.”
A Vietnam era vet (who was white) asked, “What if the protest is mainly white people?” A World Can’t Wait member responded, “A, it won’t be, because there’s a whole lot of people in NYC who aren’t white who are really against police murder, but B, wouldn’t that be a powerful thing to see a large protest of mainly white people saying Black lives matter, stop the police terror?” He said he agreed completely.
On the way home, we continued our brainstorming about how to sharpen our message, reach out to old friends and new, and raise the urgently needed funds to mobilize a huge outpouring on October 24 in New York City.
World Can’t Wait welcomed people coming to the annual Chicago Air & Water Show on August 15 with a banner that set the record straight. This was a war show, glorifying high tech machinery that delivers death and destruction to innocent people in a growing list of countries. We were joined by friends from Voices for Creative Non-Violence and the Illinois Coalition Against Torture. A supporter donated a thousand copies of our updated flyers (available for downloading here) and most of them were distributed, while dozens of people took photos of our banners and thanked us for being there. Every year we’ve seen less and less overt support for the US’s endless war, and this was true again this year.
Only a few people argued that “something has to be done” about ISIS, whose crimes were on the front page that morning. Our flyer addresses it well: “Islamic State = BAD, US War for Empire = Even WORSE” and many people took it and put it in their pockets to read later. However, many more people seemed to be oblivious to the reality of what this country is doing around the world. We also confronted the dangerous illusion – once again – that we will be able to vote our way out of this slaughter by “supporting Bernie.” We pointed to our War Crimes Must Be Stopped banner with mugshots of Bush and Obama and asked “like voting for Obama?!” Next month, we will be at Fighting Bob Fest in Madison, WI, and we hope that friends will join us as we mark our tenth anniversary and bring to life our updated mission statement, putting humanity and the planet first.
Our next meeting will be Monday, September 14 – You’re Invited!
7 PM to 8:30 PM, at St. Gertrude’s, 6214 N. Glenwood, Chicago. Enter through the “Ministry Center” and ring the bell if the door is closed. That’s a few blocks west of the Granville stop on the Red line/easy parking. Everyone is welcome!
Join us for a discussion of “Guantanamo Diary”
Thursday, June 25
Noon to 1:30 PM
8th Day Center for Justice, 205 W. Monroe, Suite 500, Chicago
With the publication of this book, we are able to read for the first time a diary written by a man who is still held in Guantanamo. It has been called an “unprecedented international publishing event,” only possible after years of legal battles to gain its release from U.S. government censors. Beyond the record of unspeakable abuse and torment, it is also a very personal story of the author’s humanity, grace and even humor.
H. Candace Gorman will bring her experiences fighting for Guantanamo detainees into our discussion. She is the principal in the law office of H. Candace Gorman. The firm concentrates in civil rights and human rights. Since 2005, Candace has represented three Guantanamo detainees, one still remains at the Guantanamo prison. She also maintains a blog about Guantanamo litigation at gtmoblog.blogspot.com.
This event is part of the Lunch & Learn monthly series hosted by 8th Day Center for Justice and it is being held as part of honoring survivors of torture. June 26 is the International Day in Support of Survivors of Torture, established by the United Nations in 1998. June 26 is the date the U.N. Charter was signed in 1945. See below for details about the upcoming action in Chicago to mark this date.
Join us, whether you’ve had a chance to read the book in its entirety or not. If you have read the book, please consider sharing a passage with us that is particularly meaningful to you. We will also have a few copies available for purchase.
Sponsored by the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo, of which World Can’t Wait – Chicago is a founding member.
“Anyone who reads Guantanamo Diary – and every American with a shred of conscience should do so, now – will be ashamed and appalled. Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s demand for simple justice should be our call to action.”
Glenn Greenwald, Author of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
International Day of Support for Survivors of Torture
Friday, June 26 12pm to 2pm
Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
This year Amnesty International, World Can’t Wait Chicago, Illinois Coalition Against Torture, Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo, and other organizations are coming together to celebrate victories in winning reparations for those who survived torture by Chicago PD under Jon Burge. But torture has not ended, in Chicago, around the country or around the world. Through the voices of survivors, we will draw the parallels and connections between torture that is practiced in U.S. prisons and exported to places like Guantanamo, Baghram Detention Center, and CIA black sites. We will demand accountability for local and federal officials directly involved in torture or authorizing it and we will demand an end to torture here and everywhere! Please join us for this powerful and urgent event.
We received this letter from a supporter of World Can’t Wait who lives in a well-to-do North Shore suburb near Zion, IL, where a young Black man, Justus Howell, was murdered by police earlier this year. On May 14, the local state’s attorney announced that, once again, no charges would be filed against his murderers. The writer joined the protest following the announcement and shared these thoughts with us (published with permission).
On Friday May 15 ,2015, in Waukegan, Illinois, I joined a group of people gathered for a rally/march protest for Justus Howell. Another young black man killed by a police officer. In Zion, Illinois on April 4, 2015. Recently, the Lake County States Attorney Mike Nerheim announced this as “justified”. Once again, controversy prevails. “Justice for Justus Howell” is the cry in the streets of the protest. “Due Process” is no longer a guarantee. Did that guarantee ever exist?
Since the events in Ferguson I have attended social action events focused on this question of Due Process voiced through “Black lives matter”, “I Can’t Breathe”, “No Justice, No Peace”. Since January 15, 2015 there have been over 27 murders by police. I attended a rally/march in Glencoe, Illinois in December, 2014, a rally/Strike call in Chicago on April 14, 2015 and a rally at the Homan Avenue “Black Site” in Chicago March 5, 2015.
But this event, for Justus Howell, is in my home area. A different level of emotional immediacy emerges. There is no distancing of this happening “somewhere else”, this isn’t about a social-civil-politically compromised area “somewhere else”. Failure is right here. Failure of society is here and now.
This insight collapses my emotional distancing. There is no “somewhere else” opposed to “here”. There is no Selma Past, Ferguson Now… It is All Now. There is no Palestine over there, Ukraine over there, Drones over there. it is all Here and Now. I need to “Be” in All This Here and Now.
May 19, 2015
Last week, World Can’t Wait Chicago was invited by an ad hoc group to join in a protest of the U.S.-backed Saudi bombardment of Yemen. We were heartened by the call! Although organized on short notice, it was good to see 50-75 people on Saturday with banners and signs saying “Hands Off Yemen!” and “No U.S. Intervention!” Of course we brought out the “Crimes Are Crimes” banner with mugshots of Bush and Obama as a reminder that this whole messy situation has been shaped and triggered in large part by the U.S. military over the course of the past +14 years.
While not many passersby stopped to join the protest, we did get some supportive comments, and many accepted fliers. There were quite a few confused looks as well. The situation in Yemen has developed quickly, and without much attention in the press, so informing people (including many tourists, as we were on Michigan Ave.) of the basic facts of this unjust war was important. (Read more analysis and watch a video of our action here.)
What: Chicago Rally for LGBTQ Rights during Supreme Court Hearing
When: 5 PM, Tuesday, April 28
Where: Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, Chicago Loop
Who: Initiated by Gay Liberation Network, endorsed by World Can’t Wait Chicago and many other organizations
“On April 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about striking down bans on same-sex marriage in four states, with a decision expected in June.
But the Court’s deliberations potentially will be about much more than marriage rights. With phoney “religious liberty” bills popping up around the country, including in next-door Indiana, our opponents are striking back by attacking our equal access to public accommodations such as businesses, housing, jobs and restrooms.
How the Court decides these issues can be as much about public opinion — expressed through public demonstrations — as anything else. LGBTQ people have ALWAYS deserved equal rights, but it’s only in recent years with voices from American communities that the courts are responding. Please show the Supreme Court that you want equal rights by joining us and your neighbors for an equal rights rally in Chicago – Tuesday, April 28!” (Facebook event here)
From Progress Illinois:
In other news, a separate demonstration was held on U of C’s campus Thursday afternoon to protest John Yoo, who was speaking at the university’s law school for a workshop. Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer under President George W. Bush’s administration, co-wrote the so-called “torture memos” drafted after 9/11 that authorized the use of torture techniques in CIA interrogations.
The Chicago chapter of World Can’t Wait spearheaded the protest against Yoo, held in front of the U of C Law School.”It is unconscionable that this unrepentant torture architect is being honored at another prestigious university, here in our city,” Chicago World Can’t Wait wrote on its website. “John Yoo has no right to speak on any ethical or legal matter – he should be on trial for the ‘work’ he did for the Bush regime.”
Every single day, someone’s brother or sister, father or mother, is killed by police in this country, police who almost never face charges, let alone conviction and prison. A powerful movement took to the streets last autumn that inspired millions of us, but the killing continues. Now what will we do?
Maybe you think that the police murder of unarmed Black and Brown civilians in the U.S. has nothing to do with the crimes perpetrated by the United States around the globe, but there are many parallels and connections. Watch this short video from a young Chicagoan who explains why she thinks it affects all of us.
When police murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner, grand juries did not deliver justice, no police were prosecuted, and Black and Brown people, especially youth, continue to be criminalized, targeted, and outright murdered by the police. The execution of Walter Scott (photo), revealed just this week, is one more sickening and outrageous example that we know about only because of the courage of a young man who shared his video with Walter’s family. Only then were the lies the cops told exposed. What if there had been no video? And in the face of this state-sanctioned murder, the United States continues to claim to be “number one” in human rights!
The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture at the end of 2014 revealed sickening details of the brutality and torture that many detainees, including those held at Guantanamo, have endured at the hands of U.S. agents. These crimes too have been sanctioned by officials at the highest level, and none of them have been held to account either. The U.S. government has targeted and killed thousands of innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia through its drone program, all without any legal, let alone moral foundation. A drone operater who sees a group of people on his screen and presumes they are terrorists is not at all unlike U.S. police officers when they see a group of youth on some street corner and immediately presum that something is afoot. All of these horrors are committed in the name of our “security and safety,” whether it means targeting Black and Latino people here in this country or targeting people around the globe.
What it comes down to is this – what we allow our government to do here in this country, we allow it do to others around the world and vice versa. American lives are not more important than anyone else’s and Black and Brown lives matter just as much as white. We stand with those in the righteous struggle to end police brutality and murder here because the system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses people around the globe is the same system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses Black and Latino people in its own streets. World Can’t Wait calls on everyone to be part of April 14 actions to Shut Down and STOP murder by police!
Join us this Tuesday at 3 PM, download and distribute this flyer, be part of Shutting Down April 14 to STOP police murder wherever you are!
The U.K. Guardian newspaper has exposed a Chicago Police Department secret site where people have been held and interrogated without contact with the outside world, without legal counsel, without any rights. “The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black sites.‘”
Now that we know, we must act to demand that this abuse and torture stop. World Can’t Wait Chicago joins many other anti-war and justice organizations in endorsing this emergency protest:
When: 3 PM, Saturday, Feb. 28
Where: 3379 W. Fillmore St. & Homan St.
What: “Protest to Shut Down Homan Square”
If you are on Facebook, please join the event there and invite friends.
If you are on Twitter, the hashtag for this event is #Gitmo2Chicago.
Homan Square represents an institutionalization of practices that go back over 4 decades in Chicago, with direct ties to U.S. torture practices worldwide. Jon Burge, former Chicago police detective, ran a ring of cops who tortured at least 200 people, almost all men, almost all Black, from 1972 to 1999. Burge learned his torture techniques in Vietnam. We learned just recently that another Chicago policeman, Richard Zuley, took his “brutal regime of shackling and confession” from Chicago to Guantanamo, where he led “one of the most shocking acts of torture ever conducted at Guantanamo.”
On January 15, the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, we said, “This year we will continue to stand firm in our demand that Guantanamo be shut down and that the remaining men be freed. We will work with those in the righteous struggle to end police brutality and murder [here in the U.S.] to make it clear to all that the system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses people around the globe is the same system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses Black and Latino people in its own streets. We will work to make 2015 the Year of Reckoning for the crimes of torture committed in our name.”
The demand for reparations for the men tortured at the hands of the CPD, to shut down Homan Square, and finally close Guantanamo and release the men held in that torture camp are all part of the same struggle. Only our active, independent political resistance will end these crimes committed in our name. Join us!
The 14th anniversary of Guantanamo comes at a time of tremendous outpourings demanding justice and an end to police brutality in this country in the wake of the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless others by police. Grand juries have not delivered justice, police are not prosecuted, and Black and Latino men, particularly youth, continue to be criminalized, targeted, and outright murdered with impunity in a country that claims to be number one in human rights and civil rights.This anniversary also comes at a time when the Senate has finally released the Torture Report that reveals sickening details of the brutality and torture that many detainees, including those held at Guantanamo, endured at the hands of the U.S. Government and which the highest officials are guilty of sanctioning and have yet to be held to account. This year we will continue to stand firm in our demand that Guantanamo be shut down and that the remaining men be freed. We will work with those in the righteous struggle to end police brutality and murder to make t clear to all that the system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses people around the globe is the same system that brutalizes, tortures, and oppresses Black and Latino people in its own streets. We will work to make 2015 the Year of Reckoning for the crimes of torture committed in our name.
We will begin the day’s events with a powerful and creative action in front of the Art Institute at 4:30pm 111 S. Michigan (look for the orange jumpsuits) which will be followed by a spirited march, with some in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, to the Federal Courthouse (Dearborn and Jackson). We wil then march to Grace Place for the evening event with Andy Worthington, author of “The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of 744 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison” and other guest speakers. Join the event on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/1544693652437770/
What the world needs to see NOW is a broad and diverse movement in this country that is determined to stop the crimes of our government that are committed everyday, around the world, in our name. And that’s what your donation will make possible in the year ahead. Please take a minute – really, just a minute – to watch this video capturing a few of the highlights of bold and creative actions in the past year by World Can’t Wait activists here in Chicago and around the country. Then donate whatever you can NOW, when your donation will be matched, thanks to other generous supporters. Thank you!
Start the New Year Right!
We received this announcement from Stop Mass Incarceration Network Chicago:
NO NEW YEAR UNDER THIS OLD SYSTEM!
WE CAN’T BREATHE!
When: 10 PM, Wed., Dec. 31
Where: Tribune Plaza, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago
Bring everyone you know! Bring your whistles! All actions should be nonviolent and creative.
Bring banners and signs you can carry under your coat. Please be on time, bitter cold weather predicted, dress warmly!
Read more here: “Rock in the New Year with Resistance to Police Murder!”
If you are on Facebook, please “join” the event there and invite all your friends!
New Year’s Resolutions:
Close Guantanamo – End Torture!
Thursday, Jan. 15
4:30 Rally and Protest, starting at The Art Institute, Chicago
7:00 Close Guantanamo Now! Panel with Andy Worthington, Candace Gorman, and Debra Sweet
Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago
On January 11, the US torture camp at Guantanamo will have been open 13 years. More than 100 men are still held, the majority of whom were cleared for release years ago. They suffer not knowing if they will be released, held indefinitely, most without charges or trials. Some are still on protest hunger strike, and being force-fed by the U.S. military. Join World Can’t Wait in protesting this shameful anniversary with a protest followed by a rare opportunity to hear leading voices working to close this torture camp.
Andy Worthington is a British freelance investigative journalist. He has been researching and writing about Guantanamo since 2006, and has worked with the United Nations as a consultant and was a media partner to WikiLeaks to prepare for the release of its files pertaining to Guantanamo. He is the co-founder of the Close Guantanamo campaign, authored the book “The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison,” and co-directed the documentary “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.” His website, featuring regular blogs about Guantánamo, receives half a million page views per month and has been archived by the British Library. In 2013, in recognition of his work on Guantánamo, he was short-listed for the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. He is the co-ordinator of the new campaign StandwithShaker. Andy will be speaking in Chicago with Candace Gorman, civil rights attorney and blogger who represents a man still held at Guantanamo, and Debra Sweet, the director of World Can’t Wait.