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Reclaiming MLK’s radical legacy

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

-Martin Luther King,  Beyond Vietnam 1967 speech


Join us Thursday 1/15 for a 6pm action reclaiming the radical legacy of MLK.


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.

Dr. King’s memory has been largely sanitized in popular American culture, with some of his most revolutionary thoughts and words all but wiped from the pages of popular history. At this historic moment, when a movement for black lives is raging in our streets, we believe it is time to reclaim MLK’s legacy, and remind the world that his vision was larger than what they’ve been told to imagine, and that it remains unfulfilled.

This action will address the modern day enslavement and oppression that afflicts the black community, and other marginalized peoples, by way of the school to prison pipeline, police brutality, and mass criminalization. We will honor the lives and memories of those incarcerated and killed by this system by lifting up an abolitionist vision of a society that creates safer, more liberated spaces within a transformative justice framework.

A response to the daytime call to action could take the form of a direct action, a speak out, or a teach in, so long as it is focused on calling attention to the school to prison pipeline, police brutality, and the reclamation of MLK’s legacy. We trust the creativity of our allies, but some options for solidarity actions might include: walk outs, sit-ins, lunchroom or classroom speak outs, marches, artistic actions, or related workshops.

This action is a response to a national call to action ( and will be led by youth of color. We ask that those who attend join us in lifting up their words and vision, and that attendees refrain from using their own sound amplification devices during the event.


One Year of We Charge Genocide

This June marks the one year anniversary of We Charge Genocide’s founding.

Our work to amplify the voices of young people impacted by police violence and push Chicagoans to envision and enact safety beyond police/policing continues.

This  group was catalyzed early last summer by the killing of Dominique Franklin “Damo” – a 23 year old friend who was tased to death while handcuffed by the Chicago Police Department.  Several months later the killing of Michael Brown brought police violence to heightened national attention.


Looking Back, Looking Forward

Police officers who harass, attack, and harm youth in Chicago continue to enjoy impunity. The call of We Charge Genocide and our vision of a world without police violence builds upon a long legacy of organizing and struggle in our city and beyond. Our name is taken from the 1951 We Charge Genocide petition to the United Nations. We honor the history and legacy of that work.

The past year has been one of sustained resistance, hope, creativity, and transformation due to the powerful hard work of many thousands across the country.

We have been especially inspired by #blacklivesmattter organizing and youth-led direct action happening in Ferguson, Baltimore, Oakland, Cleveland and in our own backyard.

We have been changed, moved, and strengthened in our love for each other and grown in our clarity and courage.  So we want to take a breath to take stock and celebrate the accomplishments and gains produced by so many people’s faith, energy, and time.


Here is a listing of WCG accomplishments:


Youth Hearing on Police Violence (8/2/14)  where we collected stories from youth and people of color targeted by CPD at this event and through our police encounter line.




WCGtoUN#WCGtoUN (Aug-November 2014): In a few weeks we researched, wrote, and released a shadow report to the United Nations that documented Chicago Police Department’s consistent violence against Black and Brown youth, and highlighted the complete lack of accountability for cops who murder youth of color. Then, we fundraised more than the $20,000 necessary to send a delegation of 8 young people to give personal testimony on the reality of police torture at the 53rd session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland. The presence of these young people also disrupted the status quo of the committee proceedings, garnering widespread news coverage of police torture in Chicago. Due to both the shadow report and the testimony of the delegation, the UN Commission’s final report specifically condemned violence by the CPD against people of color, and particularly Black youth such as Dominique Franklin “Damo” who was named. When the delegation returned, WCG hosted a well attended reportback event on December 11, 2014.



WCG02Numerous public actions against police violence: Including an action as part of the International Day against Police Brutality on 10/22/14, others in solidarity with Ferguson and Baltimore, marches and demonstrations in response to Rekia Boyd’s murder and violence against Black Women and Girls, marches held with families of those killed by Chicago and Calumet City Police, marches in collaboration with BYP 100 and Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) to illuminate the need for trauma care on the South Side, and an extraordinary march to the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center planned with and led by the middle school students of Village Leadership Academy.



Watching the Watchers conference (1/24/15) attended by nearly 300 people, offered 15 workshops on new and continuing campaigns, projects, and skill-building efforts to address police violence in Chicago and elsewhere, and featured a keynote by Ejeris Dixon.





CopWatch: Our copwatching training crew taught hundreds of Chicagoans, mostly youth of color, their basic rights when interacting with police and strategies for recording police misconduct when they see or experience it.





cops-riot-marchingResearch and resistance of police militarization in Chicago:  created a timeline of  police militarization process in Chicago as a popular education tool, pressured our alderman to question the Chicago Police Department on CPD’s use of military-grade weaponry, and submitted FOIA requests to increase public access to information about the CPD’s use of military technology.



Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 8.35.21 PMJoined the coalition to pass Reparations: Led by Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Project NIA and Amnesty International, we joined a broad coalition  to pass an abolitionist reparations package for victims of torture under Jon Burge, marking the culmination of a 30-year struggle and the first time in US history that a municipality has granted reparations to victims of police violence.





Radical Education/Arts as Resistance: This effort has focused on building a repertoire of direct action and arts skills with youth of color in Chicago, and has already included two weekend-long trainings. The ultimate goal is supporting youth leaders as they continue to organize and share these new skills within their own communities.




Women to Celebrate: This March, WCG collaborated with other groups to recognize the efforts of women, femmes, and girls who fight against state violence and for justice.




ProfileBreanna01Planning, building, incubating, creating systems and processes: too often we lose sights of the incredible dedication and logistics it takes to help people connect and collaborate.  Yet, behind the scenes we have found each other in-person and on social media, shared food and ideas, hosted planning retreats and created healing spaces.  We have served as an incubator or catalyst for ideas that have taken their own shape, formation, and flight.



WCGMarchForRoshad001Finally, we learned a lot about how to use social media as a tool for organizing and public discussion.  We had conversations about breaking news, experiences with police brutality, what the Chicago Police Department is doing, the history of resisting police violence in our city, why we watch the cops and hold them accountable, and the intersections between movements, identities, and social experiences that shape us.


Summer of Safety Beyond Police

We began this summer with #DamoDay (May 20th), in memory and celebration of the life of Dominique Franklin. We will continue to speak his name and dance for a life lived.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 11.51.13 AM

At the same time, summer in Chicago marks a time of highly visible systemic violence against our communities…both by the police themselves and also by the broader lack of support and opportunities for young people of color.

That’s why we are dedicating our work this summer to raising public awareness of the necessity of safety beyond police–a campaign to get the cops out of our hearts and minds.

 The police don’t keep us safe.We need to see each other, and not the CPD, as the solution to end violence in our city.

In addition to a broadly directed public campaign, WCG members and allies are launching a campaign to engage neighbors in conversation about alternatives to policing at CPD CAPS meetings, called Disrupt CAPS and a campaign called #ChiStops which will change the way the Chicago Police Department collects data on stops and frisks, with the ultimate goals of ending stop & frisk as it is currently experienced in Chicago.


Press Release: Justice for Stephon: A Freedom Ride for #BlackLivesMatter

 Page May, We Charge Genocide,


Justice for Stephon: A Freedom Ride for #BlackLivesMatter

Day-Long Action from Chicago to Calumet City to Reclaim Black History Month and Demand Justice for Stephon Watts.

CHICAGO 1/28 — On Sunday, February 1st, a Freedom Ride caravan will travel from Chicago to Calumet City to rally, march, and hold a vigil to honor Stephon Watts and support his family. The event will begin with a press conference at 11am at the Village Leadership Academy, 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd.

February 1st marks the three-year anniversary of Stephon’s murder by the Calumet City police. Stephon was a 15-year-old with autism who was killed in his home. The Freedom Ride also marks the beginning of Black History month, and is being organized to reclaim the history of a people who resist and love in the face of overwhelming oppression.

After a morning rally and press conference, a fleet of buses and cars will drive together from Chicago to Calumet City, singing freedom songs and building community along the way. Upon arrival, participants will march thee miles through Calumet City, visiting Stephon’s former school and holding a rally and memorial in front of the Calumet City Police Department.

“What happened to Stephon Watts is part of a larger, national crisis: Half of the people killed last year by police had a mental health disability. As part of the Black Lives Matter movement, we must understand and draw attention to the criminalization of disability and how it intersects with the criminalization of race, gender, sexuality and poverty,” says Page May, an organizer with We Charge Genocide.

This Sunday, we will honor the memory of Stephon Watts and support his family on the anniversary of his death. We will also lift up the names of others with disabilities who have been killed by the police. We do this for Stephon, his family, and each other.”

Those that plan to join the Freedom Ride must register to reserve fee transportation.
Journalists are welcome: 

This event is organized and hosted by: We Charge GenocideVillage Leadership Academy, and Fight for 15 Chicago.  For updates from the Freedom Ride, follow: #JusticeForStephon and#ReclaimBlackHist

Facebook Event:

Freedom Ride Schedule ~ Sunday, February 1st

11 AM: Press Conference & Rally at Village Leadership Academy
1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. Chicago, IL
Meet in parking lot behind school
11:30 AM: Freedom Ride departs Chicago headed to Calumet City
12:15 PM: Rally at Thornton Fractional North High School
755 Pulaski Road, Calumet City, IL
12:45 PM: March departs to Calumet City Police Department
1:00 PM: Performances and Memorial Service for Stephon Watts at Calumet City Police Department
Speakers will include Stephon’s friends and family
1200 Pulaski Road Calumet City IL
1:45 PM: March back to Thornton Fractional North High School
2:00 PM: Closing rally and performances 
755 Pulaski Road, Calumet City, IL
2:30 PM: Freedom Ride departs Calumet City and returns to Chicago


Statement from Attorney Anthony Peraica

The tragic death of a 15 year old Stephon Watts was avoidable. Officers Haynek and Coffey of the Calumet Park Police Dept. shot and killed Stephon right in front of his father.  The officers acted in a completely unprofessional, intentional manner, putting themselves and members of the Watts family in grave danger.

They caused Stephon to die needlessly.  Knowing about Stephon’s autism disability from their two previous visits to the Watts house, they nevertheless proceeded to antagonize Stephon putting him in a closed environment under severe stress.

When Stephon tried to exit the confined space, Haynek shot him in the chest.  As Stephon fell to the ground, Coffey shot him in the back.

This is yet another outrageous example of bad policing practices that have caused a death of a young disabled person.

When are police going to stop shooting?  When are they going to start respecting life?  When are they going to learn that proper policing methods are designed to preserve life, not end it?

All of you are here today to draw attention to a spree of police killings of innocent people who did not need to die. Stephon did not need to die.  Watts family did not need to be destroyed.

All of us must hold police accountable and put pressure on those departments, like the Calumet City, who act with reckless disregard for the safety of citizens.

Your protest today is one way to hold police accountable. Our court system is another way.  Political pressure is another.

On behalf of the Watts family, I thank you for all that you do.

Tony Peraica
Anthony J Peraica & Associates, Ltd
5130 South Archer Avenue
Chicago, IL 60632


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