Documentation and Reflection: Watching the Watchers: Strategies to Resist Police Violence

Watching the Watchers: Strategies to Resist Police was held Saturday, January 24th in downtown Chicago.

This conference built on Chicago’s long history of organizing against police torture  and violence.  The purpose was to further popular education and to encourage more folks to join existing efforts or launch new projects to end oppressive policing and  dismantle the prison industrial complex. In attendance were long-time and emerging activists and organizers, children and youth, parents, students, teachers and educators, and community members.

Some people may have arrived believing in reforms but left with wanting abolition. Some people may have arrived wondering where they belonged in the movement and left knowing that figuring it out starts with believing in it. Some people may have left with more questions than answers but know they have hundreds of other people willing to help find the answers.  Either way, at this conference there were generations walking side-by-side to workshops and the healing room, where folks were able to grab snacks, hang out, and decompress. Conversations continued after sessions outside of the rooms or in the lounge. Small groups of friends, hopefully old and new, met in the open lounge area in between and during workshops. Many people could be found writing in notebooks, tweeting inspirational quotes and new knowledge, and making phone calls to friends who were missing out.


This photo album shows some of the folks in attendance.

This storify captures some of the dialogue and learnings that were happening during the conference.

Here is the video from our keynote with Ejeris Dixon.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream


Take a look.  Read some tweets.  Watch the video. It’s truly incredible.

To close, we included our own reflection…

We can envision a world where love reins supreme. If we cannot envision that world, then we cannot have it.  It is our duty to fight, and it is our duty to win. We have nothing to lose but our change: We are building a new world, together.

It is easy to fall into the trap of measuring our personal progress, the progress of the projects we are working on, and the progress of progress itself when we are faced with so many of our peers at the same time. At this conference, I didn’t spend a moment’s thought on measurement: It was simply a joy to be surrounded with a group of people who are brave enough to dare to dream of a world where our creativity, our compassion, and our collective efforts will lead to a more peaceful and just society. It was electric.

When we fully practice & embrace liberatory goals, it changes the way we meet, the way we are—inside our most private selves and outside amongst each other. When you are creating the road that doesn’t exist, you evolve on the journey together. People are giving us gifts, and we have to say what we did with those gifts. Movements are built off of many peoples’ sacrifices. Movements are built by us.

The electricity that filled this conference did not come from a place of comfort, not the enjoyment of each others’ company solely—the energy that we created together came alive when we washed away that stale sense of desperation that has permeated news lately and instead bolstered a sense of matter-of-fact solidarity in a fight worth winning.

Step outside the circle where we pit visionary goals versus concrete actions. Create practical steps to an aspirational vision. We need freedom and we need a way to live right now. Embrace and embody duality.

At the end of the day, I felt empowered to be We Charge Genocide.  For me, this conference was about embracing that name, that mission, and most of all that responsibility.  I know the people that I met will hold me accountable, and I them. Together, we forge the tools to watch the watchers, to make our peaceable security a reality.

In the end, practicing liberation is about a rigorous push for answers, and knowing we may not have those answers. In the end practicing liberation is about embodying a bold pragmatism. In the end, I don’t believe we have the luxury to lose.

*Italicized portions taken from tweets/notes made during the Ejeris Dixon keynote speech, and therefore are attributable to the wonderfully eloquent and visionary Ejeris Dixon!  Personal reflections are from Eva Nagao, WCG member.


Watching the Watchers: Strategies to Resist Police Violence

We Charge Genocide is excited to sponsor Watching the Watchers: Strategies to Resist Police Violence, a conference happening Saturday January 24th in Chicago.

Check out the full list of 15 conference workshops and information about our keynote. This event is a chance to dig in more deeply into the ideas, tools, and resources we already have as a community- and the social movements we are inspired by.

At this point, conference registration is full.   However, we will be documenting the conference on social media under #wewatch as well as the streaming our amazing keynote with Ejeris Dixon on “Practicing Liberation.”


A few workshops we are excited about with links to more information about that topic if you want to dig in.


WORKSHOP= Radical Youth Movements

This workshop will take the form of a panel discussion, highlighting the activism occurring in Chicago fueled by radical youth groups.  Organizers from BYP100, We Charge Genocide, and Let Us Breathe Collective will be featured.

malcolmBefore you go to the workshop  you may want to check out…

  1. Photos from BYP100 die-in at City Hall and Let Us Breath Collective’s Brown Friday action.
  2. Video explaining the We Charge Genocide name.
  3. For national perspective, the documentary Precious Knowledge about youth organizing in Tucson, AZ,  the  On Blast! podcast from youth organizers in Philadelphia, PA, Lost Voices from Ferguson, MO, and  Dream Defenders.
  4. Aurora Levins Morales essay “The Politics of Childhood” from Medicine Stories History, Culture, and the Politics of Integrity.

WORKSHOP= Ayotzinapa & International Solidarity around State Violence

This workshop will build connections between state violence in Chicago, the use of police and military to repress and murder Mexicans against the neoliberal project, and the disappearance of 43 in Ayotzinapa.

ayotzinapa-marchBefore you go to the workshop  you may want to check out…

  1. Justicia en Ayotzinapa Comité Chicago
  2. The UIC Social Justice Institute “28, 43”(Ferguson and Ayotzinapa) art exhibit
  3. Ayotzinapa: A Timeline of the Mass Disappearance That Has Shaken Mexico
  4. Unearthing the Truth: Mexican State Violence Beyond Ayotzinapa    


WORKSHOP= Understanding Bail/Bond & Establishing A Revolving Community Fund in Chicago

This workshop will take the form of a panel discussion, emphasizing the barriers around bail funds, and creating alternatives that will endure in Chicago.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.13.20 PMBefore you go to the workshop  you may want to check out…

  1. Check out New Yorks Charitable  Bail Act, passed in 2012. It offers foresight of potential here in   Chicago.
  2. NPR article and audio about barriers of bail funds.



WORKSHOP= Policing, Mental Health, and Disability Justice

This workshop will give participants an introduction in how the education system, police, family units, supportive services, and other institutions work to oppress people with disabilities — and how we can recognize and organize around the intersection of disability and race.

719e481f630933368e100b09b2480875Before you go to the workshop  you may want to check out…

  1. Empowered Fe Fes and Advance Youth Leadership Power organizing groups associated with Access Living.
  2. Disability Incarcerated essays on how institutions like psychiatric hospitals, special education, detention centers, and group homes are related to incarceration.
  3. Posts on disability justice from Mia Mingus’ blog “Leaving Evidence.”
  4. Disability Justice is… image from Sins Invalid and Micah Bazant.

Again, you can read more about allllll the workshops online.  See you at the conference or online at #wewatch.



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.


Reparations for Survivors of Chicago Police Torture- TAKE ACTION

 The Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors is a proposed city council ordinance that seeks redress for victims of documented police torture under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.

WHEREAS, the City of Chicago acknowledges that former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and detectives under his command systematically engaged in acts of torture, physical abuse and coercion of African American men and women at Area 2 and 3 Police Headquarters from 1972 through 1991; and

WHEREAS, the acts of torture committed by Burge and detectives under his command included electrically shocking individuals on their genitals, lips and ears with an electric shock box or cattle prod; suffocating individuals with plastic bags; subjecting individuals to mock  execution with guns; physical beatings with telephone books and rubber hoses; and other forms of physical and psychological abuse; and

WHEREAS, Burge and his men committed these acts of torture and abuse to extract confessions from the victims which were subsequently admitted against them in their criminal prosecutions resulting in their wrongful convictions; and

WHEREAS, these acts of torture, physical abuse and coercion violate state, federal and international law and such acts are universally condemned worldwide..”
—- Excerpt from the official text of the Reparations Ordinance. 

For the full text of the Reparations Ordinance:

For FAQs on  Reparations Ordinance:

For more on Jon Burge:

Among other demands, the Reparations Ordinance would require the city to administer financial reparations to all Burge torture survivors who are unable to sue for monetary damages because the statute of limitations for their claims has expired. The proposed ordinance would also provide all torture survivors and their families with tuition-free education at City Colleges; create a center on the South Side of Chicago that would provide psychological counseling, health care services and vocational training to those affected by law enforcement torture and abuse; require Chicago Public Schools to teach about these cases and sponsor the construction of public torture memorials. And it asks the city’s leaders to issue a formal apology to those who were tortured and their communities.  The ordinance currently has the support of 26 aldermen in Chicago as well as an array of organizations including Amnesty International.  We want to to pass the ordinance this winter- and we just need one more alderperson to support.



This Tuesday, December 16th, there is an important action in Chicago to raise visibility and also put pressure on Mayor Emanuel  to support this ordinance.

Please tell everyone you know to come and bring their friends.  If you can’t be there in person, please help us get the word out on social media and please make calls to Rahm’s office between noon and 5.

Brief summary of events: March at Noon, Memorial at City Hall at 2pm AND twitter storm 2pm-3pm, phone calls to Mayor’s office all day!!


Take Action:

1. Call your ward office & ask why your alderperson is not yet supporting the ordinance. Let them know 26 others already are.

2. Organize others in your ward to meet directly with your alderperson to let them know you want them to sign on as a co-sponsor.

3. If they still refuse to commit, organize creative actions in your ward to put pressure on them. Do it this month & in January.

4. Join discussion online #RahmRepNow.

List of aldermen that do not yet support the Reparations Ordinance:

Robert Fioretti (2nd)
Natasha Holmes (7th)
Michelle Harris (8th)
Anthony Beale (9th)
John Pope (10th)
James Balcer (11th)
George A. Cardenas (12th)
Marty Quinn (13th)
Ed Burke (14th)
JoAnn Thompson (16th)
Latasha Thompson (17th)
Matthew O’Shea (18th)
Michael Zalewski (23rd)
Deborah Graham (29th)
Ariel E. Rebroyras (30th)
Ray Suarez (31st)
Carrie Austin (34th)
Timothy M. Cullerton (38th)
Margaret Laurino (39th)
Patrick J. O’Connor (40th)
Mary O’Connor (41st)
Tom Tunney (44th)
Harry Osterman (48th)
Debra Silverstein (50th)

Print amnesty


Ferguson Solidarity Actions

There are two events in Chicago that WCG is supporting and encouraging people to attend.

Protest outside Police Headquarters at 35th and Michigan .  This event occurs only in the case of a non-indictment at 6:30 ON THE SAME DAY the news is announced. We Charge Genocide is cosponsoring this event.

We will gather outside of Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan at 6:30pm on whatever day the decision is reached. We will hold a speak out and a vigil, and share words and imagery that will honor Mike Brown, as well as the 89 Chicagoans who have been killed by police in the past five years.



Press conference inside City Hall.  This is BYP100 event and We Charge Genocide is in solidarity with these organizers. This event takes place ON THE DAY AFTER the news of indictment or non-indictment is announced at 9am inside the City of Chicago City Hall.

In coordination with the Don’t Shoot Coalition and activists across the nation, BYP100 Chicago members are calling for immediate demilitarization of law enforcement agencies nationwide. During the press conference, BYP100 will lead political education teach-ins on the Agenda to Keep Us Safe (The Agenda), which is a policy agenda that proposes strategies and policies to end the criminalization of Black Youth in America. BYP100 will also hold healing circles for Chicagoans grieving from local acts of police violence.


We also heard that there will be a healing justice space available for those taking action.  This space exists to support those who may need to warm up, take a break, or want to meet in spirit of self and community care.. We will be sharing the location and details on social media the day of.

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