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Press Release: We Charge Genocide Raises Over $10,000 in a Week to Present Report on Chicago Police Violence to United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Charge Genocide Raises Over $10,000 in a Week to Present Report on Chicago Police Violence to United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva
Chicago 9/23 — This November, We Charge Genocide will send six organizers to present a report on Chicago Police violence to the United Nations Committee Against Torture at their 53rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland, during which the U.S. will be under review.
With widespread community support, the group raised nearly $12,000 in one week for the trip via an online fundraiser, and tickets to Geneva, Switzerland have been purchased for six organizers. We Charge Genocide will continue to work towards their $15,000 goal with a series of fundraising dinners as well as an appeal to Chicago’s faith communities.
The group of young organizers have submitted their report to the UN for review via the US Human Rights Network and will briefly present it before the Committee Against Torture during the hour reserved for Civil Society groups. The report details data collected on the experiences of young people of color in marginalized communities most targeted by police violence in Chicago. It will be released to the public on October 22, a national day of protest against police brutality, on which We Charge Genocide has called for a silent protest in Chicago at the 11th police district.
Organizers traveling to Geneva include (full bios with personal statements and photos):
Ethan Viets-VanLear, 19, Rogers Park
Born and raised in Chicago, Ethan says he grew up facing constant surveillance and oppression from the police. He has organized with Circles and Ciphers, a leadership training program that works with youth of color involved in the justice system, and he helped develop curriculum for the Know Your Rights Project. He hopes the UN can assist in putting international pressure on Chicago to end the continued atrocities committed against people of color.
Page May, 25, Edgewater
Page was instrumental in writing the report We Charge Genocide submitted to the UN. Since moving to Chicago from Vermont four years ago, she has organized with prison abolition group Black & Pink: Chicago and is a member of the PIC Teaching Collective, working to dismantle the prison industrial complex through education. She hopes to speak before the UN about key findings in their report.
Ric Wilson, 19, Southside
An alumni of the Chicago Freedom School, Ric is a performing artist and an organizer with Black Youth Project 100, a group using leadership development, non-violent direct action, advocacy and education to work towards justice and freedom for all black people. He describes himself as a prison abolitionist who believes in restorative justice and believes he has a special contribution to make at the UN as a young black person directly impacted by oppressive policing.
Monica Trinidad, 28, Rogers Park
A lifetime resident of Chicago, Monica is an artist and is the co-founder of Brown and Proud Press, a writing collective that uses self-publishing to gather overlooked stories about the struggles of queer people of color. Monica will document the group’s experiences in Geneva on social media and says that by verbalizing the experiences of Chicago’s youth of color at the hands of the Chicago Police Department, the UN delegation will break the silence around the struggles these young people live through.
Todd St. Hill, 30, Rogers Park
Todd grew up in Washington DC and now lives in Chicago and organizes as a trainer with We Charge Genocide’s Cop Watch program. He says he wants to travel to the UN because the voices of ordinary people are not heard enough by government decision makers, and that it is important for black and brown people to be involved in the decision making processes that affect their lives.
Breanna Champion, 21, Bronzeville
Breanna is a field organizer for Chicago Votes, a core leader of the IIRON student network & Roots of Justice at UIC and an organizer with Black Youth Project 100. She says she is fighting to change the inequalities she sees every day in Chicago and that the UN trip is an opportunity to give a voice to people who have been physically assaulted by the police and who are terrorized by law enforcement on a daily basis.
We Charge Genocide is volunteer-run by Chicago residents concerned that the epidemic of police violence continues uninterrupted in Chicago and who seek to equip individuals across the city with tools to more proactively hold police accountable. The name We Charge Genocide comes from a petition filed to the United Nations in 1951, which documented 153 racial killings and other human rights abuses, mostly by the police.
Previous press release:
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What an incredible first week of fundraising for the We Charge Genocide delegation to Geneva to present our report on police violence before the United Nations! We raised over $10,000 of our $15,000 goal and were able to secure plane tickets this weekend for all six delegation members. We could not have done this without your support, and we are so grateful to everyone who has donated time and money as well as shared the link to our fundraiser via social media, email, and word of mouth. Please continue to do so, and we are confident that we will meet our goal. In addition to our online fundraiser, other ways people are organizing to raise funds is through a Dozen Dinners for We Charge Genocide and a Dozen Faith/Spiritual/Religious Communities for We Charge Genocide.
We have two more WCG Geneva Delegation profiles to share, and today we are featuring Todd St. Hill, who has been actively organizing with WCG’s Cop Watch training group.
Growing up as a Trinidadian in Washington DC, and then moving to Chicago, I immediately noticed the parallel conditions of black life between the two cities. I’ve have been witness to violence in black communities by the police, and experienced it first hand. It is this experience that has driven me to speak out against the injustices that too many people of color experience. I am caring and sincere when speaking to people and try to meet people where they are, geographically, politically, or emotionally.
I and any of the people I have the privilege of working with and learn from envision a world free of oppression and exploitation. Also I see these times (as hard for the majority of people as it is) as a time where the systems of oppression and exploitation are most vulnerable, where the cracks in these systems are most visible. I see my activism as throwing a wedge in those cracks and prying them open as wide as I can, with the hope that this system will fall.
Going to Geneva would be a particularly good opportunity for me and/or for anyone who sees themselves as a lifelong organizer. However, I have come to realize that it is not enough to simply organize and agitate in the streets (though that is very important), it is also important for ordinary people, who are disproportionately black and brown, to be as involved and visible in the decision making processes that affect their lives. The way I see it, too many State, Federal, and Global legislation are created by people who are not at all affected by the legislation they create. Ordinary people are often left out of these decision making processes, and it is important that we understand what that process is if we are to radically change it for our betterment. This is an opportunity to represent a layer of people whose voices are not heard enough, if at all.
Please help Todd and the rest of We Charge Genocide’s delegation get to Geneva to present their report before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Donate online here, organize a dinner/party fundraiser, or ask your congregation to take a special collection to send these young people to Geneva, and keep spreading the word!
We had an exciting day yesterday fundraising to get our delegation of young people to Geneva this November to present a report to the United Nations on police violence targeting youth of color. We raised over $3,300 in one day, and after four days of fundraising, we already surpassed the 50% mark of our $15,000 goal. This outpouring of support is indicative of grassroots resistance to police violence, and we believe that the young people of color whose lives are directly impacted by that violence will no doubt lead the fight against police violence in our communities. . Today, we are featuring the profile of another one of our delegation members, Monica Trinidad, who is a 28 year old organizer and an integral part of the social media team for We Charge Genocide as well as the Cop Watch trainings.
I was born and raised on the far south side of Chicago, in the East Side/South Chicago communities. I grew up in these post-industrial neighborhoods at the bottom of Chicago, where passing through metal detectors and pat downs during high school and fields of crumbled, dilapidated buildings was a normal state of being. I often felt like the stories and voices of our communities were isolated from the rest of Chicago, not only because of distance, but because we were working-class, people of color.
As a queer, mexican, artist, I believe that juxtaposing a restorative, abolitionist framework of organizing with creating new forms of self-expression through artwork and writing is critical as we challenge the invisibility imposed on us by white supremacy. I co-founded Brown and Proud Press in 2012, with the intention of using the medium of zines (self-published, low-budget booklets) as an accessible way to gather the overlooked stories and struggles of queer, people of color. Aside from Brown & Proud Press, I am also currently a member of Chicago Action Medical and the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander.
While in Geneva, I hope to document our experiences with the proceedings via social media platforms. Without a doubt, I am going to Geneva because I believe that personal narrative is strong enough to affect major social change. By verbalizing the experiences of Chicago youth of color at the hands of the Chicago Police Department, we are not only interrupting the silence around the struggles that youth of color live through in Chicago (and the rest of the U.S.), but also aiding in the dismantling of the systemic cycle of isolation, fear and disempowerment around our personal experiences as black and brown people.
Please help Monica and the rest of We Charge Genocide’s delegation get to Geneva to present their report before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Donate online here and spread the word!
It’s been an amazing week so far fundraising to send 4-6 young Chicagoans to Geneva, Switzerland this November to present our report on the Chicago Police Department’s human rights violations to the United Nations. We have been exceeding our daily fundraising goals, and all 25 prints donated by artist Molly Crabapple to those who give $100+ have already been claimed. To date, we have raised over $6,500 online alone! Our goal this week is to raise enough money to be able to cover airfare before prices go any higher.
Each day this week, we have been featuring the profile of one member of the delegation, which represents the black and brown young people of Chicago who experience the daily reality of police violence in this city. Today, we will hear from 19 year old Ric Wilson, an organizer with BYP100 and a performing artist:
I am a humble and fearlessly honest person. I believe fully in social justice and finding true happiness in one’s life (as long as it’s not oppressing others). I am uncomfortable being in this comfort zone and willing and open to new experience, people and learning methods (though not new food). I would describe my activism as radical: I like to describe myself as a prison abolitionist and full believer in restorative justice.
My strength in activism is more on the educational side because I was taught and trained at the Chicago Freedom School. I am a good facilitator and educator. I have facilitated different types of workshops about activism and organizing. I believe that youth are a leading voice and power in the movement for social justice. Being a Chicago Freedom School Alumni (proudly), I believe that going to Geneva will further my learning and growth as an organizer. I also have a special contribution to make as a black young person directly impacted by oppressive policing.
Please help Ric and the rest of We Charge Genocide’s delegation get to Geneva to present their report before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Donate online here and spread the word!
As we enter day #3 of fundraising to send 4-6 young Chicagoans to Geneva, Switzerland this November to present our report on the Chicago Police Department’s human rights violations to the United Nations, we are grateful to have raised over $3200 in just a couple days, and are excited that so many people are supporting this work.
Each day this week, we are featuring the profile of one member of the delegation, which represents the black and brown young people of Chicago who experience the daily reality of police violence in this city. Yesterday, Ethan shared his reasons for being part of this delegation. Today, we will hear from Page May, a 25 year old organizer who was instrumental in writing the shadow report that will be presented to the United Nations:
I am a Black, queer, woman who grew up in rural Vermont. That upbringing, my family, and our experiences have deeply influenced my awareness of oppression and commitment to organizing. I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about connections between Blackness/Anti-Blackness, the PIC, and how categories of citizen/human/nature/animal are constructed and related to violence.
Moving to Chicago four years ago was profoundly politicizing for me. The city’s rich community of activists and deep history of struggle have connected me to organizing and supported my ongoing political education. My activism has centered on youth, environment, and the PIC. In addition to We Charge Genocide, I organize with Black & Pink: Chicago and am a member of the PIC Teaching Collective.
Throughout all of my work, I strive to challenge anti-blackness and develop a Black, queer, feminist politic.
I’m interested in going to Geneva as one of the authors of the report: I’m hoping to be a useful reference for the data and testimonies included in our paper, and to speak to my own experiences with the CPD. I’m also excited to be in Geneva pushing for UN recognition of our demands, and witness to the US government’s response to charges of ongoing torture against young people of color.
Please help Page and the rest of We Charge Genocide’s delegation get to Geneva to present their report before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Donate online here and spread the word!
You’ve probably heard by now that We Charge Genocide is fundraising to send 4-6 young Chicagoans to Geneva, Switzerland this November to present our report on the Chicago Police Department’s human rights violations to the United Nations. Hopefully, you’ve also seen the video created by We Charge Genocide members stating why we wrote this report and are sending a team to Geneva.
Each day this week, we will feature the profile of one member of the delegation, which represents the black and brown young people of Chicago who experience the daily reality of police violence in this city. Today’s profile is on Ethan, a 19 year old resident of Chicago’s far north side.
My name is Ethan Viets-VanLear. I am poet, organizer, and peace circle keeper. I was born and raised on the north-most part of Chicago Illinois. I am 19 and for the past few years I have been heavily involved in “activism” in my community of Rogers Park. I put activism in quotations because I do not see what I am doing as something that should be specialized or out of the ordinary. I see my work of trying to better my city/community and trying to change the ways we view and interact with others/the world as something we should all be doing. I personally grew up under constant surveillance and oppression from the police and for a long time noticed the same trend in the rest of the city and country.
I first came to social justice work through an organization called Circles and Ciphers that focuses on working with young people of color, formally or currently involved with the justice system, to build leadership around a new forms of accountability in our communities called restorative justice. I then joined the Know Your Rights Project where we created and implemented curriculum in over 100 schools and community centers teaching young people what to do when in contact with police to avoid violence or incarceration. I was also appointed to the Illinois Juvenile Justice system, our state advisory board trusted to make policy and funding decisions about juvenile justice policies in this country. When I first started doing juvenile work I had a naive hope that somehow we could formulate a cure for this oppressive system I saw tearing apart communities through the governmental system of this country, whether state or federal. This hope was quickly squashed as again and again I ran into walls in every institutional venue I came to; and continued to experience the brutality of this city’s police department. My attitude toward the system was solidified when earlier this year my dear friend Dominick Franklin (Damo) was murdered by the Chicago Police Department when accused of stealing liquor from a convenience store.
When I heard of the We Charge Genocide effort to travel to Geneva my hope was again inspired that if not in this country’s law maybe internationally something can be in place to end the continued atrocities committed against people of color in this city and country at large.
Please help Ethan and the rest of We Charge Genocide’s delegation get to Geneva to present their report before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Donate online here and spread the word!
In light of the announcement of the ACLU of Illinois’s agreement with the City of Chicago, and in the interest of transparency with the people of Chicago affected by this agreement and the Chicago Police Department’s stop and frisk practices, we are sharing the following open letter to the ACLU. The letter outlines the process through which the ACLU negotiated its agreement—a process that excluded and undermined Black youth leadership around stop and frisk; it describes the fundamental differences between the substance of the ACLU/CPD agreement and the STOP Act developed by WCG; and reaffirms our commitment to the struggle against all forms of police violence.
WCG does not naively believe that our communities are harassed, brutalized, and abused by the police simply because there is insufficient data, or because there are not enough laws on the books. We understand police violence to be rooted in historical and systemic anti-blackness that seeks to control, contain, and repress Black bodies through acts of repeated violence. Stop and frisk should be understood as a tool police use to punish Black people just for being. Police violence is always state-sanctioned violence, and further strengthening narrow supervision of police action by elites will never address that. This is why any legislative or law-based campaign to address police violence requires not just policy change, but an actual transformation of power relations between communities of color and the police. The ACLU’s settlement—focused on your own access—does not and cannot accomplish this.
An Open Letter to the ACLU of Illinois Regarding Stop and Frisk
American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois
180 N. Michigan Avenue, Ste. 2300
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Dear ACLU of Illinois:
We are writing in complete dismay and utter disgust upon learning—on the very day we were filing the Stops Transparency Oversight and Protection Act (“STOP Act”) in Chicago’s City Council—that you were in the midst of finalizing a “settlement” with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Mayor Emanuel’s office on the collection of stop and frisk data by the CPD. As a result of these secret negotiations, Mayor Emanuel requested that our aldermanic sponsors Proco Joe Moreno, Roderick Sawyer and Roberto Maldonado delay filing our ordinance until the September City Council meeting. In light of the Mayor’s request, after consulting with our aldermanic sponsors, we did not file the STOP Act despite We Charge Genocide (WCG) and Chicago Votes’ announcement that we would at a packed press conference that very morning. The press conference itself was built upon several months of organizing and outreach by and to scores of youth of color in the City of Chicago in anticipation of the STOP Act’s introduction at City Council.
The ACLU’s unprincipled failure to inform WCG about these negotiations as soon as they were initiated and invite WCG to participate in them has directly undermined and undercut the organizing and advocacy efforts of Black youth who are targeted by stop and frisk and discriminatory policing in Chicago. You failed to be transparent that these negotiations were taking place and excluded the input of community partners—especially the youth directly impacted by the issue that is the subject of the legislation and who are fighting for their lives. This letter uplifts their critical work and serves as a warning to others who consider the ACLU a collaborator or partner. It is precisely this unprincipled and frankly shameful betrayal of impacted communities and grassroots organizing efforts that the ACLU claims to fight for that gives the organization its reputation for undercutting rather than supporting movements for change across the country.
Now, we learn that as a result of your secret and exclusive negotiations with the City you have reached an agreement with the CPD and Mayor Emanuel’s office on the collection of stop and frisk data, and your agreement does not provide the public with access to that data. Rather, under your agreement, only the ACLU and the designated “Consultant” will receive CPD stop and frisk data and other relevant information. Under your agreement, you are required to keep the information you receive confidential under an “attorney’s eyes only” standard. This result flies in the face of the public transparency and accountability that the STOP Act sought to secure—principles the ACLU allegedly propounds. We want to be clear: We are not in support of your work with the city or its result, which harms our existing work and undermines the broader campaign to end stop and frisk in Chicago.
WCG’s Campaign on Stop and Frisk
WCG raised the issue of racially discriminatory stop and frisk practices in September 2014 in its shadow report to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT). After the CAT issued its profoundly favorable findings in response to the WCG’s all youth-of-color delegation and the shadow report they drafted, WCG began developing our next steps, including advocating for the collection and publication of all stop and frisk data by the CPD. Over the course of the last ten months, WCG began a broad campaign to educate and mobilize youth of color across Chicago to end CPD’s racially discriminatory stop and frisk practices, which has included launching the #ChiStops campaign, recruiting Chicago Votes to work alongside WCG in seeking the passage of the STOP Act, and going to classrooms and schools across the City to do the hard and essential work of building knowledge and support for the legislation among Black youth as young as eight who face discriminatory stops and abuse at the hands of the CPD every single day.
WCG’s Communications with ACLU-Illinois
The ACLU Illinois has known for several months that WCG intended to seek mandated collection and publication of CPD’s stop and frisk data through Chicago’s City Council. It was first raised to the ACLU-Illinois in November, 2014, and later when WCG members met with the ACLU-Illinois at your office on April 7, 2015. At that meeting, WCG shared a draft of the proposed ordinance, and you indicated the ACLU’s plan was to amend Illinois state law. You also informed us that you supported the STOP Act. You never suggested that WCG should not pursue the campaign to pass the STOP Act in Chicago’s City Council or that the ACLU was interested in working with the City to address this issue. You only asked us to refer any potential plaintiffs to you for a hypothetical lawsuit regarding stop and frisk. We subsequently emailed the ordinance to you and you provided us with feedback and edits which we wholeheartedly accepted.
The Illinois legislature then passed a bill, SB1304, on the collection of stop and frisk data that provided only half of what the STOP Act sought to achieve. WCG reached out to an ACLU-Illinois member on June 5, 2015 to discuss the SB 1304 and discussed the continuing need for the STOP Act. WCG then followed up with you ACLU to get your official endorsement of the STOP Act, which you provided and we informed you on July 1, 2015 that WCG would send out a press release and file the STOP Act on Wednesday, July 29 at the City Council meeting.
In light of this history, it was mind-boggling to learn that you have been in negotiations with the City without informing us prior to July 29th. Common decency—let alone respect for the communities’ interests you claim to represent—would compel you to inform us of these developments. True solidarity, however, would have required you to not only inform us of your negotiations, but reach out to WCG’s youth members before even initiating or participating in them to discuss whether such negotiations should even be entered into, and on what terms.
Instead, you have chosen to shut us out of these negotiations entirely and even initially refused to disclose the possible terms of the “settlement” after the July 29th press conference. You only disclosed the terms of your deal to us on August 6th, the day you signed off on the deal with the CPD and Corporation Counsel, which was the same day you chose to meet with us. It was only then did we learn the true extent in which you undermined and undercut the efforts of WCG, Chicago Votes and Black youth who have been organizing against stop and frisk. Your actions evince a clear lack of respect and disregard for WCG and the communities impacted by the issue, and have completely disrespected and disregarded the many hours of work by the youth of color who are, in fact, those most impacted by stop and frisk.
The ACLU-Illinois’ Unacceptable Deal with the CPD
We Charge Genocide’s STOP Act is rooted in the experiences and ideas of those most directly impacted—young Black and Brown people. It is the strong desire of the youth we work with that data on stops and frisks be not only collected, but be made publicly available on a City website every three months as a guarantee of actual transparency. The settlement you agreed to with the City fails to do this. Now, only you and the Consultant are provided with the relevant data and information—and on a confidential attorney’s eyes only basis. All other members of the public must seek the information through the FOIA process, which makes the information both inaccessible and hard to decipher if obtained. Your agreement with the City thus maintains the status quo, in which an elite knowledge of the FOIA process is required to access and review stop and frisk data. This is unacceptable.
Additionally, we prioritized mechanisms in the STOP Act that would immediately reduce some of the harm caused by stop and frisk practices, e.g. issuing receipts after a stop that include the name and badge number of the police officers and requiring police officers to obtain written documentation of someone’s consent to search. These components of the STOP Act are critical parts of addressing the injustices experienced by young Black Chicagoans every day. They provide people with necessary information to complain about their encounters and attempt to hold the officers responsible while also being provided information as to their rights. Your settlement, however, does not include these pieces; it instead places more power, trust, and responsibility in the hands of those who brutalize us: the cops and the courts. If you had informed us of your negotiations with the City and respected the leadership of young Black people, the ACLU-Illinois would have known that we consider these elements to be non-negotiable aspects of any legislative measures regarding stop and frisk.
We do not naively believe that our communities are harassed, brutalized, and abused by the police simply because there is insufficient data, or because there are not enough laws on the books.
We understand police violence to be rooted in historical and systemic anti-blackness that seeks to control, contain, and repress Black bodies through acts of repeated violence. Stop and frisk should be understood as a tool police use to punish Black people just for being. Police violence is always state-sanctioned violence, and further strengthening narrow supervision of police action by elites will never address that. This is why any legislative or law-based campaign to address police violence requires not just policy change, but an actual transformation of power relations between communities of color and the police. Your settlement—focused on your own access—does not and cannot accomplish this.
What you have “won” is fundamentally different from the STOP Act, both in its means and in its ends. Our goals are rooted in the experiences of those most directly impacted; yours are not. Our movement is rooted in a political analysis that recognizes the need to shift power away from police and into our communities; your policy “victory” is not. Our motivation is rooted in a theory of change that prioritizes movement building and centering the leadership of those most affected; yours is not. Now, because of your self-serving interest in pushing simplistic policy changes, we and our allies face a much harder task pushing the critical package of reforms included in the STOP Act but ignored in your settlement. There is no such thing as an easy victory, and yours has come at a high cost.
Furthermore, as we expressed in our August 6th meeting, it is highly disingenuous to claim this victory as a result of the usual non-profit legal advocacy work of the ACLU. The City’s desire to negotiate with you has much to do with WCG and the larger Black Lives Matter movement’s demands for radical change. Your settlement represents just one of many efforts by City officials across the country attempting to co-opt our movement by engaging with less threatening groups. Passage of the STOP Act would be public recognition of the real, grassroots power of young Black and Brown Chicagoans; instead the City wisely sought to settle into an ongoing relationship with a legal organization that poses no real threat to the status quo. In other words, you were used.
Data collection through the STOP Act was the first of many steps in our plan to end to stop and frisk in Chicago. You have disrespected us. You have undermined our movement. You have wasted our time and that of our allies. But, your refusal to acknowledge or take seriously our leadership has neither silenced nor weakened us. We understand freedom will take a while and will not come without a fight. We are proud of what we have accomplished. We are proud of the base-building and power-building we have achieved. We are proud of our young Black leaders and their ongoing work. We are proud of our success. We will continue and build on that strong foundation in the coming weeks, months, and years. That is how we will win. That is how we will make Black lives matter.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
We Charge Genocide
Black Lives Matter – Chicago
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 (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.
Numerous 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.
Research 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.
Joined 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.
Planning, 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.
Finally, 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.
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: ‘We Charge Genocide’ Presents Report on Chicago Police Violence and Hosts Silent Protest on National Day of Action Against Police Brutality
We Charge Genocide | wechargegenocide.org | @ChiCopWatch
Oct 22: ‘We Charge Genocide’ Presents Report on Chicago Police Violence and Hosts Silent Protest on National Day of Action Against Police Brutality
Chicago organizers release report to the UN exposing ongoing, pervasive Chicago Police violations of the Convention Against Torture, as well as call for a protest at the 11th District Police Station, formerly run by disgraced Commander Glenn Evans.
CHICAGO 10/20– On October 22, a national day of action against police brutality, local organizers with We Charge Genocide (WCG) will release a report to the public detailing Chicago Police violence in marginalized communities and against youth of color.
The full report, We Charge Genocide: Police Violence Against Chicago’s Youth of Color is now available online at http://report.
We Charge Genocide: Police Violence Against Chicago’s Youth of Color contains data and personal narratives collected by WGC at events, using their online submission form, the #ChiCopWatch hashtag, as well as publicly available resources. The report also includes an infographic, Chicago Police Violence By The Numbers.
Key findings include:
- From 2009 to 2013, although Black people comprised only 32.3% of Chicago’s overall population, 75% of police shooting victims were Black. Additionally, in the first six months of 2014, 23 of 27 people shot by the CPD were Black.
- Between 2009 and 2011, 92% of Taser uses involved a Black or Latino target, including 49 youth under the age of 16 (with some as young as 8 years old).
- Black youth accounted for 77% of the arrests of youth in 2011 and 79% in 2012. Latino youth accounted for most of the other arrests, i.e., 18% of these arrests in 2011 and 17% in 2012.
- A brutality complaint is 94% less likely to be sustained in Chicago than in the nation as a whole: Only 0.48% of brutality complaints against the CPD are sustained (as opposed to 8% nationally).
- Between 2002 and 2004, Chicago residents filed 10,149 complaints of excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse, and false arrests against the CPD. Only 124 of these 10,149 complaints were sustained (1.2%), and a mere 19 cases (0.18%) resulted in any meaningful penalty (a suspension of a week or more)
The web companion to the report includes:
- Mapping of police shootings by district
- Data visualization of the racial component of police violence in Chicago
- Data on City expenditures on officers with a large volume of misconduct complaints
- Narrative portraits by local writers of police shooting victims, and one survivor
- Original testimony of young Chicagoans speaking to their experiences with police violence
- Excerpts from the UN report
The report shows that CPD actions violate the United Nations (UN) Conventions Against Torture. The presentation will take place at 9 am at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S Halsted St, Chicago.
6 PM Protest Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.
We Charge Genocide Demands for National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality
(inspired by #BlackLivesMatter demands)
1. We call for a decrease in CPD spending and a reinvestment of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools. This money should be redirected to those city departments charged with providing employment, housing and educational services.
2. We demand reparations for the survivors and victims of Chicago Police Torture
3. We demand that the federal government discontinue its supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement including the Chicago Police Department.
4. We demand that the CPD answer the questions that we have posed in the interest of transparency and accountability: cpdquestions.tumblr.com
5. We call on the CPD to release the names of all officers involved in killing Roshad McIntosh.
Press Kit with bios, FAQ sheet and images for media use. Please credit We Charge Genocide: http://bit.ly/1okIZQI