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By James Kilgore, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice
When we began our campaign to stop jail construction in Champaign County in early 2012, I thought we were doomed. The grand plan to spend $20 million on this project seemed like a done deaI. The Sheriff was driving the initiative; the leading lights in the County Board seemed to think jail construction was the only prudent course. Yet, nearly two years later we have a very different scenario. The 2014 budget for Champaign County doesn’t include a single cent for jail construction. In fact, the county has allocated more than $200,000 in new money for social programs aimed at keeping people out of jail. In a county of slightly more than 200,000 residents, this is an important start.
How did this happen? The answer is simple- a campaign of ordinary people, led by a core from the Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice (CUCPJ), turned the situation around. This campaign is proof that action by people at the grassroots level can make a difference.
On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Carol Ammons announced her candidacy for the 103rd District of the Illinois House of Representatives. The seat has become open since Naomi Jakobsson announced her retirement. Ammons has a long track record as a local service provider and community organizer. She is co-founder of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. She has served on the Champaign County Board and is currently a member of the Urbana City Council. She recently resigned as Operations Manager of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.
Below is a speech she gave in front of the Lincoln statue in Carle Park in Urbana.
Darrell Cannon, survivor of police torture, wrongful conviction, and 24 years in prison spoke to large crowds at the Independent Media Center and University YMCA today. Mr. Cannon was tortured by Chicago police in 1983 and then again though nine years of solitary confinement in Tamms prison. He fought continuously for his innocence, finally succeeding in 2008. His civil suit against the City of Chicago is still pending.
Mr. Cannon shared the horrific details of his torture, pausing to tap his cheek for strength and comfort. He was captured by three Chicago police detectives who cracked his front teeth with the barrel of a shotgun - they shoved it in his mouth and pretended to fire. They hung him by handcuffs, wrenching his shoulders. After each of these events he refused to confess to the murder they accused him of. Then they shocked his genitals with a taser electroshock stun gun. He finally confessed. It was this forced confession, without proof or witnesses, that was used to put him away for life.
After a campaign by CU Citizens for Peace and Justice in 2005, Champaign County ended its phone contract that gouged local inmates and their families while providing a financial kick back to the county. You can read about this historic victory in the IMC archives. 8 years later, the Federal Communications Commission has taken similar action to reduce barriers to prisoners connecting with loved ones. As an anchor in the Media Action Grassroots Network which has led the national campaign for Prison Phone Justice, UCIMC would like to recognize all the hard work of Steven Renderos and the Center for Media Justice, Prison Legal News, and Working Narratives. Here is the press release from Center for Media Justice.
What is a nüz/böx?
First, it’s spelled with an X, a Z, two ümlaüts and a slash/. Even the name calls your attention. The pronunciation of nüz/böx is intentionally ambiguous. How do you pronounce it?
Pronunciation, like many aspects of a nüz/böx, is something the curator(s) – which is you if you decide you want to do it – give(s) form and direction to. A nüz/böx is purposely designed along minimalist lines, of concept, architecture, labor, and materials. It’s easy to do.
In simple terms, a nüz/böx is a hyperlocal, off-the-grid nexus of news, media and arts hosted by one or more households. There’s just one so far in the whole world, but I think it has wide appeal. Your neighborhood can have one …or more! I intentionally designed it to be a flexible concept, but can see networks of people joining together to put nüz/böxes along streets around town
Gregory Koger’s three and a half year long saga with the Cook County courts came to an end today as police whisked him away to begin serving the remainder of a 300 day sentence. Koger’s conviction emerged from a 2009 incident where he attempted to video an anti-censorhsip talk by Sunsara Taylor on the premises of Chicago’s Ethical Humanist Society. Instead of capturing a video, Koger ended up face down on the floor of the building while police handcuffed him, took him into custody, and ultimately charged him with three misdemeanors―trespassing, resisting arrest, and simple battery―despite the absence of any evidence that he was ever asked to leave the premises.
From the outset Koger maintained his innocence but the justice system did not concur. They insisted on pressing the charges, with Koger and his lawyer Jed Stone appealing the conviction each step of the way.