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Several years ago, while working at our local Books to Prisoners, I met a volunteer who had formerly worked as a mental health counselor in the local jail. This was just after there had been three jail suicides within a six-month period in 2004. She recalled a time when she worked with the “Crisis Team,” a nationally-recognized mental health program which for 20 years prevented any suicides in the jail. In response to the three suicides, Sheriff Dan Walsh outsourced mental health services to Health Professionals Ltd. (HPL), a private company based in Peoria, Illinois. Yet this has not stopped the loss of life in the jail.
This summer, the City of Champaign will begin the process of demolishing a neighborhood in the north end of the city. Bristol Place, northeast of Bradley and Market and home to nearly 200 residents, has been slated for total demolition by the city because of its low property values, old building stock and a purportedly high rate of crime. The city will use eminent domain to acquire the properties from even those residents who wish to stay in the neighborhood and who own and occupy houses that are in good condition. Although the city has been clear to say that the neighborhood’s total demolition is a settled issue, many questions remain: Why was the neighborhood regarded as obsolete? What’s next for residents? Is this a process that we will see for other low-income, predominately African-American neighborhoods in Champaign?
The Champaign County Board is considering a proposal to spend $20 million on new jail cells. They claim the current downtown jail, built in 1980, is beyond repair. The Board plans to pay for the new jail cells from the public safety sales tax which brings in about $4 million per year.
We say the Board, rather than spending $20 million on jail construction, should focus on investing in preventative services that will keep people out of jail and prison, things like youth job training, mental health centers, substance abuse treatment and re-entry programs for people returning home from prison. Click the title to add your name to the growing list of people who support investing in prevention instead of detention.
"To: The Champaign County Board We the undersigned oppose the Champaign County Board's proposal to spend $20 million on new jail cells. We believe the Board should spend this money funding preventative programs that will keep people out of jail and prison."
SIGN THE PETITION NOW: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6220/c/1340/p/dia/action3/common/public/?act...
On Wednesday, April 17, there will be a meeting with Dr. Alan Kalmanoff at 6:15 p.m. at the Urbana Free Library (210 W. Green St.).
Dr. Kalmanoff is the Director of the Institute for Law and Public Policy (ILPP), the firm hired by Champaign County to conduct a needs assessment regarding the county jail and related criminal justice issues. Dr. Kalmanoff has been interviewing people and gathering data for his assessment since November. This meeting will be an opportunity to hear some of his findings and to present your concerns to him in person. Come and be heard!
As a new building on campus is being named after Maudelle Bousfield, the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Illinois, a public housing complex named after Joann Dorsey, black community activist in Champaign during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, has been torn down. One woman came from the black upper-class, the other from the working-class, yet they both should be recognized for their contributions.
Pioneer Educator, Maudelle Bousfield
These two community dialogues will address what even the Obama administration has admitted is a failed War on Drugs. It is also part of our local campaign to oppose a proposal for an expansion of the local jail, which is full of victims of the Drug War.
Thursday, Feb. 28, Levis Faculty Center (919 W. Illinois St., Urbana)
Friday night, March 1, Salem Baptist Church (500 E. Park St., Champaign)
5:30-8:30 p.m. both nights
Neill Franklin, former narcotics officer and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Clifford Thornton, anti-Drug War activist and co-founder of Efficacy.
Organized by Citizens with Conviction (CWC), and Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice (CUCPJ).
Co-sponsors: Salem Baptist Church, Urbana Human Relations Committee, MAS (Muslim American Society), UC Friends Meeting, ACLU, Breakfast Club, GEO, Planners Network, Educations Justice Project, U of I Department of African American Studies.
The POC Zine Project curates a traveling POC zine exhibition, has established an archive, cultivates digital platforms that share POC zines and provides grants, tools and events for zinesters.
The tour stopped in Urbana last year, along with 14 other cities. Hosted by the UC-IMC Librarians group, the POC Zine Project brought it's awesomeness to central Illinois.
Have something to say? An issue or kind of music you are passionate about? Thanks WRFU's new tower, now you can reach all of Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy through WRFU 104.5 FM, a community radio station located in the Independent Media Center in downtown Urbana. The next free training will be held on Tuesday, January 8th at 6 PM. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 344-8820 to sign up.
WRFU 104.5 FM will be down the next couple of days. We are installing a new tower next to the UC-IMC building which will greatly increase our signal when it is all finished (hopefully Wednesday Nov 28 at the latest.)
We appreciate all our listeners and hope you will bear with us as we fulfill our long-term goals of making WRFU 104.5 FM an important part of the Urbana-Champaign community and surrounding areas.
There is a video being worked on documenting the progress and ultimate installation of our new tower. If you have taken photos or video recorded the installation process and would like to have your footage included in a video to be shown on Urbana Public Television, please contact Dane Spudic at email@example.com
In November 2005, WRFU 104.5 FM's original antenna was installed on the roof the UC-IMC building. That antenna is coming down today to be cleaned and installed on the tower.
Here's a photo-video that documented the process of installing the original antenna back in November 2005 (about 20 seconds into the photo-video the UC-IMC building as it used to look 7 years ago comes into view):
Most have heard about the unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones,” that the U.S. government has been flying over Pakistan and Afghanistan dropping bombs aimed at suspected militants and all too often killing innocent civilians. Increasingly, smaller versions of these planes are being purchased by police agencies, border control, and homeland security to use domestically. Rather than carrying weapons, they are outfitted with cameras allowing them to become an all-seeing eye in the sky.
An office lease is a big commitment. The cost of your studio/office space lease affects your bottom line and can interfere with your creativity. Let the IMC help you with that. The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center has the perfect studio/office for your project. Located in the heart of downtown Urbana, we sit at the center of activity and access. Spaces are available as low as $265.00 per month. Contact our staff at 217-344-8820 ask for Carol.
Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice has set up an online petition for people to show their opposition to the proposal from the Jail Planning Team to spend $20 million on new jail facilities in Champaign County. We believe the county has more pressing needs than a new jail; and since more than half of the people in our county jail are African-American (while only 12% of the county population is Black), we know who will end up in these new jail cells.
Show your opposition to mass incarceration at the local level and sign our petition.
Last week, the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center brought together some of the top experts in community broadband to get an overview of different models for building out local networks. Panelists compared and contrasted public, public/private, non profit and cooperative models.
Watch the video:
At the event national experts spoke to 138 attendees - 45 in the room and 93 watching remotely from a livestream - including city council and staff members, members of the governing body of the local public network, called UC2B, and interested residents. A group proposing to build out as a local cooperative was also present. The panel was facilitated by Brandon Bowersox, who chairs the UC2B governing body.
A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request produced hundreds of pages of emails from staff with the City of Champaign and Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC) about plans for the redevelopment of Bristol Place. In a recent story in the News-Gazette, Champaign Mayor Don Gerard defended the project and said he wanted to put to rest “talk on the street.” FOIA’d emails reveal the city’s intentions in their own words. City staff and Housing Authority Executive Director Ed Bland have moved forward with plans while keeping from the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners their designs for a land grab.
The ribbon cutting for a new community garden in southeast Urbana took place on a sunny Saturday afternoon, September 8, 2012. Created by the Lierman Neighborhood Action Committee, it is part of the “Let’s Move” campaign launched by First Lady Michelle Obama to create community gardens in cities across the country.
Located at Washington and Lierman, the garden is at the center of a neighborhood which has been in the local mainstream media for its stories of robberies, shootings, and drug dealing. The garden is a sign that some members of the community are beginning to take control of their own destiny.
A protest was held before the board meeting of the Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC) on Thursday, August 23, 2012 by those questioning plans to demolish Bristol Place, a largely African American neighborhood on the North End in Champaign. This comes on the heels of the demolition of two public housing units, Dunbar Court and Joann Dorsey Homes, also largely comprised of black residents. Local authorities have ambitions of eliminating all signs of poverty, while failing to address the basic needs of those less fortunate.
After months of stalling, the city of Champaign has finally released documents about the incident on June 5, 2011 when a 20 year-old African American man, Brandon Ward, was choked in the back of a squad car by white officer Patrick Simons. While five officers have been disciplined, not one has been suspended for a single day. Nevertheless, it is a sign of the shake-up taking place in the Champaign Police Department.
The Ward case created a storm of controversy in November 2011 when Champaign city officials announced that they had seen video of a black youth being abused by police. It occurred around 2:30 a.m. at 4th and Green streets after the bars had closed. Video of the incident was anonymously leaked at the Independent Media Center website, ucimc.org, and has received nearly 15,000 hits to date.
Thanks to the passage of the Local Community Radio Act, nonprofits will soon have the chance to apply for non-commercial radio licenses in cities and towns across the country! 1000+ new channels will become available, marking the largest expansion of community radio stations in U.S. history. The time to apply is coming up fast - with an application window opening in the next 6-12 months.
Arts organizations are some of the best positioned groups to take advantage of the upcoming opportunity to start new community radio stations.
The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center is seen as a model for how radio can be used to amplify the arts and the value of radio for arts organizations.
The national Grassroots Radio Conference is taking place this year at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. The conference comes on the heels of recent legislation opening up markets for low power radio stations across the United States. On Friday, July 27, a day of panels took place about how people could set up community radio stations.
There were panels of information sharing with people telling stories of how they had successfully produced community radio in their own home towns.
There was also a poetry workshop held by local poet and host of SPEAK Cafe Aaron Ammons.
The keynote address was given by Joe Torres, co-author with Juan Gonzalez, of News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media.
From July 26-29, the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center will be hosting the Grassroots Radio Conference (GRC), an annual conference celebrating the vibrant and democratic medium of local, community-driven radio. Highlights include a Friday night keynote by New York Times best-selling author Joe Torres, a bus tour of UC2B, Urbana-Champaign’s new public broadband system, and a celebration of WRFU’s new radio tower that will enable the station to reach the entire Champaign-Urbana community. Registration is $125 ($75 low-income) and can be done at www.grassrootsradioconference.
It was 96° in the shade, but a large crowd came out on July 19, 2012 for a showing of union solidarity. The Campus Labor Coalition―including AFSCME, SEIU, GEO, AAP, and CFA―held a rally at the Alma Mater on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and then marched across the quad.
The rally was partly to show support for workers in the local AFSCME union who have repeatedly been stalled by university negotiators and are still waiting for a fair contract. The university sites the state budget crisis, while top administrators go on getting paid inflated six-figure salaries. Despite several recent scandals that have forced campus leaders to resign in shame, they have been given golden parachutes by their colleagues. Those at the rally held signs that read “The U of I Isn't Broke, It's Broken!”