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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.
Approximately 150 people in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois took part in the national march called by the NAACP for a federal civil rights case against George Zimmerman who last week was acquitted for stalking and murdering 17 year-old African American youth Trayvon Martin. Sponsors included: Champaign County NAACP, CU Citizens for Peace and Justice, National Council of African American Men, Citizens with Convictions, NorthEnd Breakfast Club, Sisternet, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, an AON CCAD.
The march kicked off from Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Urbana. Youth led the march carrying a sign to remember Kiwane Carrington, a 15 year-old black youth killed by Champaign police in 2009. Aaron Ammons led the march on bullhorn.
Marchers raised up their hoodies in memory of Trayvon as they went down University Avenue.
A twenty-three year-old African-American man came to a CUCPJ meeting July 13 to tell us the horrors of his encounter with the Champaign Police.
A first-hand account of the Bradley Manning trial by local peace activist Niloofar Shambayati.
On June 25, at 6 p.m., the Community Justice Task Force will be presenting a final report with its recommendations for the current proposed jail expansion. The meeting will be at Brookens Administration Building (Lierman and Washington St. in east Urbana).
The Task Force has been working for over a year to develop alternatives to the county's original plan to build a multi-million dollar extension of the satellite jail. CUCPJ urges people to attend the session on the 25th and hear what the Task Force recommends. Hopefully their report will provide some concrete ideas for taking the county's criminal justice system in a new direction.
A draft report on the jail by ILPP was released on April 30 and can be read here. Below is a response from CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. A final report from ILPP will come at the end of the summer.
IMC is streaming the library board meeting where 200 showed up to protest the loss of nearly half of the non fiction collection in a haphazard weeding process and allegations of intimidation of staff members. Watch live now: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ucimc
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.