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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