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Summer is here - join us

Updates from the Chicago Peacebuilding Program July 2022

Chicago WILD Coordinators
From right to left, WILD Coordinators Citlali, Rubi, Zyhier and Destiny, with support from Benji Hart, Alicia and Debbie pose for a photo after a facilitation training. Alicia is holding her son LJ.   Photo: / AFSC

Every month as we send you these updates, more crises have emerged that threaten the well-being of Black, brown, Indigenous, Trans, queer, migrant, unhoused, and undocumented people and working families everywhere.  We focus on supporting youth and communities in Chicago in the fight against city & state spending on policing and criminalization, in order to fund the resources everyone deserves to live healthy, full lives.  And we know that all of our struggles for justice and liberation are connected.

In the wake of the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and escalating attacks on bodily autonomy, we're grateful for the work of interrupting criminalization who reminds us that the criminalization of abortion in this country has everything to do with our fights for police & prison abolition.  Read up, if you're not familiar.  We support all those fighting to decriminalize access to reproductive healthcare, and especially offer our solidarity with those in the streets and behind the scenes ensuring that this care continues, even in the face of tremendous & escalating repression.

This month's newsletter focuses on updates from our youth organizing program, including two new resources, and offers several upcoming events and trainings opportunities for you to connect with us.  We also have a brief reportback from the #FreeBernina clemency hearing in Springfield last month.  

Don't forget you can get more frequent updates by following us on Instagram.

Stay fierce,

AFSC Chicago Peacebuilding Coordinator


Summer Youth Organizing Institute

On July 5, we launched - WILD! - a month-long, paid youth organizing institute for twenty young people, ages 15-19!  

We had over 120 youth from across Chicago apply for the program, and were able to offer 20 spots to the participants who start the! 

Our coordinating team has been hard at work planning the curriculum, hosting orientations, and practicing their facilitation.  Keep an eye on our IG this month for live updates from WILD, and ways you can support these emerging young leaders as they learn about abolitionist campaigns in Chicago.  

And *Save the date!*. On Thursday July 28 at 6:00 PM we'll be hosting a graduation event for our inaugural WILD participants.  Want to attend? Contact our office for the location information.

Shoutout Wellington UCC, an active and supportive community that’s thrown down for social justice for decades, for their financial support & partnership to pilot ‘WILD!’ 




Drawing Connections: State Violence from Guantanamo to Chicago

July 7, 5:30-7pm. 
DePaul Art Museum 
935 W. Fullerton Ave

Masks required.

Join Dr. Maha Hilal and Aaron Hughes for a discussion about the “Global War on Terror" and Islamophobia, and the connections to state violence in Chicago. Dr. Hilal will start off the program with a discussion based on her book, Innocent Until Proven Muslim, which tells the powerful story of two decades of the "Global War on Terror," exploring how the official narrative has justified the creation of a sprawling apparatus of state violence rooted in Islamophobia and excused its worst abuses.

The book talk will be followed by a tour of Remaking the Exceptional, an exhibition that highlights connections between policing and incarceration in Chicago and the human rights violations of the “Global War on Terror." Artist and co-curator of the exhibition, Aaron Hughes, will guide participants through the exhibit while in conversation with Dr. Hilal.

Co-sponsored by AFSC and PO Box Collective.


Rogers Park Safety Trainings
Co-sponsored by AFSC and PO Box Collective

A training series to help Rogers Park neighbors build skills to help our community avoid calling the police.

PO Box Collective
6900 N. Glenwood

Limited spots, please RSVP to Mary Zerkel.

July 9th 12-2 pm 
Mental Health Crisis Response - learn how to help a neighbor in crisis and connect them with local services. 

July 30th 12-2 pm 
Overdose Response - learn how to recognize someone who is overdosing and administer Naloxone. 


Community Safety Beyond Policing

July 14 - 7pm CT
Virtual Event

Getting Eyes on the Armed State: How Communities Build Transparency of Police Actions, Budgets, and Policies

This webinar will focus on examples that have shed light on law enforcement agencies, using public records requests and other research, and on activism to use transparency in campaigns for community safety.

Register Now



#FreeBernina Clemency Hearing

FreeBernina supporters pose for a photo outside clemency hearing in Springfield, IL 6.15.22

Thanks to all the folks who travelled down to Springfield to attend Bernina Mata’s clemency hearing before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB) on June 15th. We had a huge, coordinated presence with folks wearing purple to show solidarity and support for Bernina. Their presence had a tremendous impact on the Prisoner Review Board Members (Donald Shelton, Lisa Daniels, Ken Tupy, Roger Heaton) at the hearing.

It was also significant to have such a huge turn out of people show up and support Bernina given that she, like so many other queer and trans people, have been harmed and ostracized by biological family members.  For those ensnared in the criminal legal system and imprisoned, biological family members are often the only ones who support their loved ones, withstanding the stigma and what may feel like insurmountable barriers to do so. This collection of beloved community members demonstrating their support for Bernina demonstrates the extensive support Bernina will have if Governor Pritzker commutes her life sentence and releases her.



New Resource Alerts

Coins, Cops & Communities Toolkit 2.0

cover art by Nicole Trinidad

An updated toolkit with activities and supplemental activities for exploring the costs of policing in Chicago and what real safety could look like beyond policing.  

We hope this toolkit can serve as a resource to youth workers, educators, organizers, and young people themselves who want to empower their community to challenge policing and win the resources and investments we deserve. We also hope that although this toolkit is focused on Chicago, organizers across the country might take inspiration and tailor the activities to their own contexts, with support from the additional resources offered at the end. 

Download Toolkit


'Free the Youth' Podcast!
by The Final Five Campaign

Through a six episode series, ‘Free The youth’ explores the effects of youth prisons and other punitive systems by uplifting the experiences of those who have been directly impacted.  Listeners will hear from campaign organizers and guests, who draw from their own experiences to offer insights into how these systems harm individuals and communities, as well as what we need to achieve real change. 

The first five episodes dive into the consequences of punitive systems at the home, community, city, county, and state level. The series concludes by applying takeaways from each episode to action-based recommendations that will drive forward our mission to close the final five Illinois’ youth prisons. FTY strives to challenge mainstream narratives about youth justice and community safety by connecting real life experiences to systemic oppression, through the voices of those directly impacted.

Listen Now!