By: Vince Wallace
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression welcomes renowned civil rights and prison reform activist Prof. Angela Davis to Chicago this weekend for a National Forum on Police Crime. The two days of events on Friday May 16th and Saturday the 17th will include: A forum on the fight against unaccountable police (Fri 9am) at University of Chicago International House (1414 E. 59th Street), the 2014 National Alliance Human Rights banquet (Sat 5pm)hosted by Trinity United Church of Christ (400 W. 95th St), and a rally following the banquet (Sat 7pm) with keynote address by Angela Davis.
The National Forum grows from years of struggle in cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta”, explained Ted Pearson, one of the event’s organizers. The importance of the event to Chicagoans, he says is that “the police are a power unto themselves with no sense of responsibility”, and that while individual officers may conduct themselves honorably, “The system as a whole is broken”.
The event grows out of the “people’s hearings” held in Chicago in July 2012 and February 2013 where victims of police crimes and their families testified about their ordeals. The goal of the weekend is to compare notes with other cities – some which have had successes like New York’s campaign to end stop and frisk in minority communities – and build momentum for the creation of civilian-police accountability councils nationwide that will be empowered to forcefully address police actions and policies which violate citizens’ civil and human rights.
Davis herself has a long history of organizing against repressive law enforcement practices, having been imprisoned herself while accused as an accessory to a kidnapping before her eventual acquittal. The widespread belief that her arrest was more a consequence of her radical politics than any violation of law on her part, resulted in vocal agitation to free Davis from prison and began the movement from which the National Alliance was formed.
Charlene Mitchell author of “The Fight to Free Angela Davis” and “Equality, Its Time Has Come” will be honored Saturday.
One of the most important figures in that movement was the founding executive director of the National Alliance, Charlene Mitchell. Saturday, Mitchell, now at an advanced age will be honored at a banquet hosted by Trinity United Church of Christ (…95th st. 7p) and will receive recognition for her human rights work which is to be known from this year on as the Charlene Mitchell Human Rights Award.
More information on Friday and Saturday’s events and the event registration form can be found at the National Alliance website, NAARPR.org.
ABOUT PROFESSOR ACTIVIST ANGELA DAVIS
Davis is a distinguished professor emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her scholarly interests include feminism, racial inequality and social change.
Davis rose to international prominence in the 1960s as a civil rights activist, radical feminist and member of the Black Panther and Communist parties. She taught in the philosophy department at the University of California, Los Angeles before being dismissed for her public support of the Soledad Brothers, three inmates of Soledad State Prison accused of killing a prison guard.
In 1970, Davis became embroiled in one of the most prominent court cases in recent history when she was accused of involvement in the abduction of the Soledad Brothers. Her 16-month incarceration sparked a major public outcry and launched the “Free Angela Davis” campaign. Following her acquittal in 1972, Davis spoke around the world and continued her scholarly work. She ran for vice president on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984. She is a vocal critic of the prison system and a founding member of Critical Resistance, an organization aimed at abolishing imprisonment.
She is the author of nine books, including Angela Davis: An Autobiography; Women, Race, and Class; Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday; The Angela Y. Davis Reader; Are Prisons Obsolete?; a new edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; and The Meaning of Freedom.