Human Rights

State Terror: An Expose from Inside the Torture Regime of Chicago Police

By Rick Ayers | Medium

A book review of Ronald Kitchen’s memoir, My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row (written with Thai Jones and Logan McBride). 2018. Chicago Review Press.

Ronald Kitchen’s memoir, My Midnight Years: Surviving Jon Burge’s Police Torture Ring and Death Row, proceeds with the relentless rhythm of a horror story. You know what you’re getting into from the beginning — you expect a range of jolts and shocks along the way — and yet there’s an unanticipated surprise in Kitchen’s descent into the dungeons and catacombs of our vast prison system: the real horror is all of us. The peculiarly American gulag rides along on our willful blindness, manufactured ignorance, and passive participation.

The Continued Rise of “Illiberal Democracy” in Hungary: (Re)Claiming Space for Dissent

By Aaron Tolkamp

The recent re-election of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban to a third consecutive term in office has, for many, confirmed that the nationalistic, anti-immigration rhetoric and policies of the Hungarian government are here to stay. Orban, who is unapologetically xenophobic, continues to create and institutionalize a government platform valuing nationalistic patriotism and the maintenance of ethnic Hungarian culture at the cost of human rights organizations, open society defenders, and other NGOs.

Open and Happy Society: How Politics Affects Openness of Societies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlNeDNmIXM0 Heather Grabbe is a political scientist who advocates for the open society to the EU institutions and governments, with a particular interest in the interaction between politics and society. She was ranked 5th in Politico’s 2017 list of “women who shape Brussels” and appears regularly in the media on open society issues – from populism to technology’s impact on voters’ expectations of democracy. She spoke recently to the Belgian Senate in the Superdemocracy series on how post-truth politics affects the openness of societies and quality of democracy. From 2004-2009, she was Senior Advisor to then European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, responsible for EU policy on the Balkans and Turkey. Before joining the Commission, she was Deputy Director of the Centre for European Reform, the London-based think-tank. She did academic research on European politics at the European University Institute (Florence), Chatham House (London), Oxford and Birmingham universities, and teaching…

Biopolitics in Palestine: Community Health, Political Violence, and Daily Resistance 

By Bram Wispelwey     

On June 1, 21-year-old volunteer medic Razan Al Najjar was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper in Gaza as she was attempting to provide first aid to an injured protester. As the Palestinian Medical Relief Society points out, “Shooting at medical personnel is a war crime under the Geneva conventions, as is shooting at children, journalists and unarmed civilians.” As we mourn the death of Najjar, Bram Wispelwey, a doctor working in the Aida Refugee Camp in the West Bank, shares his account of the political violence and resistance taking place in Palestine.

Life as a Nurse in Gaza

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haLU32C-A34 At the age of 27, Azza Jadalla has already lived through six wars. She is a cancer nurse in Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa. Every day she deals with fall-out of the on-going conflict between Israel and Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas. Living in a place with a failing economy means she faces daily electricity and supply shortages at work. “Sometime we go for two or three months without pay,” she says. “But this doesn’t make me want to do my job any less, because it’s not the patient’s fault.” This year’s season features two weeks of inspirational stories about the BBC’s 100 Women and others who are defying stereotypes around the world.

Divided: a Documentary on Chicago’s Segregation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNYljy2J7PU This documentary explores the history of residential segregation in Chicago and how it has shaped the city today. The racial segregation of the city has flown under the radar even when the racial distribution of the city has not changed much over the years. The discrimination and segregation of blacks in Chicago have been going on since the Jow Crow laws that were terrorizing the South. The migration of the blacks to Chicago forced them into a small section of the city, The Black Belt. There have been firebombing, racially constricted covenants, and city policies that have kept black people out of white neighborhoods. This pushed the black migrants into over-crowded and over-priced neighborhoods on the South Side. The race tensions led to the race riots in 1919. In 1948, the Supreme Court declared racial covenants unenforceable. Although, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) still wished for racial…

Michigan’s Water Wars: Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free While Flint Pays for Poisoned Water

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCl-3WwkJgg&t=223s As Flint residents are forced to drink, cook with and even bathe in bottled water, while still paying some of the highest water bills in the county for their poisoned water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in Michigan. In 2001 and 2002, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan. This sparked a decade-long legal battle between Nestlé and the residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestlé’s wells are located. One of the most surprising things about this story is that, in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company…

Anticipating a Crush: In Prison, Tactical Teams Declare Uneven War

By Phil Hartsfield | co-published by Praxis Center and Truthout

About 7:45 am on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, I muster the energy to get out of bed and walk the step to the sink from the bottom bunk and I hear it. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. “Shit!” I say to myself as my cellmate and I look at each other wide-eyed. We know that sound anywhere. That’s three-foot-long, two-inch diameter solid wood batons hitting the steel bars as “Orange Crush” runs down the gallery clunking every bar along the way as they yell. Though it’s not our cell house, it’s E House right behind us. We’re able to hear them through the utility alley that the cell houses share behind the cells. They’re making their rounds due to an unauthorized pair of headphones found during a cell search in another cell house.

Freedom Dreams Syllabus

By Alice Kim Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, Stateville Prison This course explores the freedom dreams of political thinkers, artists, writers, activists and ordinary people in the US and beyond. We will engage with multiple genres (personal narrative, graphic memoir, poetry, speeches) to explore the meaning of freedom. Using an intersectional lens, we will consider the ways in which race, class, gender, and historical/social/cultural context impact our understanding and dreams of freedom. We will also explore the power of imagination to transform individuals, communities, and society.

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