ejeris-30 (1) Our Keynote Speaker is Ejeris Dixon. The title of her talk is “Practicing Liberation.”

Ejeris Dixon is an organizer and political strategist with 15 years of experience working in racial justice, LGBTQ, anti-violence, and economic justice movements. She currently works as the Founding Director of Vision Change Win Consulting where she partners with organizations to build their capacity and deepen the impact of their organizing strategies. From 2010 – 2013 Ejeris served as the Deputy Director, in charge of the Community Organizing Department at the New York City Anti-Violence Project where she directed national, statewide, and local advocacy efforts on hate violence, domestic violence, and sexual violence. From 2005 – 2010 Ejeris worked as the founding Program Coordinator of the Safe OUTside the System Collective at the Audre Lorde Project where she worked on creating community based strategies to address hate and police violence.

She speaks and trains nationally on issues of police violence, hate violence, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence as they impact LGBTQ communities and communities of color. Her writings and analysis have been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, SPIN Magazine, CNN, and the New Civil Rights Movement. In 2012 the White House recognized Ejeris as both an Emerging LGBT Leader and selected her as a featured speaker on violence against Black LGBT communities. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in African American Studies at Yale University and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Nonprofit Management at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.

Descriptions of workshops are below. More presenter bios are on the way.

1. Accountability Beyond Judgment: Applying Restorative Justice Philosophy to Youth-Police-Community Relationships. 

Healthy relationships are the foundation of safe communities. But the formal justice system does little to invest in building and strengthening the relationships that matter most. Police officers rarely talk with the youth in their districts outside of confrontational encounters. Meanwhile, young people rarely feel safe and engaged enough to have real conversations with police officers. This workshop will introduce the ‘Bridging the Divide’ toolkit for hosting youth-police dialogues and will share strategies that are currently being tested out in Chicago. We will listen to recorded stories of youth-police encounters, discuss barriers to building trust among youth, older residents and police officers, and engage critical questions about the possibilities and pitfalls of building these relationships.


Ryan Lugalia-Hollon has a strong track record in public safety innovation and urban policy research. He is currently the co-Executive Director of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s ‘Youth Safety and Violence Prevention’ strategy, where he is helping the Y to expand its healing and peacemaking capacity. Prior to joining the Y, Ryan worked as a Justice Fellow at the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. He is a founding board member of the Community Justice for Youth Institute.

LaCreshia Birts is a young adult organizer devoted to building healthy, safe, informed, and engaged communities. Birts is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s Youth Advisory Board and currently serves as the Organizing Co-chair of Black Youth Project 100 Chicago. Birts helped coordinate the “Bridging the Divide” project on behalf of the YMCA’S Youth Safety Violence Program.

2. Arts as Resistance

Hands on workshop diving head first into how arts can be used both as a tool of resistance, solidarity & self-determination.  Interactive overview of protest art techniques including wheat-pasting, stencils, screen-printing, banners, & huge protest puppets.


Ann-Meredith Wootton — Standing in the footsteps of a long line of hard-headed rascal women who grounded me in traditions of resistance and community building through storycircles, arts-based trauma healing, and transformative justice.  Collectively building arts-based community center run as a freedom school together with powerful youth leaders back home in New Orleans.

3. Ayotzinapa 43: State Violence against Students in Mexico

Join the Comité for a discussion on the most recent and flagrant examples of state violence in neighboring country, Mexico. Learn why Mexicans are holding the State responsible for the disappearances of the43 student teachers from the rural teacher’s college Normal Rural Raul Isidrio Burgos in Ayotzinapa. Build connections between the repression of the State and the use of police and military to repress and murder Mexicans, particularly Mexican students who express dissent against the Mexican project of neoliberalism. Learn about the solidarity work being carried out nationally and in Chicago, and dialogue with us about the interconnectedness of issues of state violence in Chicago and in Ayotzinapa.

Presenters: Laura Ramírez UIC Educational Policy Studies Doctoral Candidate and co-founder of Justicia en Ayotzinapa Comité Chicago, Fatima Zavala, UIC undergraduate Latin American Studies student and member of UIC Student Solidarity Network and Sara Oceguera DePaul undergraduate student and member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) DePaul.

Justicia en Ayotzinapa Comité Chicago is a grassroots committee mobilized to respond to the disappearance of the student teachers in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, México. The Comité is composed of a collective of concerned citizens who seek to raise consciousness in Chicago and demand justice in México.

4. Building Nonviolent Action and Education in Our Communities

Kelly Hayes will lead a discussion about direct action and the need to build a tactical education network in our communities. Kelly will be joined by young organizers of color who have been involved in the recent Black Lives Matter protests to discuss what actions were improved by prior nonviolent direct action training, what actions could have been better with more tactical preparation, and what their vision for community skill sharing looks like. The workshop will also involve a sampling of what is included in a basic NVDA training, including some interactive role playing.


Nonviolent direct action trainer and community organizer Kelly Hayes is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Light Brigade and is an active member of We Charge Genocide.  Kelly will be joined to young organizers for this workshop.

5. Citywide Campaigns to Advance the Movement: CPAC, Reparations, Stop & Frisk/Contact Cards & More

This panel will share information about existing policy proposals aimed at addressing policing and violence. Chicago has a history of organizing for police accountability (including elected independent civilian police boards, reparations, data transparency, and more).


Joey Mogul is an attorney & activist at the People’s Law Office, co-founder of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project (CTJM) and co-author of Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the U.S. with Andrea Ritchie & Kay Whitlock.

Shubra Ohri is a member of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project and an attorney with the People’s Law Office.  As an attorney she represents individuals in civil rights matters relating to police misconduct.   A Chicagoland native, she has worked on human rights issues in the Middle East, India, and most importantly, Chicago.

Larry Redmond, a.k.a. Obi, is a native of Chicago, Illinois.   He has been active in third party politics, and is currently a civil rights activist with the Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT), the Illinois Campaign to End the New Jim Crow (ICENJC), and the National Alliance Against Racial and Political Repression (NAARPR). Larry is the author of the CPAC legislation.

6. Healing Justice 101

This workshop will use a popular education framework to explore questions such as: What liberatory politics underpin Healing Justice? How do we take care of ourselves and take care of each other while doing social justice work?  How do we respond and transform generational trauma as a part of political organizing?The workshop is designed for newcomers to Healing Justice work and will generate strategies to integrate into existing organizing work.


Shira Hassan is an East Coast born, Chicago based QPOC organizer who lives & works at the intersection of Transformative Justice and Harm Reduction.

7. In and Out: Bail/Bond & Establishing a Chicago Revolving Community Fund 

This panel will examine what bail is and how it works, information about bail funds, and what a standing fund for revolving bail loans might look like in Chicago.


Alice Cottingham is a freelance consultant who works for grantmaking foundations and community nonprofits.

Elzora Threets-Lottie is the mother of Lakendra Lottie, a 19-year-old Chicagoan arrested at the DeSean Pittman vigil protesting his CPD murder.  LaKendra spent almost three months in Cook County Jail until the arrestees’ family, friends, and solidarity activist successfully fundraised to post her high bond.  Elzora remains committed to creating a community bond fund so that fewer chicago families have to go through the pain of having their loved ones unnecessarily behind bars.

Lillian McCartin is a criminal defense attorney in Chicago, she has her own practice where she represents juveniles and adults charged with felonies and misdemeanors.

Derrick Myles-Wince is currently out on bond after being arrested at a community vigil mourning the loss of his nephew DeSean Pittman, who was murdered by CPD.  Derrick spent almost four months in Cook County Jail before his friends, family, and activists raised the thousands of dollars needed to bond him out just days before Christmas.  Derrick and five other south-siders continue to fight unjust felony charges stemming from the vigil.

Jeff Pickert is currently a law student working with the National Lawyers Guild.  He has worked on raising bond for political activists both in Chicago and in Occupied Palestine.  Inspired by the strong relationships built through supporting the friends and families of the DeSean vigil arrestees, Jeff would like to see a community bond fund created that serves to build community and strengthen resistance to injustice across Chicago.

8. Jail Support 101 

Anyone can do jail support! Participants will share their own experiences and learn how to track arrested people through the legal system, care for handcuff injuries and support arrestees as they are released. After covering key jail support skills, we will strategize together about how to create a more sustainable, broad-based jail support network in Chicago.


Chicago Action Medical is a group of volunteers that has provided medical support at direct actions for social change since 2002. In the past year we have been honored to support the movement against racist police brutality, both locally and in Ferguson and St. Louis. Collectively we have hundreds of hours of experience waiting outside of jails for our comrades to be freed and providing care while locked up.

We will be joined by a guest presenter from the National Lawyers Guild, a non-profit federation of lawyers, legal workers, and law students. Since 1937, Guild members have been using the law to advance social justice and support progressive social movements.

9. Policing, Mental Health, and Disability Justice

 What does disability and mental health justice look like in the context of organizations, communities and institutions? Join us as we discuss how the intersections of mental illness, disability, Blackness, and policing affect our organizing efforts, our communities, and the institutions that shape our world. This workshop will give participants an introduction in how the education system, police, family units, supportive services, and other institutions work to oppress people with disabilities. This introduction will lead into a discussion on how we can recognize and organize around the intersection of disability and race in order to transform our organizations, communities, and institutions. This workshop will also provide ideas and resources for empowering participants to carry this knowledge into their communities and organizations.

Presenters: Fulani Thrasher, Candace Coleman, Brock Grosso, & Carrie Kaufman 

Candace Coleman coordinates Advance Youth Leadership Power (AYLP), AL’s organizing group led by and for young adults with disabilities.  AYLP has worked on community issues such as bullying, restorative justice, and transit.  Candace received her B.S in Business Management from Grambling State University in 2009. In her current position, Candace supports youth in mentoring, leadership development and advocacy.  Candace has also served as a mentor to the Empowered Fe Fes. Candace serves as a board member for the Hip Hop Detoxx and Youth Move IL which promotes positive mental health development for youth in the Chicagoland area.

Fulani Thrasher is the lead organizer of the Empowered Fe Fes- a group of young women with disabilities who want to change their environment and advocate around issues affecting women and girls with disabilities.  The goals of the group are to build disability pride, self-confidence, and leadership skills by using art, peer support, and hands-on advocacy trainings and workshops.  Fulani obtained her Sociology degree at Beloit College, which sparked her passion for social justice. Fulani believes that disability is important to every community. She would like to see more allies standing by the disability community in the fight for equality.

Brock Grosso organizes and educates around housing and disability justice with Access Living. He also works on creating space for consciousness raising and reflection for white cis men who are involved in social justice work. He is a native Midwesterner and a recent transplant to Chicago by way of Washington DC; Jackson, Mississippi; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Battle Creek, Michigan. He lived on a farm in a past life and dreams of organizing worker and housing cooperatives in his near future. He is both a cat and dog lover!

 10. Polimigra: Detention, Deportation and Mass Incarceration

Description: Join Organized Communities Against Deportation (OCAD) for a discussion on the different mechanisms that police and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) use to target, detain, and deport immigrants. Through anti-deportation campaigns the local immigrant rights movement has and seeks to continue to challenge the criminalization of our immigrant communities and challenge mass detention and mass incarceration.

Presenters: Lissette Castillo, Irene Romulo, Arianna Salgado, Gaby Benitez, and Reyna Wences. 

Gaby Benitez was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated with her family to Memphis, TN at the age of 6. Living most of her life as an undocumented student and with her family currently facing the deportation of her father, Gaby has a strong commitment to immigrant community organizing. Gaby moved to Chicago in 2012 and is a member of Organized Communities Against Deportations and a graduate student at UIC’s Latin American and Latino Studies program.

Lissette Castillo joined OCAD spring 2014,  while at the University of Chicago. Currently, she works as the immigration organizer for the Chicago Religious Leadership Network (CRLN). She  is originally from the bordertown Brownsville, Texas.

Arianna Salgado is a queer and undocumented immigrant who has taken part in organizing anti-deportation and anti-detention campaigns with local Chicago groups as well as national groups. She currently calls Chicago home and organizes with Organized Communities Against Deportations.

Reyna Wences is an immigrant rights organizer, born in Mexico and raised in Chicago, IL. She crossed the border at the age of 9 and was undocumented for 14 years. In 2009 Reyna was a co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, an undocumented youth led organization, and is now organizing with Organized Communities Against Deportations, an organization focused on deportation defense and individuals facing deportation.

11. Radical Youth Movements

This workshop will highlight the radical activism occurring in Chicago which has been fueled and largely organized by radical youth groups and individuals. The workshop will feature a panel discussion which will explore the symbiosis and overlay amongst these groups as well as the national and local fights that are centering the work.  We will discuss the historical significance youth play in resistance movements and explore how Chicago radical youth are at the vanguard of fights against police violence and killings, the movement to pass the Jon Burge torture survivors’ ordinance, decriminalization of marijuana, the fight against the school to prison pipeline, the struggle to de-militarize the police and more.


Page May – Organizer with We Charge Genocide and one of the WCG delegates who submitted a shadow report to the United Nations charging the Chicago Police Department with genocide, as well as an organizer of the #ReclaimMLKChi march.

Charlene Carruthers – National Director of Black Youth Project 100 who led an 8 hour occupation of Chicago City Hall the day after the Darren Wilson non-indictment verdict and who just returned from a 10 day solidarity trip to Palestine with other national young leaders.

Kristiana Colón – Artist and organizer with the Let us Breathe Collective and Chicago Artists Against Injustice. Organized the Brown Friday march among other actions and helped create the documentary profiling the young Ferguson activists, Lost Voices, who were formed after the murder of Mike Brown.

12. Thinking Through the End of Police

Abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex means not only working toward the end of prisons but also surveillance and policing. Many people are more afraid of imagining a world without police than one without prisons – and much of the rhetoric justifying the need for policing focuses on violence against women and LGBTQ people.  This session will engage participants in discussion about how current policing practices present a threat to the safety of women of color and LGBTQ people and fail to offer protection from violence, and community-based and other alternatives to police. Specifically, this session will draw on experiences of the facilitators in creating community interventions that do not rely on law enforcement to address harms. It will also heavily rely on examples offered by session participants as we think together and imagine a different world.


Ejeris Dixon is an organizer and political strategist with 15 years of experience working in racial justice, LGBTQ, anti-violence, and economic justice movements. She currently works as the Founding Director of Vision Change Win Consulting where she partners with organizations to build their capacity and deepen the impact of their organizing strategies. From 2010 – 2013 Ejeris served as the Deputy Director, in charge of the Community Organizing Department at the New York City Anti-Violence Project where she directed national, statewide, and local advocacy efforts on hate violence, domestic violence, and sexual violence. From 2005 – 2010 Ejeris worked as the founding Program Coordinator of the Safe OUTside the System Collective at the Audre Lorde Project where she worked on creating community based strategies to address hate and police violence.

Mariame Kaba is the founder and director of Project NIA, an organization with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. Her work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and supporting youth leadership development.  Kaba has a long history of educating and organizing against violence. She has co-founded several organizations including the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women, the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Teamand the Chicago Freedom School. Kaba runs the blog Prison Culture where she writes about issues of juvenile justice, prisons, criminalization, and transformative justice.

Andrea Ritchie is a Black lesbian police misconduct attorney who has engaged in extensive organizing and advocacy on profiling, policing, and physical and sexual violence by law enforcement agents against women, girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color over the past two decades. For the past 5 years she has served as Coordinator at Streetwise and Safe (SAS), an organization focused on profiling and policing of LGBTQ youth of color, and previously was on the national collective of INCITE! from 2003-2008. She was recently awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship to engage in documentation, organizing and advocacy around the experiences of women of color – trans and not trans, queer and not queer – with profiling and discriminatory policing practices.

13. Turning the Camera and Watching Back: Skills and Strategies for Filming the Police

This hands-on training will cover the fundamentals of filming the police. We’ll quickly review your rights when interacting with the cops, then jump into tips and techniques for monitoring the police. Short video clips and interactive activities will give folks a chance to observe and practice, and we’ll wrap up with a discussion of ways to use these skills – from spontaneous encounters to planned, neighborhood-based cop watching.

Presenters:  K. Reynolds, Ethan Viets-Van Lear, Vennessa Redmond, Rocky Calcagno, Timmy Rose

We Charge Genocide’s Cop Watch group hosts and facilitates workshops around Chicago, reminding people of their rights when encountering the police as well as filming encounters. We encourage community-based alternatives to calling the police and protecting ourselves and our communities. 

Vennessa Redmond is an Artist and Community Organizer around the city of Chicago, and works with First Defense Legal Aide Informing the community of their Rights when encountering the police as well as their access to a Free Lawyer when being detained at any Chicago police station.

K. Reynolds is a queer Black feminist from Richmond, Calif. They are a student organizer at Columbia College and an active member of We Charge Genocide’s Cop Watch group and social media team.

14. “We must love and protect each other:” Queer and Trans Resistance to Policing

In our workshop we will touch on the history and impact of policing queer and trans folks of color in the U.S and in Chicago through an interactive timeline that will look at the laws and policies that have been used to criminalize sex worker, homelessness, the history and gentrification of Lakeview and its impact on QTPOC, and the past and present resistance that exists in the community.  We will also brainstorm what queer and trans youth of color teach us about police resistance, and what our direct actions can look like.


Sadie Rain is a queer disabled trans woman, former sex worker, and advocate for homeless and street-based TLGBQ young people. She has spent years educating and organizing queer and trans communities around resistance to policing and incarceration.

Benji is an activist, artist and youth worker dedicated to radical education. He is a voguer, and has been an active member of the House of Ninja since 2007. Much of his work focuses on using the art form of vogue to teach Black and Brown queer history, sex positivity, and empower poor and working queer communities in creative and celebratory ways. He strives to combine arts and education to unite oppressed communities and plan direct action. Currently he is a drop in worker at the Broadway Youth Center. More of his thoughts and examples of his work are also available at his blog RADICAL FAGGOT.

Mayadet P. Cruz is a queer, fat Boricua, born and raised in the southwest side of Chicago.  They have been organizing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice issues with youth for over a decade.  They are currently a drop in worker at a queer and trans center for youth experiencing homelessness, and a core organizer with the Chicago Dyke March Collective. They deeply believe in zines as a form of storytelling and resistance.

15. Yes to Counselors, No to Cops:  Moving Beyond Police in Schools

Criminalizing student behavior is not new. The concept of the “school resource officer” emerged in the 1950s in Flint, Mich., as part of a strategy to embed police officers in community contexts. In 1975, only 1% of US schools reported having police officers. As of 2009, New York City schools employed over 5,000 school safety agents and 191 armed police officers, effectively making the school district the fifth largest police district in the country. This workshop will offer information about school-based arrests in Chicago Public Schools, share examples of campaigns in other districts to limit the role of cops in schools and discuss what needs to be done here to move beyond police in our schools.


Members of Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)/POWER-PAC

Mariame Kaba is the founder and director of Project NIA, an organization with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. Her work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and supporting youth leadership development.

Members of North Lawndale College Prep’s Peace Warriors 

Parents Organizing to Win, Education and Renew – Policy Action Council (POWER-PAC)

POWER-PAC is a cross-cultural, citywide membership organization of low-income parents.  Our mission is to build a strong voice for low-income, immigrant and working families by uniting parents across race and community around issues of importance to families.

Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)

COFI is a center and a resource for family focused organizing, leadership development and community building focused on the well-being of children, youth and families.