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Art and Workshops Held to End Mass Detention and Incarceration

People gathering before speakers take the stage.

Hundreds of people gathered Apr. 5 at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Student Center to participate in dynamic speeches, workshops and a march– all hoping to end mass detention and incarceration.

The event opened with powerful introductory speeches with speakers who have been directly impacted by these issues.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Rafi Peterson, 55, a co-chair of the event. Peterson spoke on the importance of having the opportunity to build and rebuild relationships.

He also shared the stage with young men from Young Chicago Authors. Malcolm London and Lamar Jorden, active members of Young Chicago Authors, recited inspirational poems that raised some of the audience to their feet in excitement.

According to data from the Adler School, a school of psychology in Chicago, 2.3 million people in the U.S. are currently incarcerated. Close to half a million people are forced to leave loved ones every year due to deportation. Forced Out recognized the physical and mental effects this has on a person and put together workshops to help.

One of the many pieces of artwork on display at Forced Out.

Workshops dealt with mass detention, employment and worker’s rights, criminalization of youth, construction of illegality, resisting the criminalization of sexuality and gender, and reexamining reentry.

“We planned this event to say it’s time to make a move,” said Beth Richie, a professor at UIC. Richie spoke on behalf of UIC when talking about how honored the University was to host this event that was planned beginning six months ago.

Forced Out was sponsored by the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), Adler School, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and others.

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