Race, Policing, and Power in Chicago 1919–2020

Thursday, April 15, 2021, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Type: Plenary Session

Tags: Crime and Violence; Race; Urban and Suburban


We witnessed what the New York Times describes as the largest protest in U.S. history in response to egregious examples of police violence and systemic racism, triggered by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May 2020. Police brutality has been the spark for urban rebellions since the early twentieth century, and a new twenty-first-century abolitionist movement has indicted police and prisons as institutions that perpetuate racism and white supremacy and must be dismantled. Chicago has been at the epicenter of the struggle against police violence, from the campaign for justice for victims of police torture under the watch of disgraced police commander Jon Burge; to the 2014 We Charge Genocide delegation that presented grievances to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; to more recent protests by Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter Chicago and others against the police killings of Rekia Boyd, Laquan MacDonald, Harith Augustus, and others. This plenary panel of scholars and leading Chicago activists will offer historical background and critical analysis of policing and protests in Chicago, and their racial and economic underpinnings.

Session Participants

Chair: Barbara Ransby, University of Illinois
Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and History at University of Illinois at Chicago and author of “Making All Black Lives Matter, (University of California Press, 2018)

Panelist: Simon E. Balto, University of Iowa
Simon Balto, Assistant Professor of History, University of Iowa, and author of Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power (University of North Carolina Press, 2019)

Panelist: Alice Kim, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, University of Chicago
Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice at the Pozen Center for Human Rights, University of Chicago, and member of Prison Neighborhood Arts Program, and activist and author of The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences

Panelist: Aislinn Pulley, Chicago Torture Justice Center
Aislinn Pulley, Director, Chicago Torture Justice Center and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Chicago