Breathe-In event unites students and black activist groups

    The Black People Making History Committee hosted their second "Breathe-In" event in the Technological Institute Tuesday night.

    Speakers from black activist groups, who organized the Loop and Lakeshore Drive protests, spoke about their organizations and what their goals are before breaking into small groups for a workshop session. About 80 people attended the event.

    Janaé Bonsu and Ayinde Cartman of Black Youth Project 100 focused in on the issue of Black Lives Matter spanning across all black lives, including gays, lesbians and females. Their current agendas include decriminalization of marijuana and working towards police accountability.

    "Unification of youth is our focus; the unification of black youth is our project," said Cartman.

    University of Chicago IIRON Student Network representative Brianna Tong works with students to help them better organize effective group gathering. The IIRON Student Network currently is fighting for an end to mass incarceration and corporate accountability.

    "I hear about this a lot, but I didn't really know where to direct my action or my anger," said Sienna Parker, a SESP freshman. "It [these topics] makes me angry, and now I know places where I can use that anger to be productive instead of being angry and letting it fizzle out."

    Kristiana Colón and her brother Damon Williams founded the Let Us Breathe collective, which gathered and donated supplies to protestors in Ferguson.

    They said they also aim to use creative public theater, like stopping traffic by laying in the streets of Chicago and marching through the city on Black Friday, which they renamed Brown Friday, in protest of spending toward big corporations, to "deconstruct systemic injustices in America," said Colón.

    Ethan Viets-VanLear and Todd St. Hill of We Charge Genocide closed out the forum with a personal account of a friend lost because of police brutality. Their primary mission is to "end police violence through education and documentation," said St. Hill.

    In 2014, they took a petition to the United Nations that included testimonies of police violence in United States cities. According to St. Hill, the U.S. denied their testimonies, but the U.N. moved forward with questioning of the U.S. on these issues.


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