Tag Archives: California Coalition for Women Prisoners

How We Heal

How We Heal_promotional

How We Heal by Adrienne Skye Roberts and Sara Yassky with Dagmar Hesker, Sandra Johnson, Samantha Rogers, Mira Stern, and LaSonya Wells of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners

How We Heal is an unfolding collaboration among members of California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) exploring somatic and/or embodied practices as a way to heal from the Prison Industrial Complex; specifically our experiences as survivors of the prison system and witnesses of our loved ones inside. How We Heal began as a one-day workshop for members of CCWP focusing on trauma endured by the PIC; how this trauma is registered in our bodies, and how we collectively heal in order to continue fighting against this inhumane system. The project includes documentation of this workshop, including audio, video and performative elements.

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Exploring an Abolitionist Future with the YBCA’s Young Artists At Work

ybca_wkshp1I was thrilled to be invited to work with the Young Artists At Work (YAAW)  program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) this year. The theme of the program is “Envisioning an Abolitionist Future,” and the high school participants are creating powerful responses to the prison system.

I led a workshop for the YAAW’s based on my organizing with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and my recent project and collaboration with CCWP members and prison survivors, “It Is Our Duty to Fight / It Is Our Duty to Win.”

We started the workshop by discussing the current California prison crisis and how it is affecting people locked up in the California state prisons for women. We watched two videos: CURB’s message to Governor Jerry Brown about overcrowding and the Freedom Archive’s documentation of the Chowchilla Freedom Rally. We discussed protest, the role of artists in protest, and the strategies CCWP uses to amplify the voices of people inside. I shared with them the process for my piece “It Is Our Duty to Fight / It Is Our Duty to Win” in which I interviewed prison survivors in order to create an audio piece and protest signs based on their words.

The youth then conducted their own interviews and original protest signs. They asked each other two questions: How does the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) affect your life? And what does a world without mass incarceration look like? They each then created a protest sign based on a quotation from their partner’s interview. I was so impressed by their sharp critical analysis of the PIC, their willingness to share their personal experience, and so moved by their honest and hopeful visions for the future. We ended the day making a lot of noise together as we all shouted the Assanta chant in the grand lobby of the YBCA.

Excerpts from the interviews are below (featuring Jay Eppler, Annie Yu, Malaya Sadler, Daisy Kuang, Jordan Brooks, and Dayra Banales), along with documentation of the day’s workshop.

It is Our Duty to Fight, It is Our Duty to Win

IMG_5754The piece “It is our duty to fight, it is our duty to win / We must love each other and protect each other / We have nothing to loose but our chains,” is a collaboration with four prison survivors and members of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP).

For this piece, I interviewed Sam, Misty, Mary and Windy and asked them the following questions: How did you survive prison? What do you need to survive now that you are out? And what does a world without mass incarceration look like?

I created hand-painted protest signs based on the interviews, each offering only part of their stories. These signs were displayed in the gallery and accompanied by an audio track that contains excerpts from the interviews and audio from the Chowchilla Freedom Rally, a statewide rally organized by CCWP to protest the overcrowding at the Central California Women’s Facility. Also included in the installation were campaign postcards addressing the overcrowding and poor medical care in women’s prisons which many gallery visitors signed.

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It Is Our Duty to Fight: A Curator’s Interview with Adrienne Skye Roberts

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I was asked to participate in Strange Bedfellows, a group exhibition about collaborative practice in queer art. For the show, I decided to collaborate with four prison survivors and members of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. I asked each person three questions: How did you survive prison? What do you need to survive now that you are out? And what does a world without mass incarceration look like?

Based on the wise words of my interviewees, I created hand-painted protest signs that will be displayed in the gallery along with the edited audio of the interviews. The piece is titled, “It is our duty to fight / It is our duty to win / We must love each other and protect each other / We have nothing to loose but our chains” (based on the Assata Shakur chant).

I was interviewed by Amy Cancelmo, the show’s curator, about my art practice and organizing with CCWP, about queer activism and it’s relationship to prison abolition. Before the show opens Saturday, June 8th, you can read the interview here:

It Is Our Duty to Fight: A Curator’s Interview with Adrienne Skye Roberts

Bring Our Loved Ones Home: End Overcrowding in California’s Women Prisons

This video features three incredible members of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Misty Rojo, Samantha Rogers and Thao Nguyen telling the stories of people whose lives were taken by the system and those still struggling to survive inhumane conditions and inadequate medical care.

This video was made in effort to send a message to Jerry Brown about the state of overcrowding in the California prison system, as he continues to deny the problem and avoid the federal court’s demand that he reduce prison population immediately.

Chowchilla Freedom Rally draws 400 protesters and all local media

The Chowchilla Freedom Rally drew over 400 people from throughout the state and caught the attention of all local media and many independent media sources. Below is an 8 minute video of the day created by the Freedom Archives and links to the articles, videos and op-eds.

Windy Click and Leslie Mendoza on Evening News, KPFA (min 28) 1/28/13

Officials insist inmates’ needs are being met at Central California Women’s Facility, Merced Sun-Star 1/29/13

Inside the women’s prison in Chowchilla, CBS 1/28/13

Protest against prison overcrowding draws hundreds, KSBY 1/27/13

Manifestación de la Libertad, Univision 1/27/13

VIDEO: Hundreds of prison protestors rally outside of Chowchilla, Merced Sun-Star 1/26/13

Thousands Rally Against Prison Overcrowding, KSEE 1/26/13

Protest Against Overcrowding Held Outside Philadelphia Women’s Prison, CBS 1/26/13

Protest against prison overcrowding draws hundreds, The Tribune 1/26/13

Group to Protest Outside Jail Saturday, Redwood City Patch 1/26/13

Op-Ed: Angela Davis/Windy Click: Rallying to end women’s prison crisis in California, Fresno Bee 1/25/13

Chowchilla Freedom Rally to draw hundreds of Bay Area residents to Central Valley to protest women’s prison, SF Bay View 1/24/13

Groups set to protest crowding at Chowchilla women’s prison, Merced Sun-Star 1/24/13

Crowding More Into Chowchilla Prisons, Prison Radio 1/16/13

Chowchilla Freedom Rally, Rise Up and Join Together

The Chowchilla Freedom Rally is 5 days away and many of us throughout the state of California are getting ready for what will undoubtedly be an empowering and impactful day. We can’t wait to be there with all of you to raise our voices loud enough to let our loved ones inside know they are not alone. Let’s make enough noise so that the decision makers in Sacramento have no choice but to hear our demands!

We are so inspired by the energy building around this rally. On Saturday in Oakland, we packed The Hold Out’s community room raising awareness (and money) about the injustices occurring in Chowchilla. The Youth Justice Coalition in Los Angeles is busy getting people to board the bus to Chowchilla or fund a seat.

Across the country in Pennsylvania, Mumia Abu-Jamal recently shamed California’s Department of Corrections for the inhumane and unconstitutional overcrowding in Chowchilla’s prisons during his Prison Radio broadcast from State Correctional Institute Mahanoy. And in a beautiful act of international solidarity, the Global Women’s Strike in London is planning a protest and speak-out in front of Holloway Prison on January 26th in support of the Chowchilla Freedom Rally and prisoners locked up in the UK’s women’s prisons.

If you haven’t yet, now is the time to sign up for a ride. We will send out information for the day-of shortly including a safety plan, directions and contact information. Thanks so much everyone and we will see you Saturday!