Tag Archives: Chowchilla Freedom Rally

Keep Your Heart Strong: An interview with Kati Teague about healing from the Prison Industrial Complex through art and organizing

kati3While teaching at UC Santa Cruz, I worked with three young artists whose work addresses policing, state violence, and creative forms of resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex.

In a three-part miniseries, I’ve interviewed each of these recent graduates about their work, how they became politicized, what they believe is the power of political artwork, and the various issues they address.

In the second part of this mini-series, I interview Kati Teague about her experience of her mother’s incarceration and the ways she has learned how to heal through making art and organizing against the Prison Industrial Complex. Kati’s body of work, “Have You Seen My Mother,” reckons with her mother’s abrupt and forced removal from her adolescence as she spent two years in prison at the Central California Women’s Facility. After attending a statewide protest at the site of this prison, 11 years later, Kati began to understand her individual experience in a much greater context of communities and families disrupted by incarceration and fighting for their loved ones inside and against this invisible punishing machine.

You can read the interview in full here.


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


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

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!

Chowchilla Freedom Rally, I am free today

We are 3 weeks away from our statewide mobilization to Chowchilla to protest the unconstitutional overcrowding in California’s women prisons and show our support for our loved ones inside who are struggling to survive as the conditions worsen. As a result of the conversion of Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW), one of the remaining women’s prisons has now reached 179% capacity. A woman recently transferred to CCWF informed us that they were given clothes and bedding that “you wouldn’t want even your dog sleeping on.” Another person confirmed, “Everything we rely on to survive, including medical and legal, is highly impacted by overcrowding. Overcrowding is the issue. It causes everything else to come crashing down like dominoes.”

We need your help to show the U.S. Supreme Court, the government, and prison officials that not only are we witnessing this discrimination and abuse but we will not be silent! Join us in demanding an end to overcrowding! Our loved one’s deserve humane living conditions and their freedom! Bring them home!