Must-Reads and a Big Victory Against Police Tech

Must-Reads and a Big Victory Against Police Tech
(Photo: Kelly Hayes)
Must Reads and a Big Victory Against Police Tech

Your weekly curated list of must-reads is here, but first, there’s a new episode of Movement Memos that I want to put on your radar. My conversation with Navi Heer and Nathan, who organize with the Stop ShotSpotter campaign in Chicago, and investigative journalist Jim Daley, is a great opportunity to learn from organizers who challenged mass surveillance at the intersection of Big Tech and policing – and won. 

If you need a transcript or would like to check out the episode’s show notes, you can find that here.

Also, if you missed my recent conversation with Harsha Walia about why we need more economic disruption and how communities can fight burnout together, I highly recommend checking it out.


From judicial attacks on the right to protest, to Gaza, Rojava and the automation of ableism, here are some of the most important stories I’ve read this week.

Illusions of Safety by Mariame Kaba. “Safety is a rhetorical weapon wielded to make people feel less safe. We are in an endless cycle of fear, which generates an authoritarian reaction, generating more fear and more authoritarian reaction. How do we break free?”

Ireland Pledges $21M for UNRWA, Slams Israel’s “Disinformation Campaign” by Sharon Zhang. “Numerous reports have found that the UNRWA and countries that have suspended funding have seen no evidence backing Israel’s allegations against the agency, which Israeli officials have long wanted defunded — and yet donor countries like the U.S. and Germany, the top two contributors to the group, have cut off 70 percent of the agency’s funding so far.”

The Right to Protest Is in Peril at the Supreme Court by Matt Ford. “A ruling in the anonymous officer’s favor would open up protest organizers and leaders to an entirely new category of liability for organizing large demonstrations. That could impose chilling effects on actions that are otherwise protected by the First Amendment.”

Faced with ‘Cop City’ Referendum Push, Atlanta Changes Up Its Election Rules by Piper French. “While legislation codifying a referendum process has passed, albeit with signature-matching included, there’s still no telling when the federal appeals court decision may come. In the meantime, there will be more direct actions.”

Why is the suicide rate so high at this Maryland jail? by Ben Conarck. “A Baltimore Banner investigation into the suicides revealed a suicide rate five times the average rate of local jails across the country, flawed practices, lapses in supervision and failures by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office to critically question its own staff or share information with the public, including the loved ones of those who died.”

The Billionaire Bully Who Wants to Turn Texas Into a Christian Theocracy by Russell Gold. “You may not think about Tim Dunn. Indeed, unless you’re a close observer of Texas politics, it’s likely you haven’t heard of him. But Dunn thinks a lot about you.For two decades he has been quietly, methodically, and patiently building a political machine that has pushed Texas forcefully to the right, sending more and more members of the centrist wing of the Republican Party into exile.”

Unremitting Turkish Attacks Leave Rojava in Peril — and in Need of Solidarity by Martin Winiecki. “Alongside all the heartbreaking tragedies in the Middle East, a radical alternative is under threat in the region. In northeast Syria, not long ago the scene of this century’s most horrible bloodshed, millions of people of different ethnicities are building a stateless, post-capitalist, post-domination society.”

States That Restrict Abortion Have Higher Rates of Intimate Partner Homicide by Zane McNeill. “States classified by researchers as limiting abortion access experienced a 75 percent increase in peripartum homicide rates. Louisiana and Missouri, both of which restricted abortion access, had the highest peripartum homicide rates per total state population.”

Automating ableism by s.e. smith. “Technologies such as these often rely on two assumptions: that many people are faking or exaggerating their disabilities, making fraud prevention critical, and that a life with disability is not a life worth living.”

Climate change is erasing previous gains in air quality — fires are mostly to blame by Justine Calma. “In other words, to get soot and smog under control, regulators will also have to prioritize slashing other pollutants — carbon dioxide and methane emissions that cause climate change. They’ll also have to think about things like forest management to better keep wildfires under control.”

With Grief and Gratitude: Remembering Christine Geovanis

Kelly stands alongside Chris Geovanis. Kelly is holding artwork that was made in Christine's honor.
(Photo: Sarah-Ji)

This week, I am grieving the loss of my friend Christine Geovanis, who passed away Monday night. Chris and her late partner Dick Reilly, who we lost in 2020, were part of my movement family, and their roots in the city of Chicago ran deep. They were both incredibly generous with their time, skills, and mentorship. As Christine’s loved ones highlighted in her obituary

Together over 27 years, [Christine and Dick] started HammerHard MediaWorks and Chicago Indymedia, two alternative news media sites providing community-driven journalism free of corporate interests. They also helped found Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism, a mainstay organization mobilizing opposition to the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq in 2003. Attending countless demonstrations with her iconic camera poised for a shot, Chris documented and supported causes ranging from protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline, demonstrations supporting Black Lives Matter and Occupy Chicago, and the cause closest to her heart, an end to the occupation of Palestine.

I loved Chris and Dick. They both taught me important lessons during moments when I was growing, not only as an organizer but as a human being. Chris was also a role model for me in terms of how to be a mentor. Through her generosity, her humility, and her eagerness to show up behind the scenes to offer whatever support she could, Christine modeled what solidarity should look like. As an organizer, she strengthened everything she touched. 

As Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Stacey Davis Gates said this week, “a lot of the transformation we are seeing in Chicago today — building a city that works for the many, not the few — has its roots in Chris’ work to root out injustices and move people to change them.”

Chris joined CTU's communications team under the leadership of Karen Lewis and helped the union shape messaging that tied education justice to housing and racial justice, and other liberation struggles. Her clear-eyed analysis, her wit, and her tenacity were cherished by her colleagues.

We honored Chris for her organizing work and commitment to our movements at last year’s Solidarity to Celebrate event. I was so grateful for the opportunity to stand alongside Chris as she was celebrated for her tremendous contributions to justice work in our city and to raise a glass with her to all of the friends and co-strugglers we have fought alongside. I know Chris believed in us and in our ability to continue to wage struggle, and I hope that we can honor her legacy.

As an elementary school student and a high school student, Chris was engaged in Palestine solidarity work. Her unwavering commitment to Palestinian freedom and self-determination was an inspiration, and I believe the best way we can uplift her memory today is to fight even harder for Palestine. So, if you would like to join me in honoring my friend, this is what I would ask: On a day when you are on the fence about whether to go to a protest or whether to take a risk in the name of Palestinian liberation, or when you’re marching or rallying, and you notice your voice growing lower and your energy waning, dig deep and summon your audacity. Move fiercely on behalf of a freedom fighter who deserves to have that legacy. Because if we all show up the way Chris showed up throughout her life, I believe that we will win.

Much love,