For the past four years, the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School and the Invisible Institute have collaborated in a project focused on everyday encounters between black youth and Chicago police officers.
We have learned a great deal from our conversations with the teenagers. Their stories have challenged our perceptions and moved us to rethink the nature of public safety. By placing the experiences and perspectives of black youth at the center of the discourse, we hope to enrich the national conversation about police practices, relations, and accountability.
Each panel begins with a short video, multimedia piece, or performance prepared for the conference in collaboration with the high school students involved in the project. A moderated public conversation among three to four panelists explores questions and issues raised by the introductory material. Unlike the traditional academic conference, we do not ask speakers to present a formal talk or paper. Our conversations are the essence of the event. We see the individual panels as part of a continuing conversation and they are orchestrated so that each builds on what comes before it.