By Nycki Wallsch and Kelly Mahoney
Chippewa Valley Expo is excited to announce the new campaign called Free, which was created to specifically help women who have been impacted by the Criminal Justice System. Free will be addressing issues and barriers that women face in our community who have previous conviction histories. In highlighting and uplifting these issues we hope to bring forth policy changes and advocate for other women.
Free has hired a new part time Organizer, Nycki Wallsch, for the Chippewa Valley Chapter. Free has been working on developing new resources and training for women. A long-term focus is housing for women.
Chippewa Valley EXPO, along with Free, has been working to dismantle systems that oppress and help raise awareness in our community of systematic racism. We are planning a virtual movie night screening of the film “Just Mercy” in the first part of October.
Another campaign EXPO has going is Unlock the Vote, which was originally launched last year, to help address voter suppression being allowed in our systems. Unlock the Vote is aimed to restore voting rights to people when they leave jail or prisons. We all are aware of how important this upcoming election is and we are fighting hard to make sure all voices are heard and counted.
EXPO is also working to hold our elected officials accountable in releasing people due to overcrowding in our prisons and jails due to COVID-19. It should not have taken a pandemic like this one to realize that this has been an ongoing issue. Now lives are at stake and alternatives to incarceration is the action we need to be taking.
As an organization that is created, staffed, and supported by formerly-incarcerated people and their loved ones, we believe that ALL human beings are worthy to be treated with respect and dignity. With the injustices we see so clearly happening around us, we know that we need to do better and be better. Prejudice, hatred, and all forms of violence are wrong and should be dismantled along with any system that oppresses.
We have our monthly chapter meetings for EXPO the second Monday of every month, and for Free the last Monday of every month. We look forward to being able to bring actions to our community and we need all hands on to keep moving forward.