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Chicago Activists Look to Diversify, Fight Rape Culture Post-SlutWalk

By Darryl Holliday | May 21, 2015 5:40am | Updated on May 21, 2015 10:00am

LOGAN SQUARE — A rally against rape and gender violence in Chicago and nationwide has taken on a new name and mission, with roots in Logan Square.

A march and speak-out is planned for July 19 in Grant Park but not before organizers of FURIE (formerly Slutwalk Chicago) gather at Township, 2200 N. California Ave., on Sunday, May 24 to build a broader movement around fighting rape culture and raising awareness.

Chelsey Sprengeler and Township owner Tamiz Haiderali [DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday]

The movement's revised identity goes along with a new commitment to be more inclusive of various groups, including issues related to women of color and the queer and transgender community.

“I don’t think [SlutWalk] encompassed everyone who’s dealing with rape culture and misogyny,” said Chelsey Sprengeler, an organizer for Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation, and Logan Square resident. “These are feminist issues — it’s not just about abortion rights — it’s also a race issue when your children are being killed. That’s a reproductive issue that feminists need to take on.”

FURIE’s July march is entitled “Blame the System Not the Victim: A March to End Rape Culture” and is meant to highlight the “systemic targeting” of women of all backgrounds.

Illustration by Grace Mattingly.

“Women everywhere are aware that we are systematically targeted and at-risk of assault … our inability to talk about the different issues involved with rape culture has affected our ability to come together,” Sprengeler said, noting recent cases of sexual assault, rape and police brutality that have affected women locally, nationally and abroad.

FURIE is interested in organizing around the murder of Rekia Boyd by a Chicago police officer in 2012 alongside instances of rape and sexual assault — such as the string of sexual attacks in Logan Square from May to October 2014.

The group emerged out of SlutWalk Chicago last year and hopes to build a broad and more diverse coalition around its march this summer, Sprengeler said.

“We have to be there for all women," Sprengeler said. "We’re not the first city to change our name to be broader and more inclusive.”

Township owner Tamiz Haiderali said he’s happy to provide a safe space for the group to gather this weekend. It’s a space he would like to have had in the 1990s when his friends in the queer community were routinely “brutalized by police” and harassed along Halsted Street in Boystown, he said.

“It’s important to have dialogue like this in Logan Square where you’re two degrees of separation away from anyone,” he said. “[Logan Square] is like a little village on the West Side, so you feel responsible for people in the community. There’s a responsibility even as a small business owner.”

FURIE’s May 24 meeting starts at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Input gathered at the discussion will inform the direction of this summer’s march, Sprengeler said.

“Anyone who wants to help us organize the event is highly encouraged to attend," she added. "We’re seeing women from all over the city get involved.”

Individuals or organizations interested in signing on or getting involved can contact FURIE at furie.chicago@gmail.com.

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