TELLING STORIES, CHANGING THE CONVERSATION

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    Dignity and Power director Guadeloupe Chavez remains steadfast in keeping the pop up wellness fair on the grounds of Twin Towers.
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Dignity and Power organization provides families of those incarcerated with mental health and healing outside Los Angeles jails | Photo Story

in Health & Wellness/Politics & Social Justice by

In the last days of May’s mental health month, Ark Republic highlights organizations and people who employ revolutionary approaches to mental health and awareness.

Mental health is not only a radical act. For the organization, Dignity and Power, healing is essential to social justice. So much so, they take their campaigns literally to the front doors of jails and prisons in Los Angeles.

Since 2014, Dignity and Power, under the directorship of Guadeloupe Chavez, hold wellness fairs called, Freedom Harvest. The events occur on the lawns of detention centers. Because these spaces are funded by tax dollars, they are public lands. As a result, Dignity and Power re-appropriates their intended use by making it a healing space.

A team of healers and volunteers provide a range of services to families and friends visiting loved ones inside jails. It is stressful to see someone locked up, so Dignity and Power helps with some relief. The day’s offerings include artistic activities, music, acupuncture, massage, reiki, foot soaks, yoga, and flower bundling for a crown.

This intervention is intended to disrupt and offer some salve to the traumatizing experience of visiting loved ones in prison,” explains Dignity and Power.

Last year, a pop up honoring the life of Quentin Thomas, took place at Twin Towers Jail where Thomas was taken in for a warrant he did not he he had. Seven days later, he was reported dead. His body returned without his brain. His family, including the mother of his now 2-year-old daughter, Saharra White, are still asking questions. Dignity and Power works to seek answers, but offer needed support.

“All revolution is based on land.” Malcolm X

During the say, Los Angeles sheriffs attempt to remove the group, but the Chavez reminds them that the Twin Towers is public property that is used by the public.

Dignity and Power director Guadeloupe Chavez remains steadfast in keeping the pop up wellness fair on the grounds of Twin Towers.

What started as a summer series in 2014 has grown into a popular yearlong program. Twin Towers is the world’s largest jail as well as the nation’s largest mental health facility. However, most who have mental health issues do not receive services. Dignity and Power are one of many who work on abolishing the prison industrial complex, and provide adequate services to those detained. They just launched a plan to provide a toolkit that helps advocates and activists deal with the grueling work of social justice advocacy in the US.

One of the victories recently celebrated was that Los Angeles County announced that it would make one of its central jails a mental health facility for men.

Here are photos from a pop up series they did in March 2018, dedicated to Thomas.

Saharra White on the left with Dignity and Power volunteer.

 

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