South Branch

Character of the South Branch

The South Branch speaks as  a youth activist and protest organizer who understands how the institutional structures of capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy harm marginalized communities. They understand the systems at play and how the status quo leaves their people behind. They are a well-spoken young person who grasps the operations of late capitalism and wants to upend the system. Imagine the person who gives the sound byte when a local news camera sticks a mic in their face and asks them what they are protesting.

  • SB Fisk Plant
    Fisk generating station slip on the South Branch, 7/3/16, Matthew Kaplan Photography
From the actor

One of Israel’s most devastating consequences through its occupation of Palestinian land is the impact of israel’s discriminatory policies on Palestinians’ access to adequate supplies of clean and safe water. The United States engages in similar theft of our planet’s most valuable resources – water – from Indigenous communities. The United States can’t provide its own citizens with clean water, but can send Israel $10 million a day to ensure they continue stealing clean water from Palestinians indigenous to our land. As a Palestinian, I demand and fight for the right to access clean water, freely, just as all other oppressed nationalities deserve to access clean, free water. From the Lakota Nation to Flint, Michigan, to our Black and brown communities in Chicago.

Samer Owaida

To see more of Samer, follow him on Instagram.

Transcript of recording

For too long they have silenced us. For too long they have suffocated us with toxic air. Our babies choke on every breath. For too long they have poisoned us with tainted water that we are forced to pay for. And if you can’t afford it, you are denied a human right altogether. I am surrounded by the victims of incremental violence. My people continue to experience this deliberate attack on our humanity through disinvestment resulting in closed schools, food deserts and even a lack of parks. Quite frankly, it’s not incremental violence at all! From the barrel of a CPD gun, to the putrid air that we are forced to breath. They’re all weapons designed to hurt and kill us. This is a different kind of genocide.

I am here to enact change. We are here to manifest that change. We’re not going to continue to be a dumping ground for this city, and its hate for us. The North Branch is being forced to conform to a new status quo thanks to gentrification. They’re transforming their industrial corridors into corporate playgrounds. Why? Because a bunch of middle class white kids moved in, and just pushed out all the black and brown folks already living there. On top of that, the companies that already polluted up north are moving here, down south, to dump their waste on us, as if we’re some kind of landfill. They think it’s okay because we’re not rich and we’re not white. Well, you know what? We’re here to say, we’ve had enough. We’re here to say, we won’t  tolerate this. And we’re here to say, they can’t do this anymore. Do they think we don’t know our own value? They say we could look more beautiful. Pfff. Yeah, for more tourists. Well, we say, our value exists outside a corporate model. We won’t let them pollute us. And we won’t stop fighting. They’re going to learn that they can’t just do this and get away with it. We say, collective imagination OVER capital domination. We’re not asking for clean and free water any more. We’re demanding it, by any means necessary.


Written by Tristen Ortiz
Produced by Anish Tailor
Performed by Samer Owaida
Story by Tristen Ortiz and Anish Tailor