Circles and Ciphers brings students together


By Batul Cutlerywala

DEkALB | Circles and Ciphers, a restorative justice group, visited campus and used hip hop to spread awareness about social justice issues.

A large crowd of different backgrounds were in attendance Wednesday to show unity for a planned event to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Holmes Student Center.

The evening was filled with interactive skits, emotional poetry, and freestyle rap with performance about people paying more attention to each other evoked a powerful response through the crowd.

Acting President Lisa Freeman spoke to the crowd before the group performer and reminded students that although preaching unity and equality is one thing, enforcing those values is what matters.

“I am reminded very leniently that the landscape changes but the journey doesn’t end,” Freeman said.

Sherrif Polk, Circle and Ciphers facilitator and recruiter, said the group’s goal is to “abolish” the current U.S. prison system and believes in using restorative justice to tackle the problem instead of doling out long-term prison sentences.

Circles and Ciphers started their journey in Spring 2010, according to its website.

The group has little worry about money, Polk said, and is most concerned about waking people up by creating a safe environment to shed light on difficult topics.

“It is not for the money,” Polk said. “It’s more to do the most we can for the people that are in need of help.”

Polk said he was part of a gang conflict while in high school. For him and many others Circles and Ciphers helps people confront their problems instead of suppressing their feelings inside.

Sabah Sattar, sophomore biological sciences studies major, said there has been discussions about conflicts in her current political science course and realizes there is a lot of resistance surrounding the current social aspects and pressure to resolve them as well.

Sattar looks forward to similar events because it is one step closer to solving social issues.