Press Statement: Emotional Games, February 14 2009


Emotional Games Press Statement

For Immediate Release from AEM for the UOC


February 17, CHICAGO—The final series of events in the Winter 2009 Unlympiad—the Emotional Games at No Coast, held the day after the public release of the Chicago 2016 bid book, on February 14—featured tears and several full-room sing-a-longs, marking an extremely emotional end to a nail-biting race that pitted social justice against Olympic glory. Around 60 people gathered to hear opening remarks from Stanley Howard—tortured by Jon Burge and Chicago Police Officers under his command, then sentenced to death row based on confessions extracted under torture but later commuted by Governor Ryan—who called from prison to kick off the Emotional Games with a plea to bring existing problems of police torture under control before Chicago embarks on a project like the Olympics. 

Julien Ball of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and Laurie Jo Reynolds and Stephen F. Eisenman of Tamms Year Ten set up the Solitary Isolation Game after 29-year-old Mustafa Afrika described his early imprisonment and subsequent isolation at Tamms Supermax, as well as the lingering physical and emotional effects of spending several years with no human contact. Afrika, who has since returned to life on the South Side of Chicago, described the daily, ongoing police activity in his neighborhood, acknowledging that any increase to this hostility, such as that brought about by the Olympic Games’ presence in the area, would be extremely damaging to residents. During the Solitary Isolation Game, Johnnie Walton, incarcerated at Tamms, described to the hooded audience the chilling long-term effects of solitary isolation. Describing prisoners whose only human contact was shouting over walls to fellow inmates for several years and men who became so desperate for human contact they would create a ruckus, causing guards to come in and physically quiet them, Walton was deeply moving: several hooded attendees explained later that they were relieved for the hoods because it kept others from being able to see them cry.

“If Chicago’s not able to bring justice . . . I don’t think we should even be talking about the Olympics right now,” Stanley Howard explained over the phone from prison.

Shameless Karaoke then convinced the audience to “dance it out” with a rousing Karaoke Competition that had the roomful of attendees joined in songs such as “You Oughtta Know,” “Man in Motion,” “Sweet Transvestite” and more than one Neil Diamond hit. A roller-skating duet by Unlympics Organizing Committee Co-Secretary Matthew Joynt and partner blew the minds of passersby up to four blocks away and made several “Top Ten of 2009” lists already.

Following, the Judge Competition allowed competitors to sit in judgment of game officials. Unlympics Judges from the The Game Where You Win, the Fashion Competition, Run Around the Block and We’ll Time You, Class-Conscious Kickball, Spectator Sport, Telekenetic Synchronicity, and the Karaoke Competition were awarded a range of points based on their display of Fairness, Accuracy, and Awesomeness. A special write-in category was added to judge the Chicago 2016 Committee in the competition for the Hearts and Minds of Chicagoans in the Blazin’ Hot Trail for the Torch. Heidi Wiegandt, the Telekenetic Synchronicity judge, won with a total of 57,541 points. 

Of a potential point range well exceeding 50,000, the PR firm-backed Chicago 2016 committee was awarded 2 total points, none in the category of Fairness.

“When the Unlympic Games started, Chicago 2016 was promising CTA improvements and no use of public funds in Olympic Village construction, and claimed 88% support for the Olympic Games among Chicagoans. Now the city has agreed to fund the Olympic Village with the Bronzeville TIF, CTA improvements were nowhere to be seen in the final bid book, and a Chicago Tribune poll showed support for hosting the Games closer to a very low 21%,” says Anne Elizabeth Moore, Co-Secretary for the UOC. “The Unlympic Spirit proves we don’t need highly organized, internationally recognized, massively marketed, thoroughly branded, and extremely expensive sporting events to unite around. We just need to work together.”

Please view our first short film at:, or visit the Official Unlympics Everything site: for images and more information. You may also email or with questions or to set up an interview.


2 Responses to “Press Statement: Emotional Games, February 14 2009”

  1. The Stateside Guantanamo « Democracy Guest List Says:

    […] as the Tribune calls it: the photo gallery is worth spending some time with, too.) According to Mustafa Afrika and Johnnie Walton, who I met during the Unlympics Emotional Games just a few weeks ago, both formerly housed at Tamms (both on charges of questionable severity), the […]

  2. Address at the Forum Against Olympic Oppression (pt. 2) « Democracy Guest List Says:

    […] already hostile areas, such as on the South Side of Chicago. Following this, and an extremely emotional “solitary isolation game” meant to highlight the undercurrent of human rights abuses throughout […]

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