Across the United States, people have been reevaluating what this country stands for. Part of that is the demand to dismantle symbols and monuments that perpetuate legacies of white supremacy and colonialism.
Today, we are asking you to support the creation of a very different kind of memorial. Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) has been active since 2011, working for justice with survivors of police torture to demand accountability for horrific crimes committed by disgraced former CPD Commander Jon Burge and detectives under his command. We were instrumental in pushing the City of Chicago to pass historic reparations legislation on May 6, 2015, the first time in the history of the United States that a major municipality has provided reparations for racially motivated state violence.
The reparations legislation is a comprehensive form of repair, using financial compensation, education, and memorialization to challenge racial injustice and support survivors of police violence. However, the last piece of the reparations legislation, the memorial, remains unfulfilled.
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials
Entitled “Breath, Form and Freedom”, the memorial design by Patricia Nguyen and John Lee will ensure that this chapter of racially motivated state violence is not erased from public memory. The memorial will be a testament to the survivors, their families, and communities who persevered and struggled for justice against police brutality as they grappled with unrelenting trauma. The memorial will also serve to commemorate the multiracial, intergenerational group of survivors, families, artists, organizers, attorneys, and Chicagoans who came together to collectively seek justice. It will tell a story about a local struggle that grew and evolved over time, that moved from courtrooms to the United Nations and took to the streets in order to secure reparations.
Like memorials in South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Germany, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama, Chicago’s memorial will show the nation and the world how public art can bear witness to the ugly truth of our past and how people can come together collectively to seek change and repair systematic harm. It will serve as a call to action that connects the past with the current struggles to end racist police violence and systemic racism.
We encourage you to learn more about the struggle for reparations, the memorial, and what it means by watching and listening to torture survivor Anthony Holmes in this 11-minute video:
Support this historic memorial and help us break ground in 2021 by making a donation to the construction costs. All of the dollars you donate now will go directly to fund the building of the memorial - an enduring monument to the quest for a more equitable future, free of racially-motivated violence.
Visit CTJM’s website to learn more about how we created a community process for the memorial design and the struggle for reparations. Join us in demanding that Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago’s City Council publicly commit to building the Burge torture justice memorial by signing CTJM’s petition.