Chicago Torture Justice Memorials

honoring and seeking justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture
Tortured in Chicago Banners

Grantee Cohort Spring 2021

Location Illinois

Chicago Torture Justice Memorials educates, mobilizes and transforms consciousness about police violence and mass incarceration. Art for Justice is contributing to its creation of a permanent, public reminder of the need to end mass incarceration and police brutality.

Chicago Torture Justice Memorials was founded in 2011 after Chicago police detective Jon Burge was, after four decades, convicted and sentenced for torturing innocent men into forced confessions in the 1970s. In 2015, the organization won landmark reparations legislation from the Chicago City Council that included a commitment to a public memorial to commemorate the more than 125 victims of Burge’s torture and to recognize the coalition of local activists who came together to seek justice. This Art for Justice grant will support the construction of the public memorial that will include archives and oral histories.

A survivor-led jury selected the memorial design, entitled “Breath, Form, and Freedom,” by artist Patricia Nguyen and architectural designer John Lee. The memorial will be a 1,600 square foot structure featuring the names of all known survivors, a space for survivors yet to be named, historical timelines, a community area and manifestos from a creative writing project with survivors. Construction is set to begin in 2022.

As people across the United States demand the dismantling of symbols and monuments of white supremacy and colonialism, this memorial will serve as an example of reparations, grounded in values of transformative justice.