Craig Futterman, Exoneration Project Sign Open Letter to Mayor Lightfoot Demanding Funding for a Torture Justice Memorial

October 2022 Open Letter to Mayor Lightfoot

Dear Mayor Lightfoot,

It has been seven years since Chicago’s City Council passed unprecedented legislation providing reparations to people tortured by notorious former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the detectives under his command. In doing so, the City of Chicago made history becoming the first municipality in the U.S. to provide redress for racially motivated police violence

With the passage of the legislation, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) and others have worked tirelessly with City officials to implement the reparations legislation providing holistic redress which included: an official apology; monetary compensation; the creation of the Chicago Torture Justice Center; a history curriculum (“Reparations Won”) about the Burge torture cases taught in Chicago Public Schools; free enrollment in Chicago City Colleges; and the creation of a public memorial for the Burge torture survivors. The one component of this legislation that has yet to be fulfilled is the creation of the permanent public memorial.

CTJM demanded the memorial be included as part of the reparations legislation to ensure that this chapter of racially motivated state violence is not erased from public memory by inscribing it onto the landscape of Chicago. The memorial is a testament to the survivors, their families and communities who persevered and struggled for justice as they grappled with their unrelenting trauma. 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. The City of Chicago, when promising to build the Burge torture justice memorial appropriately acknowledged that “education about the transgressions of the past is essential to laying claim to a future that is free of racism, discrimination, inequality and cruelty.”

Read more at Chicago Torture Justice Memorials