Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) aims to honor and to seek justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture, their family members and the African American communities affected by the torture. In 2010 CTJM, a group of attorneys, artists, educators, and social justice activists, put out a call for speculative memorials to recall and honor the two-decades long struggle for justice waged by torture survivors and their families, attorneys, community organizers, and people from every neighborhood and walk of life in Chicago. This effort culminated in a major exhibition of 75 proposals and a year-long series of associated teach-ins, roundtables, and other public events in 2011-2013.CTJM now turns its attention to a campaign for reparations for those affected by Chicago Police torture, and to working in solidarity with other groups and individuals for racial justice and to end police violence and mass incarceration.

Left: the electrical device used for torture during interrogations by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.


Download a slideshow presentation about the CTJM project including a gallery of the memorial proposals that appeared in the Opening the Black Box exhibition.


“The fight for justice in the torture cases will not be over until all Burge torture victims receive compensation for their suffering, the men in jail get fair hearings and Burge’s pension is taken from him.”

–– Ronnie Kitchen, torture survivor

Contact Us

Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project (CTJM Project)
c/o People's Law Office
1180 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, Illinois 60642

Get Connected

Subscribe to our newsletter

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter






WHEREAS, the City of Chicago acknowledges that former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and detectives under his command systematically engaged in acts of torture, physical abuse and coercion of African American men and women at Area 2 and 3 Police Headquarters from 1972 through 1991; and 


WHEREAS, the acts of torture committed by Burge and detectives under his command included electrically shocking individuals on their genitals, lips and ears with an electric shock box or cattle prod; suffocating individuals with plastic bags; subjecting individuals to mock  execution with guns; physical beatings with telephone books and rubber hoses; and other forms of physical and psychological abuse; and


WHEREAS, Burge and his men committed these acts of torture and abuse to extract confessions from the victims which were subsequently admitted against them in their criminal prosecutions resulting in their wrongful convictions; and


WHEREAS, these acts of torture, physical abuse and coercion violate state, federal and international law and such acts are universally condemned worldwide; and  


WHEREAS, the trauma and damage caused by these heinous acts continue to deleteriously effect the torture survivors, their family members, African American communities and the City of Chicago; and


WHEREAS, the trauma and damage caused by these heinous acts will continue to cause egregious harm to those affected unless the City of Chicago and other municipal bodies enact reparations to mitigate the harm; and


WHEREAS, the City of Chicago has been complicit in the torture practices and tacitly supported those acts by expending more than $20 million of taxpayers’ funds to defend Burge and other detectives implicated in civil litigation brought by the torture survivors, and


WHEREAS, Mayor Emanuel has recently acknowledged that the torture scandal was a dark chapter in the history of the City of Chicago that stained its reputation and that he was sorry for it;


WHEREAS, the City of Chicago must officially acknowledge the torture that occurred in the City and resolve to never allow such acts to go undeterred and unpunished ever again, now therefore,





'   Hereby issues a formal apology to the torture survivors, their family members, and other affected individuals and communities on behalf of the City of Chicago for the violations and harm incurred by these torture practices.


'   Hereby creates a Chicago Police Torture Reparations Commission that is responsible for administering financial reparations to the torture survivors to compensate them for the torture they endured.


'   Hereby creates a center on the south side of Chicago that will provide psychological counseling, health care services and vocational training to the torture survivors, their family members and others affected by law enforcement torture and abuse.


'   Hereby provides that all torture survivors and their family members be allowed to enroll in City Colleges and receive their education and degree for free.


'   Hereby calls on the Chicago Public School system to incorporate into its curriculum a history lesson about the Chicago Police torture cases and the struggles to hold those accountable and to seek reparations for the survivors and affected family members.


'   Hereby calls on local law enforcement officials to provide evidentiary hearings to the torture survivors who remain behind bars who had their coerced confessions used against in their criminal proceedings resulting in their wrongful convictions, and moreover, supports the torture survivors’ rights to have a full and fair opportunity to present evidence that demonstrates they were physically coerced into giving a confession.


'   Hereby commits to supporting the creation of public memorials that memorialize the Chicago Police Torture survivors and the struggle for justice on their behalf.


'   Hereby provides a minimum of $20 million to finance the Chicago Police Torture Reparations Commission, the center on the Southside Center, the creation of a curriculum and to fund the creation of public memorials set forth herein.


'   Hereby directs the Corporation Counsel to take whatever legal steps are available to support the stripping of Jon Burge’s pension.

5 - mile March

Dec. 16, 2014, noon – 5 p.m.

12 PM / Police Headquarters: Chicagoans will march about five miles from Chicago Police Headquarters, at 3510 S. Michigan Ave, to City Hall, at 121 N. LaSalle.

2 PM / City Hall, 5th Floor: Marchers will deliver a petition with over 45,000 signatures in support of the Reparations for Chicago Police Torture Survivors ordinance. They will create a public memorial outside the Mayor's office and call for Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to pass the ordinance before the municipal elections this February.

March and public memorial honoring survivors of CPD torture and communities of color enduring ongoing police abuse, violence and murder in Chicago.


On Tuesday, December 16th, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), We Charge Genocide, Project NIA and Amnesty International will hold a five-mile march, then deliver a petition, reveal a list of nice & naughty alderpeople and hold and a memorial at City Hall to demand passage of the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors. 


On October 16, 2013, a Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors was introduced in Chicago’s City Council. It has already garnered the support of 26 alderpeople, with only one additional vote needed to pass the ordinance. Passage of the ordinance is also supported by the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

Organizers are asking Chicagoans represented by alderpeople not in support of the ordinance to take action:



12 PM / Police Headquarters: Chicagoans will march about five miles from Chicago Police Headquarters, at 3510 S. Michigan Ave, to City Hall, at 121 N. LaSalle. 


2 PM / City Hall, 5th Floor: Marchers will deliver a petition with over 45,000 signatures in support of the Reparations for Chicago Police Torture Survivors ordinance. They will create a public memorial outside the Mayor's office and call for Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to pass the ordinance before the municipal elections this February. 


Remote Action: Organizers are encouraging those who can't attend the action to participate via social media by using the #RahmRepNow hashtag to demand that Mayor Emanuel support the reparations ordinance, and by calling the Mayor’s office at 312-744-3300 to advocate for the ordinance.


Participants are asked to bring a photo, manifesto, memento, candle, sign, poem, or flower to City Hall.  


Facebook Event:


"We give thanks to all who have stood up against the travesty of Chicago Police torture. We are making our grief, anger and determination seen and felt by coming together to demonstrate that we will not ignore the ongoing reality of police violence," says Martha Biondi, a member of Chicago Torture Justice Memorial. "We demand Mayor Emanuel offer his full support to the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors and are delivering petitions with over 45,000 signatures in support of it."

Reparations Ordinance Hearing

March 4, 2014, 5:13 p.m. – 5:13 p.m.

City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St, 2nd floor, City Council Chambers

The Finance Committee will be having a hearing on the reparations ordinance, date TBA. The proposed Ordinance calls for a formal apology to the survivors; creates a Commission to administer financial compensation to the survivors; creates a medical, psychological and vocational center on the south side for the survivors and their family members; provides free enrollment in City Colleges for the survivors and family members; requires Chicago Public schools to teach a history lesson about the cases; requires the City to fund public memorials about the cases; and sets aside $20 million to finance this redress, the same amount of money the City has spent to defend Burge, other detectives and former Mayor Richard M. Daley in the Chicago Police torture cases.


Dec. 15, 2012, noon – 7 p.m.

Sullivan Galleries
33 S. State St., 7th Floor

A screening of three powerful films about torture, featuring discussions with the filmmakers:


12:00–2:00 p.m.

THE END OF THE NIGHTSTICK by Peter Kuttner, Cyndi Moran, and Eric Scholl

As victims speak out, THE END OF THE NIGHTSTICK investigates charges of institutional racism, violence and cover-up. It also tell the story of a resistance movement, as local activist groups, including the Task Force to Confront Police Violence, refuse to let testimonies of police violence remain buried. 


2:15–3:30 p.m.

TO TURN A BLIND EYE by Jackie Rivet-River and John Lyons

This short documentary film, TO TURN A BLIND EYE, exposes police torture of African American Suspects by former police Commander Jon Burge. As investigative journalist Jon Conroy said, “…they all knew, all the officers, the State’s Attorneys as did many judges…and later there are 18 and there are 28 and there are 56 and now it’s at 112.  These are just guys we know about, there are many we don’t.


4:00–6:00 p.m.

BENEATH THE BLINDFOLD Ines Somer and Kathy Berger.

BENEATH THE BLINDFOLD interweaves the personal stories of four torture survivors who now reside in the U.S., but originally hail from different parts of the globe: South and Central America, Africa, and the U.S. This documentary paints a holistic portrait of survivors’ experiences, their path to healing, and life after torture.


Nov. 29, 2012, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Sullivan Galleries: 33 S. State St., 7th Floor

Reception 5:30pm

Join us for an evening of fierce words with some of Chicago’s finest writers: performances and readings by Kevin Coval, Darby Tillis, Archy Obejas, Gary Younge, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Krista Franklin, and others. This reading is dedicated to the survivors, families, and communities who endured unspeakable acts of torture at the hands of Chicago police.

Presented as part of the Sullivan Galleries exhibition Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture 

organized by the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project, on view through December 21.

Opening the Black Box—Reception

Oct. 5, 2012, 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Sullivan Galleries
33 S. State St., 7th floor
The show will run October 4 – December 21, 2012

Flier for the Opening the Black Box show at Sullivan Galleries.

For Proposals

The Chicago Torture Justice Memorial


Artists, Architects, Photographers, Writers, Poets, Musicians, Performers and Everyone Concerned with Justice!

We invite artists and those who seek justice to submit proposals for a speculative monument to memorialize the Chicago Police torture cases. Over 100 African American men and women were tortured by white Chicago police officers and forced into giving confessions under former Commander Jon Burge. These memorial projects will serve as a public reckoning with police torture in Chicago and honor those who fought to stop it. We aim to make visible the social and political conditions that made torture possible, as well as the acts of courage that ended—or at least brought to light—the culture of impunity that thwarted justice for so long in this instance. Every submission will be an act of solidarity with torture survivors. We welcome proposals of radical imagination as we seek to honor the survivors of torture, their family members and the African American communities affected by the torture.

All submitted proposals will be exhibited at one or more of the following venues: Chicago area art galleries, community centers, and a dedicated website. We hope this project will help to build a social movement strong enough to deter these and other acts of torture and transform our broken criminal justice system.

 Download the call poster and help spread the word.

Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project
(CTJM Project)


Sites throughout the Chicagoland area and a website

Submissions may be made by a person of any age and nationality.

Criteria for Proposals
A proposed monument may take any form – from architecture to haiku, from website to mural, from community organization to performance, from bronze plaque to large-scale memorial.

Submission Process
The submission can be in the form of a PDF, PPT, webpage, or other accessible electronic format. Non-electronic submissions will also be accepted.

email contact

mail to
Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project
c/o People's Law Office
1180 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, Illinois 60642

Footage of Rally for Reparations and Ways to Join the Fight for Reparations Feb. 20, 2015

Check out CAN tv's footage of our incredible Rally for Reparations: A People's Hearing last Saturday!

Also, check out this amazing website - 10 Minutes or Less ~ Join the Fight for Reparations for Survivors of Burge Police Torture

Rally for Reparations - A People's Hearing Feb. 9, 2015

Please join us for a People's Hearing to Pass Reparations Now on February 14th from 1pm to 3pm at Chicago Temple located at 77 W Washington St, Chicago, Illinois 60602
The time is now to pass the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors. Chicago has waited too long to provide meaningful redress for over 110 African American men and women tortured by notorious former Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives. This racially motivated violence included electric shock, sexual abuse, suffocation, and beatings. The City of Chicago has acknowledged this torture, and the UN has called for redress. Yet scores of survivors still suffer from the ongoing impact of the trauma they endured -- without compensation, assistance, or recourse.

The Reparations Ordinance has been stalled in the City Council Finance Committee for over a year. Despite ongoing and repeated re...quests for a public hearing, Finance Committee Chair Ald Burke has not scheduled a hearing, and Mayor Emanuel has failed to take meaningful steps to move the ordinance forward. Therefore, we, the people of the City of Chicago, are holding a People's Hearing.

Mayoral candidates are invited to come and state their position on the Ordinance so that voters know where they stand. The People's Hearing will feature testimonials by survivors of Burge torture and community leaders who will give voice to the specific objectives of the Ordinance. And young poets from Young Chicago Authors will perform original poems inspired by the history of Burge torture and the struggle against it.

Empty words and apologies are not enough. Emanuel, Burke and the City Council must act to pass the Reparations Ordinance. This Valentine's Day, show some heart and love for survivors of Chicago Police Torture.

Organized by The Chicago Torture - Justice Memorials, Project NIA, Amnesty International USA, We Charge Genocide

Co-sponsors: Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, the #LetUsBreathe Collective, 8th Day Center for Justice, Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT), Grassroots Collaborative, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN), Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Chicago Chapter

Storify of Roll Call of Supporters at City Hall Action Jan. 26, 2015

Check out our storify from last week's action!


Thanks so much for your continued support.  Keep on the pressure by demanding that Rahm Emmanuel support the ordinance and give us an immediate hearing by calling him at calling 312-744-3300!

Important Support at City Council Hearing Action Today Jan. 21, 2015

Today, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project and other supporters went to City Hall in solidarity with survivors of police torture.  Almost 50 folks came to City Hall in support of survivors of Chicago police torture.  Thanks to everyone for their important support at this pivotal time. Keep the momentum going by telling Rahm to give us a hearing by calling 312-744-3300.   #RahmRepNow

Carrie Austin signs on to support the Chicago Police Torture Survivors Reparations Ordinance! Jan. 20, 2015

This morning, the Chair of the Chicago City Council's Budget Committee Carrie Austin agreed to sign on in support of the Reparations Ordinance, making her the 28th alderperson to support the Ordinance!  The Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project is thrilled that Austin joins Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Karen Lewis, Bob Fioretti, and 27 other alderpeople in endorsing the City Council Ordinance for the Chicago Police Torture Survivors.
A heartfelt thanks to everyone for their continued support.  Momentum for the Ordinance continues to importantly and definitievely build and we urge Mayor Emmanuel to act quickly to call a hearing and to unequivocally support the Reparations Ordinance. 


                                                                                                                          * * *

The organizers of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) Project:

Dorothy Burge is the Internship Coordinator for Associated Colleges of the Midwest. She also teaches seminars on systematic racism, criminal justice, and social problems.

Sali Vickie Casanova, educator/artist/activist, is a member of the US Human Rights Network and Black People Against Police Torture. Much of her cultural work with youth and educators confronts abuses of justice in the U.S. juvenile system especially in communities of color. She holds the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) from Columbia College, MBA and BA degrees from Indiana University, and recently received the Award for Excellence in Urban Studies and Community Development from IU Northwest. Ms. Casanova's efforts as teaching/performing artist are dedicated to empowering youth and activists to transform the movement for social justice and human rights.

Adam Green is Associate Professor of History and the College and Master of the Social Science Collegiate Division at The University of Chicago, concentrates in U.S. history and African American history. He is author of Selling the Race: Culture Community and Black Chicago, 1940-1955 and co-editor of Time Longer Than Rope: A Century of African American Activism. Adam has lectured on campuses and community venues, and has appeared on WTTW (PBS) Chicago, WBEZ Chicago (radio), Al-Jazeera, BBC (radio) and C-SPAN. He’s been involved in community initiatives in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles related to police accountability and educational justice.

Alice Kim is a cultural organizer, writer and a longtime anti-death penalty and criminal justice reform activist. She is on the editorial board of In These Times magazine and the advisory board of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School. She is also the director of The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, that creates spaces for public conversations about social, political and cultural issues.

Carla Mayer's primary work focus is as an arts administrator and program manager for a municipal agency. She is a committed youth developer and creative activist. As an installation artist and sculptor, her work focuses on silenced voices, elemental materiality and including non-artists in the process of art-making. She has a master’s degree in interdisciplinary art from Columbia College, a bachelor’s degree in literary theory from Brown University and is a state certified art teacher.

Joey Mogul, is a partner at the Peoples Law Office in Chicago, Illinois and director of DePaul University' civil rights clinic.  Mogul has been involved in the campaign for justice for Chicago police torture survivors for the past fourteen years both as an attorney and as an activist.  Mogul was one of the founding members of the Campaign to Prosecute Police Torture and traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to successfully present the Chicago police torture cases to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 2006.

A. Laurie Palmer is an artist, writer, and teacher. She has shown her visual work, which takes various forms as sculpture, installation and public projects, nationally and internationally, and she has published her writing in art journals and as independent projects. Her work has received support from the Louis Tiffany Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Graham Foundation, the ArtCouncil (now Artadia), and the Radcliffe Institute. Palmer teaches in the Sculpture Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Amy Partridge is an artist, activist, and Associate Director of Gender Studies at Northwestern University. As a Mess Hall "key-holder," she has organized events, exhibitions, and extensive collaborative projects with Iraq Veterans Against the War/Warrior Writers, Tamms Year Ten, White Rose Catholic Worker, Sewing Rebellion, AREA, Project NIA, and a reading group with Danville prisoners. She is a collective member of Cheap Art for Freedom Collective, Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor, and the Slow-Motion Research-Action Collective. From 2009-2011, she was a community representative and Chair of the "Arts & Other" Committee in the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Process.

Mary Patten is a visual artist, video-maker, writer, educator, and political activist. In all her work, she seeks to address collisions as well as alignments between the worlds of “politics” and art-making. Her book-length essay, Revolution as an Eternal Dream: The Exemplary Failure of the Madame Binh Graphics Collective, was recently published by Half Letter Press. She has exhibited and screened her work widely, and has directed, curated, and participated in many large-scale collaborative art projects for over thirty years, including Pathogeographies (with Feel Tank Chicago), “Depression: What is it Good For?” at the Gene Siskel Film Center; Project Enduring Look; Group Material’s “Your Message Here” (with ACT UP/Chicago); Artists’ Call against Intervention in Central America; and Cityarts Workshop. She teaches in the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sarah Ross is an artist who creates forms like clothing, signage and postcards to visualize struggles around space, class, access, and gender.  She often works collaboratively on projects such as Compass and Regional Relationships. Sarah teaches at The School of the Art Institute Chicago and works with incarcerated artists at an Illinois state prison. Images and ideas can be found at

Ellen Rothenberg's work is concerned with the politics of everyday life and the formation of communities through collaborative practices. She is a recipient of grants from the NEA, the Bunting (now Radcliffe) Institute, Engelhard Foundation, LEF Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council. Rothenberg's work has been presented at London's Royal Festival Hall; Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen; National Museum for Contemporary Art, Bucharest; Museum London, Ontario; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and Museum of Fine Arts; and CUNY’s James Gallery NYC; among others. Rothenberg teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ben Stagl is an interdisciplinary artist, industrial designer, and community educator. His projects range in scale from the intimate to the civic scale and are informed both by a thurough understanding of classical traditions as well as a passion for advanced digital practices.  Stagl is largely concerned with how humans continue to address and experience the commons.  His projects have received support from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts and Cultures Council, The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, The Chicago Pop-Up Loop Alliance, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Chicago Cultural Center. Stagl instructs workshops at colleges around Oregon and Illinois and he currently directs development at West Supply in Chicago and practices design with his collaborative studio ChiLab.

Brett Stockdill is an educator, writer, and activist. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Women’s Studies, and Latino & Latin American Studies at Northeastern Illinois University.

Jan Susler, a lawyer since 1976, has been a partner at the People’s Law Office since 1982, with a focus on police misconduct civil rights, political prisoners and prisoners’ rights including litigation, advocacy and educational work around control unit prisons. Her work with the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and with progressive movements challenging U.S. foreign and domestic policies has been a constant throughout her career. Attorney for the Puerto Rican political prisoners for over three decades, she served as lead counsel in the efforts culminating in the 1999 presidential commutation of their sentences. She continues to represent those who remain imprisoned.

The Advisory Board for the CTJM project include:

  • Locke Bowman, Legal Director of the Mac Arthur Justice Center
  • Darrell Cannon, Chicago Police Torture survivor
  • Sali Vickie Casanova, Cultural Artist/Educator, Black People Against Police Torture
  • Bernardine Dohrn, Northwestern Children Family and Justice Center
  • Mary Fabri, Director, Torture Treatment Services & International Training of the
  • Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center
  • Susan Gzesh, Executive Director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago
  • Anthony Holmes, Chicago Police Torture survivor
  • Mariame Kaba, Founder and Director of Project NIA
  • Kevin Kaempf, Artist and Educator
  • Ronald Kitchen, Chicago Police Torture Survivor
  • Mary L. Johnson, Activist and mother of Chicago Police torture survivor Michael Johsnon
  • Andrea Lyon, Director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases, DePaul University College of Law
  • Erica Meiners, Critical Resistance, Chicago
  • Mary D. Powers, Coordinator of Citizens Alert
  • Michaela Purdue, Community Organizer and Human Rights Advocate
  • Therese Quinn, Activist/Teachers for Social Justice
  • Jane Ramsey, Executive Director, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
  • Howard Saffold, Positive Anti-Crime Thrust
  • Mario Venegas, Human Rights Activist
  • G. Flint Taylor, People's Law Office
  • Standish Willis, member of National Conference of Black Lawyers, founder of Black People Against Police Torture