This week, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced a $6.8 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to build eight new public monuments. Among them is a long-awaited monument to the Black men tortured by officers under the orders of disgraced former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.
After Burge was convicted of perjury in 2010, a coalition of survivors and activists began organizing and planning for a memorial. In 2015, the city included a memorial as part of a reparations package.
The city set aside $250,000 to build the monument titled “Breath, Form & Freedom,” which will include a timeline of events in the Burge case and the names of torture survivors.
Among those survivors is Anthony Holmes, who was tortured by Burge in 1973. Holmes said hearing the news was “wonderful.”
“I can’t express the depth, the depth I felt,” Holmes said. “It’s a truly good, good feeling. The memorial stands for all of us that was tortured. … It shows the acknowledgment, the fact of what took place with us.”
For Holmes, having a physical public reminder of the events that took place over three decades in Chicago is a step toward justice as well as a reminder to keep working to prevent future abuses.
“It shows that we ain’t just talking about stuff that didn’t happen. This did happen,” Holmes said. “Now we can breathe a little easier, but we can’t stop what we’re doing because of the fact that … this is still going on, but it won’t happen no more the way that it happened to us.”