Any successful resistance should develop the local communities’ talents with the tools necessary for their movement goals. Unfortunately, most nonprofits use this lack of resources as an opportunity to provide their training which is rife with incremental change-based tactics.
Providing a grassroots community with a toolbox to draw from rather than relying on a nonprofit is a community-empowering move. Self-sufficiency and self-reliance are critical to long-term movement success. The weekend’s, Radical Education, skills-sharing workshop was an offering to provide some of that education to the local Chicago community. These series of trainings were organized by Black Lives Matter, Chicago Light Brigade and We Charge Genocide.
The circulum included workshops in various artistic mediums such as screen printing, banner making and action art techniques and how these elements can be used to tell a powerful storytelling narrative. These skills were critical to share during this time in Chicago. There was a fight for reparations for the survivors of torture by the Chicago Police.
Reparation advocates and family members wanted to center the visual storytelling efforts about radical change and transformative justice. While the attendees discussed visuals I designed banners in step with their conversations. The messaging of, “Reparations Now” could not encapsulate the totality of the movement. A second banner was created that read, “Transformation Now” which seemed appropriate by the local community.
These banners were on full display the next night at the event, “Reparations Not Black Sites: Rally For The Run Off”. The event was apart of the campaign to demand the passage of the Reparations Ordinance. Those who attended the Radical Education workshop brought their voices, actions and art to the event to stand in beautiful solidarity during that cold Chicago night.
On May 6, 2015, the Chicago City Council passed the Reparations for Burge Torture Victims Ordinance and accompanying resolution that included:
- A formal apology from the Mayor and City Council for the torture committed by Burge and his men;
- A history curriculum on the Burge torture cases to be taught to all Chicago Public School students in the 8th and 10th grade;
- A permanent public memorial acknowledging the torture committed by Burge and his men;
- Provision of counseling services to police torture survivors and family members at a facility on the South Side of Chicago;
- Free tuition at Chicago’s City Colleges for Burge torture survivors, their family members, including their grandchildren;
- Job placement for Burge torture survivors in programs for formerly incarcerated people;
- Priority access to City of Chicago’s re-entry support services, including: job training and placement, counseling, food, & transportation assistance, senior care, health care, and small business support services;
- The creation of a Reparations fund of $5.5 million to provide up to $100,000 to the eligible Burge torture survivors who are still with us today. 57 men were given these funds.
This is first time in U.S. history that a city has passed legislation providing reparations, including financial compensation, for police violence.
The community’s Reparations Now banner and other artistic elements from this campaign are on display in a Chicago Museum about the reparations won by the victims of torture from the Chicago Police.