CTP holds community engagement events on police violence in Chicago

April 3, 2023

Dr. Laurence Ralph (CTP Co-Director) and Dr. Chelsey Carter (Yale University, CTP Affiliated Scholar), with support from the CTP staff and students from Princeton University, Yale University, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago, held community engagement events focused on issues of policing and police violence at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center in Chicago, IL, on February 22, 2023.

This project, funded by the Field Foundation of Illinois, was developed to engage with and empower communities of color, particularly youth in Chicago, using the film The Torture Letters as a medium for helping Chicago residents reflect on police violence and mobilize in search of solutions to address police violence. It was also developed in hopes of contributing to the Chicago Public School’s middle and high school curriculum on history of Chicago police torture, which was mandated as part of the Reparations Ordinance ratified by the Chicago City Council in 2015.

The morning event designed for middle and high school students was organized as part of the youth-oriented Black History Month events at DuSable. Approximately 150 students from several Chicago Public Schools gathered at the main theater of DuSable to see the animated short film The Torture Letters and to listen to a discussion by the panelists that included Chicago human-rights lawyer G. Flint Taylor and two local survivors of police torture, Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson. After the panel discussion and lunch, the students were divided into small groups for discussion and letter-writing activities, facilitated by the graduate and undergraduate students supervised by Drs. Ralph and Carter. Although the discussion focused on difficult topics, the film and the torture survivors’ stories left a strong impression on the students, who wrote messages and letters, sometimes with drawings, to torture survivors and others they wanted the send their messages to. At the end of the event, students gathered back at the theater to share their letters.

In the evening, another film screening and panel discussion took place for the general public. For this session, co-founders of Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Joey Mogul (Human rights attorney, People’s Law Office) and Alice Kim (Director of Human Rights Practice, the Pozen Family Center of Human Rights) and local teacher and activist Page May joined the panel with the torture survivors Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson. The audience also included several torture survivors who shared their stories of their own experiences during the talkback session after the panel discussion.

Panelists and organizers together
The Torture Trees screening at DuSable