By: Brendan Larson, Loyola Senior
Rogers Park’s residents are back at it again. Artists from the Rogers Park located PO Box Collective have built and maintained a memorial dedicated to victims of police violence. Located under the el tracks at Glenwood and Farwell, residents of the neighborhood are invited and encouraged to stop by at any time.
The site has covered the underbarrings of the Farwell train bridge with names, flowers, artwork and an altar dedicated to the lives lost at the hands of police. The memorial was assembled by the PO Box Collective, a creative collective and intergenerational social practice center dedicated to building Rogers Park community through radical art making, mutual aid and programming. They formed on July 4, 2020 and have only grown since.
All members of the community are welcome at any time during the week to view the memorial, and to pay their respects, add their own piece of art commemorating the lives lost, help maintain the memorial, or to pick up a free poster on Sundays, anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
All are welcome to write down the name of a victim on a piece of paper below the statement “WE MISS YOU.” Any form of artwork is encouraged and can be incorporated into the memorial. Newcomers will be astonished by the number of names, pictures, and mementos representing the lives lost in recent years.
Posters, paintings, still photographs, and even a police barricade have been artistically put together to celebrate and humanize the lives of the victims.
I was able to catch up with Mathias Regan, one of the artists at the PO Box Collective behind the rectification, organization, and upkeep of the site. A Rogers Park resident for over 35 years, Mathias has found hope and love in the communal efforts to bring attention to the victims of what he considers to be the United States gravest issue.
“This country faces a systemic and racist core that has gone unchecked for far too long. I have been here every Sunday writing names of hundreds of victims moving backwards from the present as well as forward from when we started. This evil that exists in this country can only be doused with the love within our hearts. The love we can share with our communities, neighbors, and strangers.”
The love that Mathias is calling for can be found in the work he does every Sunday. It can be found in the Rogers Park community surrounding the memorial. Mathias and everyone at the PO Box Collective have created a space for anyone and everyone to express that love for complete strangers, who we can treat as family in memoriam.