8 May 2024
Open Letter from AIC Staff in Support of SAIC Protesters’ Demands

On the afternoon of Saturday, May 4th, the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) engaged the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to remove members of a nonviolent protest made up of students and faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), as well as allies, in AIC’s North Garden. The museum assisted members of a CPD SWAT team by providing them access to AIC’s offices and the roof of the Ferguson office building.

As employees of AIC, we condemn AIC and the CPD’s excessive and violent response against nonviolent demonstrators, many of whom we consider community members. The museum’s alarming decision to call upon the CPD while SAIC was in negotiations with students resulted in the violent arrest of 68 demonstrators. This direct police violence bloodied two people so seriously that they were taken to the emergency room, and many more were held in jail for hours without access to food, water, or phone calls. As of this writing, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability has opened an investigation into the excessive use of force by police during this incident.

The students, faculty, staff, and allies had a clear purpose for their demonstration on Saturday: to demand the museum end any financial support of the Palestinian genocide, direct or indirect. We demand that the museum end CPD access to our campus. Working with heavily armed law enforcement officers, including a SWAT team, was a completely disproportionate response to suppress an unarmed, nonviolent group of art students. The museum’s statement uses the language of safety to justify its actions, yet the museum is the party who escalated the situation into violence by instrumentalizing the police.

The museum has been silent on the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza and the complete destruction of Palestinian civil society and cultural institutions, including the razing of numerous libraries, museums, and universities. Museum leadership’s inaction on this crisis is unacceptable. As such, we support the demonstrators’ demands that:

—The museum begins the practice of publicly disclosing all of its funding and investments.

—The museum divests from all entities and individuals financially supporting the occupation of Palestine, including the Crown Family.

—The museum makes its first statement regarding its stance on the genocide of Palestinians.

—The museum rescinds and does not press charges against any protesters involved in the action on May 4th, 2024.

As one of the leading cultural institutions in Chicago, the city with the largest Palestinian population in the United States, AIC has both the power and the responsibility to end any and all ways in which it supports this humanitarian and cultural crisis. We expect the museum to honor its responsibility to the city of Chicago and us, the employees who work and live here, by taking meaningful action to oppose this ongoing genocide.

Signed,

Acassia Ferreira da Cunha, Technician, Arts of Africa | Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium

Amber Woodruff, Assistant Director, Data Management and Training, Advancement Operations

Amina Khan, Editor, Communications

Anna Feuer, Acquisitions & Collection Manager, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

Armando Román, Digital Production Coordinator, Publishing

Atticus Bikos, Senior Enterprise Systems Analyst, Enterprise Software and Analytics

Ben Bertin, Senior Production Coordinator, Publishing

Chris Wood, AV Systems Manager, AudioVisual Solutions, Experience Design

Christina Warzecha, Technician, Modern and Contemporary Art

Christine Huck, Specialist, Art Installation

d. Wright, Facilitator, Ryan Learning Center

Daisy Wong, Technician, Frames Conservation

Dan Meyer, Assistant Director, Donor Stewardship

Devonne Radford, Cataloging and Records Associates, Ryerson Burnham Libraries

Elizabeth Upenieks, Production Coordinator, Publishing

Esther Espino, Technician, Textiles

G. Vicente Robinson, Project Manager, Institutional Philanthropy

Gillian Marcus, Assistant Conservator, Paper, Conservation & Science

Grace Scott, Cataloging and Records Associate, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

Grace Wellin, Writer, Donor Stewardship

Hayley Hinsberger, Production Specialist, Imaging

Izzy Sheffield, Project Manager, Philanthropy

J Thomas de la Torre, Access and Reference Archivist, Archives

Jack Kinsella, Technician, Modern and Contemporary Art

Jenn Smith, Reference Librarian, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Research Center

Jonathan Worcester, Specialist, European Decorative Arts

Jordan Megna, Senior Business Analyst, Philanthropy

Josephine Maria Yanasak-Leszczynski, Rights & Reproductions Specialist, Publishing

Juan Molina Hernández, Photographer, Imaging

Kim Nucci, Audio Visual Technician, AudioVisual Solutions, Experience Design

Kloie Rush-Spratt, Learning Partnerships and Resources Educator, Ryan Learning Center

Kristen French, Assistant Director, Gallery Activation, Interpretation

Liam Collier, Museum Educator, Ryan Learning Center

Lucia Calderon-Arrieta, Student Experiences Educator, Ryan Learning Center

María Cristina Rivera Ramos, Assistant Conservator, Paper, Conservation and Science

Mary Broadway, Associate Conservator, Paper, Conservation and Science

Miguel Perez, Associate Director, Engagement Programs

nikhil trivedi, Director of Engineering, Experience Design

Nora McGreevy, Assistant Editor, Publishing

Rebecca Barresse, Associate Director, Collections-Collections and Loans

Ryan M. Pfeiffer, Technician, Collections and Loans

Salina Tsegai, Manager, Public Affairs

Sheila Majumdar, Editor, Publishing

Sofia Canale-Parola, Ray Johnson Project Cataloger, Archives

Taylor Healy, Assistant Conservator, Media, Conservation and Science

Thomas Huston, Technician, Architecture and Design

155
signatures
139 verified
  1. Lilliana Reinoso, Teaching Assistant, Printmedia MFA
  2. Emma Dreyfuss, Museum Educator, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
  3. Pamela Granda, Museum Educator
  4. Sara Carminati, Former Employee, Publishing, Art Institute of Chicago
  5. Anneli Goeller, Lecturer, Film, Video, New Media, Animation Department
  6. David Norris, Academic Advisor/Lecturer, EIS, SAIC, Chicago
  7. Campbell Harvey, Public Relations, St. Louis
  8. Alberto Ponce, Academic and Career Coach, SAIC
  9. Melody Miller, International Student Advisor & SEVIS Analyst, SAIC, Chicago
  10. Liz Medoff, Academic Advisor, SAIC, Chicago
  11. jina valentine, professor, printmedia SAIC, Chicago
  12. Nesse Noss, Data Engineer, Minneapolis
  13. Né McNeal, Psychotherapist, Alumni, Chicago
  14. Haley Gallina, Photographer, N/A, Chicago
  15. Naomi Abraham, Student, SAIC
  16. Kristi McGuire, Professor, Adj., VCS/SAIC, Chicago
  17. Miriam Wright, Graduate Student, SAIC, Chicago
  18. Sid Branca, Assistant Professor Adjunct, FVNMA, SAIC, Chicago
  19. Mary Patten, Professor, FVNMA, SAIC, Chicago
  20. Grace Eickmeyer, Consultant, Chicago
...
99 more
verified signatures
  1. Lily Jaskowski, Student, SAIC, Chicago
  2. Jeanelle, Graduate, SAIC, Chicago
  3. Elias Finkelman, student, SAIC, Chicago
  4. Patrick Durgin, Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
  5. Megan De Paula, Membership Engagement Representative, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
  6. Pratima Pinnepalli, Student, SAIC
  7. Maria Luiza Geyerhahn, student, SAIC
  8. Gabriela Mendez, Illustrator, Chicago
  9. Nick Matthopoulos, Member Engagement Representative, AIC
  10. Ariel Garcia, yoga teacher
  11. Tristan Jackson, Los Angeles
  12. Natalie Jenks, Registrar, Los Angeles
  13. Molly Grace Dickson, Artist, Minneapolis
  14. Jessica Lyn Bannon, Artist, Chicago
  15. Mack Spotts, Visitor Engagement Representative, AIC, Chicago
  16. Rosie Blyther, Educator, Alumni, Avalon
  17. Jules Zinn, artist, Chicago
  18. Julie Ganey, Art Institute Member, DePaul University, Chicago
  19. Snejanka Iordanova, Sales Assistant, AIC, Chicago
  20. Kyla Thomas, Manager of Distribution Operations, AIC, Chicago
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