We Are Witnesses: Chicago is a multi-platform short-video series presenting intimate portraits of Chicagoans who have been touched by the criminal justice system. Produced by The Marshall Project in partnership with Kartemquin Films and Illinois Humanities, these films explore the nature of crime, punishment and forgiveness.
We hear from a North Lawndale teenager who is continually targeted by law enforcement; a couple whose daughter was murdered in a park; a prosecutor in the Cook County state’s attorney’s office; a former Chicago police officer dealing with the rising number of officer suicides; a mother who forgives her son’s killer; the ex-warden of the Cook County Jail; and more.
We Are Witnesses: Chicago is directed and produced by Maggie Bowman and Stacy Robinson. The original series, “We Are Witnesses” focused on the criminal justice system in New York City and was released in 2017. It won the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, the NABJ Salute to Excellence Award, and was nominated for an Emmy and a National Magazine Award. The second series, We Are Witnesses: Becoming an American, which explored the US immigration system, was released in January 2019.
We Are Witnesses: Chicago is partnered with WBEZ, which broadcast a selection of audio excerpts; the Chicago Reader, which published accompanying reportage; and Univision Chicago, which has translated the series into Spanish.
The Chicago Public Library is a community partner and will be screening selections from the series throughout the fall of 2019 at 25 neighborhood branches across the city.
We Are Witnesses: Chicago is part of Envisioning Justice, a city-wide initiative sponsored by Illinois Humanities to foster a better criminal justice conversation through the arts. Envisioning Justice artworks, including the We Are Witnesses films, will be on view at the Sullivan Galleries of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from August 6 - October 12, 2019.
The entire series is available to watch on The Marshall Project's official website.