Restaurant owner Jimmy Chen, left, and Amy Parakkat hang up the Black Lives Matter quilt in the front window on Wednesday, March 9, at Poke Burrito on Lake Street in downtown Oak Park. | Alex Rogals

When Oak Park Brewing permanently closed in October of 2021, the handmade Black Lives Matter banner that hung in the brewery’s window needed a new home. Jimmy Chen, owner of Poke Burrito, 1025 Lake St. in Oak Park, jumped at the chance to display the knitted art piece after seeing a post about it in the Takeout 25 owners group on Facebook.

On Wednesday, March 9 the art piece made its official debut on Lake Street.

“I am the lucky guy who gets to keep it,” said Chen. “Displaying the banner is a way to show the community we care about sharing this important message. This banner will hang here as long as Poke Burrito is part of the community.”

Chen’s background in art and design drew him to the banner made by a group of local knitters and “craftivists.” Multiple people had hand in making the banner in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

Each square has a unique pattern, color and texture intended to represent stained glass. Shawna Gallagher, knitting group founder spent more than 10 hours linking all the squares together to form the Black Lives Matter statement.

“I remember being very angry when I put it together, but our goal was to take that anger and turn it into something beautiful for our community,” said Gallagher.

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