Boom Island memorial ceremony dedicates site to survivors of sexual assault

The Boom Island memorial is meant to represent a safe community where survivors can feel supported.


William Schavee

Mosaics at Boom island show the first mosaic shows a victim all alone, as the mosaics progress, the community holds up the survivor.

The Boom Island Memorial, located on Boom Island in the Twin Cities, is the first of its kind in the United States. Created by Sarah Super, the memorial is the first landmark to honor sexual assault survivors. The memorial officially opened Oct. 10 during a virtual dedication ceremony.

Super created the memorial to honor sexual assault survivors after she was raped at knifepoint by her ex-boyfriend. Super hopes the memorial can be a safe place where survivors can come together to tell their stories and be supported by the community. She also wants the memorial to be a call to break the silence of sexual assaults and rapes that have been present for far too long.

The virtual dedication ceremony started promptly. Super immediately gave a call to action against police violence, justice for the Dakota people, and a need to bring the suffering of sexual violence victims out into the open.

“For far too long, the suffering of sexual violence victims, and survivors, has been forced into the shadows, swept under the rug. This memorial brings our suffering into the light, where we as a community courageously choose to see it,” Super said

As the ceremony continued, guest speakers shared their beliefs and opinions on the memorial and sexual violence.

“The memorial makes Boom Island one of the most powerful parks in the United States,” Al Bengoria, Park Board Superintendent, said.

V, feminist and founder of V day, explained the memorial’s importance, saying that silence is one of the most significant challenges to sexual assault and sexual violence, and explaining the significance that the memorial is a public place: “It announces, by its existence, that sexual violence is real, and that it matters,” V said.

This memorial brings our suffering into the light, where we as a community courageously choose to see it.”

— Sarah Super

Trana Burke, the final guest speaker, talked about her gratitude to Super for putting a memorial together, and then explained why she thought it was a perfect idea. “Surviving is hard,” Burke said. “Survivors are heroes. And heroes deserve monuments.”

Many students at SPA feel the same way.

“I like that we are finally doing something to honor those who have been victims of assault,” Sevy Hayes said. “I have had a few people I know be victims of assault, so it’s really nice for me just to be able to see that even if they aren’t still talking about it, they have some recognition that they are supported and cared about, and it’s not their fault.”

Becca Richman said she thought the memorial was important because “it brings to light the problems we are facing as a society and allows for more important conversations.”

The memorial encourages conversation about sexual violence, which some students don’t think is discussed enough at school.

“It can be a really hard topic,” Richman said, although she does feel that it is crucial to discuss significant problems facing the community.

“I feel like it should be talked about more than it is,” Hayes said.“In the SPA community, I feel like we overlook a lot of things, and assault is one of them, I think it’s really important to acknowledge it.”

Many students have never talked about sexual assault at school.

The Boom Island Memorial for survivors is a safe space where survivors of sexual assault can come together to be supported by their community. The mosaics at the memorial symbolize that broken pieces can be put together to create something beautiful. The ripples on the ground represent the effect of one survivor sharing their story, therefore giving the courage to another survivor to tell theirs.

To end the ceremony, Super said, “To every person who has experienced sexual violence, this place is yours, is ours; this place is for all of us. You are strong, you are courageous, and you are inspiring. We stand together in solidarity.”