Survivors of Chicago police torture and their allies are taking to the streets Tuesday to demand justice and reparations from the city whose responsibility it was to oversee the perpetrators.
Former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, who presided over the torture by white officers of more than 100 African-American men from 1972 to 1991, was incarcerated for only three and a half years on charges of lying about the atrocities.
While Burge walked out of the Butner Correctional Institution in October and continues to collect a public pension, survivors of electric shocks to genitals, suffocation, mock executions, and more have received little to no compensation as they contend with ongoing repercussions, including prison sentences based on confessions obtained through torture, as well as trauma that spreads to their families and communities.
Now, the survivors are demanding redress from a city whose officials have admitted government culpability in the torture and that had forked over $20 million to defend Burge and others who faced litigation from torture survivors.
“The fight for justice in the torture cases will not be over until all Burge torture victims receive compensation for their suffering, the men in jail get fair hearings and Burge’s pension is taken from him,” declared torture survivor Ronnie Kitchen.
On Tuesday, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), We Charge Genocide, Project NIA and Amnesty International are staging a five-mile march to honor “survivors of Chicago Police Department (CPD) torture and communities of color enduring ongoing police abuse, violence and murder in Chicago.” Starting at the headquarters of the CPD, the march will head to City Hall where they will deliver a petition with over 45,000 signatures demanding formal passage of a reparations ordinance by city officials.
Introduced last year, the ordinance’s measures include a requirement for the city to provide reparations and redress to the 94 Burge torture survivors who are unable to sue, due to a statute of limitations, as well as issue a formal apology to all people and communities impacted.
The ordinance also includes provisions aimed at forcing the city’s history of police torture into the public record, which would require the city’s public school system to include this history in its teaching curriculum, as well as establishing public memorials to the torture survivors.
The ordinance, critically, demands new hearings “to the torture survivors who remain behind bars who had their coerced confessions used against them in their criminal proceedings resulting in their wrongful convictions, and moreover, supports the torture survivors’ rights to have a full and fair opportunity to present evidence that demonstrates they were physically coerced into giving a confession.”
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