[Pnews] Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than Four Years

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 2 11:28:11 EDT 2014

  Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less
  Than Four Years

A human rights lawyer representing police torture victims on the former 
police commander's release from prison.

BY Flint Taylor <http://inthesetimes.com/community/profile/321798>
October 2, 2014

The total in financial damages to taxpayers from the torture of over 100 
black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing pension payouts to his 
collaborating officers, exceeds $120,000,000---with no end on the horizon.

Today, former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, who was convicted of 
lying about torturing over 100 African-American men at stationhouses on 
Chicago's South and West Sides, will walk out of the Butner Correctional 
Institution, having been granted an early release to a halfway house in 
Tampa, Florida.

Burge's 2010 conviction for perjury came nearly 20 years after his reign 
of racist terror 
<http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/house-of-screams/Content?oid=875107> finally 
ended. From 1972 to 1991, he led a torture ring of white Chicago 
who routinely used electric shock, suffocation with plastic bags and 
typewriter covers, mock executions and brutal attacks on the genitals to 
obtain confessions from their victims. A team of lawyers at the People's 
Law Office, including myself, documented 118 such cases. But a series of 
police superintendents, numerous Cook County prosecutors and 
a cover-up that implicated former Mayor Richard M. Daley (during his 
time as both mayor and state's attorney) protected Burge and his men 
from prosecution until well after the statute of limitations had run out 
on their crimes of torture.

Like Al Capone, Burge could only be prosecuted for lying about what he 
and his men did, not for the deeds themselves. He was sentenced to the 
maximum term of four and a half years, and ended up serving three and a 
half before being released to a halfway house---a stark contrast to the 
fates of his victims, many of whom received death sentences or life in 
<http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-14/news/ct-met-confession-investigation-20110714_1_jon-burge-chicago-police-cmdr-torture-allegations> on 
the basis of confessions that were tortured from them.

Despite his felony conviction, Burge continued to collect his pension 
(now at $54,000 per year) while serving his time, and the Illinois 
Supreme Court recently decided four to three 
that he may continue to do so in the future. But the nearly $700,000 
that Burge has already collected 
<http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/illinois-supreme-court-ruling-means-burge-can-keep-his-pension/thu-07032014-808am> is 
little compared to what Chicago, Cook County, the State of Illinois and 
federal taxpayers have already expended as a result of the Burge torture 

Chicago has spent more than $20,000,000 to provide legal defense to 
Burge and his men in the numerous civil damages suits brought against 
them over the years. Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois have 
paid out more than $66,000,000 in settlements to compensate the Burge 
torture survivors who were wrongfully convicted on the basis of false 
confessions. The city, county, state and federal governments have spent 
more than $15,000,000 investigating and prosecuting Burge. And his cabal 
of officers has received $22,000,000 in pensions to date.

The total financial damage to taxpayers as a result of the torture of 
over 100 black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing payouts to his 
collaborating officers, now exceeds $120,000,000, and will only keep 

While Burge's conviction and imprisonment were rightly seen as a major 
victory for the ongoing human rights struggle against police torture, 
the battle has continued apace. As many as 20 Burge torture victims 
remain behind bars decades after their convictions, and the movement has 
focused on demanding new hearings for them at which they would be 
permitted to present the evidence of systematic torture that has come to 
light since their convictions.

Some of these men have won new hearings, while others have either been 
denied or are awaiting decisions from the courts or the Illinois Torture 
and Relief Commission (TIRC) on their requests. A court appointed 
monitor is examining prisoner files and letters to determine whether 
there are additional prisoners who may be entitled to judicial review of 
their claims of Burge-related torture. And the TIRC, which was created 
by the Illinois Legislature in response to the demands of community 
activists, is also reviewing some 65 claims of torture and related abuse 
at the hands of detectives who, while not working for Burge at the time 
of the alleged torture, had previously worked for him.

While Chicago has spent more than $20 million defending Burge and his 
crew, the dozens of survivors who have not been officially exonerated 
have received little or no compensation. Working menial jobs or 
unemployed, with many in need of health services for their physical and 
mental trauma, a number of them have courageously stepped forward and 
testified against Burge or have otherwise spoken out about their torture.

Two leading examples are Anthony Holmes and Darrell Cannon. Holmes, who 
was the first known victim of Burge's electric shock and suffocation 
tactics, was a key witness against Burge at his trial and sentencing 
nearly 40 years later. Cannon, who was in 1983 was subjected to electric 
shock and a mock execution 
<http://peopleslawoffice.com/darrell-cannon-civil-rights-lawsui/> by 
three of Burge's most racist henchmen, has become the leading spokesman 
in Chicago's anti-torture movement, and his case is featured in Amnesty 
International's current campaign against torture 
<http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140404/loop/burge-torture-victims-deserve-reparations-says-amnesty-intl-protesters> in 
the United States.

Both men spent decades in prison on the basis of confessions tortured 
from them, but Holmes has received no compensation 
while Cannon received a $3,000 settlement 
<http://peopleslawoffice.com/darrell-cannon-civil-rights-lawsui/> before 
the torture cover-up came unglued.

The contrast between the official treatment of the torturers and their 
victims has spurred activists, torture survivors and lawyers working 
with the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project (CTJM) to campaign 
for the passage of a city ordinance that would address this appalling 
discrepancy. Introduced into City Council last October by Aldermen Joe 
Moreno and Howard Brookins, the "Reparations Ordinance 
calls for the establishment of a $20 million fund to compensate torture 
survivors who have so far received little money or nothing at all 

The reparations would also include 
an official public apology from the City of Chicago and the 
establishment of a center on Chicago's South Side where survivors and 
their families could receive treatment and educational and job training 
opportunities. Additionally, the ordinance mandates that the history of 
Chicago police torture be taught in Chicago's public schools, and that 
memorials to the torture survivors be erected in the city.

As a result of CTJM's work, the ordinance now has the sponsorship of a 
majority of the 50 Chicago city council members. CTJM has also issued a 
formal request to all of the city's major Democratic candidates for 
mayor, both declared and undeclared, to publicly support the ordinance. 
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who is considering 
challenging Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral race, has issued a 
strong endorsement of the ordinance, stating that "reparations for the 
survivors of Chicago police torture are long past due."

With the February 2015 primary fast approaching, Emanuel, whose 
assertions of concern for the needs of the African-American community 
all too often ring hollow, would be wise to consider the consequences of 
failing to support such a reasonable effort to heal the still festering 
wounds inflicted by the torture scandal.

Chicago, like the country at large, has been sensitized to racist police 
violence by the events in Ferguson, Missouri. In July, two 
African-American youths were shot down 
by Chicago police officers, and a Chicago police commander has been 
suspended and criminally charged for torturing an arrestee by shoving a 
gun into his mouth 

In this racially charged atmosphere, Burge's release serves to further 
energize the forces that are fighting for justice for the survivors of 
torture. Reparations and fair hearings will go a long way to finally 
affording closure to a scandal that has dogged Chicago for more than 
forty years.

    Flint Taylor


Flint Taylor is one of the lawyers for the families of slain Black 
Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and together with his law 
partner Jeffrey Haas was trial counsel in the marathon 1976 civil trial. 
For more information on the Hampton/Clark case, the history of Black 
Panther Party, and the FBI's Program to destroy it, visit 
peopleslawoffice.com <http://peopleslawoffice.com/>.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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