Monday, August 14, 2006


Death penalty opponents rallied in Chicago Friday. They are demanding new trials for inmates who were tortured by former police commander Jon Burge.

"I know for a fact there are many men in prison that are innocent and deserve to be free," said Madison Hobley, torture victim.

Madison Hobley was pardoned after 13 years in jail because his confession was obtained through torture. Other victims remain in jail, including Stanley Howard, who joined the rally by phone.

The protestors call the recently released report on police torture "a whitewash." They say it is time to take a new look at all the cases handled by Burge.

The first article below is lifted from the Chicago Defender. The second is from the Chicago Sun times. For an earlier Oread Daily story on this subject go to

Activists continue to rally for justice, prosecution following release of Burge report
by Mema Ayi, Chicago Defender
August 14, 2006

Nearly a month after a report detailing police torture at Area 2 under former Lt. Jon Burge, protesters are calling for the prosecution of Burge and others who allegedly coerced confessions out of more than 100 Black men.

About three dozen activists rallied in Daley Plaza Friday, unsatisfied with the nearly 2,000 page report on torture released last month. Activists and victims of the alleged torture said the multi-million dollar investigation by special prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Doyle did not bring justice to those who suffered as a result of Burge's heavy-handed techniques.

Alice Kim, spokeswoman for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, compared the allegations of coerced confessions via torture at Areas 2 and 3 over more than 20 years to torture at Abu Graib.

"This is Abu Graib in Chicago. They don't care about Black people in Chicago. That's the message," Kim said.

Friday's rally, led by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, allowed activists, torture victims and their families to tell their stories.

More than 160 Black men have alleged they were subject to suffocation, electric shock to the genitals and other body parts, as well as cigarette burns and other forms of torture meant to illicit confessions for felony acts between the early 1970s and early 1990s.

The special prosecutor's investigation found sufficient evidence to prosecute Burge and about 5 other officers in three of the allegations of police torture under Burge. However, the statute of limitations had run out on the alleged crimes.

Following the release of the report, it was found that Egan may have had a conflict of interest. His nephew worked as an officer under Burge, though Egan contends he has not spoken with the nephew in years.

Mayor Richard M. Daley, who served as Cook County State's Attorney during the time many of the allegations were made, apologized after the Burge report was released last month.

The Chicago Police Department, he said, has taken measures to ensure such activity never happens again, the mayor said.

But Kim called Daley's apology flip, and added that he and his then-assistant, now State's Attorney, Dick Devine, should also be prosecuted for ignoring allegations of torture under Burge.

Joey Mogul, an attorney with the People's Law Office, which has represented many of the alleged torture victims, said while people are disappointed, angry and even outraged at the report, the movement for justice will continue.

"It defies logic not to prosecute Burge. And it defies logic not to hold Daley and Devine accountable," Mogul said.

Though the statute of limitations may have run out on many of the acts of torture, many of the officers involved in the alleged torture could also be prosecuted for perjury, she added.

"They testified the torture never occurred. Those are crimes of perjury," Mogul said.

The 24 men still serving time for crimes they were tortured into confessing to, Mogul said, deserve a commitment of reparations from the state as well as counseling.

Mayoral candidate Bill "Dock" Walls, who also attended the rally, agreed those who served prison time after they were tortured into confessions, should be compensated for their lost time.

"We have to demand (Gov. Rod) Blagojevich pardon and exonerate those men," Walls said.

Though the release of the report resulted in no prosecutions, Mogul said her office and other activists will continue to fight for justice for those men who alleged they were tortured by Chicago Police.

"They wanted this to be the last pages in this book, but this is not the last chapter," Mogul said. "We will continue to litigate and organize until justice is done."

Not too late for charges in torture cases

This much cannot be contested: Jon Graham Burge was a sadistic Chicago cop who got his jollies by routinely and systematically torturing black men. Cmdr. Burge and his midnight crew at Area 2 tortured more than 100 men over two decades. In some cases, Burge and his detectives tortured the old-fashioned way, using flashlights, blackjacks and telephone books. Many other times they went above and beyond the call of cruelty, hand-cranking a telephone box that generated an electrical current, then putting it to the genitals and rectums of their African-American victims.

These accusations of torture have been an open secret for nearly three decades throughout much of Chicago's criminal justice system. I remember hearing rumors of suspects being tortured when I briefly covered Criminal Court at 26th and California in the late '70s. The Report of the Special State's Attorney, released late last month, dismissed any doubts. Edward Egan, who led the four-year, $6.2 million investigation, found that in the '70s and '80s, Burge and his men tortured suspects into making confessions. The report concluded that the statute of limitations has expired, making it too late to file charges against the bad cops.

This is what must be contested: that time has run out for anybody to do some time for committing or covering up this series of barbaric crimes. The sadistic torture may have ended when Burge was fired 15 years ago, but there was then and there is now a blueprint for whitewashing the two-decades-long actions of Burge and his boys.

Think of it as the everlasting Three-Monkey dodge: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. This is how it worked as a wink-and-nod conspiracy. The police officers at Area 2 didn't hear the screams of detainees as Burge and his midnight crew worked them over in the basement. They didn't see the body burns and bruises after the suspects emerged singing confessions like lovesick canaries. They followed the code of silence if one of them happened to spot the black box used to shock the prisoners when the door to the torture chamber swung open.

The prosecutors in the Cook County state's attorney's offices didn't see the repeated motions from defense attorneys to suppress evidence because their clients had been coerced to confess to a crime they did not commit. The prosecutors in the state's attorney's office saw no reason to investigate the steady stream of cries from civil rights and defense attorneys that the suspects' constitutional rights were being violated. All this went on even when the state's attorney was Richard M. Daley and his No. 2 guy was Dick Devine. Both men managed to see nothing -- except maybe that letter from then-Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek asking them how to handle torture allegations by prisoner Andrew Wilson -- or hear nothing and therefore had nothing to say.

Even after Daley became mayor and Devine took his boss' old job, both men remain in the Three-Monkey stage. Both had plenty of opportunities to check out the truthfulness of the charges. Neither did. Maybe they'll get around to it before the next election. Burge and his detectives have continued to lie under oath, denying that anybody got tortured at any time.

The one thing the Watergate and Monica Lewinski scandals taught us is that it's not the crime, but the cover-up that gets you. So here's one more item for Patrick J. Fitzgerald to put on his to-do list: Check to see if former State's Attorney Richard M. Daley, like the current mayor, Richard M. Daley in the city's patronage hiring scandal, was a bad manager with a bad memory or is a bad liar with ethics to match.

Civil rights attorney Flint Taylor is calling for a federal investigation, pointing out the cover-up, conspiracy and perjury while arguing that statutes of limitations don't expire as long as the obstruction of justice and conspiracy continues. That's an argument federal and local prosecutors use all the time while pursuing criminals.

Taylor says Fitzgerald should use the same federal prosecutorial philosophy that sent Al Capone to jail, not for murder and bootlegging, but for failure to pay taxes on his ill-gotten gains.

If the muckraking federal prosecutor listens, then we'll see if what's good for the criminal will be good for those in the criminal justice system as well.

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