In my prior blog, “Why the Homan Square Story Needs to Be Kept Alive,” I described in detail torture practices equal to the CIA past reported enhanced interrogation techniques by the Chicago police department which occurred under the auspices of the former Chicago police commander, Jon Burge. His career with the Chicago police department spanned from 1972 to 1993. Although Jon Burge was fired in 1993, it took until 2010 before he was forced to go to trial.
While the descriptions of torture done under Jon Burge’s reign at the Chicago PD are horrifying, the steps resorted to by those in power in order to keep him on the job are legendary. I will be detailing the heroic efforts of those who fought to expose and rectify these travesties of justice which includes those community activists who protested.
With this troubled history, there is no way Chicago leaders would ever admit to Homan Square police officers trampling on the constitutional rights of detainees as alleged by the Guardian news on February 24 and 25. This is why the Chicago community needs to demand an independent, competent, thorough audit by an outside reputable investigative agency. The Chicago police department has earned the distrust of the local residents to where they cannot count on the denials of wrongdoing by police without verification.
THE HISTORY OF CHICAGO LEADERS COVERING UP ALLEGATIONS OF TORTURE IS LEGENDARY. IT WILL TAKE AT LEAST THREE BLOGS OF HOW THE POWERS TO BE COVERED UP OR PROTECTED JON BURGE FROM THE EARLIEST TORTURE REPORTS BY INMATES IN 1973 UNTIL 2010. The reference I accessed is by G. Flint Taylor of Peoples Law Offices, titled, “A Long and Winding Road: The Struggle for Justice in the Chicago Police Torture Cases.” Here are some excerpts covering the years of 1973 to 1989:
STORIES OF TORTURE BY CHICAGO POLICE REPORTED IN 1973”
In the early morning hours of May 29, 1973, Anthony Holmes was taken to Area 2 detective headquarters where he was tortured by recently promoted Chicago police detective Jon Burge and several other detectives who worked with Burge on the Area’s midnight shift. The torture included repeated shockings from an electrical device housed in a box, and suffocation with a bag placed over Holmes’ head. Holmes passed out from the pain, felt that he was dying, and, as a result, gave a detailed stationhouse confession to an assistant Cook County state’s attorney implicating himself in a murder that he has later insisted he did not commit.”
“And so began one of the most far-reaching and long-lasting scandals in the annals of Chicago police history — a scandal that featured two decades of brutal and systemic violence perpetrated on more than 110 African American suspects, implicated at least two Chicago mayors, numerous officials at the highest levels of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and members of the Cook County judiciary, and continues to this day.” “This article will examine this sordid history and the 25-year struggle fought by the torture survivors and their families, a group of dedicated lawyers, community activists and organizations, and a precious few reporters and politicians to expose these crimes against humanity and to pursue justice for those who were tortured.”
February 1982 Andrew Wilson…tortured in investigation by Burge
“Wilson’s injuries were so pronounced that the police lockup keeper refused to accept him into lockup, and they were documented by medical personnel and his appointed lawyer, whose investigators took graphic pictures. The director of medical services, Dr. John Raba, examined Wilson, heard his description of his torture, and wrote a letter to Police Superintendent Brzeczek describing Wilson’s injuries and demanding a full investigation.” “Wilson was brought to court, and the sensationalized coverage of the murders and manhunt by the mainstream media, for a short interval, included Wilson’s ghastly appearance.
In contrast, the Chicago Defender, the City’s venerable African American newspaper, gave full coverage to the systemic brutality visited upon Chicago’s African American community. Several local African American groups collected approximately 200 police misconduct complaints and conducted a community hearing, but the police department’s own disciplinary agency managed to “lose” the vast majority of the complaints made.” “Brzeczek — who would admit, decades later, that he excoriated several high level deputies for permitting Wilson to be tortured — delivered Dr. Raba’s letter directly to State’s Attorney Daley, with a pronouncement that he would not investigate Wilson’s alleged torture unless Daley directed him to do so.
“After consulting with his first assistant, Richard Devine, Daley decided not to investigate; instead, he and Brzeczek both publicly commended Burge. Consequently, Burge and his Area 2 cohorts were left to continue their systemic torture.”
Area 2 Torture Continues on the Midnight Shift
“Further emboldened, Burge brought his friend from childhood, Sgt. John Byrne, to head up Area 2’s midnight shift. On this shift detectives tortured scores of African American suspects, coercing confessions that sent them to prison, sometimes to death row, forcrimes that, in at least a substantial number of cases, they did not commit. State’s Attorney Daley continued to condone this behavior, and specifically approved his assistants’ seeking of the death penalty in several torture cases.”
“In 1986, Andrew Wilson, now under a death sentence, filed a pro se civil rights action in federal court, alleging that he was tortured by Burge, Yucaitis and several other Area 2 detectives. At about the same time, Burge was promoted to commander. After several appointed lawyers bowed out of Wilson’s civil rights case, lawyers from thePeople’s Law Office agreed to represent him. At the recommendation of newly appointed Police Superintendent Leroy Martin, the Chicago City Council agreed to retain and finance Burge’s choice of defense lawyers — the law firm of Richard Devine, who was now in private practice.”
Wilson’ civil rights case went to trial in February 1989, amid little fanfare. While torture at Area 2 had long been an “open secret” at Area 2,the police department and the state’s attorney’s office managed to keep the lid on that secret, and every Cook County judge who heard allegations of torture on motions to suppress rejected them. Hence, Wilson’s lawyers,and the public at large, were ignorant of the depth and breadth of the torture scandal.”