Innocent individuals who were physically tortured by Chicago police and wrongfully convicted from the 1970s to 1990s are finally receiving reparations.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced yesterday that any person who can prove that he or she was a victim of Jon Burge, the city's former corrupt police commander who regularly tortured his suspects, they would be eligible for a portion of a $5.5 million fund. The city proposed offering some sort of monetary compensation nearly two years ago, but the ordinance was stalled by municipal committees until recently.
"John Burge's actions are a disgrace—to Chicago, to the hard-working men and women of the police department and most important, to those he was sworn to protect," Emanuel said at a conference. "Today, we stand together as a city to try and right those wrongs, and to bring this dark chapter of Chicago's history to a close."
During his regime, which lasted from the early 70s to the early 90s, Burge was guilty of burning, shocking and conducting mock executions on suspects—many of whom were Black—in order to coerce them into false confessions.
Burge was never convicted of any of his crimes (the statute of limitations had expired by the time he was exposed), but he was incarcerated in 2010 for four years on charges of perjury.
The victims of Burge's corruption are now not only entitled to a cash settlement, but they, along with their family members, are eligible to receive local college tuition or job training programs, free of charge. Additionally, the city will issue a formal apology and promises to integrate lessons on Burge's corruption into the public? school curriculum . The city council is also considering establishing a $20 million fund (on top of the confirmed $5 million) to distribute to victims.
"We are gratified that after so many years of denial and cover-up by the prior administration," said Joey Mogul, who works with the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, at a press conference, "the city has acknowledged the harm inflicted by the torture and recognized the needs of the Burge torture survivors and their families by negotiating this historic reparations agreement."