From: Democracy Now
Decades after torture allegations were first leveled against former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, a federal jury has found him guilty of lying about torturing prisoners into making confessions. Burge has long been accused of overseeing the systematic torture of more than 100 African American men. Two years ago federal prosecutors finally brought charges against Burge—not for torture, but for lying about it. On Monday afternoon, after a five-week trial, Jon Burge was found guilty on all counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about the abuse. He could face up to forty-five years in prison. [includes rush transcript]
From: CrabbyGolightly By Elizabeth C.
SADISTIC FORMER CHICAGO COP JON BURGE’S NO LONGER protected by the word ‘accused.’
The retired commander of the city’s violent crimes unit was convicted Tuesday of charges related to allegations that he tortured black men in his custody.
“It got to the point where it was him versus everyone else,” juror Gary Dollinger, 31, told the press.
Burge was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury. The conviction comes two decades after complaints first emerged against Burge but does not answer why the system protected him for so long.
“This case is not about Jon Burge,’” said Francine Sanders, who authored a report on Burge’s torture for the police Office of Professional Standards. “It’s about a system, a culture, a sickness in human nature that allows things like this to happen.”
The city’s mayor, Richard M. Daley, was the Cook County State’s Attorney in the 80s when the abuse occurred. Mary Mitchell, a prominent columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, maintains he owes the city “further explanation” of how Burge was able to get away with torture.
“Hopefully, the Burge conviction will not only be a wake-up call for the police officers who tend to be heavy-handed, but also for citizens who are concerned about policing in their neighborhoods,’’ she wrote.
Flint Taylor, an attorney for several men who accused Burge of torture, already plans to file a civil suit against Burge and Daley on behalf of Ronald Kitchen, “a Burge accuser whose murder conviction was overturned,” according to the New York Times.
Victims of the abuse, which included shocks, burns and games of , were ecstatic after the guilty verdicts were announced.Russian Roulette
“These people stole my fucking life,” said Mark Clements, 45, who spent 28 years locked up after being tortured by Burge’s staff into confessing to murder. “I sat in a prison cell, and I prayed for this day.”
Jon Burge Guilty Of Torture!
Burge’s Victims React To Guilty Verdict
Jon Burge returns to court for bond hearing
Former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, the subject of accusations of torture against suspects for decades, was convicted today on all counts of an indictment charging him with perjury and obstruction of justice.
Burge was convicted of lying in a 2003 civil lawsuit about his use or knowledge of torture of criminal suspects.Burge, his fingers clasped in front of him, showed no reaction as the verdict was read – guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury.
The verdict marks the culmination of nearly four decades of controversy surrounding Burge, a 33-year department veteran, and the detectives under his command.
The government’s case focused on five men who alleged torture and abuse, but dozens of suspects contended they were beaten, shocked, burned, threatened with guns or smothered with plastic bags to force them to falsely confess to some of the city’s most shocking murders.
Burge was eventually fired in 1993 for allegedly shocking and burning Andrew Wilson during his 1982 interrogation for the murders of two Chicago police officers a few days earlier.
The allegations — particularly those of Madison Hobley, who alleged Burge and his detectives tortured him and then lied in court to obtain his conviction for the murders of his wife, son and five others in a 1985 arson — were one of the key reasons then-Gov. George Ryan gave when he pardoned Hobley and four others and emptied death row.
But Burge was never charged criminally with the tortures themselves. A four-year investigation by a specially appointed Cook County state’s attorney concluded in 2006 that there was evidence that Burge committed torture but that the statute of limitations had expired, making it impossible to charge him.
Local and international civil rights groups savaged the report as a whitewash, saying it was just another example of how prosecutors and police turned a blind eye to Burge’s misconduct.
Alleged victims found hope for some measure of justice in 2008 when U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment of Burge on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for submitting written answers to a lawsuit filed against him by Hobley in which he flatly denied that he ever used — or knew about the use — of torture against suspects.
Over the past month, the government built its case on transcripts of testimony from the now-deceased Wilson as well as four others — Anthony Holmes, Melvin Jones, Gregory Banks and Shadeed Mu’min — who alleged they were abused.
WHAT: DEMONSTRATION on the DAY OF THE VERDICT in United States of America vs. Jon Burge (regardless of the decision)
WHEN: 5:00 pm on the DAY OF THE VERDICT (closing arguments are Thursday, June 24, and the verdict could be any day following)
WHERE: Dirksen Federal Building, 219 South Dearborn, Chicago IL
WHY: No police officer has ever been charged for any crime in the police torture cases! Show your opposition to the impunity given to Chicago police officers who torture! Speak out against acts of torture by law enforcement!
……………..SIGN UP SO WE KNOW WE CAN COUNT ON YOU
……………..and spread the word!
ABOUT THE TRIAL:
The federal trial of Jon Burge, former Chicago police commander who tortured over 100 African American men and women in the 70’s and 80’s, is coming to a close. Please join the Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT) in demanding justice the day of Burge’s verdict at 5pm. We will be demonstrating there, regardless of the verdict, to show solidarity with torture survivors and to speak out against acts of torture by law enforcement. We will be sending updates about when the jury goes out for deliberations and when we should be ready to respond.
ABOUT JON BURGE:
Burge is being charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury for having lied about his participation in and knowledge of the torture of suspects under his control; he could face up to 45 years in prison if found guilty. Burge is NOT being tried for torture, as the statue of limitations on his crimes have expired. Even if Burge is found guilty in his current trial, he will not be held accountable for the acts of torture he committed.
ICAT IS CALLING FOR:
- State and federal legislation to criminalize acts of torture as crimes of torture by law enforcement officials.
- New hearings for over 20 Chicago Police torture survivors who were wrongfully convicted and remain incarcerated in the State of Illinois.
- Reparations for torture survivors from the City of Chicago, including the cost of treatment and counseling.
For Diane Latiker, a middle-aged mother of eight who works with troubled youth in the tough Roseland neighborhood on the Far South Side, the mention of Jon Burge makes her think of “the boogeyman.”
“The name,” she said, “makes most grown folks around here gasp.”
For Nick Jones, 17, who sits on the curbs of Chatham, a few miles north, and tries to make a few bucks pounding out beats on a plastic bucket, the name means nothing. He has never heard of Mr. Burge, the former Chicago police commander now on trial in Federal District Court, charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying about torturing suspects.
Mr. Jones is worried about today’s police officers. “You can’t do nothing positive around here without them messing with you,” he said. “They harass us every day.”
In more than two dozen interviews in the sprawling Area 2 police district that includes Roseland and Chatham — the territory where Mr. Burge once oversaw a team of detectives, some of whom were accused by suspects of engaging in a regime of torture at area headquarters — Mr. Burge’s name elicited a mix of responses, from anger to indifference to “Jon who?”
Seventeen years after Mr. Burge was fired by the police board, there are lingering suspicions between the area’s residents and the police. Many residents fear that a legacy of mistrust is undermining efforts to stop the violent crime that still plagues the area.
When it comes to Jon Burge, the generation gap is alive and well. The older the person is, the fresher the memories are of the man and his command.
“The community has not reacted yet as I think it will as the trial goes on,” said Zakiyyah S. Muhammad, 64, who sat through several sessions of trial testimony at the Dirksen Federal Building. “It’s not a hot, hot issue like it was. I think the media might be trying to protect Burge a little bit, because you don’t hear as much as you should hear.”
The case remains a hot issue for Antonio Berry, 39. “I can’t imagine what those people went through,” Mr. Berry said. “It’s unspeakable.”
Ms. Latiker, who runs a youth center from the living room of her house on the edge of Roseland, said she recently talked to a 21-year-old man about Mr. Burge’s trial. She tried to explain to him why the decades-long case still mattered, and why the sickly, 62-year-old former police commander should face justice.
But the man — no stranger to the back of a police car — said he did not understand why people like Ms. Latiker were making such a fuss about Mr. Burge, even if he did torture suspects more than 30 years ago and then lied about it under oath.
“Wasn’t he just trying to get the thugs off the street?” the man said. “With all this killing going on, what’s wrong with that?”
Ms. Latiker said she was shocked at the man’s attitude. “I said to him, ‘You’re a thug. Would you like the police to abuse you?’ ”
The man shrugged and fell silent, she said.
“These kids today have seen and experienced so much bad they’re immune to it,” Ms. Latiker said. “That’s why they need to see that no one is above the law, not even the police.”
Like most of the adults interviewed, Thomas Mitchell, 39, an unemployed construction worker who was waiting for a bus on 87th Street, said he had been following the Burge case for years. “You can’t just turn a blind eye to stuff like that,” Mr. Mitchell said. “It shouldn’t have taken this long to bring him to justice.”
The Burge trial, which begins its third week on Monday, is not the justice Mr. Mitchell and many others had hoped for. Mr. Burge is not being tried for torturing suspects: The statute of limitations ran out years ago without any torture-related criminal charges brought against him.
Instead, he is being tried on charges of lying about the torture in 2003 in a civil lawsuit filed by a former death row inmate. Mr. Burge has denied the accusations of torture. “I know that all police aren’t bad,” Mr. Mitchell said. “The ones that are crooked put a bad light on the ones who are trying to protect the community.”
About 17 miles north of Area 2, in the other America that is downtown Chicago, civil rights advocates, lawyers, teachers, mothers of inmates and at least one elected official have packed Courtroom 1925 since testimony in the Burge trial began. Sometimes the size of the crowd has forced officials to open another courtroom two floors below where an audio feed of the proceedings is piped in.
Alderman Ed Smith (28th Ward) said recently that Mr. Burge was responsible for putting a lot of innocent people on death row. “The Burge case should be significant to everybody in Chicago,” Mr. Smith said. “And it should be significant to everybody in the country.”
But when asked about the case, Raheem Taylor, 35, who was standing in front of his printing shop in the 11300 block of South Michigan Avenue, replied, “Who’s Jon Burge?”
A few moments later, with a little prodding, Mr. Taylor recognized the name.
“I haven’t been following the case,” he said. “The big story around here has been the serial killer, the Roseland rapist.”
A 24-year-old man was arrested May 27 and charged with killing three women in Roseland and dumping their bodies in abandoned buildings.
Mr. Taylor pointed across the street to a boarded-up Harold’s Chicken restaurant, its sign still promising Finger Lickin’ Fried Chicken. “They found one of the murdered women in that building over there,” he said.
Mr. Taylor was joined by a man who would give his name only as Gerald. As they talked, a police officer pulled up and said, “You guys are going to have to find something else to do.”
When the officer drove off, Mr. Taylor said: “That happens all the time, telling us to move along. I’m a grown man, standing in front of my own business.”
Down the street at Legends barber shop, Macoi Long, a 30-year-old barber, said Mr. Burge “is dead, right?”
“No,” a friend said, laughing. “He’s in court.
“Oh, yeah, now I remember,” Mr. Long said. “He’s on trial downtown. Now he has to stand tall for what he done like the rest of us.”
Mr. Long said he had been hearing about the alleged torture crimes of Mr. Burge and his men for years, “whipping people, torturing people, sending guys to death row for something they didn’t do.”
“Didn’t that happen a long time ago?” asked a teenager waiting for a haircut.
“True, but he still deserves some tick,” Mr. Long said, using a slang expression for jail time.
A few miles north, Iris Gilbert, 55, was leaving a beauty college in the Gresham neighborhood with curlers in her hair. “We need our police now because it’s so violent,” she said.
But, Ms. Gilbert added, “you can’t trust them because of people like Burge.
“When you can’t trust the police,” she said, “you take the law into your own hands. In the African-American community, they look at the police as another gang.”
That sentiment was shared by a group of teenagers and young adults who work for Ms. Latiker at her youth center, Kids Off the Block.
As the young people talked about police harassment and never meeting “a good cop,” Ms. Latiker held up her hand.
“Now wait a minute,” she said. “We don’t want to group all the police in the same boat. We don’t want to do to them what they do to you all. We don’t want to stereotype them.”
“You’re right,” one of the teenagers said. “We’re better than that.”
On May 24, as many as 100 people turned out to our rally, “Take a Stand Against Torture,” which took place on the first day of the trial of Jon Burge, the notorious police torturer, who is in court on obstruction of Justice charges.
Our rally was picked up by all local news stations in Chicago. Mark Clements, who is a Burge torture victim, led the rally and was interviewed by countless news outlets (and still is). Stanley Howard spoke to the rally via cell phone from his prison cell. Stanley and Ronnie Kitchen have since spoken out about their torture on the National Public Radio station here.
We held our handmade signs, we read the names of all those still incarcerated who were tortured by Burge, and we had their pictures posted on placards.
Our demands for new hearings and trials for all torture victims, stop paying cops who torture, and jail cops who torture was heard loud and clear.
If Mayor Daley was in his office that day, I’m sure he heard us, with our chanting and drumming, “POLICE TORTURE IS A CRIME, JON BURGE SHOULD BE DOING TIME.” And Mark’s favorite, “I say JAIL, you say BURGE, JAIL BURGE!”
The struggle continues!!
Segment on the trial from Democracy Now! featuring Flint Taylor and Darrell Cannon.
A former police commander accused of overseeing the torture of more than 100 African American men goes on trial today in Chicago. Former Lieutenant Jon Burge is accused of lying when he denied in a civil lawsuit that he and other detectives had tortured anyone. He faces a maximum of forty-five years in prison if convicted of all charges. The accusations of torture date back forty years, but Burge has avoided prosecution until now. For nearly two decades, beginning in 1971, Burge was at the epicenter of what has been described as the systematic torture of dozens of black men to coerce confessions. In total, more than 100 people in Chicago say they were subjected to abuse, including having guns forced into their mouths, suffocation with bags placed over their heads, and electric shocks inflicted to their genitals. We speak to attorney Flint Taylor and torture victim Darrell Cannon.