At Last, Reparations for Police Torture

By Reynolds, Keisa | In These Times, June 2015 | Go to article overview

At Last, Reparations for Police Torture


Reynolds, Keisa, In These Times


As police violence against Afri can Americans continues to be met with impunity despite massive protests, activists in Chicago are celebrating the likely passage of the nation's first reparations program for victims of police abuses.

Under former Commander Jon Burge, Chicago police infamously tortured more than 100 African-American men between 1972 and 1991, using instruments like cattle prods, cigarettes and adapted hair dryers. In 2010, a coalition of lawyers, activists, educators and artists formed the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) to honor the lives of the survivors and help them get justice. CTJM was instrumental in getting a reparations ordinance introduced in the City Council in 2013, which called for $20 million in compensation to victims and their families. But without support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the ordinance stalled.

With the 2015 mayoral election, activists saw a chance to force Emanuel's hand. In collaboration with Project NIA, We Charge Genocide and Amnesty International-Chicago, CTJM launched a campaign with a twopronged goal: to put pressure on the mayor to support reparations and to educate the public about the history of Chicago police torture and abuse. …

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