Reparations Ordinance Hearing
A FILM FESTIVAL AGAINST TORTURE
I AM MEMORY: CHICAGO WRITERS AGAINST TORTURE
Opening the Black Box—Reception
Challenges in Combatting Torture: A Conversation with Juan E. Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
CTJMP article in E+D
CTJM in F Newsmagazine
Download a slideshow presentation about the CTJM project including a gallery of the memorial proposals that appeared in the Opening the Black Box exhibition.
“The fight for justice in the torture cases will not be over until all Burge torture victims receive compensation for their suffering, the men in jail get fair hearings and Burge’s pension is taken from him.”
–– Ronnie Kitchen, torture survivor
O R D I N A N C E
REPARATIONS FOR THE CHICAGO POLICE TORTURE SURVIVORS
WHEREAS, the City of Chicago acknowledges that former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and detectives under his command systematically engaged in acts of torture, physical abuse and coercion of African American men and women at Area 2 and 3 Police Headquarters from 1972 through 1991; and
WHEREAS, the acts of torture committed by Burge and detectives under his command included electrically shocking individuals on their genitals, lips and ears with an electric shock box or cattle prod; suffocating individuals with plastic bags; subjecting individuals to mock execution with guns; physical beatings with telephone books and rubber hoses; and other forms of physical and psychological abuse; and
WHEREAS, Burge and his men committed these acts of torture and abuse to extract confessions from the victims which were subsequently admitted against them in their criminal prosecutions resulting in their wrongful convictions; and
WHEREAS, these acts of torture, physical abuse and coercion violate state, federal and international law and such acts are universally condemned worldwide; and
WHEREAS, the trauma and damage caused by these heinous acts continue to deleteriously effect the torture survivors, their family members, African American communities and the City of Chicago; and
WHEREAS, the trauma and damage caused by these heinous acts will continue to cause egregious harm to those affected unless the City of Chicago and other municipal bodies enact reparations to mitigate the harm; and
WHEREAS, the City of Chicago has been complicit in the torture practices and tacitly supported those acts by expending more than $20 million of taxpayers’ funds to defend Burge and other detectives implicated in civil litigation brought by the torture survivors, and
WHEREAS, Mayor Emanuel has recently acknowledged that the torture scandal was a dark chapter in the history of the City of Chicago that stained its reputation and that he was sorry for it;
WHEREAS, the City of Chicago must officially acknowledge the torture that occurred in the City and resolve to never allow such acts to go undeterred and unpunished ever again, now therefore,
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF CHICAGO AND
THE MAYOR OF CHICAGO:
' Hereby issues a formal apology to the torture survivors, their family members, and other affected individuals and communities on behalf of the City of Chicago for the violations and harm incurred by these torture practices.
' Hereby creates a Chicago Police Torture Reparations Commission that is responsible for administering financial reparations to the torture survivors to compensate them for the torture they endured.
' Hereby creates a center on the south side of Chicago that will provide psychological counseling, health care services and vocational training to the torture survivors, their family members and others affected by law enforcement torture and abuse.
' Hereby provides that all torture survivors and their family members be allowed to enroll in City Colleges and receive their education and degree for free.
' Hereby calls on the Chicago Public School system to incorporate into its curriculum a history lesson about the Chicago Police torture cases and the struggles to hold those accountable and to seek reparations for the survivors and affected family members.
' Hereby calls on local law enforcement officials to provide evidentiary hearings to the torture survivors who remain behind bars who had their coerced confessions used against in their criminal proceedings resulting in their wrongful convictions, and moreover, supports the torture survivors’ rights to have a full and fair opportunity to present evidence that demonstrates they were physically coerced into giving a confession.
' Hereby commits to supporting the creation of public memorials that memorialize the Chicago Police Torture survivors and the struggle for justice on their behalf.
' Hereby provides a minimum of $20 million to finance the Chicago Police Torture Reparations Commission, the center on the Southside Center, the creation of a curriculum and to fund the creation of public memorials set forth herein.
' Hereby directs the Corporation Counsel to take whatever legal steps are available to support the stripping of Jon Burge’s pension.
March 4, 2014, 5:13 p.m. – 5:13 p.m.City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St, 2nd floor, City Council Chambers
The Finance Committee will be having a hearing on the reparations ordinance, date TBA. The proposed Ordinance calls for a formal apology to the survivors; creates a Commission to administer financial compensation to the survivors; creates a medical, psychological and vocational center on the south side for the survivors and their family members; provides free enrollment in City Colleges for the survivors and family members; requires Chicago Public schools to teach a history lesson about the cases; requires the City to fund public memorials about the cases; and sets aside $20 million to finance this redress, the same amount of money the City has spent to defend Burge, other detectives and former Mayor Richard M. Daley in the Chicago Police torture cases.
Dec. 15, 2012, noon – 7 p.m.Sullivan Galleries
A screening of three powerful films about torture, featuring discussions with the filmmakers:
THE END OF THE NIGHTSTICK by Peter Kuttner, Cyndi Moran, and Eric Scholl
As victims speak out, THE END OF THE NIGHTSTICK investigates charges of institutional racism, violence and cover-up. It also tell the story of a resistance movement, as local activist groups, including the Task Force to Confront Police Violence, refuse to let testimonies of police violence remain buried.
TO TURN A BLIND EYE by Jackie Rivet-River and John Lyons
This short documentary film, TO TURN A BLIND EYE, exposes police torture of African American Suspects by former police Commander Jon Burge. As investigative journalist Jon Conroy said, “…they all knew, all the officers, the State’s Attorneys as did many judges…and later there are 18 and there are 28 and there are 56 and now it’s at 112. These are just guys we know about, there are many we don’t.
BENEATH THE BLINDFOLD Ines Somer and Kathy Berger.
BENEATH THE BLINDFOLD interweaves the personal stories of four torture survivors who now reside in the U.S., but originally hail from different parts of the globe: South and Central America, Africa, and the U.S. This documentary paints a holistic portrait of survivors’ experiences, their path to healing, and life after torture.
Nov. 29, 2012, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.Sullivan Galleries: 33 S. State St., 7th Floor
Join us for an evening of fierce words with some of Chicago’s finest writers: performances and readings by Kevin Coval, Darby Tillis, Archy Obejas, Gary Younge, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Krista Franklin, and others. This reading is dedicated to the survivors, families, and communities who endured unspeakable acts of torture at the hands of Chicago police.
Presented as part of the Sullivan Galleries exhibition Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture
organized by the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project, on view through December 21.
Oct. 5, 2012, 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.Sullivan Galleries
April 24, 2012, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.International House Assembly Hall
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials is a proud co-sponsor of this important conversation on torture:
"Challenges in Combatting Torture: A Conversation with Juan E. Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture"
Tuesday, April 24, 7pm
Presented by the University of Chicago Human Rights Program
Juan E. Mendez is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the author with Marjorie Wentworth of Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights. Until May 2009, he was the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice. Concurrently, he was Kofi Annan's Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007). Between 2000 and 2003 he was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and its President in 2002. He teaches human rights at American University in Washington and at Oxford University (UK). In the past he has taught also at Notre Dame Law School, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins. He worked for Human Rights Watch (1982-1996) and directed the Inter-American Institute on Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica (1996-1999). As a labor and human rights lawyer in Argentina, Mendez was himself imprisoned and tortured during Argentina's "Dirty War."
Free and open to the public with a booksigning to follow.
We invite artists and those who seek justice to submit proposals for a speculative monument to memorialize the Chicago Police torture cases. Over 100 African American men and women were tortured by white Chicago police officers and forced into giving confessions under former Commander Jon Burge. These memorial projects will serve as a public reckoning with police torture in Chicago and honor those who fought to stop it. We aim to make visible the social and political conditions that made torture possible, as well as the acts of courage that ended—or at least brought to light—the culture of impunity that thwarted justice for so long in this instance. Every submission will be an act of solidarity with torture survivors. We welcome proposals of radical imagination as we seek to honor the survivors of torture, their family members and the African American communities affected by the torture.
All submitted proposals will be exhibited at one or more of the following venues: Chicago area art galleries, community centers, and a dedicated website. We hope this project will help to build a social movement strong enough to deter these and other acts of torture and transform our broken criminal justice system.
Download the call poster and help spread the word.
Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project
Sites throughout the Chicagoland area and a website
Submissions may be made by a person of any age and nationality.
Criteria for Proposals
A proposed monument may take any form – from architecture to haiku, from website to mural, from community organization to performance, from bronze plaque to large-scale memorial.
The submission can be in the form of a PDF, PPT, webpage, or other accessible electronic format. Non-electronic submissions will also be accepted.
Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project
c/o People's Law Office
1180 N. Milwaukee
Chicago, Illinois 60642
ANNE ELIZABETH MOORE WITH VIRGINIA KONCHAN
Reposted from http://theconversant.org
In an increasingly neoliberalized literary market, “surface” readings constitute today’s most prevalent form of cultural criticism within and beyond the academy. In pop as well as literary culture, amid critical dispositifs of disinterest and “zaniness”—described by Sianne Ngai as an aesthetic of laboring and playing under the new “connexionist” spirit of capitalism—the pressure to trade in nuanced perspectives for shallow punditry or personal diatribes subtends what Avital Ronnell calls our “default of the political.”
Project NIA's pamphlet series titled "Historical Moments of Policing, Violence, and Resistance" created a pamphlet that provides the history of the torture cases, stories from survivors, and points for further discussion. Take advantage of this incredible resource!
Download the entire pamphlet as a pdf.
On November 2, 1983 three charter members of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge’s torture crew took African American murder suspect Darrell Cannon to an isolated area on the South Side of Chicago and tortured him. They repeatedly pressed an electric cattle prod to his testicles. They allowed him to believe they had loaded a shotgun, rammed it into his mouth, and pulled the trigger, repeating this mock execution three times. They tried to lift him off the ground by the handcuffs that secured his hands behind his back. At another location, they drove the cattle prod into his mouth. They beat him with a police flashlight.1 Eventually, Cannon succumbed and falsely confessed to participating in the murder. Thus started a twenty-nine year legal odyssey that continues to this day and presents the City of Chicago with a case that it cannot win.
Cannon’s false confession led to his conviction for murder and a life sentence. He won a reversal of the conviction, but he was again convicted at a second trial. On appeal, Cannon’s lawyers informed the court of 28 newly discovered cases of torture and abuse by the same Burge henchmen who had tortured Cannon, and the Court issued a landmark decision granting Cannon a new hearing at which he could use this evidence to show that his confession was tortured from him.2 The case was again returned to the trial court, and, after a protracted evidentiary hearing that focused on the pattern and practice of police torture, the State of Illinois dismissed Cannon’s case in 2004. After another lengthy legal battle, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board finally rescinded a parole hold that was premised on the dismissed murder conviction and Cannon was released from prison in 2007 – - 24 years after he was wrongfully convicted.
In 1986, while ensconced in the bowels of the Illinois prison system, Cannon had sought to vindicate his constitutional rights in Federal Court. He filed a handwritten complaint alleging that he was tortured and seeking money damages from his torturers. Unbeknownst to him, his court appointed lawyer, and the public at large, his torture was part and parcel of a widespread secret pattern and practice that was spearheaded by Burge and implemented by the crew of detectives who tortured him. As a result of this ignorance, in 1988, well before the newly discovered evidence of torture had surfaced, Cannon accepted the City of Chicago’s offer of a nuisance value settlement of $3000, of which he netted $1247.
After Cannon was exonerated in 2004, he filed a new suit in Federal Court, seeking damages for the more than two decades of wrongful imprisonment that he suffered as a result of his tortured confession. In this suit, he described the decades-long conspiracy to cover-up by high level Chicago and Cook County officials, and added Burge, a series of police superintendents, as well as the City itself, as newly named defendants who had not been named in the original suit. The City and the police defendants moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that the 1988 settlement agreement barred Cannon from pursuing further compensation against any and all City officials. In 2006, the trial Judge rejected this argument, ruling that the massive conspiracy to cover-up the torture constituted a fraud by the police defendants and the City which thereby rendered the 1988 settlement a nullity.3
In 2007, the Chicago City Council held hearings on the Burge torture scandal, with a special emphasis on ending the City financed defense of Burge in five pending civil damages cases, including Cannon’s. Several Council members publicly called on Mayor Richard M. Daley and the City’s legal department to settle all of the outstanding torture cases, including Cannon’s. In response, the City settled four of the five cases for a total of $19.8 million, but refused to offer a nickel to Cannon, arguing that he was not entitled to a second bite of the apple. Instead of settling, the City poured $1.75 million in legal fees into further contesting Cannon’s case, and in 2011 its lawyers convinced the Judge to reverse her field and grant the City’s motion for summary judgment. In so doing, the Judge deemed the cover-up irrelevant to the issue of fraud because Cannon knew he had been tortured and therefore, in her view, was not deceived.4
Cannon appealed the decision, and on August 8, 2012 his lawyers from the People’s Law Office and the MacArthur Justice Center filed his brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.5 The appeal presents to the Court the fundamental question of whether Burge, his crew of now notorious “Asskickers,” and the entire City power structure can utilize their wholesale cover-up of the worst police scandal in the history of the City of Chicago to deprive a torture victim of his fair day in court and his right to reasonable compensation. Whatever the Court of Appeals decides, the City cannot win this battle in the court of public opinion, as its steadfast position in the Cannon case reaffirms, without question, that it continues to be on the side of the torturers rather than the tortured, preferring to spend millions to peddle the proposition that a torture victim’s suffering is worth $1247, regardless of the official fraud perpetrated on him, if he accepts the pittance.
Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture
Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St., 7th floor
October 4–December 21
Reception: Friday, October 5, 4:30–8:00 p.m.
Before the exhibition opens in October, check out an article on CTJMP's project in E+D (page 6-7)
republished from http://www.propellerfund.org
Annette Elliot writes for F Newsmagazine:
Chicago’s dark history of police brutality and corruption has long been shrouded in silence. A determined group of activists, journalists and lawyers has condemned the willful blindness of the city and the state of Illinois. Former Cook County state’s attorney and later mayor Richard M. Daley currently faces conspiracy allegations in a lawsuit filed by Michael Tillman for ignoring abuse complaints filed against the police and aiding in the cover-up.
Holmes, a former leader of the Black Gangster Disciples, remembers the police torture of May 30, 1973: "I remember looking around the room at the other officers. I thought one of them would say that enough was enough. They never did."
The police force and the city refuse to admit responsibility or apologize for the torture.
"What you see before you today is a very bitter man," confessed Darrell Cannon at a roundtable discussion of torture survivors. In 1983, after a forced confession, Cannon was convicted of murder and incarcerated for 24 years before he was exonerated and released. "I keep hatred within me. I would never in life tell you that I could forgive. As long as I’ve got breath in my body, I will never forgive."
In the mahogany dining room of the Jane Addams Hull House, a group of artists, activists and educators gathered. The March 17 Open House was the continuation of a series of grassroots charrettes and roundtable discussions to generate ideas for memorials of the Chicago torture cases.
The organizers of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) Project:
Dorothy Burge is the Internship Coordinator for Associated Colleges of the Midwest. She also teaches seminars on systematic racism, criminal justice, and social problems.
Sali Vickie Casanova, educator/artist/activist, is a member of the US Human Rights Network and Black People Against Police Torture. Much of her cultural work with youth and educators confronts abuses of justice in the U.S. juvenile system especially in communities of color. She holds the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) from Columbia College, MBA and BA degrees from Indiana University, and recently received the Award for Excellence in Urban Studies and Community Development from IU Northwest. Ms. Casanova's efforts as teaching/performing artist are dedicated to empowering youth and activists to transform the movement for social justice and human rights.
Adam Green is Associate Professor of History and the College and Master of the Social Science Collegiate Division at The University of Chicago, concentrates in U.S. history and African American history. He is author of Selling the Race: Culture Community and Black Chicago, 1940-1955 and co-editor of Time Longer Than Rope: A Century of African American Activism. Adam has lectured on campuses and community venues, and has appeared on WTTW (PBS) Chicago, WBEZ Chicago (radio), Al-Jazeera, BBC (radio) and C-SPAN. He’s been involved in community initiatives in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles related to police accountability and educational justice.
Alice Kim is a cultural organizer, writer and a longtime anti-death penalty and criminal justice reform activist. She is on the editorial board of In These Times magazine and the advisory board of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School. She is also the director of The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, that creates spaces for public conversations about social, political and cultural issues.
Carla Mayer's primary work focus is as an arts administrator and program manager for a municipal agency. She is a committed youth developer and creative activist. As an installation artist and sculptor, her work focuses on silenced voices, elemental materiality and including non-artists in the process of art-making. She has a master’s degree in interdisciplinary art from Columbia College, a bachelor’s degree in literary theory from Brown University and is a state certified art teacher.
Joey Mogul, is a partner at the Peoples Law Office in Chicago, Illinois and director of DePaul University' civil rights clinic. Mogul has been involved in the campaign for justice for Chicago police torture survivors for the past fourteen years both as an attorney and as an activist. Mogul was one of the founding members of the Campaign to Prosecute Police Torture and traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to successfully present the Chicago police torture cases to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 2006.
A. Laurie Palmer is an artist, writer, and teacher. She has shown her visual work, which takes various forms as sculpture, installation and public projects, nationally and internationally, and she has published her writing in art journals and as independent projects. Her work has received support from the Louis Tiffany Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Graham Foundation, the ArtCouncil (now Artadia), and the Radcliffe Institute. Palmer teaches in the Sculpture Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Amy Partridge is an artist, activist, and Associate Director of Gender Studies at Northwestern University. As a Mess Hall "key-holder," she has organized events, exhibitions, and extensive collaborative projects with Iraq Veterans Against the War/Warrior Writers, Tamms Year Ten, White Rose Catholic Worker, Sewing Rebellion, AREA, Project NIA, and a reading group with Danville prisoners. She is a collective member of Cheap Art for Freedom Collective, Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor, and the Slow-Motion Research-Action Collective. From 2009-2011, she was a community representative and Chair of the "Arts & Other" Committee in the 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting Process.
Mary Patten is a visual artist, video-maker, writer, educator, and political activist. In all her work, she seeks to address collisions as well as alignments between the worlds of “politics” and art-making. Her book-length essay, Revolution as an Eternal Dream: The Exemplary Failure of the Madame Binh Graphics Collective, was recently published by Half Letter Press. She has exhibited and screened her work widely, and has directed, curated, and participated in many large-scale collaborative art projects for over thirty years, including Pathogeographies (with Feel Tank Chicago), “Depression: What is it Good For?” at the Gene Siskel Film Center; Project Enduring Look; Group Material’s “Your Message Here” (with ACT UP/Chicago); Artists’ Call against Intervention in Central America; and Cityarts Workshop. She teaches in the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Sarah Ross is an artist who creates forms like clothing, signage and postcards to visualize struggles around space, class, access, and gender. She often works collaboratively on projects such as Compass and Regional Relationships. Sarah teaches at The School of the Art Institute Chicago and works with incarcerated artists at an Illinois state prison. Images and ideas can be found at www.insecurespaces.net
Ellen Rothenberg's work is concerned with the politics of everyday life and the formation of communities through collaborative practices. She is a recipient of grants from the NEA, the Bunting (now Radcliffe) Institute, Engelhard Foundation, LEF Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council. Rothenberg's work has been presented at London's Royal Festival Hall; Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen; National Museum for Contemporary Art, Bucharest; Museum London, Ontario; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art and Museum of Fine Arts; and CUNY’s James Gallery NYC; among others. Rothenberg teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Ben Stagl is an interdisciplinary artist, activist, and community educator. He received his BFA from Oregon State University and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. His projects range from sculptural installation to digital media and he is largely concerned with how humans continue to address and experience shared spaces. His projects have received support from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts and Cultures Council, The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, The Chicago Pop-Up Loop Alliance, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids. Stagl instructs casting and patina workshops at colleges around Oregon and Illinois and he currently works as Director of Development at an artisan casting service located in Chicago.
Brett Stockdill is an educator, writer, and activist. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Women’s Studies, and Latino & Latin American Studies at Northeastern Illinois University.
Jan Susler, a lawyer since 1976, has been a partner at the People’s Law Office since 1982, with a focus on police misconduct civil rights, political prisoners and prisoners’ rights including litigation, advocacy and educational work around control unit prisons. Her work with the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and with progressive movements challenging U.S. foreign and domestic policies has been a constant throughout her career. Attorney for the Puerto Rican political prisoners for over three decades, she served as lead counsel in the efforts culminating in the 1999 presidential commutation of their sentences. She continues to represent those who remain imprisoned.
The Advisory Board for the CTJM project include: