Below is a documented timeline of events beginning from the time Jon Burge was first promoted to be a Chicago Police Detective until the time he was eventually convicted in federal court for perjury and obstruction of justice. Relevant documentation including written reports and video footage documenting the struggle for justice for torture survivors is also provided.
Timeline of Events
Jon Burge was promoted to Chicago Police Detective and assigned to Area 2 on the south side of Chicago. Prior to joining the CPD, Burge served as a military police investigator in Vietnam.
1972 – 1981
African-American men were tortured with electric shock and suffocation in Area 2 by Burge and his men in order to obtain confessions.
Andrew Wilson was arrested for murder and brought to Area 2 where he was repeatedly tortured with electric-shock, suffocation and burning by Burge and detectives under his supervision.
Then Cook County State's Attorney Richard M. Daley was advised that Burge and his men tortured Andrew Wilson. Daley does not initiate a criminal investigation.
Andrew Wilson was examined by Dr. John Raba, Medical Director at Cook County Jail. Dr. Raba sent a letter to Police Superintendent Richard Breczek detailing Wilson's injuries and requesting an investigation.
1981 – 1988
Over 87 men alleged being tortured at Area 2 in order to obtain confessions. In most of the cases, the State's Attorney's Office was aware of the allegations, but used the coerced statements to convict the torture survivors and send them to prison anyway.
TESTIMONY OF DAVID BATES
After the third [torture] session I basically, remember being scared to death and I remember not ever feeling that way before, and I never want to feel that way again. And I wanted to find a way to protect myself from it happening again… I also remember being in the station for a while; I don't know how long. I remember being hungry. I remember being an 18-year-old wanting his momma. I remember not wanting to deal with those detectives who tortured me for those sessions.
TESTIMONY OF ANTHONY HOLMES
He tried to kill me. It leaves a gnawing, hurting feeling. I can't ever shake it… I still think I shouldn't have let Burge do that to me, but there was nothing I could do. I keep thinking how I can get out of it, but there was nothing I could do. I remember looking around the room at the other officers and I thought one of them would say that was enough and they never did.
The Citizen's Alert, the Task Force to Confront Police Violence and 50 other organizations routinely demonstrated outside the federal courthouse, at Police Headquarters and at City Hall, challenging then Mayor Daley and the Superintendent of the CPD to investigate the torture and ﬁre Burge.
NOV. 2, 1992
Office Professional Standards completed its investigation and cites 50 cases of torture and abuse at Area 2 under Burge and ﬁnds that this abuse was "systematic", "methodological" and "included psychological techniques and planned torture."
JAN. 28, 1991
Amnesty International issued a report calling for an inquiry into allegation of police torture in Chicago. Then Mayor Daley responds with "no comment whatsoever."
During proceedings before the Police Board, City lawyers admitted that the evidence of Area 2 torture established "an astounding pattern or plan… to torture certain suspects… into confessing to crimes."
FEB. 11, 1993
The Chicago Police Board ﬁred Jon Burge and suspended Detective John Yucaitis for 15 months on charges of torturing and physically abusing Andrew Wilson.
Torture survivors on Illinois's death row began to organize, dubbing themselves The Death Row 10. The survivors and family members joined with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and attorneys to mount a commutation campaign.
Governor George Ryan commuted all death sentences and pardoned four, having determined that their confessions were obtained under torture by Burge and his men.
Fed up with local government officials' failure to hold Burge and others accountable and provide reparations to the survivors, Black People Against Police Torture (BPAPT) organized a coalition of lawyers, activists and organizations to take the cases to the International Human Rights Arena.
MAY 19, 2006
The United Nations Committee Against Torture found that the U.S. government had violated the torture convention and called on them to "bring the perpetrators to justice."
Jon Burge was convicted in federal court for perjury and obstruction of justice based on the fact that he lied under oath in a civil case when he denied he and others committed acts of torture.
2011 – PRESENT
Twenty African-American men remain in prison as a result of convictions based in whole or in part upon their coerced confessions. The vast majority of torture survivors have received no financial compensation or psychological counseling for their suffering.
TESTIMONY OF DARREL CANNON
Three white detectives saying 'N—*, you're gonna tell me what I want to hear.' And when I mumble the words 'no,' one of them would say 'blow that N—*'s head off.' And they pulled the trigger of their shotgun. Now the third time they did that, to show you how the human mind works, the third time they did that the hair on the back of my head stood straight up, as if they had just blown my brains out. But again, faith got me through it.
Download a poster of the timeline of events.
EVIDENCE IN THE CASE
After giving a false confession under torture, Aaron Patterson scratched these messages into paint in the interrogation room. These messages are evidence that Aaron Patterson's confession was obtained through the use of torture.
Andrew Wilson was photographed after he was tortured. These photographs corroborate a medical examination of Mr. Wilson.
The facts of the Chicago Police Torture Cases are summarized by People's Law Office attorney Joey Mogul: "In what have become known as the Chicago Police Torture cases, Burge and white detectives working under his command tortured over 110 African American men and women at Chicago police headquarters from 1972 to 1991."
THE COURT'S RULING ON THE SENTENCE
In 2011, Jon Burge was convicted of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury. Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow made a lengthy statement at Burge's sentencing hearing, which is transcribed here.
THE FIRST SHADOW REPORT
In reaction to a lack of action on the part of the state, a team of volunteer attorneys, researchers, and community activists produced this report. The report 'shadowed' a disappointing report by the Special State's Attorney.
A SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT
This follow-up to the shadow report of the previous year continued the call for prosecutions in the torture cases despite the federal statute of limitations. This supplement calls for charges of perjury and obstruction – Burge would eventually be convicted on these counts several years later.
111 KNOWN BURGE TORTURE SURVIVORS
This document identifies 111 victims of torture in Area 2 and Area 3. These people were tortured between 1971 and 1991. Some of the people that Burge and his collaborators abused have been very active in raising awareness while others remain nameless, but not forgotten. Also see the article on this site that names the torture survivors.
THE JON BURGE TORTURE INDEX
This document, which predates Burge's conviction, summarizes the scope of Jon Burge's crimes, the expense of covering up his offenses, and the few steps toward justice undertaken by the state.
TORTURE SURVIVORS' ROUNDTABLE: PARTS 1 AND 2
Torture survivors—Darrell Cannon, Mark Clements, David Bates and Anthony Holmes–will speak about their experiences and share their insights on the creation of a monument to memorialize the Chicago police torture cases and the ongoing struggle for justice.
DARRELL CANON, ANTHONY HOLMES, AND FLINT TAYLOR SPEAK OUT
POLICE TORTURE IN CHICAGO - BURGE STORY
JON BURGE PLEADS THE FIFTH AMENDMENT