Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge Found Guilty
Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was found guilty last week, 25 years after the evidence of torture and police abuse was brought forward. Burge was not convicted of abusing prisoners–the statute of limitations on those crimes had passed. He was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about the abuse in a civil case.
According to the People’s Law Office in Chicago, at least 24 African-American men are still serving sentences for crimes they say they confessed to after being tortured by Chicago Police officers. This happened in the Chicago police precinct that was under Jon Burge’s command from the early ’70’s to 1992. Jon Burge is a Vietnam veteran who is said to have brought back torture to Chicago. People’s Law Office Attorney Flint Taylor says Burge shot through the ranks all the way to commander, primarily by leading a band of torturers. They used methods such as electric shock and suffocating prisoners with bags.
The People’s Law Office brought the case in 2005 and the City of Chicago refused to settle while pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the case. Attorney with the People’s Law Office Flint Taylor says the city has spent over $10 million in aiding the defense of former Commander Jon Burge. Mr. Burge, who is 62 and in ill health, was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993. He faces up to 45 years in prison.
- As you know, the torture allegations started to arise almost 40 years ago. In 1982, there was evidence that would have put Burge away for torture. A movement against torture in the early nineties brought the case back, but Justice Department refused.
- As time went on, there was no longer the ability to go after him for attempted murder, torture and other substantive charges because the statute of limitations ran out on that.
- They appointed a special prosecutor in the early 2000s but he turned out to be very close to Daley, and he wouldn’t indict. If we couldn’t get Burge for torture, we would get him for obstruction of justice, lying and perjury.
- Burge had exercised all his preemptory challenges in court on the jury to get rid of all the black jurors.
- Judge brought back one black person to the jury with Batson law. It was an unbridled racist defense. Jury found Burge guilty on one charge of perjury and two charges of obstruction of justice.
- Federal guidelines would probably put him in the 9 to 10 year sentence category.
- As we uncovered many more cases of torture master-minded by the same commander, movements came together. Movements against police brutality and human rights.
- We are also pursuing that torture should be a federal crime without statute of limitations.
- Meanwhile statutes are running out on the Bush Administration torture conspirators.
- But it took 30 years to get this man in the dock, and he’s convicted by a Republican US Attorney. What does that say about the torture by Cheney, and others, with their admissions by the way?
- However long it takes you can’t give up.
- The jury: they’re human beings like we are, and they shouldn’t be tortured.
Guest – Attorney Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern University School of Law and a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office.
US Social Forum in Detroit – Part 1
Co-host Michael Smith talks with Detroit attorney Ron Reosti about the US Social Forum in Detroit and the rebuilding of the Detroit area. Ron Reosti, born and raised in Detroit, Ron has represented leftwing union activists and tenants’ unions. He also did class employment law and was part of a team that represented women prisoners who were sexually assaulted in Michigan. He’s a National Lawyers Guild member and active in the anti-war movement.
Attorney Ron Reosti:
- Detroit had a radical history before the 1950s based on the labor movement and vibrant black community
- Radicalization in the sixties stemmed from the defeat of McCarthyism in the mid-fifties, Civil Rights movement in the South and revolt of colonies in third world countries.
- In Detroit we continued to experience the de-industrialization of the city.
- There were a significant number of auto plants that were closed in the fifties and sixties.
- During that time the radicalization kept getting channeled through the Democratic Party.
- US Social Forum: People are grappling with solutions to the capitalist system.
- Some of the young people aren’t misinformed about Leninism.
- The young people at the social forum seemed to be smarter than we were.
- What kind of society do you build after you overthrow capitalism?
Guest – Attorney Ron Reosti, born and raised in Detroit, Ron represented left union activists and tenant unions. He also did class employment law and was part of a team that represented women prisoners who were sexually assaulted in Michigan. He’s a National Lawyers Guild member and active in the anti-war movement.
US Social Forum in Detroit Part 2: Detroit Black Radicals
We get another perspective on the US Social Forum from John Williams. John Williams is a long time leader of Detroit’s Black community and central organizer of the historic League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit. Williams worked at Ford and Chrysler while teaching at Wayne State University. He was a member of the Black Panther Party’s Detroit chapter and a founding member of the Detroit chapter of the Labor Party.
- US Social Forum this time, questioning captalism and outright anti-capitalism
- The moral question, what this country is doing is wrong, workers laid off, in the streets, immigration, Gaza, Palestine
- LRNA – League of Revolutionaries for a New America, a group of people coming together paying attention to class consciousness in the rising work force.
- We’re talking about workers in the rust belt who have been thrown out of the production. Good union people can’t fight capitalism with the old union ways.
- LRNA ranges from senior citizens to youth who are bound by an understanding of where America is at this point. It’s like a storm that’s developing.
- Back during the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, we moved the Black Panther chapter into the league.
- The head of the Panther party at the time was a Ford worker who had built FRUM, the Ford Revolutionary Union Movement
Guest – John Williams, long-time leader of Detroit’s Black community and central organizer of the historic League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit. Williams worked at Ford and Chrysler while teaching at Wayne State University. He was a member of the Black Panther Party’s Detroit chapter and a founding member of the Detroit chapter of the Labor Party.