CHICAGO — Torture survivors, politicians, faith leaders and activists from Amnesty International USA, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Project NIA, and We Charge Genocide held a People’s Hearing at the Chicago Temple today to discuss the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago Police Torture Survivors. Despite ongoing and repeated requests, the city council has not scheduled a hearing, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has failed to take meaningful steps to move the ordinance forward.
The ordinance, which would provide redress to over 100 men and women of color – the vast majority of whom are African American men – tortured by notorious former police commander Jon Burge and detectives operating under his command, has been stalled in the city council finance committee for over a year, despite the support of over half of the current city council members.
Saturday also marked the day Burge was expected to be released from house arrest after serving less than four years in prison for perjury.
“It is appalling to think that, not only were people brutally tortured by U.S. authorities, but that decades have elapsed without meaningful reparations to the victims,” said Amnesty International USA executive director Steven W. Hawkins. “The United States cannot claim to be a leader in human rights as long as these egregious crimes go unanswered. It is time to right a longstanding wrong.”
Outside of City council, the Ordinance also has the support of 3 mayoral candidates, 44 Chicagoland organizations, and at least 51 prominent religious, political and civic leaders.
Mariame Kaba, founder and director of Project NIA, said, "The time is NOW for Mayor Emanuel to declare his full support for the reparations ordinance. Torture survivors and their families have waited too long for a modicum of justice. It's time for the Mayor and the City Council to act. It's the right thing to do."
The chief co-sponsors, Howard Brookins Jr. (21st ward) and Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward), discussed the ordinance and its passage at the hearing and torture survivors Darrell Cannon, Mark Clark, and Anthony Holmes spoke about the trauma that they and others continue to suffer from.
Reverend Hatch of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church (NMP) also spoke in favor of passage of the ordinance. Chicago organizer Page May of We Charge Genocide connected the ordinance and Chicago’s legacy of police torture to the national moment of organizing around police use of force, lead by young people of color across the country.
Follow the conversation using the hashtags #RahmRepNow and #HaveHeart.