Black aldermen call for release of Burge torture report
Chicago Defender

The Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus Friday announced it will call for the release of the special prosecutor’s report on torture allegations under Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge at Area 2.

To release the report to the public – and to follow through with any indictments – will make the Black community less distrustful of the police department and government, the aldermen said Friday.

“There is a lot of concern about this case. People really want to know what’s going on,” said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), chair of the council’s Black caucus. “And we have a responsibility to our constituency.”

Special prosecutors Robert Boyle and Edward Egan are investigating 64 cases of alleged torture under Burge. However, the number of Black men systematically tortured under Burge’s leadership at Area 2 could be triple that number, said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th).

“The public is entitled to know. This is thousands of man-hours and millions of taxpayer dollars. (The special prosecutors) have put a lot more time and energy into this investigation than anybody ever anticipated,” Lyle said.

Last week, Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Beibel postponed the release of the findings of the investigation when attorneys representing 15 to 20 police officers motioned to suppress the report. Beibel is expected to hear pleadings in the case Monday, and make a ruling on the release of the report Friday.

According to the terms of their labor contract, the names of officers named in the report are not to be published until they are indicted, said Lawrence Kennon, one of the attorneys who petitioned for the special prosecutor to investigate torture allegations at Area 2.

Still, he said, the investigation has gone on too long.

“When we first demanded an investigation, we thought it would take six months to a year. We think it shouldn’t take that long,” Kennon said.

Despite the four-year wait, Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) said it is important that the public know the depth and breadth of the report.

“Otherwise, how can we protect people from those kinds of things. We just ask that (Beibel) use his discretion so we can use our discretion as a city.”

More than 135 Black men have alleged they were tortured into murder confessions under Burge. The torture ranged from detectives sticking guns into their mouths, placing bags over their heads and electric shock to the genitals.

The report could set the stage to show whether Burge – who lives in Florida on a taxpayer-funded pension – and other detectives were in violation of international torture laws.

The Black Caucus expects to see indictments when and if the report is released.

“No one is above the law. Not in Guantanamo Bay or in the City of Chicago,” Lyle said. “There is the slim possibility the report will find there was no torture. But if that’s the case, people have the right to know.”

Attorneys and advocates representing the torture victims say the treatment under Burge could also implicate then-State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley – now mayor – and his assistant, current Cook County State’s Attorney Richard Devine.

“You cannot keep it under cover because it serves to enlighten everybody. (Under seal) it serves to foster general distrust in government,” Lyle said. “We do not want anybody to be under the notion that the City of Chicago Black Caucus would hide people who break the law.

“Let the public find out what they paid for with that $7 million,” Lyle said.