Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Howard Brookins (21st), Chairman of the City Council Black Caucus, Alderman Joe Moore (49th), Alderman Joe Moreno (1st), and representatives of a number of victims of disgraced former police commander Jon Burge announced a sweeping reparations package for the individuals Burge abused and tortured prior to being fired from the police department in 1993. The package, which will be introduced to the City Council on Wednesday, is the culmination of months of work and meetings with stakeholders and representatives of Burge victims, including Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and Amnesty International, USA.
“Jon Burge’s actions are a disgrace – to Chicago, to the hard-working men and women of the police department, and most importantly to those he was sworn to protect,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Today, we stand together as a city to try and right those wrongs, and to bring this dark chapter of Chicago’s history to a close.”
Mayor Emanuel has worked to address this important issue in the hopes that the victims, their families and the city can move forward. Since he took office, the city has worked to resolve open lawsuits from the Burge era. And, in September 2013, he offered the first apology to victims on behalf of the City of Chicago.
Joey Mogul and Flint Taylor of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and the People’s Law Office, who have represented many Burge torture survivors over the decades, and were involved in the negotiations that brought this agreement to fruition said: “We are gratified, that after so many years of denial by many, that Mayor Emanuel has acknowledged the harm inflicted by the torture and recognized the needs of the Burge torture survivors and their families by negotiating this historic reparations agreement. This legislation is the first of its kind in this country, and its passage and implementation will go a long way to remove the longstanding stain of police torture from the conscience of the city.” “While the Burge-era may have ended years ago, today we finally and fully address the ramifications of his terrible actions. Under Mayor Emanuel, we have seen Chicago own up to its past and find justice for those who were wronged by Jon Burge so we may move forward together as one city,” said Alderman Brookins.
“After years of delays, today’s action is one of justice for Jon Burge’s victims, and it finally brings an end to this painful chapter in Chicago’s history book,” said Alderman Moore. “It’s been more than 20 years since Jon Burge worked as a police officer, but today Mayor Emanuel has proven his commitment to justice and accountability for all those who suffered so long ago.”
Alderman Joe Moreno added, in support of the proposal’s passage, “I call on my fellow aldermen to pass this reparations package by the Mayor, because we have a moral and ethical duty to help these victims and their families. We hope and trust that the healing and forgiving process can begin with the passage of this legislation.”
The package includes three overarching components, including a public recognition of the torture committed by Jon Burge, financial reparations for his victims, and a collection of services to help bring closure for the individuals impacted by his actions, as well as their families.
As a reminder of the injustices that occurred, and to ensure that they are not repeated, the city will acknowledge and educate the public about this dark chapter in Chicago’s history. This will include a formal City Council apology, the creation of a permanent memorial recognizing the victims of torture, and curricula about the Burge case and its legacy in eighth and tenth grade CPS history classes.
The city will also provide services to support Burge victims and their families. City College tuition and job training will be provided for free to Burge victims, their immediate family members and their grandchildren. The city will fund psychological, family, substance abuse, and other counseling services to Burge victims and their immediate family members. The city will work with sister agencies to create new opportunities for Burge victims in reentry or transitional job programs. The city will also prioritize Burge victims and their families for re-entry support and social services, senior care services, health services and small business assistance.
Additionally, a $5.5 million fund will be created to provide financial reparations to individuals with a credible claim of Burge-related torture.
Building trust between officers and residents is an essential component to continue improving public safety, which is why the mayor has instituted a series of initiatives and reforms to ensure past incidents of police misconduct are never repeated, and ensure that any incidents of police misconduct are responded to swiftly, consistently and with transparency. Additionally, over the past four years, Chicago has seen a return to community policing, and a renewed commitment to partnering with residents and local leaders to ensure every community enjoys the same sense of safety. The Police Department’s CAPS program opened offices in each police district to help strengthen partnerships with community leaders, foot patrols and bike patrols were added to help officers better interact with residents, officers were trained on community organizing, and a new Deputy Chief of Community Policing position was created to tie all these efforts together.