Today, May 6, is the 5th anniversary of the Reparations legislation. This unprecedented legislation providing reparations to Chicago Police Torture (Burge) survivors passed Chicago’s City Council on May 6, 2015. The legislation provides concrete, redress for the two decades long pattern of racially motivated police torture committed by and under the command of notorious former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge’s at Area 2 and 3 Police Headquarters from 1972 to 1991, including:
·a formal apology for the torture
·the creation of a history lesson about the Burge torture cases taught in Chicago Public schools to 8th and 10th graders;
·the creation of the Chicago Torture Justice Center in Englewood, Chicago that provides specialized counseling and social services to the Burge torture survivors, family members and all impacted by police violence;
·the creation of a $5.5 million Reparations Fund for Burge Torture Victims that provides financial compensation to 57 of the Burge torture survivors who are still with us;
·free enrollment in Chicago City Colleges for the Burge torture survivors, immediate family members and their grandchildren recognizing the legacies of harm caused by the torture and decades of incarceration suffered by the Burge torture survivors and families; and
·the creation of a public memorial to the Burge torture survivors.
The legislation was the fruit of decades of litigation, independent journalism and organizing, which included a concerted grassroots campaign led by Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), Project NIA, We Charge Genocide and Amnesty International, USA, during the midst of #BlackLivesMatter movement of 2014 and 2015. We are grateful to Black People Against Police Torture for their work in sounding the initial demand reparations.
We are proud of our work in representing survivors of police torture at the hands of Burge and other Chicago officers in civil rights litigation and post-conviction proceedings. We continue that work to this day as People’s Law Office continues to fight for the freedom of police torture survivors who remain incarcerated and are now at serious risk due to COVID-19.
We are also grateful to have had the opportunity to work, build relationships and struggle alongside so many police torture survivors, their family members and other organizers.