July 25, 2012
Today, twenty-six years after his July 21, 1986 arrest, the full Chicago City Council approved the payment of a $5.375 million settlement to police torture survivor Michael Tillman. After exchanging accolades to a series of Chicago citizens from baseball hero Ron Santo to restaurateur Charlie Trotter, the Mayor and the Council members stood silent as the Council unanimously approved the City’s settlement agreement with Tillman, who is represented by People’s Law Office and MacArthur Justice Center lawyers. The Council also approved an additional $1.8 million for David Fauntleroy, another Burge torture victim. This brings the total amount of taxpayer money spent by the City and County in the police torture scandal to more than $53.5 million, not including the many millions paid to Jon Burge and his confederates in pensions.
The silence from the Mayor and the Council members was yet another slap in the face to the more than 110 African American victims of Chicago police torture and to the African American community as a whole. People’s Law Office lawyer Flint Taylor and Tillman himself both recently urged Emanuel to apologize on behalf of the City and the Police Department for the 40 year torture scandal. As Tillman put it in a statement released on Monday, July 23, after the Finance Committee of the City Council gave preliminary approval to his settlement:
The evidence in my case shows without doubt that I am innocent and was tortured as part of a longtime conspiracy led by Jon Burge to torture confessions from black men. I feel that Mayor Emanuel, speaking for the City, should definitely apologize to me, to my family, and to everyone else who suffered because of this conspiracy.
The call for an apology, first publicly suggested by Taylor in a recent Chicago Sun Times Op Ed, was reasserted on Monday by Taylor and the People’s Law Office:
We urge Mayor Rahm Emanuel to publicly apologize on behalf of the City and its police department to Michael Tillman and his family, to all Burge torture victims, and to Chicago’s African American community. This symbolic act, which the Mayor can appropriately perform when Michael Tillman’s settlement is formally presented to the entire Chicago City Council for approval on Wednesday, is not only important to Mr. Tillman, his family, and to all survivors of police torture, but is also vital to the entire community’s healing process.
Unfortunately, Emanuel’s refusal to apologize is “business as usual” for Chicago mayors. In 2006, in the aftermath of the Cook County Special Prosecutor’s Report, which found that Burge and his men abused African American suspects “with impunity,” Mayor Richard M. Daley agreed to apologize. He was afforded a perfect opportunity to do so in early 2008 when the Chicago City Council approved a $19.8 million settlement on behalf of four Burge torture victims. Instead, Daley left the City Council Chambers just before the settlement was called to vote. Later that year, after Burge was indicted for falsely denying that he committed torture, Daley added insult to injury by laughingly making a sarcastic “apology” during which he said “Okay, I apologize to everybody [for] whatever happened to anybody in the City of Chicago in the past.”
While the settlements stand as yet another silent admission by the City, it continues to funnel additions millions in taxpayer money to defend Burge, his confederates, and a pantheon of City officials in several torture cases that remain unsettled. Additionally, the Mayor and his Corporation Counsel remain mum while the Illinois Attorney General battles to strip Burge of his pension, and numerous torture victims, several of whom were instrumental in the successful prosecution of Jon Burge, remain uncompensated because the statute of limitations has expired on their claims. While the settlements are a step in the right direction, the City and its Mayor must deal with these outstanding issues before it can truthfully say that it no longer is on the wrong side of the torture scandal.
To find out more about Michael Tillman’s case, read this article on our site or watch the video below.
To find out more about the work of People’s Law Office on the Chicago Police Torture cases, visit the Police Torture page on this site.