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Chicago: "The National Capital of Police Repression"

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Chicago: "The National Capital of Police Repression" - by Stephen Lendman

That's what Frank Donner called Chicago in his 1990 book, "Protectors of Privilege." As an ACLU attorney, he explained how city police and US intelligence agencies targeted alleged internal subversion, and while it operated "was the outstanding example of it its kind in the United States (in terms of) size, number, and range of targets or operational scope and diversity."

He referred to "wide-open, no-holds-barred style surveillance" (and vigilantism), unmatched anywhere in the country - (institutionalized) guerrilla warfare against substantial sectors of the city's population," using illegal, criminal methods, including intimidation, physical confrontation, and flagrant abuse, at times involving torture. That was then. What about now?

From 2002 - 2004 alone, over 10,000 complaints were made against police, many involving brutality, including beatings and torture. Yet only 18 resulted in disciplinary action, according to University of Chicago Law Professor Craig Futterman who uncovered the data.

He helped prepare a 2007 University of Chicago report titled, "The Chicago Police Department's Broken System," revealing damning evidence of systemic abuse, including brutality, illegal searches, false arrests, racial targeting, sexual assaults, shoddy investigations, a culture of silence, and apartheid justice mostly affecting the city's Blacks, Latinos, poor and disadvantaged.

The police were called a "regime of not knowing," letting cops get away with torture, even murder - because of "a deep commitment to the machinery of denial... encouraging a culture of silence in the face of abuse perpetrated by officers," Mayor Richard M. Daley and City Council aldermen as culpable as top police officials.

Among other findings, the study found:

-- compared to other large municipal police authorities, excessive force complaints are 94% less likely to be sustained by the Chicago Police Department (CPD);

-- in over 85% of cases, accused officers aren't even interviewed, except to fill out a brief form; and

-- a small percent of officers is responsible for most complaints - 2,451 from 4 - 10; another 662 (repeat offenders), over 10.

No wonder detective Jon Burge got away with torturing over 200 detainees from 1972 - 1991, to force confessions under extreme duress.

In May 1972, he was assigned to Area 2 on Chicago's South Side, a predominantly black community. In August, torture allegations surfaced. In May 1973, he tortured Anthony Jones by electric shock and suffocation with a plastic bag. In 1977, he was promoted to sergeant. From 1973 - 1981, he and his subordinates were accused brutal beatings and other forms of torture and abuse.

In 1981, he was promoted to lieutenant in charge of Area 2's Violent Crimes Unit. From 1981 - 1993, dozens of victims accused him of torture. Suits were filed, but through 1990, the administration and City Council took no action. Neither did Mayor Richard M. Daley after his 1989 election.

Finally, after 21 years of torturing detainees, the Chicago Police Board fired him. In March 1993, the Fraternal Order of Police planned to honor him with a float in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade. Community outrage stopped it. In 1993 and 1994, torture allegations against other officers were investigated. Through 1998, no action followed.

In November 1999, torture expert Dr. Robert Kirschner testified that Chicago police abuses followed a pattern found in nations where the military and other security forces practice it. In 2004, several former black detectives, under Burge, admitted in sworn statements that they saw or heard evidence of torture, saw implements used (including Burge's "shock box"), and that abusive practices were an "open secret" at Area 2.

Until then, Burge was never charged with a crime. He retired and moved to Florida. However, in 2002, the Cook County Bar Association, Justice Coalition of Chicago and others petitioned for allegations against him to be reviewed. A special prosecutor was appointed. Burge (and eight others) claimed Fifth Amendment protections. On September 1, 2004, he was subpoenaed before a grand jury, again pleading the Fifth on nearly every question asked.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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