Chicago Makes $5.5M Move to 'Remove Stain'

First-of-its-kind reparations fund created for victims of police torture
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2015 1:03 AM CDT
Updated May 7, 2015 7:05 AM CDT
Chicago Creates Fund for Cop Torture Victims
In this photo taken May 24, 2010, Jon Burge departs the federal building in Chicago after the first day of jury selection in his obstruction of justice and perjury trial.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

People tortured in the custody of Chicago police are going to be eligible for payouts of up to $100,000 as the city tries to move on from a shameful chapter in its history. In what the Guardian calls "the first gesture of its kind in America," the city council has approved a $5.5 million reparations fund for people—most of them black men—tortured by former Cmdr. Jon Burge and his men between 1972 and 1991. Burge and a team of detectives dubbed the "Midnight Crew" used methods including electric shocks, suffocation, and Russian roulette to extract confessions from scores of suspects, NPR reports.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the historic move "another step, but an essential step, in righting a wrong—removing a stain," reports the Chicago Tribune. The city—which has already spent around $100 million settling Burge-related lawsuits—has also agreed to provide counseling, education, and job training for torture victims and their immediate relatives and will ensure that the case is taught in public schools, USA Today reports. Burge, who was fired in 1993, was not charged with any torture-related crimes before the statute of limitations expired, the Guardian notes. Last year, he finished a four-year sentence for a perjury charge stemming from a civil lawsuit and still receives a police pension. (More Chicago stories.)

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