Human rights practices inform Chicago ordinance in police torture case

The Chicago Reporter, By Adeshina Emmanuel, May 6

Over a period of nearly 20 years, Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his “midnight crew” allegedly tortured at least 118 people, forcing them to make confessions.

The police officers beat the victims, burned them with lit cigarettes and handcuffed them to hot radiators. They tied plastic bags over their heads and nearly suffocated them. They put cattle prods on their genitals and in their mouths and electrocuted them.

The officers’ behavior, human rights experts say, is what one would expect in a dictatorship, not a democracy.

On Wednesday, the City Council approved an ordinance to compensate Burge’s victims, most of them African-American men, and their families. The reparations ordinance is the first of its kind in the country to address police abuse. The measure draws from the United Nations Convention against Torture and human rights practices around the world, especially in nations that overcame the legacy of violent, repressive regimes.

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