After decades of police abuse, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has issued an apology for the torture that occurred from 1972 to 1991 under former Commander Jon Burge. The city has paid out millions over the years to men who were tortured into giving false confessions to various crimes, including murder, and spent years in prison as a result.
Emanuel’s apology comes after Chicago approved a $12.3 million settlement to two men who claimed they were tortured into confessing to murder. The two men were exonerated in 2009, but not before spending more than two decades in prison.
“So yes, there has been a settlement, and I do believe this is a way of saying all of us are sorry about what happened here in the city, and closing that period of time, that stain on the city’s reputation…that is not who we are, and we all are one or another obviously sorry,” Emanuel said. “Here’s what I mean: I am sorry this happened. Let us all now move on,” the mayor added. Since the torture under Burge came to light, Chicago has agreed to a total of $85 million in settlements.
Burge, an Army veteran who received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, became a Chicago police officer in 1970. Burge eventually reached the rank of detective commander before he was fired in 1993. During Burge’s years as an officer, he was accused of torturing more than 200 suspects to obtain confessions. Some of his torture methods reportedly involved the use of cattle prods, smothering men with plastic bags and playing Russian roulette.
African-Americans were often the target of the torture, and victim Darrell Cannon says that Emanuel’s apology is “not enough.” “Put some significance behind it, do something meaningful. There are other Darrell Cannons who are still languishing in prison who have yet to have hearings,” Cannon said. Cannon says his confession was coerced by Burge, who he said put an electric cattle prod on his genitals.
The former commander denied ever being involved in or overseeing the torture of any suspects. While Burge was never convicted for his involvement in the torture, he is serving jail time for lying about the torture. He was arrested by the FBI on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in 2008, found guilty in 2010 and was sentenced in 2011. Burge was given a 4.5 year prison sentence.
Emanuel’s apology isn’t enough for some folks on Twitter, either. Reads some of the comments made after the apology below.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel apology is not accepted if he was serious he would stop paying for Jon Burge's legal defense.#torture
— William Brown (@16zyx) September 13, 2013
Mayor: 'Sorry' for Burge torture era http://t.co/yrsnvOoHRA – not good enough by a long shot
— Prison Culture (@prisonculture) September 12, 2013
— Liliana Segura (@LilianaSegura) September 12, 2013