By Danette Clark
For the second time in eight years, the United Nations is condemning the U.S. Government and the City of Chicago for failing to provide redress to several criminal suspects who claim they were tortured by former Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command between 1972 and 1991.
This time, however, the UN is also backing a Chicago City ordinance that, among other things, will require the city’s schools to teach “a history lesson about the Chicago Police torture cases and the struggles to hold those accountable and to seek reparations for the survivors and affected family members.”
According to eNews Park Forest, both in 2006 and 2014, lawyers with the People’s Law Office, who are also members of the organization, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, presented shadow reports to the United Nation’s Commission Against Torture in support of reparations for the Jon Burge torture victims.
Amnesty International, USA and Black People Against Police Torture, and the National Conference of Black Lawyers also submitted reports on the matter.
As a result, on November 28th, the UN Committee called on the U.S. Government to provide redress by supporting passage of a city ordinance currently pending before the Chicago City Finance Committee.
The ordinance, proposed by City Council Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno and Howard Brookins in October of 2013, currently has the support of 26 of the council’s 50 members. Only one more vote is needed to pass.
According to Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), which is a project of the People’s Law Office:
The ordinance would serve as a formal apology to the survivors; create a Commission to administer financial compensation to the survivors; create a medical, psychological, and vocational center on the south side of Chicago; provide free enrollment in City Colleges to the survivors; require Chicago Public Schools to teach a history lesson about the cases; require the City to fund public memorials about the cases; and set aside $20 million to finance this redress…
CTJM and the People’s Law Office say Burge and other officers used torture to coerce more than 100 African-American men and women into confessing to crimes they did not commit. However, they say no one was ever convicted because federal authorities allowed the statute of limitations to expire.
In June of 2010, Burge was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for denying that he and others engaged in acts of torture. He served three and a half years in federal prison and was released in October to a half-way house to finish out the remainder his four and a half year sentence.
In a 2012 document titled “History of the People’s Law Office“, the law firm states that it was founded in the wake of the 1968 Democratic Convention for the purpose of defending political activists and protesters arrested during that time. The firm’s first clients were Bobby Rush and Fred Hampton, leaders of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.
In 1973, Supreme Court Justice Douglas described the People’s Law Office as a “firm almost exclusively devoted to the criminal defense of ‘militants’ and ‘radicals,’ including Chairman Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party and Bernardine Dohrn and Marc Rudd of the Weatherman faction of the SDS.”
Now, more than 45 years later, Bernardine Dohrn, wife of domestic-terrorist-turned-educator Bill Ayers, continues a close association with the People’s Law Office by serving as an advisory board member to the firm’s CTJM project.
In a 2009 book she co-authored with Ayers, Race Course: Against White Supremacy, Dohrn wrote about reparations for the Burge torture victims.
Beyond that, however, both Ayers and Dohrn have spent decades pushing the idea that all African Americans are owed something because they are victims of an oppressive white American system.
As such, the proposed ordinance may also be a step toward that same end. In fact, CTJM admits that the reparations ordinance seeks to provide compensation to not only Burge victims and their families, but also to “African American communities impacted…”.
Specifically, CTJM says the ordinance will “create a community center on the south side of Chicago that would provide psychological counseling, vocational training, referrals and other services to the torture survivors, their family members and the communities affected.”
In 2002, Chicago became the first city in the nation to pass a Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance. The ordinance, proposed by long-time friend of President Obama, Dorothy Tillman, requires companies wishing to do business with the city to research its records to determine whether they or their predecessors ever profited from slavery.
Tillman admitted the ordinance was originally designed to gather information to make a case for reparation lawsuits to be filed against corporations.
Last month, EAGnews reported that a Baltimore school administrator took students to a reparations conference keynoted by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Just prior to that, it was reported that the Mount Vernon City School Board hosted a weekend conference on reparations with students, parents and community members.
Perhaps progressive educators are finally getting down to the real reason for all of those ‘white privilege’ and ‘critical race theory’ lessons they’ve been teaching.
To learn about President Obama’s involvement in a wide-spread movement for slave reparations, read my 6 part Reparations Agenda series which starts here: Part 1 — The Reparation Agenda: Obama’s Religion of Reparations – The Pro-Reconciliation Church.