Thursday, July 20, 2006

Chicago Police Allegedly Tortured During Interrogations

AP


The four-year investigation focused on allegations that 148 black men were tortured in Chicago police interrogation rooms in the 1970s and '80s. The men claimed detectives under the command of Lt. Jon Burge beat them, used electric shocks, played mock Russian roulette and started to smother at least one to elicit confessions. No one has ever been charged, but Burge was fired after a police board found he had abused a suspect in custody. His attorney has said Burge never tortured anyone. The report released Wednesday also faulted procedures followed by the Cook County State's Attorney's office and the police department at the time of the alleged abuse, saying they were "inadequate in some respects" but had since improved.
I'm glad this issue was investigated. It's no wonder so many groups continue to view the police with suspicion and mistrust. If this problem was that widespread in Chicago, I can't imagine how many other men were tortured in the name of law enforcement around the country.

Unfortunately, the stereotypes that made police detectives feel they had the right to "get tough" with certain suspects in order to get the results they wanted aren't gone.

This information on police misconduct makes me more concerned than ever about the ability to trust that the the death penalty is being applied only to those guilty as charged and without bias toward those most vulnerable to being abused by the system that is supposed to protect us all.

Update:

In response to a comment asking why I, as a rape victim, don't want these terrible men off the street, I posted a long comment that expands on my beliefs on this subject.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:32 AM   6 comments links to this post

6 Comments:

At July 20, 2006 6:30 AM, Anonymous dan l said...

I would think, as the claimed victim of sexual assault, you would have appreciation for a police officer such as Burge, whom took every possible means to take criminals of the worst ilk: rapists, cop killers, etc. and stick them in the clink for long periods of time.

Go ahead. Do some homework on some of the individuals that were allegedly tortured. Tell me if you'd rather those individuals stay on the streets.

 
At July 20, 2006 7:12 AM, Blogger Holly Desimone said...

Hi Marcella,
I have the same concerns about police misconduct. Abuse of the system is not only my concern the racial profiling, hate crimes that we read about with with police, other judical officials.

 
At July 20, 2006 9:18 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Dan,

As someone who was raped, I believe in justice, but torture and police abuse don't serve the long-term goals of justice, in fact I believe they contribute to a sense of lawlessness.

Also as a rape victim, I am well aware that many of the worst criminals look like nice guys. Ted Bundy joined the Washington state task force looking for him and no one for a moment saw him as a potential serial killer.

The bigger issue is what happens when whole communities view the police as being as violent and cruel as the worst street thugs. Notice that the abuse wasn't directed at all violent criminals, it was directed at black men.

Those who defend torture say the ends justify the means, but the methods are ends of their own. If someone has to resort to abuse of suspects, that police officer lacks the skill to perform effective investigations.

As Ted Bundy proves, you can't tell innocence or guilt by a suspect's demeanor.

Effective law enforcement is ethical law enforcement. Prevention and community outreach programs are viewed as optional but they can reduce crime more effectively than police efforts to get tough on all suspects.

I don't come to these conclusions solely as a rape survivor, but also through my volunteer work as a victim's advocate which has included training from law enforcement.

 
At July 21, 2006 3:03 PM, Anonymous dan l said...


Also as a rape victim, I am well aware that many of the worst criminals look like nice guys.


And that is relevant how?


The bigger issue is what happens when whole communities view the police as being as violent and cruel as the worst street thugs.


Really? What about the issue of when the police become viewed as powerless, as often happens in poor communities. When CPD stopped going into the Robert Taylor Holmes, the outrage against the police was 10X what it is now because they rung up a couple of violent criminals. The vast majority of people whom had to reside in areas where violent criminals ran free, appreciated the fact that the streets were being cleaned up.


Notice that the abuse wasn't directed at all violent criminals, it was directed at black men.


Lies. While area 2 (one of the areas) comprising of several entirely black Chicago neighborhoods. Area 3, has a few white ones mixed in, thus there were torture allegations coming out of those areas as well.

What I find interesting about you here, is that you seem to refuse to recognize the guilt of the individuals in question. You take the words of convicted felons of the worst ilk over that of Chicago police officers.

Take for example the Wilson brothers, who killed 2 Chicago cops. They grew up in an Irish neighborhood oh Miss Race Baiter. Of course, you don't mind too much about that, right?

Or how about Milos Shilan, leader of a gypsy stick up crew, known for inserting a 12 guage shotgun into the more intimate areas of the body before pulling the trigger. Still sympathetic?

Fact is, Jon Burge and Co never brough a dope peddler or a DV culprit into the Area 2 Fun House. You had to be special to get a call from them. You had to be a cop killer, a baby raper, or some other sick fuck who has no place in society. Look through the case load. Go ahead.


If someone has to resort to abuse of suspects, that police officer lacks the skill to perform effective investigations.


LOL. Says who? You? As far as I'm concerned, that is an effective investigation.


As Ted Bundy proves, you can't tell innocence or guilt by a suspect's demeanor.


Do you really think that's how it was done? That they just drove around and looked for somebody with a guilty demeanor? Sipping some kool-aid recently?

Fact is, working in the ghetto in the 1970's wasn't hard. Somebody always knew. There was always somebody in one of Chicago's closeknit neighborhoods who could be leaned on to find out who did what. Once you found that out, you went back and got your evidence. Sure, it doesn't exactly get you PC to do what you have to do, but that's not the point.

Let's just say there is no evidence because your only witness is dead or it was a hit and run random crime? Then what? You get them to confess. And sometimes in doing so, you have to be just as nasty as them.

Did you know that several of the police officers named in the report are black? That doesn't really help your play on the race card, does it?

 
At July 21, 2006 3:28 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Dan,

If you think abusing suspects is good and ethical policework, then of course my position opposing police abuse won't make sense to you.

A key problem in getting nasty in pursuit of a confession is that method can also get those who didn't commit the crime in question to confess.

 
At July 21, 2006 3:55 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Because these incidents are from decades ago I did want to mention that these abuses were done in the context of the training and the resources available at the time.

Thankfully, there have been some great advances in the law enforcement community. Unfortunately, often too few resources are available where they are needed and that lack of resources is usually out of law enforcement's control.

If we demand that law enforcement does the job well, but don't give them the resources they need, law enforcement shouldn't take all of the blame for the problems that gap creates.

 

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