WBEZ | Jon Burge http://www.wbez.org/tags/jon-burge Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Closing a 'dark chapter' http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-dark-chapter-111989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/jon burge ap file_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated: May 6, 2015</em></p><p>For Chicagoans, it&rsquo;s now a familiar story.</p><p>More than 100 African American men were tortured between 1972 and 1991 by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers under his command. Last month, for the first time, survivors had the opportunity to share their experiences with some members of Chicago&rsquo;s City Council.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Up until November 2, 1983, I had a partial idea of how black people felt in the South when they were terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan,&rdquo; Darrell Cannon, a Burge victim, testified.</p><p>&ldquo;In my case, I was tortured by the new wave klan. The new wave klan wore badges instead of sheets,&rdquo; Cannon explained.&nbsp;</p><p>According to his testimony, three detectives drove Cannon out to an empty lot on the city&rsquo;s far South Side. There, they held a shotgun to his head and played Russian roulette. They told Cannon the game would go on until he told them what they wanted to hear.</p><p>Cannon spent two dozen years in prison for murder he says he didn&rsquo;t commit. In 1988, the city offered Cannon, and he accepted, $3,000 to settle his torture complaint. Only a handful of Burge&rsquo;s survivors have received compensation from the city.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because the city doesn&rsquo;t have to pay the victims--the statute of limitations has expired in most cases. But there have been strong arguments that for these men and the whole city to heal and move forward, Chicago must confront what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called a &ldquo;dark chapter&rdquo; in the city&rsquo;s history.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">More than money</span></p><p>The reparations package, passed by the outgoing City Council Wednesday morning, calls for $5.5 million to be shared by living survivors with credible claims. The People&rsquo;s Law Office, which has been working with victims for more than 20 years, estimates some 120 men would be eligible for reparations; each individual award would be capped at $100,000. The package also calls for a public apology, a permanent public memorial and a counseling center for victims and families on the city&rsquo;s South Side. The ordinance does not specify how it will pay for the counseling center or where, specifically, it will be located.</p><p>And the &ldquo;dark chapter&rdquo; is to be taught in Chicago public schools. According to the city&rsquo;s corporation counsel, Steve Patton, students in 8th and 10th grades would learn about the Burge torture cases in history class, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. They&rsquo;ll analyze primary source documents, review current cases of police brutality, and they&rsquo;ll discuss ways to improve accountability and protections of civil rights.</p><p>Such public acknowledgment could help repair the public&rsquo;s perception of police, according to former Chicago police officer and current 20th ward Ald. Willie Cochran.</p><p>&ldquo;Just like all of the shootings and killings we see going across the country now, it makes it much more difficult for officers to get the respect from the communities that we deserve,&rdquo; Cochran told a packed gallery at last month&rsquo;s hearing.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Unanimous support</span></p><p>Before the City Council vote Wednesday, the names of more than a dozen torture victims and survivors were read and they stood while the council gave them a standing ovation.</p><p>&quot;This stain cannot be removed from our city&#39;s history, but it can be used as a lesson of what not to do,&quot; Mayor Emanuel said.</p><p>The council voted 42-0 in favor of the reparations package, making Chicago the first city in the nation to do so.</p><p>Martha Biondi is a scholar of reparations and chair of the department of African American studies at Northwestern University. She said that by passing the reparations ordinance, Chicago could shift the national narrative around the relationship between people and the police.</p><p>&ldquo;This reparations ordinance models a new paradigm, it models a new pathway to justice,&rdquo; Biondi said.</p><p>Biondi believes America is at a crossroads.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re in this crisis...it&rsquo;s really becoming a crisis of governance, of democracy and of public safety,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But, she added, it&rsquo;s up to the public to rethink and help change the rules around policing.</p><p>&ldquo;Why have we accepted this kind of policing, in city after city after city, in the United States? In which there will be large financial settlements paid out to survivors or family members of police brutality but nothing happens to those officers,&rdquo; Biondi said.</p><p>For his part, Darrell Cannon told the finance committee last month that no amount of money will make up for what he went through, or bring back the family that he lost while he was in prison. But still, he said, to make it this far was a victory in itself.</p><p>But, he added, if he gets some money from the city--he&rsquo;s going to buy a motorcycle.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to ride around City Hall--I&rsquo;m gonna do a lap, to say, &lsquo;Hey, thank you, for finally stepping up and doing the right thing,&rsquo;&rdquo; Cannon said with a smile. He even got a chuckle out of Finance Committee Chair Ald. Ed Burke.</p><p>He told the aldermen he was thankful that he was alive to witness the historic action--and asked them never to allow injustice of this nature to go this long unchecked.</p><p>&ldquo;We are making history...we&rsquo;re doing something that has not been did in any other state in the union. That&rsquo;s saying something about Chicago, that&rsquo;s saying something about Chicago politics,&rdquo; Cannon concluded.</p></p> Tue, 05 May 2015 17:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-dark-chapter-111989 Burge torture survivor speaks: "I faced my demon" http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/burge-torture-survivor-speaks-i-faced-my-demon-111939 <p><p>Last week Anthony Holmes testified before Chicago&#39;s City Council Finance Committee.</p><p>Holmes spoke in detail about being tortured by Former Police Commander Jon Burge in the 1970s. As part of our StoryCorps series, Holmes sat down with attorney Joey Mogul at the People&#39;s Law Office in Chicago, to relive his experience with Burge.</p><p><em>Andre Perez helped produce this story</em></p><hr /><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7285_StoryCorps%20booth%20%282%29-scr_13.JPG" style="height: 120px; width: 180px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;margin-top:23px;"><a href="http://storycorps.org/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;">StoryCorps</a>&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. This excerpt was edited by WBEZ.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/burge-torture-survivor-speaks-i-faced-my-demon-111939 Judge Evans: Can’t comment on politically charged case involving Mayor Daley http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-evans-can%E2%80%99t-comment-politically-charged-case-involving-mayor-daley-108502 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS3083_daleypresser_4-scr_0_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County&rsquo;s chief judge says judicial ethics prevent him from saying whether political pressure is playing a role in a Burge torture case involving former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.</p><p>The case is that of Stanley Wrice, a man who has spent 30 years in prison for a crime he says he didn&rsquo;t commit. Last year the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Wrice should have a hearing on whether he was tortured by Chicago police officers working under former Commander Jon Burge.</p><p>Cook County Judge Evelyn Clay had been overseeing Wrice&rsquo;s case,&nbsp; but she recently recused herself, though she refused to specify why or what conflict she was trying to avoid. The recusal came just a few weeks after attorneys for Wrice subpoenaed Mayor Daley to testify about the torture that occurred when he was Cook County&rsquo;s top prosecutor.</p><p>Wrice&rsquo;s attorney Jennifer Bonjean says clout is being used to keep Daley off the stand.</p><p>Tim Evans oversees Cook County courts and says judicial ethics prevent him from discussing pending cases.</p><p>&ldquo;I have to follow the same rules that I insist that other judges follow, so you&rsquo;ll understand why I can&rsquo;t comment directly on that case. But I can certainly tell you I am aware of it, yes,&rdquo; said Evans.</p><p>But Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University who specialized in legal and judicial ethics, has a different take. He says nothing prevents Evans from simply clarifying that he never took a call from someone trying to influence the Wrice case.</p></p> Fri, 23 Aug 2013 07:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-evans-can%E2%80%99t-comment-politically-charged-case-involving-mayor-daley-108502 Judge’s ‘belated’ decision to recuse could delay alleged torture case for months http://www.wbez.org/news/judge%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98belated%E2%80%99-decision-recuse-could-delay-alleged-torture-case-months-108457 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS3083_daleypresser_4-scr_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The attorney for an alleged victim of Chicago police torture says her client is a &ldquo;broken man&rdquo; after the judge in his case recused herself last week.</p><p>She says the judge&rsquo;s decision was politically motivated, and it could delay her client&rsquo;s search for justice for months.</p><p>Last week Cook County Judge Evelyn Clay withdrew from the case of convicted rapist Stanley Wrice.</p><p>In a phone conference last Tuesday, Clay told attorneys from both sides that it had &ldquo;belatedly come to [her] attention&rdquo; there would be &ldquo;an appearance of impropriety&rdquo; if she stayed on Wrice&rsquo;s case because she knows some of the witnesses, according to a court transcript.</p><p>Wrice&rsquo;s attorney Jennifer Bonjean says the judge&rsquo;s decision is an attempt to protect former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley from having to testify.</p><p>Wrice, 59, was sentenced to 100 years in prison for his alleged involvement in a 1982 gang rape. But he claims he didn&rsquo;t do it, and that he only confessed because he was tortured by police officers working under disgraced Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.</p><p>Daley was the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney during Wrice&rsquo;s first trial in 1982.</p><p>Last year the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Wrice&rsquo;s claims of torture warranted a review, and in January Clay ordered a full evidentiary hearing.</p><p>In her order Clay wrote that Wrice had &ldquo;established a substantial showing of actual innocence.&rdquo;</p><p>Bonjean said the judge&rsquo;s decision gave Wrice &ldquo;a little glimmer of hope.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re gonna have that chance finally ... &lsquo;I get to take the stand and I get to question witnesses through my attorneys about what happened to me and how I ended up in jail as an innocent man for 31 years,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said of Wrice&rsquo;s reaction.</p><p>The hearing was set for Sept. 23, but now Bonjean said she doesn&rsquo;t know when it will happen.</p><p>Along with the former mayor, Illinois Appellate Judge Bertina Lampkin is also named as a witness in the case. Lampkin was the prosecutor in Wrice&rsquo;s first trial.</p><p>Court records show that Clay had known who the witnesses would be for Wrice&rsquo;s hearing for the past year and a half.</p><p>According to the transcript, when Bonjean pointed this out, the judge agreed and apologized for her &ldquo;belated recognition&rdquo; of the potential appearance of impropriety.</p><p>During the phone conference, Bonjean asked Clay four times to explain her decision to withdraw, and according to the court record, each time the judge declined.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, I prefer not,&rdquo; Clay said at one point. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s as far as I need to go,&rdquo; she said at another.</p><p>Bonjean says the timing of the decision and Clay&rsquo;s unwillingness to explain further are signs that Clay was pressured by her bosses to recuse herself in an effort to delay Daley and Lampkin from having to testify.</p><p>&ldquo;The powers that be would rather leave a man in jail to rot for the rest of his life than to simply require those people to answer legitimate questions that they should have answered decades ago,&rdquo; Bonjean said.</p><p>Judge Clay and the special prosecutor on Wrice&rsquo;s current case did not return phone calls.</p><p>A new judge is set to be assigned to the case on September 4.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 16:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98belated%E2%80%99-decision-recuse-could-delay-alleged-torture-case-months-108457 Local bishop stages mock crucifixion of his own granddaughter to protest teachers strike http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/local-bishop-stages-mock-crucifixion-his-own-granddaughter-protest <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/trotter_bishop_crucifixion.jpg" title="Larry Bishop mock-crucifies his granddaughter (Still via ABC 7 video)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><strong>Lead Story:</strong> Let&rsquo;s say you&rsquo;re a minister who isn&rsquo;t happy about the teachers strike (which, hey! is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/node/102502/">now over</a>!). One might assume, being a man of God, that you&rsquo;d offer to help negotiations or open up your church to host out-of-school children. But if you&rsquo;re Bishop Larry Trotter of the South Side&#39;s Sweet Holy Spirit Missionary Baptist Church, you protest the strike by <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/09/18/minister-crucifies-granddaughter-over-teachers-strike/">staging a mock crucifixion</a> using your four-year-old granddaughter. (<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&amp;id=8815197">ABC 7 notes</a> that other men helped hold the girl up and that she wasn&rsquo;t actually just &ldquo;dangling&rdquo; from the cross, so there&rsquo;s that.) About his symbolic gesture Trotter said, &ldquo;Our children are being neglected. Their hope is being crucified. Their education is being crucified and their future is being crucified.&rdquo; He didn&rsquo;t take sides, though, blaming everyone involved &ndash; Mayor Emanuel, the school board and the teachers union. Still, you have to admire the Bishop for sticking to the adage &ldquo;show, don&rsquo;t tell.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Also: </strong>Just when you thought it was safe to move on, Jon Burge is back in our lives. <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-chicago-police-torture-20120919,0,253070.story">Five new cases</a> of alleged torture under the disgraced former police commander have been assigned to judges by the Illinois Torture Relief and Inquiry Commission. And there are still dozens more <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/hope-burge-torture-victims-still-prison-96080">Burge-related cases</a> for the commission to go through. The problem, as our own <a href="http://www.wbez.org/first-torture-commission-cases-may-be-last-102505">Rob Wildeboer reports</a>, is that funding for the commission has been halted. David Thomas, former executive director for the commission, said the commission needs around $250,000 a year for the next three years to finish the job. Given the findings of previous Burge-related investigations &ndash; not to mention <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/burge-trial">Burge&rsquo;s own trial</a> &ndash; and a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/four-men-chicago-cleared-1994-rape-and-murder-102444">number</a> of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-08/yet-another-exoneration-reflects-ongoing-disturbing-trend-102101">other cases</a> in Chicago in which the convicted were later exonerated, the state needs to fund the commission to finish the work if it ever hopes to fully escape Burge&#39;s tainted legacy.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>And then: </strong>Because, as we&#39;ve already seen this morning, nothing fuels calm, rational discourse like religion, a new study by a Harvard scholar <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-religion-jesus-marriagebre88h1cm-20120918,0,1549833.story">claims Jesus may have been married</a>. Karen King, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, shared the discovery, based on information written on a small piece of papyrus; the writing includes the phrase, &quot;Jesus said to them, my wife.&rdquo; Not surprising, this has a lot of people kind of upset because it doesn&rsquo;t fit into the typical Western view of Jesus as a tall white, single dude with a long flowing beard (like any number of indie rockers out of Brooklyn). King also pointed out that historical evidence has failed to disprove Jesus&rsquo; long-disputed relationship status. Jesus couldn&rsquo;t be reached for comment but the relationship status on his Facebook profile reads, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s complicated.&rdquo;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>RIP: </strong><a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000063643/article/steve-sabol-president-of-nfl-films-dies?module=HP11_headline_stack">Steve Sabol</a>, president of NFL Films, at the age of 69 from brain cancer. Steve, along with his father Ed, helped&nbsp;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/rip-steve-sabol-driving-creative-force-behind-nfl,85118/">revolutionize the way</a>&nbsp;football games are filmed and presented. Most football fans are well acquainted with their&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjbw6WSFqEw">Super Bowl recap films</a>,&nbsp;but Sabol&rsquo;s work went beyond that &ndash; his writing, production and creative oversight garnered him dozens of Emmy awards.<br />&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Elsewhere</strong></p><ul><li><a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/233461/mitt-romneys-claim-that-47-percent-of-americans-dont-pay-taxes-true-or-false">Fact-checking</a> Mitt Romney&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/romney-unplugged-causing-headaches-supporters-102478">now-infamous secretly taped speech</a>.</li><li>The Russians are hiding a <a href="http://io9.com/5944142/russia-admits-to-having-trillions-of-carats-worth-of-diamonds-hidden-in-an-asteroid-crater">boatload of diamonds in an asteroid crater</a> because that&rsquo;s what Russians do.</li><li>Berlin <a href="http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/welcome-to-berlin-sorry-no-entry-for-hipsters/story-e6frfq80-1226476268583">doesn&rsquo;t want you</a>, hipsters.</li><li>Jon Stewart and Bill O&rsquo;Reilly <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/you-can-pay-5-to-watch-jon-stewart-and-bill-oreill,85069/">will have a debate showdown</a> available via pay-per-view on the Internet later in October.</li><li><a href="http://gizmodo.com/5944411/iphone-5-meta+review-a-better-iphone-in-every-way">Reviews of the new iPhone</a> are rolling in, which I&rsquo;m sure will result in total agreement across Internet message boards.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Looking Ahead:</strong></p><ul><li>The CTA&rsquo;s new Express Bus service has a new name: &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cta-announces-new-rapid-transit-jeffery-jump-bus-102494">Jump</a>.&rdquo; Van Halen and Kris Kross will fight to the death in a cage match to determine whose song gets to accompany promo material.</li><li>Chicago: one of the nation&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120915/ISSUE01/309159977/how-chicago-became-one-of-the-nations-most-digital-cities">most digital cities</a>.</li><li>A&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/09/18/muhammad_ali_interview_post.php">fantastic interview with Muhammad Ali</a>&nbsp;conducted by a New Trier High School student in 1967 has surfaced.</li><li>A Chicago Police officer has been arrested on&nbsp;<a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&amp;id=8815093">charges of accepting a bribe</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;dismiss a criminal case.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Sports</strong></p><ul><li>Jay Cutler <a href="http://espn.go.com/chicago/nfl/story/_/id/8395148/chicago-bears-jay-cutler-bumped-jmarcus-webb">has sorta backpedaled</a> on his treatment of offensive tackle J&rsquo;Marcus Webb during the Bears drubbing at the hands of the Packers last week.</li><li>It&rsquo;s been such a bad year for the Cubs, even <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-talk-revolution-cubs-0919-20120918,0,7185905.story">their fictional titles are being taken away</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li>The Toronto Blue Jays&rsquo; Yunel Escobar <a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8395863/toronto-blue-jays-yunel-escobar-suspended-three-games-gay-slur-eye-black">was suspended for three games</a> for the homophobic slur he had written in his eye black in Spanish during a game on Saturday.</li><li>The Chicago Baseball Museum is now <a href="http://chicagobaseballmuseum.org/">a thing</a>.</li><li>Sox Watch: <a href="http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_09_18_chamlb_kcamlb_1&amp;mode=recap&amp;c_id=cws">A win over the Royals</a> keeps the Sox three games up on Detroit.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Finally</strong><br />How did Mars go from a watery, Earth-like surface to its current red desert state? By losing its atmosphere. And how did <em>that</em> happen? Watch below and learn.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/GLrzH-Rnr1c" width="560"></iframe></p></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 19 Sep 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-09/local-bishop-stages-mock-crucifixion-his-own-granddaughter-protest Police torture commission makes final decisions http://www.wbez.org/news/police-torture-commission-makes-final-decisions-100335 <p><p>A commission that investigates alleged police torture cases in&nbsp;Illinois&nbsp;has made its last batch of decisions before a June 30 deadline from lawmakers to cut off its funding.</p><p>The&nbsp;Illinois&nbsp;Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission on Thursday ruled it wouldn&#39;t forward four claims to a Cook County judge. The commission said in a statement that the decisions would be its last before June 30. That&#39;s the last day it has funding from the&nbsp;Illinois&nbsp;General Assembly.</p><p>The commission was set up in the wake of allegations that former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge and subordinates tortured suspects. Burge was convicted in 2010 for lying in a civil suit when he said he&#39;d never witnessed or participated in torturing suspects. He is serving a 4 1/2-year sentence.</p></p> Fri, 22 Jun 2012 09:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/police-torture-commission-makes-final-decisions-100335 Torture and theater: Peas in a pod http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/torture-and-theater-peas-pod-99194 <p><p>Torture and theater always have gotten along like two peas in a pod. Take miracle plays, for example, the plays from the High Middle Ages that portray the lives of early Christian saints, with particular emphasis on the gruesome splendors of their martyrdoms. If a saint was skinned alive or spit-roasted over charcoal or vivisected, it gave the Medieval Special Effects Department a chance to shine, and the peasants loved it. From Jesus on down, where would Christianity be without torture?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/5.%20Martyrdom%20of%20St.%20Apollonia.JPG" style="height: 402px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The martyrdom of St. Apollonia"></div><p>Shakespeare didn't shy away from torture, either. Just consider old Gloucester having his eyes gouged out in <em>King Lear</em> or Richard II enjoying life in a cesspool—literally—or Lavinia being raped and maimed in <em>Titus Andronicus</em>. And Shakespeare showed tasteful restraint compared to some of his Elizabethan and Jacobean contemporaries.</p><p>For these early dramatic authors, there was absolutely no moral ambiguity about torture, which was legal, accepted and understood as something the powerful could and would use if they saw the need. Besides, it made for a good show, encompassing dramatic conflict and lurid physical action as it did.</p><p>But contemporary theater also is fascinated by torture, well aware that torture still is practiced by many nations (including our own) and non-governmental forces (you know, rebels and the like) even though torture is outlawed by numerous international agreements as well as the constitutions of most nations staking claim to being "civilized." What fascinates contemporary theater is precisely what Medieval, Elizabethan and Jacobean theater didn't question: the moral ambiguity of it.</p><p>This is exactly the territory award-winning journalist-turned-playwright John Conroy has carved out for himself in <em>My Kind of Town</em>, a play based on the ongoing Chicago police torture scandal without actually being either a history play or a documentary drama. Fictionalized from the facts uncovered by Conroy himself more than any other individual, <em>My Kind of Town</em> isn't concerned with the guilt or innocence of Jon Burge or Richard M. Daley, or with the guilt or innocence of the central police torture victim. Rather, it's concerned—as is most contemporary drama about torture—with what kind of person becomes a torturer and who the tortured are, and if torture ever is justified.</p><p>In the play, the wife of the accused detective talks about the sort of person who "is basically good" and the sort of person who "is basically evil" and sometimes it isn't as easy as it should be to tell the difference. Take the ambiguity of the colonel in <em>A Few Good Men</em> (the role played by Jack Nicholson in the film version), who sees himself as a patriot and a frontline defender of America's freedom. The detective in Conroy's play sees himself the same way, and so does his wife for a long time.</p><p>In generally equal numbers, we have as many plays in which the torturer is vicious as plays in which the tortured is vicious. They reflect real-world situations. Answer this one yourself: Is torture acceptable if it leads to information that saves hundreds or even thousands of lives? Should we uphold statutes against torture and allow terrorism to flourish?</p><p>In the last 25 years, some of our most influential playwrights have explored the issues and personalities of torture, among them Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter (<em>One for the Road</em>, 1984), Ariel Dorfman (<em>Death and the Maiden</em>, 1990), Martin McDonagh (<em>The Pillowman</em>, 2003) and Sarah Kane (<em>Cleansed</em>, 1998). More immediately, there have been numerous theater works about real-world torture scenarios in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Bosnia.</p><p>Far beyond the context of theater, torture is an issue that will not go away. Almost everywhere it exists, it happens because higher-ups actively condone it or willfully remain in ignorance about it. Torture simply is not sustainable without complicity, and even theater does not always focus on this fundamental fact, although <em>My Kind of Town</em> makes it a central premise.</p><p>To the best of my knowledge, other animals do not torture each other. They attack, maim and kill each other in many ways and for various reasons, but they do not instinctively use pain, or the threat of it, as an instrument of compulsion. Torture, it seems, is found only among the human species, a blessing of sentience and abstract thinking.</p></p> Wed, 16 May 2012 08:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/torture-and-theater-peas-pod-99194 Family sues city of Chicago for wrongful death http://www.wbez.org/story/family-sues-city-chicago-wrongful-death-95185 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-28/006.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The family of a man who allegedly committed suicide while in police custody is suing the city of Chicago for wrongful death.</p><p>On Nov. 17, Develt Bradford was found hanging while detained at Area 2 of the Chicago Police Department. Three days later, another detainee, Melvin Woods, was found hanging in his cell at the same police station.</p><p>Bradford’s family has a fusillade of questions and, on Tuesday, filed a civil lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County.</p><p>“If the Chicago police did no wrong, let’s find that out. But let’s have an independent authority,” said Sam Adam Jr., the Bradford family attorney. “What we do not need is 15 years from now to be readdressing this like we had to do with Jon Burge.”</p><p>The backdrop is that Area 2 used to be under the watch of Jon Burge. A federal jury convicted the former police commander of lying about decades of torturing black men. Bradford and Woods are black. At a press conference Wednesday, Bradford family attorneys sought to make the connection.</p><p>Annie Bradford, the mother of Develt Bradford, choked back tears.</p><p>“I’m very sad. I’m very disappointed in the way that my son had to go. I just want to know what really happened,” Bradford said.</p><p>Adam’s law firm sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asking that his office investigate the two alleged suicides.</p><p>“When a family member calls me with a tremor in her voice … can you help us to find out what happened in this situation?” said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), who flanked attorneys at the press conference. “Then of course, I have no choice except to call upon the highest level of legal investigatorial (sic) authority in the country — and that is the U.S. Attorney’s Office — to conduct its own independent investigation.”</p><p>Attorney Victor Henderson said there are too many unanswered questions about Bradford and Woods’ deaths. He said an internal police investigation is not good enough, given the Burge history at Area 2.</p><p>“Why were the cameras off? How long were they in custody? Let’s see the clothes that they allegedly hung themselves (with). Let’s have some forensic tests, have some blood tests,” Henderson said.</p><p>The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment. The Chicago Police Department gave this statement: “The Chicago Police Department takes the treatment of its arrestees very seriously. The incidents that occurred at Area 2 are currently under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Dec 2011 21:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/family-sues-city-chicago-wrongful-death-95185 Judge: Daley can still be sued over alleged police torture http://www.wbez.org/story/judge-daley-can-still-be-sued-over-alleged-police-torture-93714 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100909_shudzik_1750876_No E_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Former Mayor Richard M. Daley is one step closer to being deposed in connection with alleged torture by Chicago police. On Wednesday a Federal judge ruled for the second time that Daley can be sued over alleged police torture.</p><p>The former mayor was the Cook County state's attorney back in the 1980s. That's when Michael Tillman was arrested for murder. Tillman says police under former commander Jon Burge tortured him into confessing. He says they put a gun to his head, poured soda in his nose and choked him with a plastic bag.</p><p>Last year Tillman was exonerated after two decades in jail, and then sued several people he says were connected to the torture, ranging from individual officers to Daley.</p><p>In July, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled that Daley can be included in Tillman's lawsuit in his capacity as mayor.</p><p>Daley's lawyers appealed, but Wednesday the judge shot them down again. Tillman's lawyers reportedly hope to question the former mayor as soon as next month.</p></p> Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/judge-daley-can-still-be-sued-over-alleged-police-torture-93714 Burge torture case in hands of Illinois Supreme Court http://www.wbez.org/story/burge-torture-case-hands-illinois-supreme-court-92053 <p><p>The case of an alleged torture victim under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge is now in the hands of the Illinois Supreme Court. It's the first time in over a decade that a Burge related torture case is in front of the state's highest court. Since then, the former lieutenant was convicted of lying about torturing suspects and was sentenced to prison.<br> <br> The state supreme court heard arguments for the Stanley Wrice case Thursday morning--they will now deliberate whether Wrice will receive a hearing on his claim that officers tortured him into confessing to a rape 30 years ago. Wrice has been in prison since the 80s for that crime.<br> <br> Prosecutors for the state of Illinois argue they could convict Wrice even without the alleged coerced confession. Lead attorney Myles O'Rourke called the torture "harmless error" that doesn't affect the outcome of the case. Justices pressed O'Rourke Thursday on what evidence was available, and he acknowledged there are no fingerprints or DNA.<br> <br> No matter what the outcome, some advocates, like attorney Locke Bowman, say the case will have an affect on the torture scandal as a whole.</p><p>"This is the case that presents the Illinois supreme court with an opportunity to exercise leadership in the Illinois criminal justice system and to take a dramatic step if it chooses to help us put this scandal behind us," Bowman said.<br> <br> Bowman was an attorney for alleged victims in previous torture cases, and he heads the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University. He said justices could use the Wrice case to grant hearings to other alleged torture victims. He said justices could take a few months, if not longer, to decide the outcome of this case.</p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 21:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/burge-torture-case-hands-illinois-supreme-court-92053