Chicago pays out $5.5M to Burge torture victims

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Former police commander Jon Burge

The city of Chicago on Monday, January 4 announced that it has paid out $5.5 million in reparations to dozens of people who were victims of police brutality decades ago.

The city sent out checks each totaling $100,000. More victims had received previous settlements and saw those amounts deducted from their share.

Monday’s $100,000 payment to the victims is a fraction of some previous settlements.

The recipients were victims of torture some 44 years ago when a police unit led by former commander Jon Burge and the “midnight crew” inflicted pain on numerous Chicago residents.

A majority of the residents were Black. They were among some 100 men who have accused Burge and officers of shocking, suffocating and beating them into giving false confessions, which landed some on death row. Burge, who has never been criminally charged with torture, served a 4 ½-year sentence for lying about the torture in a civil case and was released from a halfway house last year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city has been under heavy scrutiny and criticism after a video was released showing police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

A months-long claims process for the payments included vetting by an arbitrator and by a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Kent School of Law.

The reparations were part of an ordinance the City Council passed last year that also mandated a formal apology, the construction of a memorial to the victims and the addition of the police torture to the city’s school history curriculum. It also provides psychological counseling and free tuition at some community colleges. Some of the benefits are available to victims’ children.

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