Torture and Police Reparations

 

image_miniThis week, the city of Chicago has approved a reparations package that will supply money and benefits to men with credible claims to have been tortured by the “Midnight Crew” of Police Commander John Burge. Burge appears to have used suffocation, electrical shocks, and Russian roulette-style “fake executions” to force confessions out of more than 200 people in the ’70s and early ’80s.

The department fired him in 1993, and a 2002 investigation turned up serious evidence of abuse. Burge wasn’t charged because the statute of limitations had elapsed on his offenses. However, he did serve four and a half years for perjury and obstruction of justice (relating to a civil suit filed against him) and was only recently released. He’s currently drawing a police pension.

What do we think of all this? To me it seems pretty clear that Burge’s tactics were far beyond the range of acceptable police behavior. Whether or not you would classify his “Midnight Crew’s” activities as torture (which I think we plausibly should), using “extreme interrogation tactics” to coerce confessions is obviously unjust. It’s somewhat interesting that the settlement offered by the city is relatively small ($5.5 million) in comparison to the costs already incurred from related judgments and legal costs, and also that it also includes provisions for counseling, job training and other services for victims. (They’re also erecting a monument. Hmm.)

More importantly, though, it sets a precedent by offering settlements for victims of police brutality. This will surely be noticed by other interest groups around the country. How will that play out in other cities where people feel abused by the police? Will other cities hasten to jump on the bandwagon by apologizing for their own police forces? And, over the longer run, is the threat of lawsuit a healthy check on police abuse or is it more likely to vitiate the effectiveness of law enforcement to an unacceptable degree?

 

There are 11 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    As long as reparations only go to actual victims, rather than their descendants, it sounds about right to me.

    • #1
  2. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    You pose good questions at the end to which I have no sufficient answers. The problem with police is the same as the problem with criminals: they’re both human. As soon as we solve that problem we’ll have this thing put right. Until then, it’s all walking behind the horses in a parade. Step lively!

    • #2
  3. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Rachel Lu:What do we think of all this?

    The entire affair always seemed odd to me. There were purportedly hundreds of victims, numerous very serious crimes were supposedly committed and the only result was some federal perjury charges against this one man? Officials were not even able to stop him from receiving his pension, although they tried.

    It seems like a Chicago political story to me, one where only an informed resident could fill in the details. Were investigations deliberately allowed to languish? Were higher officials aware of what was occurring and thus not eager to pry into details that could implicate them? Was the entire situation exaggerated?

    • #3
  4. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    Rachel Lu: How will that play out in other cities where people feel abused by the police?

    It will become the new Pigford, only bigger. In Pigford, 91 total potentially affected claimants has exploded to over 90,000. Eventually, any minority who has ever even been yelled at by a cop will be claiming a 5-or-6 figure settlement.

    • #4
  5. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    Roberto:

    Rachel Lu:What do we think of all this?

    The entire affair always seemed odd to me. There were purportedly hundreds of victims, numerous very serious crimes were supposedly committed and the only result was some federal perjury charges against this one man? Officials were not even able to stop him from receiving his pension, although they tried.

    It seems like a Chicago political story to me, one where only an informed resident could fill in the details. Were investigations deliberately allowed to languish? Were higher officials aware of what was occurring and thus not eager to pry into details that could implicate them? Was the entire situation exaggerated?

    I share some of your curiosity, though one signature fact might explain some of the other mysteries: Mayor Daly was almost certainly involved.

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Burge is a world-class dirt bag. The people he harmed deserve compensation for the abuse he inflicted.

    That said, most if not all of the victims have already started lawsuits. It is up to them as to whether or not to accept a settlement now or go after the big money.

    Rahm Emmanuel gets a few things too. He buffs his reputation with the minority community and with Social Justice Warriors everywhere, plus he brings more emphasis on Hillary’s embrace of “police reform” as a campaign issue. Polishing this particular apple can be traded in for a favor from Clinton Consolidated later on. And all this is going to cost him is $5.5M of the taxpayers’ money.

    • #6
  7. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Why the mention of the “minority community?” Rachel doesn’t mention a racial angle. Or has our country reached the stage of awfulness in which we assume arrestees are non-white?

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    This sounds like a corrupt political payoff to a favored constituency. If people were mistreated, they had the right to bring lawsuits within the relevant statute of limitations. If the claimants failed to do so, their claims should be barred like any other.

    • #8
  9. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    Oh, there’s a racial angle. Mostly white cops, mostly black suspects tortured. And Chicago has long been one of America’s most segregated cities.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    From the Pigford story mentioned by Eeyore (where I can file a claim?):

    Claimants had only to file applications for a $50,000 payment by stating that they had “thought about” applying for loans to become a farmer. Proof of a claimant’s intent to farm also included a statement from that petitioner saying he or she had attempted to farm by planting a batch of tomatoes in his or her backyard and having that statement verified by a family member. In essence, the need to be a farmer at the time of the alleged discriminatory actions by the USDA was not a requirement to share in the financial redress.

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2013/06/pigford_the_unexamined_obama_administration_scandal.html#ixzz3ZbYCKs5m
    Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I am beginning to think that the only redress average citizens have against the very few police officers who are too rough with people will be in the courts.

    There need to be some standards that are as familiar to everyone as the Miranda standards are.

    • #11

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.