Ex-Chicago Police Lt. Accused of Torturing More Than 100 African-American Men

A former police commander accused of overseeing the torture of more than 100 African American men goes on trial today in Chicago. Former Lieutenant Jon Burge is accused of lying when he denied in a civil lawsuit that he and other detectives had tortured anyone.

He faces a maximum of 45 years in prison if convicted of all charges. The accusations of torture date back 40 years but Burge has avoided prosecution until now. For nearly two decades beginning in 1971, Burge was at the epicenter of what has been described as the systematic torture of dozens of black men to coerce confessions.

In total, more than 100 people in Chicago say they were subjected to abuse including having guns forced into their mouths, suffocation with bags places over their heads, and electric shocks inflicted to their genitals

The police department fired Burge in 1993 for mistreatment of a suspect, but did not press charges. He retired in Florida.

A decade later, then-Gov. George Ryan released four condemned men he said Burge had extracted confessions from using torture.

The allegations of torture and coerced confessions eventually led to a still-standing moratorium on Illinois’ death penalty and the emptying of death row — moves credited with re-igniting the global fight against capital punishment. But they also earned Chicago a reputation as a haven for rogue cops, a place where police could abuse suspects without notice or punishment.

The scandal has extended to the highest levels of city and county government, and the trial’s witness lists include Mayor Richard M. Daley, who was Cook County state’s attorney during Burge’s tenure, fellow former State’s Attorney Dick Devine, and one of Daley’s predecessors in the mayor’s office, Jane Byrne, who was mayor from 1979 to 1983.

Prosecutors are expected to call former police officers and at least a half dozen men who say they were tortured by Burge or those under his command. The more than 100 victims say the torture started in the 1970s and persisted until the ’90s at police stations on the city’s South and West sides.

Burge is the first Chicago officer accused of torture to be charged criminally in the case.

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2 Comments

  • Deardj

    Reply Reply July 17, 2010

    Now Bourge and all of those under his command that participated in such atrocities need to be convicted, have plastic bags placed over their heads and suffocated, guns stuffed into their mouths, and their genitals tasered to coerce confession out of them and provide restitution to their victims. Further, as a child growing up in Chicago, I would hear of young black girls being forcibly raped in police cars, at night, by white cops. It would be interesting to see the reaction if black cops were found doing such things to white boys and girls. Quite frankly, 45 years is not enough time in prison; but, once there, they’ll reap what they have sown.

  • Student

    Reply Reply November 18, 2012

    I don’t believe there is anything interesting about that comment. Burge is a sick S.O.B. you shouldn’t stoop to his level. Violence and hatred only begets more violence and hatred.

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