Jon Burge was a Chicago police officer who worked his way up the chains of rank within the Chicago Police Department starting in 1970 on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. Almost immediately once Burge join the department allegations started to surface revealing acts of racism and torture inflicted upon criminal suspects to force them to confess to crimes. His victims were poor African American and Latino men in which most grew up in crime affected areas. Could Burge be a hero that had a special method to solve crimes or was he a criminal disguised as a police officer that was being paid by Chicago tax payers, started to surface in court rooms in the early 1980’s behind the apparent brutal beating of two south side brothers Andrew and Jackie Wilson who had been accused of killing two Chicago police officers in the Morgan Park community.
By the mid-1980’s some anonymous Chicago police Officers started to make known and reveal the mystery behind Burge through letters that had been sent to attorneys representing the Wilson’s. The traumatic details of a operation with the ring leader Burge was starting to make sense to many criminal attorneys such as Public Defenders Harold Wilson and Brian Dosch who were assigned to represent poor defendants that had been accused of serious crimes. They often heard Burge and Daniel Mcweeny name’s mention. As the People’s Law Officer under Attorney Flint Taylor sought more investigation into a group of criminal defendants mention in the anonymous letters sent to their law office in downtown Chicago, under paid public defenders who had lack of resources contributed to many wrongful convictions, started to demand judge’s to grant their clients a hearing on their claim of torture. Overzealous prosecutors jumped up and down and refuted claims of torture, while assertion that the men made up the claims to escape serious criminal charges in which most were murder’s or serious rapes that had been turned over to Burge and his detectives to investigate.
One of the prosecutors was retired Cook County Circuit Court judge Daniel Locallo who worked his way up the chain of the prosecutors office and later left to become a judge. In 1981 a sixteen year old juvenile Mark Clements was taken to area three in the custody of Virgil Jones and Aaron Gibson whom were black. Clements testified and stated, “A black detective came from behind the desk where suspects were taken commonly known as the “sergeant desk” asked is that the little motherfucker!, and he hit the kid in the face”, the kid said. “while on the floor I could hear Jones and Gibson tell that officer that he was a youth in their custody”. However neither Jones nor Gibson got the kid help!, and he was taken up to a interrogation room, denied his parents, a youth officer, and all forms to access to call his parents or a attorney. He was beat not once, but on two different occasions. I told the Assistance Cook County State’s Attorney Kevin Moore what happen to me. Moore, left and told the officer what I told him, and officer McCann returned to the room to beat me again until I agreed to repeat a spoon fed confession.
Burge and a group of all white detectives were being accused by many suspects of inflicting them with beatings, beatings with telephone books, flashlights, a object used for cattle, fist, called racist name’s throughout their interrogations, having their genitals and testicles grab and squeezed, while some made claims that they were raped or had their “penis, genitals assaulted, attempted suffocations with typewriter covers and plastic bags, hung outside windows and testicles shocked” with an “black box” that has since been confirmed to be a electric shock box in which Burge and his detectives on the mid-night crew were often identified as using against criminal suspects to gain confessions to crimes in which many alleged to be innocent.
In 1982 Clements testified that while at area three he had also been beaten by a detective identified as McCann. He was drinking inside the police station wash room Clements said. And shortly after came inside the interrogation room where I was being held, called me racism names, claiming to be there to help me, but he beat me…not one time, but two times. How can this be, just how can this occur inside a police station in the U.S. Clements told Judge William Cousins after being convicted of arson and four murder’s. What makes it normal for people to walk inside a court room looking like mummies and police are allowed to come inside the court room and to deny ever beating a suspect. How can it be in America that our courts deny the rights of the people. I was only a kid, just a kid I stand before you he said. Judge Cousins you are black and I bet if you walk inside area three violent crimes unit, you would see some kid inside the room beat. Locallo, called Clement a liar, a street smart kid who was lying of a beating by police to escape punishment. Judge Cousins, I look at you and I tell you face to face…I did not kill those people he said. Judge I could be like you some day, I know I can…believe me!, I never killed any one. Cousins listen to Clements plea’s, however sentencing him to four natural life sentences with 30 years. Cousins, told Clements that he would die in prison. Those words remained in my head, he said, and I fought. I watched Cook County State’s Attorney Richard Daley sit on television and say that I would never get out of prison. Their words alone caused me to never give up. My mother Virginia Clements who was a activists against police crimes and the corruption within the Cook County, she fought with her might to free her son even while standing in sub-below weather all while suffering and dying from cancer. One day I heard Marlene Martin and Noreen McNaulty describe the conditions of my mother. She’s coughing up blood, however right on the battle field. Clements makes it no secret that his mother was his life. She had this funny laugh, she was my heart because she revealed before me what a mother must do to get her son home. Virginia died 20 months after Clements was released, but makes it known that he made ways to care for her, she was my backbone, I had to be her’s.
Had Judge Cousins listen to Clements it would have possibly prevented additional tortures by Burge and his “MID-NIGHT CREW” of detectives that was freely allowed to use barbaric acts of torture against African American and Latino suspects, and it could have been spared many starting in September, 1982 when he testified that he had been beaten while detective Mcweeny openly played “GOOD cop BAD cop” to gain his confession. He was legally represented by two inexperienced public defenders Robert J. Cooney and Dosch. Their legal defense was conducted through their failure to even investigate the crime. The cook county Public Defender office was without any resources to defend criminal suspects charged with serious crimes. The confession literally made no common sense, but it was good enough to send him away to prison where he gained his GED, worked inside the law library and gained a paralegal certificate while also taking college course’s. Educating himself he decided to attack and challenge unfair prison rules, often using a cause to go on food strikes. I remember being sent to segregation because the prison was on a food strike and I was labeled by other inmates as one of the organizers Clements said. Sitting in the cell I seen the story on Paula Cooper, a young 15 year old Indiana girl that had been sentenced to the death penalty for the killing of an elderly bible teacher. Guard could hear Clements say, how in the world do a 15 year old kid become so accountable to be worthy to be killed on death row. What this kid did was bad, it was really bad, however what message would we be sending to other kids, should Cooper be legally lynched? Could this be a message that our criminal justice system wanted others to believe that kids, young kids cannot be redeem!, that they are monsters without morals, he said while speaking before a group at the University of Houston.
Before Clements was sentence he accused Judge Cousins of allowing the police to steal his youth and the jury to steal his life. Placed inside a prison was the fear of my entire life. I was only a kid, how could the system get it wrong Clements often quoted in letters to any and every one that would listen to his need to be freed from prison. The first mistake about his case provided to be true, that he had been given a natural life sentence that was mandatory absent a mitigation hearing to show that he desired a lesser sentence. Attorneys never challenged the issue to gain fruit until two years ago. Had the claim been challenged perhaps he may would not have set inside a Illinois prison for 28 years of his life.
They all got it wrong!, Burge was the man!, he had the power from the Mayor’s Office to his own commander who he bossed, telling Commander Leroy Martin, he will not have a black assigned to his mid-night crew. Martin was black. Chicago Police Torture gain headlines through the Chicago Tribune news paper. It gave the men a spotlight to make known to the world that all confession were not being provided to police freely. Often the Cook County State’s Attorney office refuted the claims by defendants while painting Burge as a hero!. Evidence begin to surface more clearly that Richard Daley who later went on to become Chicago’s Mayor had likewise contributed to many questionable convictions based off confessions gain by Burge. It was the claim by victims of Burge, that Daley freely allowed these tortures to gain convictions.
Burge has never been charged with torture despite a July, 2006 Special Prosecutor report on Burge tortures, deem that he had committed acts of torture, however he could not be charged because the statute of limitation on the charge expired. In 2008 Burge was charged through a federal indictment with the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. In June, 2010 Burge was found guilty on all charges and in 2011 he was sentenced to 4 and ahalf years. How could this be Clements said outside the court room. This man has literally destroyed many lives, but he walks out with 4 and ahalf years, now I ask you what about the others that are inside Illinois prisons that had been beaten. Who will step up to help them? I suffered inside that place for 28 years of my life. I was just a kid, only a kid he said during a news conference that was fed across the nation.
Burge is set to be released to a half way house in October, 2014 and will be a total free man on February 14, 2015. While he will walk free from prison, some of his victims, much as 100 according to the People’s Law Office remain to sit and suffer behind the walls of a Illinois prison. Striped Human rights look like Burge, Human Rights were not protect, human rights were violated by Burge and his men…that should be enough alone to outrage the people, You have kids, you have grand kids, you have family and friends that will die behind the walls of a Illinois prison if you don’t fight and get involved. Human Right’s is a people’s fight, not a African American fight absent the other races of people. Burge must be laughing his way from prison as he has been allowed to keep his pension throughout his incarceration, he has to think at how fair America is to him, a hero that tortured and practice many acts of racism. As victims of crime speak out, they cannot hide the fact that Burge lied to them, that he is the one that beat suspects, that ordered suspects to be treated worst then the dirt that is up under his shoes. It is totally unfair for a system that called its self “The Criminal Justice System” to hold its head up high, when the agency have sent many men and women to prison for crimes they never committed.
Today Clements is a free man, he was freed from the Illinois Department of Corrections in August, 2009. It was a great day to see with my own two eye’s Burge getting found guilty, however that joy turned into bitterness hearing a judge only sentence a monster like Burge to prison for 4 and ahalf years. While some of the men have been compensated by the State of Illinois and courts, many have not because of legal blocks that prevented them to sue for damages. Some Burge victims are houseless, many do not have jobs, while many lack medical care and education. Current mayor Rahm Emanuel apologized to the victims of torture before a packed city council hearing. He has now admitted that tortures occurred under Burge. Yes! Compensation must be given to all victims and it must not equal to insult. None of these men asked to be beat into tortures by police to confess to crimes. This is a human rights statement in which the world must force Mayor Emanuel to deliver. Many of the men have remained incarcerated for over two decades. Providing these men any less then a house to reside, a job to work, medical care and a right to an education amounts to a insult. Police cannot be shown that they have a right to mistreat people. Absent a hearing for these men on their claims of torture equals to nothing but another black eye on the poor communities of Chicago.