Almost a month after a former Chicago police commander who oversaw the torture of more than 100 black men was released from prison after serving less than four years, activists are still fighting for victims to receive reparations for their suffering.
On Friday, activists used the Twitter hashtag #RahmRepNow to express their support for a reparations fund for those who were tortured at the hands of Jon Burge and the Chicago Police Department. They urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel to back such a fund.
A guest post on Amnesty International's blog urged people to participate in the Twitter campaign.
Free all Chicago police torture victims who've served far more time than CPD torturers. Reparations to help rebuild their lives #RahmRepNow
— Hauntological (@GMalandrucco) October 24, 2014
Last year, Emanuel issued a public apology for the torture endured by dozens of Chicagoans under Burge and his "midnight crew" of detectives, who forced false confessions out of suspects in a number of brutal ways including electric shock, suffocation with plastic bags and mock executions. Emanuel called it "a "stain on the city's reputation" and "a dark chapter in the history of the city of Chicago."
Earlier this month, after activists and a group of Chicago aldermen renewed their call for a $20 million reparations fund for survivors who cannot sue the city because their statute of limitations has expired, Emanuel indicated he may be open to some form of reparation. However, he said he was unsure the $20 million figure -- the same amount of money the city spent on legal fees defending Burge and his associates in court -- was appropriate.
The reparations fund activists are advocating for would do more than offering financial compensations to the survivors. The ordinance that would create the fund would also create a community center on the city's South Side that would provide services to torture survivors, and it would require Chicago Public Schools to teach a history lesson about the torture cases. It would also serve as a formal apology from the city.
As Vice noted in a Sunday report, the ordinance is currently in a standstill and its future remains uncertain amid some concerns over the fund's cost at a time when the city of Chicago is struggling to balance its budget.
The renewed push for reparations came two days after the release of a report alleging city police have engaged in "ongoing, pervasive" violence specifically targeting youth of color in Chicago. Activists will present the report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture next month in Switzerland.