U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald finally has done what Richard M. Daley should have done 26 years ago: He has indicted retired Chicago Police Detective Jon Burge for leading a band of brutal white cops who tortured hundreds of African-American suspects in criminal cases.
It was 1982, when Daley was the state's attorney of Cook County, that he was first reliably informed -- by Chicago Police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek -- what Burge and company were doing.
What went on -- plastic bags over heads, shackling to hot radiators, gun barrels in mouths, electrical shocks to ears, nostrils and genitals, cigarette burns to arms, legs and chests -- is now well known, having been cited repeatedly in court opinions. (Even Daley, belatedly, branded the torture "a shameful episode in our history.")
Rather than acting, as was his duty at the time, Daley and his top assistant, Richard Devine, who is the current state's attorney, joined a conspiracy of silence that has cost city taxpayers upwards of $50 million in legal costs and civil settlements.
And, even now, a score of men convicted on nothing more than confessions extracted by Burge and his men continue to languish in prison, having been denied relief by the Illinois courts.