Reclaiming a Lost History

Between 1871, the year of the Chicago Fire, and 1971, hundreds of people claimed they were tortured as part of a criminal investigation in Chicago. The recent history of torture in Chicago is well known, but the history of those older claims has been lost. That loss limits our understanding of more recent claims and our ability to adequately respond to them.

This blog is designed to help reclaim that lost history. It builds on my recent book, Robert Nixon and Police Torture in Chicago, 1871-1971 (NIU Press, 2016), expanding on that study to record the individual stories of the claims of torture and the people who made them.

It is also intended to connect the present to those lost moments in the past. So this site will also try to capture current accounts of torture and misconduct that bear witness to those older patterns.

High tech?

CPD’s so-called gang database is being questioned…

According to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Policing in Chicago Research Group, CPD identifies more than 128,000 individuals as part of a gang. Three-quarters are African-American, one-quarter are Hispanic and about 5 percent are Caucasian. Information is gleaned from investigatory street stops and arrest records, and the police department can use criteria like someone’s tattoos or clothing choices to determine whether they are affiliated with a gang.

https://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2018/04/10/top-cop-eddie-johnson-vows-changes-chicago-gang-database&ct=ga&cd=CAEYBioTNjk2MDA0MzA0NzAzMDM4OTE0OTIaZjFlZjczMzc2YmYyNmE5OTpjb206ZW46VVM&usg=AFQjCNEpLfUOQ8QWrLh4IVhUYfsUeyJvgQ

At the same time as CPD got a huge donation to fund more high tech policing strategies.

Another piece of the problem

The Supreme Court, as Justice Sotomayor recently noted in a dissent, has done little to check police use of force. Instead, she argues, recently it has used the doctrine of qualified immunity to weaken 4th Amendment protections.

As I have previously noted, this Court routinely displays an unflinching willingness “to summarily reverse courts for wrongly denying officers the protection of qualified immunity” but “rarely intervene[s] where courts wrongly afford officers the benefit of qualified immunity in these same cases.”

From Kisela v Hughes (2018).