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.

Civil Forfeiture

An old (2016) but still important study on Chicago and civil forfeiture, who it benefits (cops and prosecutors) and who it harms (including people who committed no crimes):

Since 2009, the year CPD began keeping electronic records of its forfeiture accounts, the department has brought in nearly $72 million in cash and assets through civil forfeiture, keeping nearly $47 million for itself and sending on almost $18 million to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and almost $7.2 million to the Illinois State Police, according to our analysis of CPD records.

Police perjury

The Chicago Police Board orders two officers be fired for making false statements in their reports and under oath:

The officers “knowingly and intentionally falsified official police reports and lied under oath at a criminal trial,” the board said in its 8-0 decision. “Had their testimony been believed, it is likely that Mr. Vasquez would have been convicted of one or more crimes. It is difficult to overstate the harm this would have caused.”

“Just like a war zone”

Claims of aggressive policing after AFT agent shot in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood:

More than two dozen people outlined claims of intimidation, harassment and mistreatment by officers as they try to find the attacker. The group said while they feel for law enforcement, gunfire in the neighborhood happens on a daily basis and they don’t see a similar police response.

For more: http://wgntv.com/2018/05/05/manhunt-continues-after-atf-agent-shot-in-head-back-of-the-yards-residents-call-police-response-too-aggressive/

Police powers

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he has no reason to strip police powers from 10 officers that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office said it will no longer call as witnesses in criminal cases due to “concerns about their credibility.”

https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-news/top-cop-10-officers-banned-as-witnesses-remain-fit-for-police-powers/f861c69c-e15f-4766-abc8-a7419255ae9b

Recurring Pattern

Another Burge era torture case makes the news

A salty, old-school Chicago cop, Kill, who worked for a time under disgraced former Cmdr. Jon Burge, didn’t back down during testimony in January 2016 from the techniques he used to obtain convictions he says in more than 90 percent of his murder cases. Kill has also defended his repeated use of the N-word while questioning black suspects.