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.

Pattern? Or Lies?

There’s this story from 1991…

Without the confession, the case in many instances will never get to court. Homicide victims can’t testify, and other witnesses, out of fondness for or fear of the killer, tend to forget what they saw. Often killers only have to clam up to avoid prison.

But to Kato they talk. How he gets them to is the subject of fierce and frequent debate in courtrooms and jury rooms at 26th and California.

…and this one from 2018:

Many say that defendants who had confessed have no other choice but to accuse police of coercing them — and Kato was an easy target.

For what it’s worth, Chicago has been claiming that people who are arrested make up stories of police torture for nearly a century now. 

Announcement

Pleased to participate in this Intersections: Research-into-Teaching working group at the University of Florida:

Intersections on Mass Incarceration

In response to the fact that the United States incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country and disproportionately incarcerates people of color, this Intersections Group will explore what a future without mass incarceration in the United States could look like

 

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/