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Emanuel: 'Let Us All Move On' From Burge Torture Cases

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 11, 2013 9:50PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the 44th Annual 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade. (Photo by Brooke Collins/City of Chicago)

City Council on Wednesday approved settling two more civil lawsuits tied to the systemic torture practices of disgraced Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge more than two decades ago. The $12.3 million cost to taxpayers brings the running tab of payouts related to Burge cases to nearly $83 million.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to make the latest bitter Burge pill easier to swallow after the meeting by formally apologizing for Burge’s actions and asking Chicagoans to look toward the future.

"This is a dark chapter on the history of the city of Chicago. I want to build a future for the city of Chicago. I don’t want to just deal with the past. But we have to close the books on this. We have to reconcile our past and start to write a future and a new chapter for the children of the city of Chicago and for the city," Emanuel told reporters.

“So yes, there has been a settlement, and I do believe this is a way of saying all of us are sorry about what happened here in the city, and closing that period of time, that stain on the city’s reputation, it’s history and now being able to embark on a new part of the city and a new way of actually doing business. And that is not who we are, and who we all are one or another are obviously sorry.”

“Here’s what I mean. I am sorry this happened. Let us all now move on," Emanuel said.

Attorney Flint Taylor, who represented many victims of Burge including Ronald Kitchen who will receive a $6.15 million settlement, said he appreciated Emanuel’s apology which was a stark contrast to former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s “repeated refusal to apologize in the past.”

“It’s symbolically important that the city recognize that its Police Department, its former mayor and state’s attorney were grievously wrong for the scandal and cover-up.”

Taylor added more than an apology is needed. He called for the city to establish a $20 million fund to provide health care and job counseling for Burge’s victims. The $20 million number is symbolic, representing the amount the city spent defending Burge and his associates

“(T)he wound on the city of Chicago will not heal and its conscience will not be cleansed” until Burge’s victims are properly compensated, Taylor said.