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Burge Reparations Ordinance Gets April Hearing

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 17, 2015 9:30PM

Darrell Canon, who claims to have been tortured by Chicago Police in 1983, listens to speakers during a rally outside the federal courthouse where former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was attending a hearing on October 27, 2008. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Finance Committee Chair Ed Burke announced a hearing for an ordinance that would provide reparations for the victims of infamous Chicago Police Officer Jon Burge. The ordinance, which has languished upon waiting for a hearing by the committee for more than a year, will get its day in City Council on April 14. The announcement follows months of increased action by community groups demanding that both the City Council and Mayor Emanuel pass the measure.

“We look forward to having the day when the people of Chicago will hear from the torture survivors and international human rights experts as to why this must be passed,” said Joey Mogul of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials.

The ordinance, co-sponsored by Alderman Joe Moreno and with the support of 28 other Aldermen as well as mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, would provide Burge’s victims with free enrollment in city colleges and creates a commission to provide financial compensation to all survivors. It would also require CPS to teach a history lesson about the cases and would set up a medical, psychological and vocational center on the south side. To do so, $20 million is asked to finance the demands, a small price in comparison to what the city has already paid out in civil suits involving Burge, which is estimated to be at least $100 million.

In a press release, Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said:

“More than four decades after Jon Burge first began his legacy of torture on Chicago's south side, it’s long past time for city officials, including Mayor Emanuel, to stand on the right side of history and unequivocally support reparations for torture survivors.”

Tomorrow, activists from several groups will demand Mayor Rahm Emanuel put his full support behind the ordinance at an “exhibition and teach-in” at City Hall from noon until 5 p.m. to dramatize Burge’s legacy. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel has repeatedly claimed that he would bring closure to the Burge torture survivors,” said Mariame Kaba from Project NIA, one of the groups organizing the event. “We need the Mayor’s full support to pass the reparations ordinance in City Council."

In January, a spokesperson for the mayor told the Chicago Tribune Emanuel was looking “forward to meeting with stakeholders in the near future.”