Keeping it Real

Hoodwinked and Bamboozled

By: Pardoned Illinois Death Row Prisoner Stanley Howard

Barring any more delays, Jon Burge’s trial is set for May 24, 2010, while new trials still elude his victims.  Burge and his cohorts tortured detainees with impunity for over 20 years.

He was eventually fired from the police department in 1993, receiving the equivalent of an early retirement with full honors, pension and benefits.  He left Chicago, seeking to live comfortably under the Florida sun, while scores of his victims were rotting in prison on Illinois death row.

I honestly thought justice would be handed out swiftly to the torture victims after his 1993 firing. But the torture scandal—one of the worst cases of police corruption in U.S. history—turned out to be a political hot button for many Chicago public officials.

No one wanted to accept responsibility for allowing a group of racist cops to run rampant in the Black community for so long, and no one wanted to be connected to the scandal in any form.  The problem should have been immediately rectified by prosecuting those involved and reviewing all of the tainted convictions they helped to obtain.

But instead of rectifying the problem, somewhere behind closed doors, the decision was made to protect those involved by lying, denying and trying to cover up the obvious.

The harder they fought to cover it up, the harder activists, lawyers, the victims and their families fought to expose thescandal and get relief for the torture victims. 

In an effort to silence the cries for justice and relief, two  special prosecutors were appointed to investigate claims of torture, Edward Egan and Robert Boyle. Their report issued in 2006 tried to hoodwink and bamboozle the public. At a press conference after the report was issued, Boyle tried to downplay the failure of the state’s attorneys to investigate the torture, saying that there was “a bit of slippage” on their part.

Most importantly, the report concluded that “it was too late” to prosecute those involved in torturing suspects because the statue of limitations for that charge had long run out.

Egan and Boyle arrogantly thought that their findings would be the last chapter of the Chicago torture scandal, and the fight was over, but this  arrogance only energized and brought more people into the movement. 

In another attempt to silence the cries for justice and relief, after calling for a federal investigation for over 20 years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office finally decided to prosecute Burge for perjury and obstruction of justice.

“I hope that by prosecuting Burge,” said Michael Taylor who was framed in retaliation by cops connected to the Marcus Wiggins torture case. “It will lead to evidence to prosecute other cops involved and exonerate me and more torture victims.”

Here we are, 17 years after he was fired into retirement, Burge is begging for and receiving the same kind of fair trial that all of his victims were  denied.

Keeping It real: Prosecuting Burge while so many of his victims are still suffering behind bars must be some kind of cruel joke, and another way to hoodwink and bamboozle all of us.