Torture in Chicago. Viewer Discretion Advised.

Posted on Wednesday, 20th May 2015 @ 11:07 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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New torture allegations from Chicago “black site”

By David Brown

New allegations of sexual assault, torture, and the planting of evidence by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) have come to light as part of ongoing revelations about the department’s “black site” at Homan Square. At least 17 victims have given first-hand accounts since the existence of Chicago’s interrogation site at Homan Square was exposed by the Guardian in February.

According to these accounts, working-class and minority Chicagoans were held for hours and sometimes days in fetid conditions, denied access to lawyers, and physically abused or threatened until they agreed to police demands. In some instances, individuals were forced to participate in petty drug stings or supply the police with off-the-books firearms.

In the latest interview by the Guardian, Angel Perez described his interrogation at the CPD black site. On October 12, 2012, Perez was detained by police after he refused to buy drugs for a sting operation. Without being charged, he was brought to Homan Square for questioning and shackled, bent over a bench. The police threatened to send him to Cook County Jail where they said he would be raped and assaulted by other inmates. According to Perez, an officer then proceeded to sodomize him with what the officer claimed was a pistol.

The officers then took Perez to the bathroom to clean up and he agreed to buy the $170 worth of heroin they wanted for the sting. Perez filed suit detailing his allegations in 2013 and through the courts has acquired video evidence demonstrating that he was in custody despite never being booked, charged, or allowed legal counsel. Since more widespread allegations of abuse surfaced in connection with Homan Square, four other people have joined his lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, two of the plaintiffs, Estephanie Martinez and Calvin Coffey, were forced to relieve themselves after being chained for hours with no access to bathroom facilities. Many of those interviewed by the Guardian report being chained in rooms smelling of urine and feces.

In what has become a recurring theme in these independently reported allegations, another plaintiff, Juanita Berry, accuses officers of demanding that she give them two handguns “or else they would charge her with aiding the delivery of a controlled substance.” After hours of threats, she agreed and, after an unspecified acquaintance got the officers a gun, she was released without charge.

Another interviewee, whom the Guardian calls Young OG, recounted a similar story. An officer showed him packets of heroin and threatened “it’s going to be yours before the night’s over if you don’t cooperate with us.” OG reported he was released without charge after having a friend leave a gun for the police in a garbage can.

A third man, Brock Terry, claimed to have been secretly held without charge after being caught with marijuana. “Every day they came to ask some questions,” Terry told the Guardian. “Am I in a gang? Who am I with? Who run this? Who run that? Give them a gun and they’ll let me go. That was pretty much the main thing: give them a gun and they’ll let me go.”

The picture painted by those who have come forward is one of unrestrained criminality on the part of the police. The police department has responded to the allegations with pro forma denials. According to a March 1 statement released by the CPD, “The allegation that physical violence is part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false, it is offensive, and it is not supported by any facts whatsoever.”

The CPD however, has a long history of the widespread use of torture, with the support of the city’s Democratic Party establishment. The revelations regarding Homan Square followed reporting from the Guardian that showed that one of the top torturers at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, Richard Zuley, had honed his techniques extracting confessions for the CPD. The Homan allegations depict the same methods of being shackled in stress positions, sexual assaults and beatings that Zuley used against detainees in the so-called War on Terror.

Zuley was far from the first torturer in the CPD. From 1972 to 1991, former police commander Jon Burge was involved in the regular use of torture to extract confessions, sending many innocent victims to jail. Darrell Cannon for example, confessed to a murder after officers electrocuted his genitals with a cattle prod and subjected him to three mock executions. He then spent 24 years behind bars before having his case dismissed on appeal.

The city of Chicago recently authorized a $5.5 million restitution fund to victims of Burge’s torture, with a maximum payout to any individual of $100,000. Absurdly, Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel claimed that the fund would “bring this dark chapter of Chicago’s history to a close.” In comparison to the meager restitution to torture victims, Chicago spent $20 million on the legal defense of Burge and the officials who shielded him from prosecution like former mayor Richard M. Daley.

Far from punishing the perpetrators, the Democratic Party has consistently shielded and rewarded them. Daley, as Cook County’s state’s attorney, refused to prosecute Burge before the statute of limitations ran out. Similarly, Nicholas Roti, the chief of the Bureau of Organized Crime (including the narcotics division) in the CPD, whose department operates in Homan Square, resigned in early March, not in shame over the torture allegations, but in order to become chief of staff for the Illinois state police.

Like Zuley, Burge has a direct connection with US imperialism, having been a military police trainer at an interrogation camp during the Vietnam War, but there is a deeper connection between America’s wars abroad and its increasingly militarized domestic police. The financial interests dictating US foreign policy that demand foreign wars to shore up falling profits also demand savage cuts to the living standards of Americans for the same reason. Neither program, the looting of the Middle East’s oil or the panoply of austerity measures, can be implemented democratically. They demand a brutal apparatus of oppression, which both the Democrats as well as Republicans oversee.

In the lead-up to the April runoff election, neither Emanuel nor his “progressive” opponent, Democrat Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, had any criticism for the CPD regarding the growing revelations of brutality and abuse. In fact, Garcia called for the hiring of 1,000 more officers. Cook County, where Chicago is located, has already received 1,700 pieces of equipment from the military.




May 1972

Jon Burge was promoted to Chicago Police Detective and assigned to Area 2 on the south side of Chicago. Prior to joining the CPD, Burge served as a military police investigator in Vietnam.

1972 – 1981

African-American men were tortured with electric shock and suffocation in Area 2 by Burge and his men in order to obtain confessions.

Feb. 14,1982

Andrew Wilson was arrested for murder and brought to Area 2 where he was repeatedly tortured with electric-shock, suffocation and burning by Burge and detectives under his supervision.

Feb. 1982

Then Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley was advised that Burge and his men tortured Andrew Wilson. Daley does not initiate a criminal investigation.

Feb. 17,1982

Andrew Wilson was examined by Dr. John Raba, Medical Director at Cook County Jail. Dr. Raba sent a letter to Police Superintendent Richard Breczek detailing Wilson’s injuries and requesting an investigation.

1981 – 1988

Over 87 men alleged being tortured at Area 2 in order to obtain confessions. In most of the cases, the State’s Attorney’s Office was aware of the allegations, but used the coerced statements to convict the torture survivors and send them to prison anyway.

Testimony of David Bates

“After the third [torture] session I basically, remember being scared to death and I remember not ever feeling that way before, and I never want to feel that way again. And I wanted to find a way to protect myself from it happening again… I also remember being in the station for a while; I don’t know how long. I remember being hungry. I remember being an 18-year-old wanting his momma. I remember not wanting to deal with those detectives who tortured me for those sessions.”

Testimony of Anthony Holmes

“He tried to kill me. It leaves a gnawing, hurting feeling. I can’t ever shake it… I still think I shouldn’t have let Burge do that to me, but there was nothing I could do. I keep thinking how I can get out of it, but there was nothing I could do. I remember looking around the room at the other officers and I thought one of them would say that was enough and they never did.”


The Citizen’s Alert, the Task Force to Confront Police Violence and 50 other organizations routinely demonstrated outside the federal courthouse, at Police Headquarters and at City Hall, challenging then Mayor Daley and the Superintendent of the CPD to investigate the torture and fire Burge.

Nov. 2, 1992

Office Professional Standards completed its investigation and cites 50 cases of torture and abuse at Area 2 under Burge and finds that this abuse was “systematic”, “methodological” and “included psychological techniques and planned torture.”

Jan. 28, 1991

Amnesty International issued a report calling for an inquiry into allegation of police torture in Chicago. Then Mayor Daley responds with “no comment whatsoever.”

Jan. 1992

During proceedings before the Police Board, City lawyers admitted that the evidence of Area 2 torture established “an astounding pattern or plan… to torture certain suspects… into confessing to crimes.”

Feb. 11, 1993

The Chicago Police Board fired Jon Burge and suspended Detective John Yucaitis for 15 months on charges of torturing and physically abusing Andrew Wilson.


Torture survivors on Illinois’s death row began to organize, dubbing themselves The Death Row 10. The survivors and family members joined with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and attorneys to mount a commutation campaign.


Governor George Ryan commuted all death sentences and pardoned four, having determined that their confessions were obtained under torture by Burge and his men.


Fed up with local government officials’ failure to hold Burge and others accountable and provide reparations to the survivors, Black People Against Police Torture (BPAPT) organized a coalition of lawyers, activists and organizations to take the cases to the International Human Rights Arena.

May 19, 2006

The United Nations Committee Against Torture found that the U.S. government had violated the torture convention and called on them to “bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Oct. 2006

Jon Burge was convicted in federal court for perjury and obstruction of justice based on the fact that he lied under oath in a civil case when he denied he and others committed acts of torture.

2011 – present

Twenty African-American men remain in prison as a result of convictions based in whole or in part upon their coerced confessions. The vast majority of torture survivors have received no financial compensation or psychological counseling for their suffering.

Testimony of Darrel Cannon

“Three white detectives saying ‘N—*, you’re gonna tell me what I want to hear.’ And when I mumble the words ‘no,’ one of them would say ‘blow that N—*’s head off.’ And they pulled the trigger of their shotgun. Now the third time they did that, to show you how the human mind works, the third time they did that the hair on the back of my head stood straight up, as if they had just blown my brains out. But again, faith got me through it.”

Timeline Poster


After giving a false confession under torture, Aaron Patterson scratched these messages into paint in the interrogation room. These messages are evidence that Aaron Patterson’s confession was obtained through the use of torture.

Aaron Patterson's Retraction
Aaron Lied

Andrew Wilson was photographed after he was tortured. These photographs corroborate a medical examination of Mr. Wilson.


The facts of the Chicago Police Torture Cases are summarized by People’s Law Office attorney Joey Mogul: “In what have become known as the Chicago Police Torture cases, Burge and white detectives working under his command tortured over 110 African American men and women at Chicago police headquarters from 1972 to 1991.”


The Court’s Ruling on the Sentence

In 2011, Jon Burge was convicted of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury.  Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow made a lengthy statement at Burge’s sentencing hearing, which is transcribed here.


The First Shadow Report

In reaction to a lack of action on the part of the state, a team of volunteer attorneys, researchers, and community activists produced this report. The report ‘shadowed’ a disappointing report by the Special State’s Attorney.


A Supplementary Report

This follow-up to the shadow report of the previous year continued the call for prosecutions in the torture cases despite the federal statute of limitations. This supplement calls for charges of perjury and obstruction – Burge would eventually be convicted on these counts several years later.


111 Known Burge Torture Survivors

This document identifies 111 victims of torture in Area 2 and Area 3. These people were tortured between 1971 and 1991. Some of the people that Burge and his collaborators abused have been very active in raising awareness while others remain nameless, but not forgotten.  Also see the article on this site that names the torture survivors.


The Jon Burge Torture Index

This document, which predates Burge’s conviction, summarizes the scope of Jon Burge’s crimes, the expense of covering up his offenses, and the few steps toward justice undertaken by the state.


Torture Survivors’ Roundtable: Parts 1 and 2

Torture survivors—Darrell Cannon, Mark Clements, David Bates and Anthony Holmes–will speak about their experiences and share their insights on the creation of a monument to memorialize the Chicago police torture cases and the ongoing struggle for justice.

Darrell Canon, Anthony Holmes, and Flint Taylor Speak Out

Police Torture in Chicago – Burge Story

Jon Burge Pleads the Fifth Amendment

More than one hundred African-American men were tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge or police officers under his command. Some of the people who were tortured have become outspoken advocates for the cause of raising awareness and seeking justice for the survivors and perpetrators.  Sadly, some of the victims of torture remain anonymous. This section is a growing collection of information related to particular survivors of Chicago police torture as individuals, but this page will always be incomplete, unable to capture all of the human detail of these people’s experiences.  There is a very long list of all the documented instances of police torture which names, as far as possible, the person tortured and the police personnel responsible.

Phillip Adkins
Tony Anderson
James Andrews
Dwight Anthony
Michael Arbuckle
Gregory Banks
David Bates
Stephen Bell
Rodney Benson
Robert Billingsley
William Bracey
Cortez Brown
Roy Brown
Franklin Burchette
Eric Caine
Darrell Cannon
Stephen Cavanero
Damoni Clemon
Imari Clemon
Jesse Clemon
Darrell Cleveland
James Cody
Michael Coleman
Howard Collins
Thomas Craft
Jevon Delony
Maurice Delony
Mearon Diggins
David Faultneroy
Raymond Golden
Sylvester Green
Ollie Hammonds
Terry Harris
Clarence Hill
Leonard Hinton
Madison Hobley
Anthony Holmes
Lee Holmes
Lonza Holmes
Terrence Houston
Jeffrey Howard
Stanley Howard
Edward James
Grayland Johnson
Keith Eric Johnson
Michael Johnson
Walter Johnson
Lavert Jones
Melvin Jones
Leonard Kidd
Derrick King
Ronald Kitchen
James Lewis
Jerry Mahaffey
Reginald Mahaffey
Rodney Mastin
Andrew Maxwell
Paul Mike
Larry Milan
Doris Miller
Alex Moore
Shaded Mumin
Leroy Orange
Diyez Owen
Aaron Patterson
Michael Peterson
Alphonso Pinex
Willie Porch
Lawrence Poree
George Powell
Marvin Reeves
Travis Richardson
LC Riley
Virgil Robinson
TyShaun Ross
Leroy Sanford
Alonzo Smith
Eric Smith
Ivan Smith
Lindsey Smith
Robert Smith
Jerry Thompson
Timothy Thompson
Tony Thompson
Michael Tillman
Donald Torrence
Donnell Traylor
Clarence Trotter
Johnny Walker
Keith Walker
Philip Walker
Clinton Welton
Demond Weston
Donald White
Marcus Wiggins
Andre Wilk
Anthony Williams
Bobby Williams
Terry Williams
Andrew Wilson
Eric Wilson
Jackie Wilson
Jesse Winston
Ronald Wise
Stanley Wrice

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