Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tales of Torture

No, this isn't a Halloween movie, it is the story of police misconduct in Chicago, and the conspiracy of silence among the press, the cops, the attorneys, the city. Torture cases ignored too long :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Carol Marin
In 1982, police killer Andrew Wilson's face looked normal going into an interrogation room, but resembled ground beef hours later. In 1982, then-Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek said he wrote a letter bringing that to the attention of Daley and Devine.

If that was a tragically missed opportunity to stop the torture of black men on the city's South and West sides, there were many other opportunities that we in media and those in power took a pass on.

A few years after the Wilson revelations, the then-head of the Office of Professional Standards, the watchdog over police misconduct, raised serious questions about the electro-shocking of suspects.

When told, the Chicago Police Department did nothing.

In 1990, OPS investigator Michael Goldston catalogued 50 cases of alleged police torture. The department suppressed his report and made Goldston's life a living hell. Thanks to a court order, the report was finally made public in 1992.

It was front-page news for a minute. But nobody, including the mainstream press, law enforcement, state or federal prosecutors or the judiciary did much of anything to demand answers.
Some people pursued the issue, but they were mostly on the outside of power.

So now, after the people most responsible can't be charged with torture (the statute of limitations has expired) we finally see some action.
What accounts for our collective failure?

"My instinct is that racism, pro-police bias and bias in terms of poor black suspects, made it something that the press and prosecutors didn't want to deal with," [Flint Taylor of the People's Law Office] said.
I think it is mostly pro-police bias, which still exists in a lot of places, even after everything we have seen, from Jon Burge to Brett Darrow.

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