Chicago Police Torture Victims

Burge torture survivors, Courtesy of Chicago Torture Justice Center

A Chicago police commander and his police officers called the “Midnight Crew” were found guilty of systematically torturing unknown numbers of innocent people and coercing them into false confessions. Below are some of the proven victims, many of whom received reparations from the City of Chicago.

More than 100 victims reported horrific accounts of torture by Chicago police officers for decades from the 1970s well into the 1990s. Innocent men, mostly Black men, were forced into giving false confessions for crimes they did not commit. The “Midnight Crew,” as the officers were called, were not a few rogue police officers. They were led by a notorious Chicago police commander who oversaw mock lynchings, electroshock, beatings, burnings and death row sentences of completely innocent people. Most people could never imagine something this egregious happening to them. These innocent Black men must have felt exactly the same way.

The Midnight Crew magnifies the depths of mistrust of police among communities of color, specifically African Americans. The internal cover up of such abuse of power rose through the ranks regarding the Midnight Crew, eventually resulting in the firing of the commander, although he was never held accountable for his heinous misdeeds. Although Chicago has a long history of police and political corruption, this was still a shocking revelation.

The following excerpts from the resolution passed by the City of Chicago explicitly state that more than 100 Black Americans were tortured.

WHEREAS…More than 100 African Americans who were detained by the Chicago Police Department between 1972 and 1991 have accused police officers of engaging in acts of torture and physical abuse…

BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the Mayor and Members of the City Council of the City of Chicago, on behalf of all Chicagoans—

(1) acknowledge as evil and reprehensible, any and all acts of torture and abuse inflicted upon the victims…

(4) remember these past events, to ensure that this sad chapter in our City’s history is never forgotten…

In 2015, Chicago approved historic reparations for survivors of police torture. As part of these reparations, the city promised to create a memorial. It still has not been completed, as of the date of this exhibit, 5 years later.

Chicago’s reparations memorial is just one more example of the “promises made,” to Black people that are still “promises unkept.”

In 2017, a report from the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) had a history of civil rights violations by officers, including a “pattern and practice” of excessive force and abuse. Chicago agreed to a consent decree in order to implement reforms on training, discipline and supervision within the department.

In June 2020, the independent monitor Maggie Hickey, who was appointed by a federal judge to oversee reform in the Chicago Police Department, reported that the city missed 89 deadlines and only met 35 deadlines in the first year of the decree. The CPD habitually failed to meet more than 70% of their benchmarks. Consequently, the flowery words in the City of Chicago’s resolution is hypocritical at worst and meaningless at best.

Names of 105 victims