Chicago took a huge step in trying to make amends with survivors of police torture today by sending out 57 checks worth a total of over $5.5 million.
Over the last 44 years, over 100 men have come forward accusing Jon Burge, a former Chicago Police Department detective and commander, and his officers of beatings, "shocking them on their lips and genitals with a cattle prod, staging mock executions, and suffocating them to elicit false confessions," according to Vice News.
The decision to send out the checks came last spring during a City Counsel meeting. The hope is that the checks will ease the suspicion and distrust that has grown over the years between residents and the police department.
After a months-long vetting process, the most credible survivors received checks of $100,000. Only a handful had those amounts deducted from their pro-rata share from previous settlements.
"Reparations are not a necessity," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times. "But it is a moral compunction and a moral reckoning to right a wrong. There is no statute of limitations on that."
Eager to put distance between himself and Burge, Emanuel was quick to point out that he was not the mayor when Burge and his midnight crew tortured citizens.
“To the context that we’re in now, it says that the city is willing to hold itself accountable and be responsible in fixing something and having the determination,” he said.
For some, the checks solve nothing. With police shootings still making headlines — like Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black teen who was shot 16 times by a white police officer, Jason Van Dyke, back in 2014 — it seems the reign of terror has simply shifted from torture to shootings.
Corporation Consel Stephen Patton believes that this is still a step in the right direction.
“To a lot of members of the African-American community, my sense is this is really a meaningful thing," Patton said. "Now, is this going to make up for Laquan McDonald? No. It’s not. But, in terms of resolving some of those wrongs and particularly egregious ones, yeah. I think it does.”
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