Chicago Reparations Ordinance to Compensate Victims of Police Torture

Civil rights attorney and NPAP member Joey Mogul of People’s Law Office spoke during a news conference after a City Council vote made Chicago the nation’s first city to approve reparations for victims of police torture.

Over a period of nearly 20 years, Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his “midnight crew” tortured at least 119 people, forcing them to make confessions.

The City Council approved an ordinance to compensate Burge’s victims, most of them African-American men, and their families. The reparations ordinance is the first of its kind in the country to address police abuse. The measure draws from the United Nations Convention against Torture and human rights practices around the world, especially in nations that overcame the legacy of violent, repressive regimes.

The city will pay eligible survivors from a special fund, offer psychological counseling, create a public monument and teach Chicago Public Schools students about what has been called “an ugly chapter” in the city’s history.

Supporters of Chicago’s ordinance say the systemic police violence against African-Americans is similar to that experienced by survivors of military and police abuse around the world.

Mogul, who is also the author of the ordinance, said critics of systematically racist violence in this country limit themselves when they only consider the civil rights aspect.

“We should, in fact, call them international human rights violations,” she said. “So we can put it on the world stage and compare it to other atrocities elsewhere, because they are equivalent.”

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