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Chicago Indymedia

LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights

Daley issues sarcastic apology for torture

Mayor Daley on Thursday issued a sarcastic blanket apology for the alleged torture of suspects by former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge.
“The best way is to say, ‘Okay. I apologize to everybody [for] whatever happened to anybody in the city of Chicago.’… So, I apologize to everybody. Whatever happened to them in the city of Chicago in the past, I apologize. I didn’t do it, but somebody else did it. Your editorial was bad. I apologize. Your article about the mayor, I apologize. I need an apology from you because you wrote a bad editorial,” Daley said, laughing.

“You do that and everybody feels good. Fine. But I was not the mayor. I was not the police chief. I did not promote him. You know that. But you’ve never written that and you’re afraid to. I understand.”

Attorney Flint Taylor, who has spent the last 21 years representing alleged torture victims, was outraged by the mayor’s remarks.

“It is disgraceful and remarkably disrespectful to say that when he’s asked to make good on an apology to the victims of the most heinous kind of police abuse and torture in the history of Chicago,” Taylor said.

“Particularly when he and his first assistant, Richard Devine, were responsible over 25 years ago for not taking Burge off the street and prosecuting him … Burge was a decorated white commander. The men were poor and black suspects in serious criminal cases. Daley repeatedly sided with Burge and against the victims of torture in scores of cases.”

Two years ago, Daley — who was Cook County state’s attorney in the 1980s — accepted his share of responsibility and offered to “apologize to anyone” for Burge’s reign of terror, even as he argued that the ultimate responsibility rests with the Chicago Police Department.

Earlier this week, the mayor changed his tune. Hours after Burge was arrested in Florida and charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, Daley refused to accept even an ounce of responsibility for one of the ugliest chapters in the history of the Chicago Police Department.

The mayor's flippant tone on Thursday — and Taylor’s angry response to it — prompted mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard to put out a statement clarifying the mayor's remarks.

“Mayor Daley has, on more than one occasion, expressed regret for what were clearly horrific acts and a regrettable time in our city's history,” Heard said.

“His remarks today reflect his frustration that those sentiments are routinely lost in the media with certain key points. Namely, the fact that it wasn’t until he became mayor that Burge was fired.”

A $7 million report by special prosecutors faulted Daley for failing as state’s attorney to follow up on a 1982 letter from then-Police Supt. Richard Brzeczek that strongly suggested abuse in the case of accused cop killer Andrew Wilson.

In the 1982 letter, Brzeczek passed along explosive information he had received from Dr. John Raba, medical director of Cermak [Prison] Health Services.

Raba had examined Wilson and found multiple bruises, swelling and abrasions on his face and head; a battered right eye; linear blisters on his thigh, cheek and chest “consistent with radiator burns.” Raba also reported Wilson’s claim that electric shock had been administered to his gums, lips and genitals.

Brzeczek tossed the political hot potato to Daley, who referred it to his Special Prosecutions Unit for further investigation. Nothing ever came of the investigation.

It wasn’t until the early 1990’s that the Police Board finally got around to firing Burge.

The mayor’s remarks this week were was in sharp contrast to his contrite tone in July, 2006, when Daley was gearing up for his 2007 re-election campaign and was concerned the special prosecutor’s report could come back to haunt him in the African-American community.

On that day, Daley accepted his share of responsibility for what he called “this shameful episode in our history. … I’ll take responsibility for it. I’ll apologize to anyone. … It should never have happened. ... Everybody should be held accountable. ... The system could have broken down.”



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