Friday, April 28, 2017

A new course at CPS. Studying Jon Burge.

Chicago teachers are currently reviewing the curriculum for a new districtwide course on the history of the disgraced former Chicago Police Department commander Jon Burge who systematically abused and tortured suspects on the South Side to force confessions for two decades.

According to a report on Chicago Tonight, the three to five week class – titled “Reparations Won: A Case Study in Police Torture, Racism And the Movement for Justice in Chicago” – was developed through the CPS Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement as part of a professional learning series for eighth and 10th graders beginning next school year.

This comes more than a year after the city passed a $5.5 million reparations package for torture survivors that included, in part, a lesson on the cases to be included in CPS’ existing history curriculum. All told, the city has paid out $100 million in legal fees and settlements related to Burge cases, dating back as far as 1982. Burge was fired in 1993.
“The torture and other abuse committed by Burge and officers under his command are a disgrace to the City and to the hard-working men and women of the Chicago Police Department,” a 10th grade unit overview states. “To remind the City of the injustices that occurred and to ensure that they are not repeated, the City will acknowledge and educate the public about this dark chapter in Chicago’s history.”
IT WASN'T JUST BURGE...I haven't seen the course outline but I'm hoping it will show students the larger context in which the systematic torture of mostly African-American and Latino prisoners took place over a period of decades, I'm thinking here about the culpability of CPD and political higher-ups like former mayor and then-States Attorney Richard M. Daley under whose watch the torture by Burge and his "midnight crew" took place.

Course designers would also do well to include those like Det. Reynaldo Guevara who carried on the Burge tradition in the recently-dismissed murder cases against Roberto Almodovar and William Negron. 

You can read all about disgraced Det. Guevara and how he beat confessions out of Almodovar, Negron and dozens of other Latino ment, in this Chicago Reporter article by today's in-studio guest on Hitting Left, Curtis Black.

Tune in to Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers this morning at 11 (CDT) on Lumpen Radio Chicago. We will also be talking pension theft with Bob Lyons who's about to retire after a dozen years on the board of trustees of the Teacher Retirement System.

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