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Former Chicago police commander Jon Burge during a Sept. 2004 deposition.

Part ONE:

On May 6, 2015, Chicago became the first city in the country to pass a reparations ordinance for survivors of police torture. The ordinance was passed unanimously by the city council. It was aimed at addressing a decades-long pattern of torture perpetrated under the late disgraced Police Commander Jon Burge. Between 1972-1991, Burge and the rogue detectives under his watch, known as the midnight crew, tortured upwards of 100 mostly Black men they arrested for violent crimes.

In this episode, we examine the decades-long history of the Burge torture scandal, as well as the numerous ways his actions were ignored or swept under the rug.


Torture survivor Aaron Patterson etched this message in a metal bench in 1986 after he was tortured. (photo from Police Torture Archive)

Now, five years after Chicago passed the historic reparations ordinance for survivors of torture, the permanent memorial is the only promise that has not been fulfilled. 

In this episode, I talk to activists, survivors and journalists about how justice for survivors has stalled in myriad ways, even after the passing of the reparations ordinance.


You'll hear about ongoing efforts to build the memorial, and about a state commission, designed to give torture survivors still in prison an avenue to freedom, facing a decades-long backlog of cases. 

The reparations ordinance called for the construction of a public memorial, but did not fund the project. Cindy Eigler of the Chicago Torture Justice Center says the memorial is projected to cost around $700,000.


Part TWO:


Gerald Reed was arrested for murder in 1990 and was beaten so severely by officers that a metal rod in his leg broke. (photo from Illinois Department of Corrections)

Part Three:

In this final part, you'll learn about Gerald Reed, a man who was beaten so severely by the police during questioning that a metal rod in his leg broke. He said he falsely confessed to murder to stop the torture. Now, decades later, Gerald is in prison for life and his leg has gone un-repaired.

But Gerald is only one of scores of torture survivors activists say are still incarcerated. Which begs the question: what's next?


Adam M. Rhodes

Adam M. Rhodes is a Chicago-based journalist covering criminal justice, LGBTQ+ issues, racial equity and civil rights at large.

Rhodes has an extensive background in data journalism and  investigative reporting and has experience in digital, print, and audio formats. You can learn more at

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