Sharpton vs Daley, Chicago Olympics of Torture
by fairleft, Tue Dec 11, 2007 at 01:40:09 PM EST
Al Sharpton is an asshole, but right now the racial rabble rouser is righteously leading a campaign that might finally end the Chicago police's ridiculously longstanding practices of brutality and torture. (If we regular Chicagoans -- despite the best efforts of the local mainstream media to keep us divided, docile, and uninformed -- really come out and support Sharpton's effort.)
Briefly, To get you up to speed on Chicago's out-of-control police:
Chicago's police department has been beset by claims that officers abused their positions.
Four inmates were recently awarded almost $20 million between them to settle lawsuits claiming they had been tortured by a former lieutenant into falsely confessing to crimes. In July, prosecutors accused officers of torturing suspects in the 1980s. And in September, four special operations members were charged with robbery, kidnapping and making false arrests.
The department has also has been embarrassed by other accusations of brutality -- some caught on tape, including the alleged beating of a female bartender by an off-duty officer.
(That's just the latest; the torture and brutality goes back decades; best to see the Chicago Reader's John Conroy reporting for the most complete story. (Tragically for the future of real reporting on this problem, Conroy has just been 'laid off' by the Reader.)
But there's a Sharp' break in the story cuz Richard Daley, Chicago's torture-overlooking mayor, l-u-v-v-s his 2016 Olympics vanity project! And that could be the chance for some real changes -- getting his tender paws off, and some tough independent supervisory hands on, Chicago police.
Slamming Daley's weak spot, Reverend Al . . .
threatened to lobby the International Olympic Committee to reject Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Games if city officials fail to do something about what he calls pervasive police brutality and misconduct.
And, more specifically (how do you like this for a threat, Richie??):
Rev. Al Sharpton is threatening to bring past victims of Chicago police torture to International Olympic Committee members if Daley doesn't take several specific steps to confront misconduct on the force.
One of Sharpton's proposed main reforms is the following:
The civil rights leader said the Chicago Police Department needs to be held more accountable and he will propose forming a police community review group and employ a special prosecutor who reports directly to the justice system.
Al also makes other basic, necessary demands of Daley's city:
Removing the mayor as the final authority to make recommendations for firing and suspending wayward police officers; releasing the list of 662 officers most frequently accused of excessive force; and allowing disciplinary complaints alleging misconduct toward civilians to be filed anonymously and without a statute of limitations.
Sharpton also demanded the realignment of police beats, a Justice Department investigation of the police department and the immediate firing of two police officers accused of sexually assaulting a West Side resident with a screwdriver. The city has agreed to a $4 million settlement in the case, but the officers remain on the job.
Sharpton also wants a community representative to sit on police "roundtables," which probe police-involved shootings right after they occur.
Finally, it would be great if Chicagoan Barack Obama would back Al Sharpton's effort, or start a Senate investigation of his own. The Nation's Laura Flanders writes:
Senator Obama wants to stand out. How about standing up against torture, not in Gitmo -- but in Chicago?
Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers serving under him stand accused of torturing some 200 mostly African-American men in custody in the '70s and '80s. In 2002, after a criminal investigation, four who had been sentenced to death and spent over a total of 70 years behind bars on false confessions extracted through torture were pardoned . . .
. . . the electric-shocks to-the-genitals, bags-over-head treatment had stopped, but justice hadn't been served. Burge and the others have never been prosecuted. Recently, a four-year, multi-million dollar investigation confirmed the allegations but declared it too late to act. Now Mayor Richard M. Daley stands accused of running out the clock on the statute of limitations.
Daley - who abandoned his tradition of primary-neutrality to back Obama - was Cook County's top prosecutor in '82, when evidence linking Burge to torture was first brought to him. For eight years he collaborated in prosecutions of Burge's victims without taking action. Now he's Mayor, his former assistant, Richard Devine, is Cook County state's attorney, and his brother, Bill Daley, is a senior adviser to Obama.
The UN Committee against Torture wants action. Patrick Fitzgerald has announced a federal investigation. This October 17, Bobby Rush (D-Il) wrote to John Conyers requesting a Judiciary Committee hearing.
Want to show courage? Obama knows what's right. A Senate investigation anyone?
Come on Barack, the city's people need ya! Show us a little leftiness and get on Sharp's team!U P D A T E : In the interest of balance: "Yo, Hillary, take your ass down to Chicago City Hall and grab that Obama-backin' Mayor Dick Daley by the balls and tell him, 'Get your city an independent-with-teeth police board of review or this pasty white gal will stand with my torture victim brothers and sisters when they testify to the Olympic fatcats.'"