‘Militant’ holiday schedule
This issue of the Militant is a two-week issue, as we are taking a one-week break for the holidays. The next issue will be mailed out on Jan. 3.
Chicago protesters demand
torture cops ‘off the streets’
Fight to free more than 100 victims still in prison
Protest in Chicago Dec. 13 demanding freedom for some 100 prisoners in Illinois whose “confessions” were extracted through cop torture. Carolyn Johnson, left, holds picture of her son.
BY JOHN HAWKINS
CHICAGO—Thirty opponents of police abuse and torture gathered outside police headquarters here Dec. 13 to demand action against Detective James O’Brien. Following the protest demonstrators took part in a Chicago Police Board meeting inside.
Holding a banner with the names of more than 100 Illinois inmates, whose convictions are based at least in part on “confessions” extracted under cop torture, demonstrators stretched nearly the entire block in front of the building.
Among those attending were Jeannette Plummer, mother of Johnnie Plummer, who is one of more than 100 inmates awaiting new hearings, and Bertha Escamilla and Mary Williams, whose sons Nicholas Escamilla and William Ephraim are among 36 who accuse O’Brien of torture in a report compiled by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission.
The ITIRC was established by the state legislature in 2009 to investigate cop torture claims. On June 5 of this year, shortly after the legislature voted to strip all its funding, the commission submitted its first recommendations. It then shut down June 30.
According to ITIRC Executive Director David Thomas, the commission has received a grant of $160,000, which should be enough for it to continue work for another year.
Several participants addressed the news media before going into the Police Board meeting.
“We’re here to demand the Chicago Police Board take O’Brien off the streets immediately, investigate him like Jon Burge was investigated, and then take appropriate action against him,” said Mark Clements, a leader of the Campaign Against Torture and an organizer of the action. “And we’re asking the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate O’Brien and the other detectives who worked under Burge.”
Board President Demetrius Carney—flanked by eight fellow Police Board members and Independent Police Review Authority Chief Administrator Ilana Rosenzweig—convened the meeting, insisting those registered to speak keep their remarks to two minutes.
Clements and fellow activist Wallace “Gator” Bradley presented the board with copies of the ITIRC report on the case of George Ellis Anderson, who was arrested in 1991 and pressed into signing a murder confession under torture by O’Brien and another cop. Anderson was sentenced to life in prison.
“Detectives working under Burge tortured my son,” Plummer told the board. “They forced him to confess to a crime he did not commit. He was sentenced to natural life in prison and has been there for 21 years. And as tired as I am, as long as I can draw breath I’m going to keep fighting until he’s out.”
“I’m the mother of Marcus Wiggins,” said Carolyn Johnson. “He was just 13 years old when O’Brien beat him with a flashlight and shocked him with electricity. All the time they wouldn’t let me see him. This board has to get O’Brien off the streets.”
Valerie Love, the aunt of Javan Deloney, addressed the board on behalf of her nephew to demand that O’Brien be taken off the streets and investigated.
Also attending the meeting to demand information on the status of ongoing investigations into police misconduct were 20 friends and family of Rekia Boyd and Dakota Bright, gunned down by Chicago cops in recent months. Among them were Boyd’s brother, Martinez Sutton, and Bright’s uncle, John Edwards.
None of the Police Board members offered any concrete information.
‘I was 16 when I was tortured, framed up, jailed for 28 years’
Mark Clements tells how Chicago cops ‘stole my life’ and many others
Tribute to Malik Williams in NJ: killer cops ‘need to be in jail’
Greetings to workers behind bars