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Learning The Basics: English, Math, And Torture

Anthony+Holmes+and+Darrell+Cannon%2C+victims+of+the+former+Police+Commander+Jon+Burge%2C+at+a+press+conference+for+CPS+Leadership+and+CPD+Superintendent+Eddie+Johnson+to+Unveil+Burge+Reparations+Curriculum%2C+Monday%2C+August+28%2C+2017.+%7C+James+Foster%2FFor+the+Sun-Times
Anthony Holmes and Darrell Cannon, victims of the former Police Commander Jon Burge, at a press conference for CPS Leadership and CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson to Unveil Burge Reparations Curriculum, Monday, August 28, 2017. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Anthony Holmes and Darrell Cannon, victims of the former Police Commander Jon Burge, at a press conference for CPS Leadership and CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson to Unveil Burge Reparations Curriculum, Monday, August 28, 2017. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

James Foster

James Foster

Anthony Holmes and Darrell Cannon, victims of the former Police Commander Jon Burge, at a press conference for CPS Leadership and CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson to Unveil Burge Reparations Curriculum, Monday, August 28, 2017. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Theresa Teresof, Reporter

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     CPS  announced a new curriculum that is to educate 8th and 10th graders about the sordid case of former Chicago Police Department detective Jon Burge and his ”midnight crew.” The rogue officers coerced suspects into confessing crimes they did not commit through torture from the 1970s through the 1990s. The curriculum had been in the works since May of 2015 when a reparations package was passed as amends for the victims.

     There has been quite a bit of backlash coming from parents that do not want their children to be taught about the case and police brutality in fear that the reputation of the police will be tarnished, which is unfortunate because as a student I actually want to learn about the institutionalization of racism and be educated on matters such as this infringement on human rights. It can help us better understand injustice and how it can be prevented. Also from what I have seen in the 116 page curriculum, it was not created to defame the police ,but to point out and educate on the disgusting abuse of from Jon Burge.

     According to attorneys  who worked on the case such as Flint Taylor, human and civil rights lawyer, who had a key role in negotiating the reparations deal, a number of 120 men, primarily African Americans, were tortured by Burge and his men.

     The officers turned to suffocation,  beatings, electric shocks, and Russian roulette to get the confessions that were untrue, many of the men are still wrongfully incarcerated. Darrell Cannon, one of the victims, spent 24 years in prison after Burge coerced him into confessing to murder ,that he did not commit, by putting a loaded shotgun in his mouth and shocking his genitals with an electric cattle prod.

     Outrageously, Burge was never convicted for the torture but only for obstruction of justice and perjury, as he lied about the torture in federal court. He was sentenced to four and a half  years in prison back in 2010, but still continues to collect a police pension.

     The course was developed as part of a reparations package that was finally passed on May 6, 2015 after decades of litigation, for which The City Council set aside, reparations fund of $5.5 million that will be shared among the 100+ victims. They are eligible for financial compensation of $100 000 each. Also, a center with support for the survivors of the atrocities was recently unveiled that seeks to address the traumas of police violence and institutionalized racism.

     The curriculum was put together by CPS officials in collaboration with Burge’s victims, African-American community leaders, civil rights advocates, law enforcement, academic researchers, and the Chicago Teachers Union.

     During the 3-5 week lesson Chicago students will delve into the topic of racism and the corruption that allowed this offense to go on for such a long time. The unit is organized into 6  lessons and ends with an assessment for which students must design a memorial for the victims. As stated in a Chicago Times article the curriculum has already been tested at half-dozen elementary and high  schools where several victims have shared their story.

     It is important to make light of such  abuse, and by educating the future generation, that will soon run the world, we can ensure that past events don’t come to repeat themselves. Such atrocious violations of human rights, cannot and should not be swept under the rug and simply forgotten about.  It is imperative that we learn from mistakes of the past  and avoid them, after all it is almost 2018 and we are still battling social inequality and oppression, we, the ones who pride ourselves on being a progressive society that embraces diversity and freedom. So let us strive to be exactly that.

     “Only by facing history directly and honestly can we heighten understanding of this dark chapter and increase our ability to confront its challenges,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

 

For anyone interested in looking at the whole curriculum:

 

https://www.scribd.com/document/358713213/Burge-Torture-Lesson-Plan#fullscreen&from_embed

 

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Learning The Basics: English, Math, And Torture