Burge Trial: "Major League Disagreement" of Decades-Old Events - NBC Chicago

Burge Trial: "Major League Disagreement" of Decades-Old Events



    (Published Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014)

    Former Chicago police commander Jon Burge wiped away a tear as his defense attorney called him an honorable man during.
    But Burge, whose federal perjury trial began in earnest on Wednesday, showed no emotion as a federal prosecutor said Burge knew of and participated in police torture.

    That abuse, prosecutors say, took place in the '70s and ''80s on the south side at Area 2, a police district with a "dirty little secret."
    The government plans to call five men who will testify they were victims of torture by Burge and some of the officers under his command from 1972 to 1991.

    In all, 110 men have accused Burge and others of using a typewriter cover to suffocate them, a black hand-cranked generator box to shock them on their genitals and placed guns to their heads to make them confess to crimes.
    Anthony Holmes, whose street name was Satan, was the government’s first witness. Holmes claims he was one of the first victims, back in 1973 when he was handcuffed and then electro-shocked while is custody.
    Burge’s attorney’s urged the jury to take into account the bias and motives of those testifying.
    A jury of 10 men and 7 women were chosen, 12 as jurors and five as alternates. Out of the 17, just three are African-American.
    Burge is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury.  The government says he lied when asked if he ever tortured anyone or knew of anyone who was tortured.
    Defense attorney Bill Gamboni said there is "a major league disagreement" about what happened 30 years ago.
    Defense attorneys question the motives and bias of those alleged torture victims.

    Among those there Wednesday were Ald. Ed Smith and Jonathan Jackson of Rainbow Push who say the city shares a major part of the blame for casting a blind eye to the torture and abuse that is alleged.
    "Here is a man who has embarrassed the police department and the city," said the west side alderman.
    "This is city sponsored terrorism," Jackson said.  "The man had a badge and a gun."
    The trial will be heard by U.S District Judge Joan Lefkow and is expected to last thru early July.  If convicted, Burge faces up to 45 years in prison.


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