First of its kind torture justice centre was opened Friday in Englewood. Its aim is to provide mental health and case management services to an estimated 60 brutality victims, including about 20 who are still in prison, as well as community members affected by police violence.
In May 2015, Chicago’s City Council moved to acknowledge the victims by approving a $5.5 million reparations package, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel said showed Chicago wanted to deal with a dark chapter in its history and that the behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in the future.
The center, located at the Englewood Neighborhood Health Clinic at 63rd Street and Lowe Avenue, is set to provide individual and group therapy to anyone who feels they need healing services or legal assistance resulting from police misconduct. There is no criteria to qualify for those services, staff members said, and anyone who feels they have been subjected to police brutality is welcome to walk in.
“Our door is open to anyone who feels like egregious wrong has been done to them,” said the director of the centre, Darrell Cannon, a torture victim himself.
Cannon, 66, suffered at the hands of the former police commander Jon Burge, who with his so-called midnight crew of rogue detectives allegedly tortured upward of 100 people, many of them African-American men from the South Side, in efforts to extract confessions from them between early 1972 and late 1991.
Burge and the detectives under his command had used electric shock, suffocation and even Russian roulette to coerce confessions from dozens of black suspects, special Cook County prosecutors concluded after a four-year investigation.