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Taunts aside, Burge torture victims deserve compensation

Back in 2005, the Onion ran a satirical headline saying, “Wrongly imprisoned man won’t shut up about it.”


We thought of that headline when ex-inmate Darrell Cannon, accompanied by other activists, told the City Council Finance Committee, “[W]e’re here to say, `Na, na, na, na, na,’ “ and threatened to vote city officials out of office.

The activists are struggling to uncork an ordinance bottled up in committee since 2013 that would create a $20 million reparations fund for men tortured by Former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his Midnight Crew. Cannon, who spent 24 years in prison, was one of the men who was tortured.

We don’t know if $20 million is the right number, and reducing the issue to a taunt during a local election trivializes the matter. But the need for reparations is clear. While some men have received hefty payouts, others got little or nothing because time had run out to file a lawsuit or for other technical reasons. Cannon accepted a $3,000 settlement in 1984, when little was known of the police torture and a larger settlement seemed unlikely.

A spokesman said Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering some kind of reparations for those men who never have received fair hearings, even though it’s clear they were tortured. The city already has paid out nearly $96 million in settlements and legal fees.

We don’t see a need to vote anyone out of office. But the remaining Burge victims deserve a decent settlement.