Burge Torture Survivor Left with “A Growing, Burning Feeling”

January 20, 2011

By Katherine Randall
Communications Coordinator, JCUA

Anthony Holmes has trouble sleeping at night. He has nightmares and often wakes up in a cold sweat. Holmes spent 30 years in prison for a murder he said he didn’t commit. And though Holmes has physically left prison, his mind remains trapped in thoughts of the torture he endured at the hands of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.

“Jon Burge shocked me and suffocated me and forced me to admit to a murder I didn’t do,” said Holmes. “He tried to kill me. It leaves a growing, burning feeling. I have nightmares and see myself falling into a deep hole and I have no one to get me out.”

Police torture victims (left to right) Victor Saffold, Mark clements, Anthony Holmes and Darrell Cannon. Photo taken by Brian Jackson of the Sun-Times

Holmes was one of several witnesses to testify at Burge’s Jan. 20 sentencing hearing. And though the prosecutors are pushing for a sentence of at least 30 years, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow only extended Burge’s suggested sentence of 15 to 21 months in prison to 21 to 27 months.

“That’s a slap in the face to everybody that was in that station house being tortured by Burge,” said Dickie Gaines, a longtime Chicago community activist and friend to several Burge torture survivors. “I think his sentence should be a maximum sentence,” he said.

Zakiyyah Muhammad, another community activist close to several of the torture victims, said she would be okay with Burge’s light sentence under one condition.

“If it can be a life of hell and torture then it can be okay because that’s what Burge put hundreds of men and women through,” she said.

Melvin Jones, another torture survivor who testified at Burge’s hearing, said he was still going through such a life of hell and torture.

“It comes back in my everyday life. It comes back in my dreams. It comes back every day I walk this earth,” said Jones.

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“Condemning Silence, Not People”: Police Torture and the Added Value of Human Rights

December 2, 2010

By Michaela Purdue
Director of Community Programs, Human Rights Coordinator, JCUA

The conviction of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was a bittersweet affair for many Chicago activists.

The solace Burge’s torture victims, and their many supporters and allies, felt when the former police commander was convicted in June 2010, was lessened by Burge’s conviction not being for acts of torture, but for perjury and obstruction of justice he committed when he was deposed on the issue in 2003, and by the fact that the Illinois statute of limitations on torture, which lasts three years, expired before Burge was convicted.

Grassroots and advocacy groups like Black People against Police Torture and the Illinois Coalition Against Torture are committed to working with legislators to address extending the duration of the statute, and to putting to an end human rights violations in Chicago, in the state and elsewhere.

On Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010, from 6-9 p.m. at Grace Place on 637 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, in honor of International Human Rights Day, activists from those groups and from across Chicago will come together to speak out about police torture and the impact human rights principles can have in ensuring the respect and dignity of every Chicago resident.

The event, “Condemning Silence, Not People,” will be a night of spoken word featuring locally and nationally renowned artists C.C. Carter, Kevin Coval and Roger Bonair-Agard.

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