Or Tzedek Teens Lead an Interfaith Vigil

June 27, 2011

By Eve Carne
Communications Intern

On a cold, Friday morning, bright and early, nine teenagers gave up sleeping in to pray for those impacted by our broken immigration system.  The teens, who were participating in JCUA’s week-long Or Tzedek program, helped lead a prayer service for immigrants that were about to be deported.

The interfaith service took place outside of the detention center where immigrants are being held.  Services used to be held at the Broadview detention center, but are now being held downtown as the Broadview center is temporarily closed for remodeling.

This vigil tradition was started by Sister Jo Anne Persch and Sister Pat Murphy,  two nuns from the Chicago Sisters of Mercy dedicated to keeping families together.  The Or Tzedek teens read Hebrew prayers along with prayers they wrote themselves.  The Sisters and others present at the vigil said they were excited to see teenagers actively involved in such an important issue.

If you’re interested in attending a vigil they take place every Friday morning from 7:15-7:45 am in front of the detention center located on 101 West Congress.

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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