Lawsuit Underway after Guilty Verdict in Burge Trial

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Former death-roll inmate Mark Clements and his attorneys are filing a civil suit next Tuesday against the city of Chicago in the aftermath of the guilty verdict of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.

Mark Clements consoles the mother of incarcerated allege torture victim Marcus Wiggins, during a rally to jail former Chicago Police chief Jon Burge outside City Hall on May 24. Wiggins was allegedly tortured while in police custody at the age of 13. Photo by Mary C. Johns

“We are currently suing [for] an unspecified amount. We will most likely be filing a civil lawsuit in the federal U.S. District Court this Tuesday,” Clements told Residents’ Journal on June 29, the day after a federal jury found Burge guilty of all three counts of obstruction of justice and perjury for lying in a civil lawsuit about the torture of murder and robbery suspects in his custody in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

Burge, 62, now faces a maximum sentence of 45 years for the conviction stemming from the 2008 federal investigation of alleged incidents of torture by Burge and the detectives under his command.

As many as 200 African-American and Latino men were taken into police custody and tortured at Area Two and Three violent crime units from 1972 until 1993. At the time of the incidents of torture, Burge was the third highest ranking officer in the Chicago Police Department.

Clements, administrator and member of the national board of directors for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, claimed to have suffered tortuous abuse at the hands of a now-retired police detective under Burge’s command in June 1981.

Then a 16-year-old juvenile, Clements said he was taken to the Area Three police station’s violent crimes unit, where he was beaten and tortured to extract from him a murder and arson confession, which resulted in a guilty verdict. He served 28 years behind prison walls, but was freed in August 2009.

“My genitals were grabbed and squeezed,” declared Clements.

“I was released under an agreement that was reached with the special prosecutor to release me under ‘no contest.’ That means that they agreed that something in the confession and in the case was illegal,” Clements added.

Clements, also told RJ the day after Burge’s conviction that the verdict was a “victory for the poor people.”

“Finally the poor people were able to win something that in most instances they had lost.

“It is a victory because it now adds to the [proof] that tortures did occur in the city of Chicago and that there are innocent men that still languish inside our prison system, and really that is the aim of our fight: To try to ensure that those innocent men at least be afforded a hearing on their claims of torture,” said Clements during the June 29 phone interview.

Clements said that he would be highly upset if Burge got probation instead of going to prison for his convicted crimes and added that Burge having cancer should not be a considering factor in him going to prison.

“So what Jon Burge has cancer?” said Clements.

“It would upset me if he received probation. Why? Due to the fact that when poor people are alleged to have committed crimes, those poor people are placed in prison. Jon Burge was able to get away with some of the most hideous crimes that this country has ever experienced,” Clements added.

Burge’s pension will also be stripped starting in July, according to Clements.

And he added that he was aiming to make sure that the other alleged torturers receive the same fate as Burge.

“There are 38 more targets. I will not rest until those crooked cops are put in prison,” Clements declared.

Rally to Jail Jon Burge

While jurors were being selected for Burge’s trial, Clements and protesters from the Jail Jon Burge Coalition rallied outside City Hall on May 24 demanding justice and declaring that Burge be sent to jail for life.

They also called on Mayor Richard M. Daley to go to Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and demand hearings for the 19 men still behind bars, who he convicted and put in prison “based [on] tainted evidence” while being state’s attorney, according to Clements.

“You’re wasting taxpayers’ dollars housing individuals inside of the prisons who have not committed crimes,” declared Clements through a bullhorn to those in attendance.

At the rally, members of the Jail Jon Burge Coalition pranced around in mock orange-colored jail uniforms with various symbols attached to them, while others provided accounts as to how many of the men were tortured, some in their teens at the time, which many claimed was motivated by racism and significant downsizing by the county’s court system.

Some of the protestors also proclaimed that while the mayor was in his capacity as Cook County state’s attorney, he ignored and covered up claims of torture made by some of the men.

Daley has repeatedly denied that he knew of claims of torture, they said, despite evidence showing that he was informed of torture in 1982.

Some of the members claimed that Daley apologized to the torture victims and apologized that the tortures occurred while standing outside a newly built library in 2006. But to this day, they said, he has not lifted one finger to free any of the men.

Clements told RJ after the more-than-one-hour-long rally, that some of the men might be guilty. But he said all he wanted was for Daley to go to Alveraz to get the remaining incarcerated men’s coerced confessions “kicked off the books” and to give them new hearings to determine what’s what.

And he added that if Daley failed to go to Alveraz, he would “be on him day and night” until he does.

“I’ll be at his campaign stops. I will follow him, and I will taunt him wherever he goes until he gets this right – and I’m dead serious,” Clements declared.

Clements added that the African-American community should be held accountable as well for not really doing much about the allegations of torture by Burge and those under him.

So far, according to several other news reports, Burge is the first and only Chicago police officer accused of torture to be charged criminally in the case.

In December 2007, the city of Chicago settled for $20 million a lawsuit filed by former death row inmates Stanley Howard, Madison Hobley, Leroy Orange and Aaron Patterson, who charged Burge with supervising their torture to gain confessions.

Some of the torturous acts included in the lawsuit were beatings and electric shocks to the genitals.

Former Gov. George Ryan, currently serving jail time for his corruption in office, pardoned all four men in 2003.

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2 Responses to “Lawsuit Underway after Guilty Verdict in Burge Trial”

  1. GABRIEL Says:

    THIS SHOULD BE THE START OF MANY PROSECUTIONS THAT SHOULD BUT SADLY WONT INCLUDE MAYOR DALEY JUSTICE IS COMING LATE BUT IT FINALLY IS COMING

  2. Aysha Youngblood Says:

    Praise the Lord! Justice prevailed, through the conviction, now let justice be complete, through sentencing him to jail. The Law says, “If you do the crime, look to serve the time.” Gov. Ryan has a place in a cell, why not Mr. Burge and the other officers accused of those crimes. Perhaps this may be the means to bring them to the salvation of their souls. I pray, that it will be so.

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