Chicago Schools Add Police Torture Scandal to Curriculum

Students will be taught about the torture scandal involving disgraced former police commander Jon Burge and his “midnight crew” of rogue detectives. The coursework was mandated as part of a victims’ reparations agreement. The local police union said it opposes the teaching of “the Burge mythology.”

Chicago Public Schools on Monday unveiled its new curriculum to teach all eighth-graders and high school sophomores about the decades-old torture and brutality by disgraced former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and detectives who worked under him, reports the city’s Tribune.

The coursework was mandated as part of the 2015 deal in which the City Council approved a $5.5 million reparations fund for dozens of victims with credible claims of torture by Burge and his so-called “midnight crew” of rogue detectives. The scandal has cost taxpayers more than $100 million in settlements, judgments and other legal costs.

Attorneys involved in the cases say as many as 120 men, mostly African-Americans, were tortured from 1972 to 1991. They say officers used suffocation, electric shock and even Russian roulette to coerce confessions.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who recorded a video message to be played as part of the class, insisted Monday that such conduct “doesn’t exist anymore” in the police department. Burge was fired in 1993. He was convicted in federal court in 2010 of lying about the torture and sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. He still collects a police pension.

The Fraternal Order of Police said “the Burge mythology” should not be part of the school curriculum.