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The [Thursday] Papers

"I was sad to learn of Jon Burge's passing today," Brandon Clark of Logan Square writes in a letter to the editor of the Sun-Times.

(Are these letters really to the editor? They're really to readers, aren't they? Why not label them as such - or just call them "Letters?" Or "Responses?" Or, stay with me here, "Comments.")

Anyway . . .

"Not because I think he was a good man, although John Conroy, the man perhaps most responsible for Burge's public disgrace, once admitted that despite knowing what Burge had done, he found him to be 'likable.'

"Rather, I am sad because I don't believe Burge was ever truly held accountable for the harm he caused this world, and now he never will be. Sure, he lost his job and was eventually convicted of perjury and sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison for it. But that occurred more than 15 years after it was plain to anyone who cared to know that he had presided over the systematic torture of dozens of detainees at Area 2 police headquarters - and even after serving his time, he kept his pension!"

Indeed. This city has nothing to be proud of in its ultimate punishment of Burge, as it was far too little far too late. Burge also represents a dark mark against Chicago media for its utter refusal to come to grips with the stellar, Pulitzer-worthy reporting of Conroy that occurred under its nose and went ignored for far too long.

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On that score, let's detour to a year ago August:

"The Chicago Public Schools on Monday unveiled its new curriculum to teach all 8th graders and high school sophomores about the decades-old torture and brutality by disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge and detectives who worked under him," the Tribune reported.

"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."

Teaching Burge in CPS is a big and underappreciated move, I'd say. I'm not sure I've ever heard of such a thing. That's an unusual commitment by the city to ensure Burge's legacy is not forgotten.

The curriculum was developed by social science specialists who worked for months with African-American community leaders, civil rights advocates, law enforcement, academic researchers and the Chicago Teachers Union.

During the last school year, the curriculum was tested at a half-dozen elementary and high schools. As part of that effort, several survivors of the torture told their stories to several classrooms.

According to details of the curriculum provided by CPS officials, high school teachers will use a "talking circle strategy" at the outset to help deal with topics the district expects to be deeply troubling and emotional for students.

Students will be asked to think about factors that "allowed the torture scandal to occur and to persist for nearly two decades," while examining the roles of political leaders, racism and community tensions with Chicago police. High school students will also develop plans for a public memorial on the torture scandal - another condition of the reparations agreement.

My question about the curriculum is if it includes the media's performance as part of its examination of what allowed such abuses to flourish.

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The FOP last August in that Trib article:

"The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers, issued a statement saying it did not believe 'the Burge mythology' should be part of the public school curriculum, citing 'the strong possibility that some wrongful conviction claims are false and some may even be fraudulent.'"

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Back to Brandon Clark's letter:

"Think about it: Burge masterminded the full-blown torture of U.S. citizens, within the City of Chicago, and for years we all just shrugged our collective shoulders. When he died, a former FOP president reportedly stated that Burge didn't get 'a fair shake,' and current FOP leadership suggested that the full story of Jon Burge is not yet known. Maybe so, although I doubt it."

Indeed. The truth is Burge got lucky; he served a relatively brief time in prison for perjuring himself about crimes he was never charged with. My question for the FOP right now is this: Has any cop ever done anything wrong? And if so, name them. Because if the FOP isn't going to believe the evidence against Burge, they aren't going to believe the evidence against anyone who ever wore the uniform. As long as the FOP backs its officers to the hilt regardless of facts, it will never have the credibility necessary to establish trusting relationships with the city and its citizens.

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Finally, I can't help but recall Conroy's reaction to local media's response to the Guardian breaking a Homan Square story that to this day local media doesn't believe.

From this space in March 2015:

Someone finally asked John Conroy what he thought of the Guardian's reporting on Homan Square. It was WBEZ on Wednesday, and what he said was devastating:

"I don't think I've seen anything like this before where a reporter comes in and there seems to be such anger at the reporter and a few words in his story, which are provocative but nonetheless the basic facts are borne out.

"Seven attorneys have now said they had clients in which they couldn't reach . . . not seven clients - dozens, scores, we don't know.

"I don't know why there was such outrage that this was reported. People get scooped all the time . . . Get over it."

Look, Chicago's media still hasn't acknowledged its woeful performance in covering (or not) Burge. I recall only seeing a stray sentence once, an aside, in a Sun-Times editorial that came close. They've whitewashed themselves out of a story they whitewashed themselves out of in the first place. That's why it's so important that they be included in any curriculum teaching about institutional failures that allowed Jon Burge to happen.

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ChicagoReddit

Has anyone else noticed that busses have been way off their estimated arrival times lately? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

The Art Institute of Chicago courtyard fountain.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Every day I unsubscribe. Every morning it still comes. I've e-mailed, tweeted, begged and pleaded. All to no avail. The Politico Illinois Playbook always prevails.

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As well he should be. Pleased to see justice for incompetence in an industry that usually rewards it.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Second that emotion.



Permalink

Posted on September 20, 2018


MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Should Talk More About Racism.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Hologram Arcade Machines.


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