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Report on Chicago police violence, brutality to be presented at UN

By Starla Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Nov 6, 2014 - 8:49:49 AM

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Dozens of protestors gathered across the street from a Chicago Police precinct Oct. 22 as part of nationwide rallies and demonstrations against police brutality, abuses and misconduct. Photos: Starla Muhammad

CHICAGO ( - When the United Nations Committee Against Torture meets in Geneva, Switzerland this month for its 53rd session, a small but determined group of activists from Chicago plans to be there front and center. 

The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) scheduled for Nov. 3-28 is where representatives of We Charge Genocide, hope to present a report titled, “Police Violence Against Chicago’s Youth of Color.”  

Gregory Lottie (left) addresses Oct. 22 rally as Todd St. Hill (right) of We Charge Genocide holds megaphone. Mr. Lottie’s daughter Lakendra Lottie, 19, was one of several arrested at a Aug. 27 candlelight vigil for Desean Pittman who was shot and killed by Chicago Police Aug. 24. LaKendra was arrested at the vigil for aggravated battery on a police officer and is still in jail on a $100,000 bond. Her father says LaKendra was sitting in a vehicle during the time of the vigil and police instigated disruptions during the vigil which was held on private property. “This is ridiculous that you can’t have a candlelight vigil for an individual that was killed by the CPD,” he told protestors.

Todd St. Hill of We Charge Genocide wants the UN Committee to read the report and rule on a resolution or verdict that agrees that the actions of Chicago police constitute torture.

“What that would jumpstart is latching on to a movement that’s already building around the country. When you think of Ferguson, when you think of actions that have happened in New York, there’s a growing swell of consciousness about police violence in most marginalized communities which I believe to be communities of color,” Mr. St. Hill told The Final Call before an Oct. 22 protest in Chicago. The report was released earlier that day. 

Massive demonstrations took place around the United States on Oct. 22 as part of a national day of protest against police brutality and misconduct. The 15-page report lays out statistics, data and testimonies on shootings and alleged abuses by Chicago police on Black and Latino youth.

Mr. St. Hill is part of the delegation going to Geneva to present the report.

Among the report’s findings:

  • From 2009-2013, Blacks were 32.3 percent of the city’s population but were 75 percent of police shooting victims. 
  • In the first six months of 2014, 23 of 27 people shot by the Chicago police were Black.
  • In 2012, Chicago police arrested 22,877 youth under age 18 and 79 percent were Black.
  • From 2009-2011, 92 percent of Taser uses involved Black or Latino targets, including 79 youth ages 8-16.
  • Black citizens are 10 times more likely than Whites to be shot by a Chicago police officer.

Chicago is no stranger to police controversy and misconduct. Under the command of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, a reign of torture and terror was unleashed on Black men. Many of the men had previous criminal records or run-ins with the law, but were falsely arrested then tortured by officers known as the “Midnight Crew” under Mr. Burge’s watch into confessing to crimes they did not commit. As many as 120 men were tortured between 1973 and 1991.

Cynthia Lane, mother of Roshad McIntosh, holds a sign honoring her son at an Oct. 22 protest on Chicago’s West Side. Roshad, 19, was shot and killed by Chicago police Aug. 24. Police say the teen was part of a group being questioned by police when he tried to run then pulled a gun which was recovered at the scene. Ms. Lane and others argue they do not believe Roshad was armed but had his hands up to surrender when he was shot three times in the chest.

Mr. Burge was sentenced Jan. 21, 2012 to 4 1/2 years in prison on three counts of obstruction of justice and perjury for lying about the torture in a civil lawsuit. On Oct. 2 of this year, Mr. Burge, now 66, was released from federal prison to a halfway house in Florida. He continues to collect his $4,000 a month pension. According to reports, the City of Chicago and Cook County have paid an estimated $96 million on legal fees and settlements related to the Burge case. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, elected in 2011, issued a public apology on behalf of the city in 2013 calling it a “dark chapter in the history of Chicago” and “a stain on the city’s reputation.” He added, “Now let us now all move on.” 

But supporters and activists want more, arguing that Burge’s victims, many of whom spent decades in prison as a result of tortured and coerced confessions, are still suffering. 

Torture survivors and activists including attorneys Joey Mogul and Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office in Chicago represented many of Mr. Burge’s victims. They are still calling on Mayor Emanuel and the city council to pass an ordinance that would serve as a formal apology to survivors and provide reparations and compensation. 

The ordinance would also create a commission to administer financial compensation to the survivors, create a medical and psychological center on the South Side of Chicago, provide free enrollment in City Colleges to the survivors, require Chicago Public Schools to teach a history lesson about the cases and require that the city fund public memorials about the cases. It calls for $20 million to set aside for the effort, the same amount of money the city has spent to defend Mr. Burge, other detectives and former Mayor Richard M. Daley in police torture cases, the lawyers said. 

Recent police shootings of Black youth in Chicago and other parts of the country galvanized Oct. 22 protestors of various ages, backgrounds and ethnicities who gathered across the street from the Chicago Police Department’s District 11 headquarters on the city’s West Side. 

Signs emblazoned with the names and images of Black men and women shot by area police, including Rekia Boyd, Stephen Watts, Roshad McInstosh and Raason Shaw, were carried by dozens of protestors. Family members of police shooting victims and those that accuse police of misconduct were also present.

We Charge Genocide maintains  that abuses and violations perpetuated by Chicago police violate many of the Articles of the UN Convention Against Torture notes the report. Representatives leave Nov. 8 for Geneva, return Nov. 15 and will report the outcome on Dec. 11, said Mr. St. Hill.

The group wants a response from the UN committee during the time they are in Geneva, he added.

“We want the UN to demand and the federal government and CPD to give us some guidelines on how they are going to rectify that and stop their violent actions against youth,” said Mr. St. Hill.

When asked if a copy of the group’s new report will be sent to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and other local or federal government officials, the 30-year-old activist said the group wants city officials to see their demands but the focus is the UN.

“We’re circumventing everyone because what we’ve done so far and what has been done so far has fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

 Police Violence Against Chicago’s Youth of Color is available for download at