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Farrakhan: Give justice to victims of police torture
By Toure Muhammad
Updated May 13, 2009 - 10:33:13 AM

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Farrakhan: Give justice to Cortez Brown, all victims of police torture in America

CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) - The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan urged the community to support Cortez Brown, who says he was tortured in 1990 by Chicago police officers who forced him to confess to two murders. Mr. Brown said he was 19-years-old at the time.

Mr. Brown was sentenced to 35 years in one case and death (commuted to life in prison by former Gov. George Ryan) in the other. He maintains his innocence in both cases.

His attorneys will be at the courthouse at 26th St. and California Avenue on April 29 attempting to convince a judge to subpoena former Chicago police department commander Jon Burge for questioning.

Min. Farrakhan keynoted the April 25 rally attended by roughly 1,000 people and held at the Life Center Church of God in Christ on Chicago's southside.

Organized by the Nation of Islam, the rally aimed to build community support for Mr. Brown and a major part of Min. Farrakhan's message stressed the need to challenge corruption.

To make that point, the Minister pulled out a copy of a 1999 Chicago Tribune and read from an article titled, “The Flipside of a Fair Trial.” It described the “Two-Ton Contest,” which was an “ongoing competition among prosecutors to be the first to convict defendants whose weight totaled 4,000 pounds. Men and women, upon conviction, were marched into the room and weighed.” The competition was also referred to as the “Niggers by the Pound” contest.

Today, Min. Farrakhan noted, most of those former prosecutors are now judges.

During the same time period of the “contest” hundreds of Black men accused Mr. Burge and officers under his command of torture. Some of the alleged victims were as young as 13. Mr. Burge was fired in 1993. Last fall, FBI agents arrested the 60-year-old at his home in Apollo Beach, Fla., on two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury charges for allegedly lying about whether he led a campaign of torture and physical abuse of suspects dating back to the 1970s. He was released on $250,000 bond.

Attorneys Locke Bowman and Standish Willis have been fighting for the freedom of many of Mr. Burge's alleged victims. “We cannot win these cases in court without your concentrated thoughts and your prayers and your presence in court,” said Attorney Bowman to those at the rally. “The courts have said it was an open secret that folks at Area 2 and later at Area 3 were being tortured. There are 20-plus men, Black men, sitting in prison, like Cortez Brown, who right away said, ‘I was beaten, I was covered with a plastic bag, I was electric shocked, I was tortured into making a confession.' ”

During his passionate, hour-long speech, Min. Farrakhan called for a national movement against police brutality and torture. “The reason we are here is because a cry is going out, not only here, but all over the earth for justice,” said Min. Farrakhan. “(This) is a pandemic that is all over the country and this has to be not a local movement, but a national movement to help the victims of torture.”

Recognizing that some historians are trying to write domestic torture out of history, Min. Farrakhan provided a list of grotesque and inhumane torture techniques used by slave masters during the antebellum south and by law enforcement officials in the past 130 years since end of chattel slavery. He even chronicled water boarding.

“Water boarding is not a new invention of the U.S. military. The same technique was used to torture Black inmates in Georgia prison system 139 years ago. They called it ‘watering' then,” he said.

While closing out his talk, the spiritual leader of the Nation of Islam highlighted that the “God of justice” was angry at the injustice of this world and was ushering in real change. “It's time for the change not just that we can believe in, but it's time for the change that the prophets predicted would come. That a new world would come and new government would come and a new ruler would come that would give justice and peace and mercy to the members of the human family.”

Several alleged victims of police brutality and torture were at the rally:

Anthony Holmes, allegedly tortured in 1973, was one of Mr. Burge's first alleged victims. “They put a plastic bag over my head and told me not to bite through it … and they shocked me with an electric machine that shot volts through my body,” said Mr. Holmes at the rally.

Johnnie Savory, allegedly tortured in 1977 at the age of 14, was one of the youngest reputed victims. He said he was falsely accused and unjustly convicted of double homicide in his hometown of Peoria, Ill. In 2006, after spending 30 years in prison, Mr. Savory was granted parole and released. He is currently fighting to have DNA testing conducted so his name can be cleared. “I want those who did this to me to be held accountable,” he said.

Howard Morgan, a then 23-year Chicago police veteran and senior patrolman for the Burlington Northern Railroad, who was shot 28 times by Chicago police officers joined the rally.

Also in attendance were host pastor Rev. T.L. Barrett; Father Michael Pfleger, Rev. Helen Sinclair; Rev. James Bass; Rep. Bobby Rush, Alderman Ed Smith, activist Wallace “Gator” Bradley, activist Kublai Toure, and Chuck Bowen.

(Toure Muhammad is the publisher of beansouptimes.com and can be reached via email at toure@ beansouptimes.com.)

Related links:

Infamous police commander may be forced to testify in appeals case (FCN, 04-26-2009)

Special prosecutor named in police torture cases (FCN, 04-23-2009)


 


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