Friday, April 17, 2015

Why I Fight For Human Rights

Under the direction of former police Chicago Commander Jon Burge, more than 100 men and women of color were tortured. Beaten. Electrocuted. The list goes on. Their lives will never be the same.

But this week, we watched as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicly announced that he will support reparations for survivors of police torture. Though the nightmares will never be forgotten, the Mayor's support marks a critical step forward in the lives of survivors, and in Chicago's history.

Thank you for your activism.
Dear William,

In truly momentous news, we watched yesterday as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicly supported reparations for the men and women who were tortured under former Police Commander Jon Burge.

For years, Chicago police torture survivors have been struggling for the rehabilitation, compensation, and restitution they need to heal. For years, many didn't even believe their claims. But with your activism and your voice echoing their calls, their stories will be inscribed in the history of the city.

This historic step forward was only made possible with the support of activists like you.

This is what reparations will look like for police torture survivors who suffered under Jon Burge:
  • Education on police torture in public schools
  • Formal apology from the Chicago City Council
  • Free college education or vocational training for survivors and their families
  • $5.5 million in financial compensation
  • Public memorial to torture survivors
  • A counseling center for survivors of Burge and their families - the U.S.'s first center for survivors of domestic police torture
This sends an important message in the U.S. -- where no reparations process like this one formerly existed. Torture cannot and will not be tolerated. This is a significant step toward closing the door to torture.

As torture survivor Darrell Cannon said to the finance committee yesterday: "I am grateful that I've lived to see today... we are making history today."

Thank you for your activism and for demanding justice.

In hope,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner
Amnesty International USA