The torture machine : racism and police violence in Chicago /

"With his colleagues at the People's Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city's corrupt political machine. The Torture Machine takes the reader from the...

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Main Author: Taylor, Flint, 1946- (Author)
Format: Book
Published:Chicago, Illinois : Haymarket Books, 2019.
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this harrowing story of abuse and courage, Taylor, an attorney and advocate for victims of police violence, recounts how Chicago police-led by the late Jon Burge, a commander in the police department who was fired in 1993-tortured roughly 120 black men into confessing (often falsely) to crimes in the 1970s and '80s. Taylor argues that there was a pattern of torture and that city officials, attorneys, and judges all shielded the perpetrators from discipline through institutionalized subterfuge and a police code of silence. Taylor and others got commuted sentences for victims who had been sentenced to death based solely on confessions extracted during torture, worked toward the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Illinois, and won settlements for many of the victims whose lives were spent in prison. After 30 years of legal battles for the rights of the tortured, overwhelming evidence and public opinion put pressure on the Chicago city government to admit to the torture and cover-ups and finally offer reparations to those targeted. This is sometimes difficult to read, due to the descriptions of brutal treatment, but Taylor writes with conviction and empathy, and the events covered will be of interest to audiences concerned with the history of police brutality and activism against oppression. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A founding partner of the Chicago-based People's Law Office recounts his career fighting on behalf of victims of police malfeasance, especially torture and wrongful death."If the torture machine teaches one lesson above all, it is that torture is as American as apple pie," writes Taylor, whose long career is a catalog of hard-fought battles for racial justice waged in Chicago's courtrooms. In this personal narrative, Taylor offers no introductions or preludes, plunging straight into the heart of the beast: a morass of police corruption and conspiracy dating back to the December 1969 assassinations of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Discussing his arrival on the scene of what authorities were selling as a police raid gone wrong, the author writes, "shock and grief soon met with the dawning realization that the police claims of a shootout were bold-faced lies. We were looking at a murder scene." Thus begins the harrowing tale of the author's 13-year crusade with the PLO "to uncover and expose the truth about that murderous raid." The author also chronicles the next three decades spent seeking justice for survivors of a conspiracy of brutal torture carried out by police during their investigations. Sparing no details, Taylor reveals the police force's reign of terror and the Gestapo-like interrogation tactics administered by Lt. Jon Burge and his squad of "confederates." For 20 years, using a variety of tactics, including suffocation, pistol-whipping, and electric shockall under a cloak of secrecyBurge and company beat confessions from dozens of victims. The author uncovers stories of secret files, a code of silence among police officers, and complicity among politicians, and he shows how he and the PLO worked for years to free prisoners whose incarcerations were based on torture confessions while winning "more than $35,000,000 in settlements, verdicts, and reparations for more than sixty torture survivors."Taylor illuminates in graphic detail the scars caused by some of the worst elements of law enforcement in a city perpetually beset by violence. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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