The End of the Nightstick: Confronting Police Brutality in Chicago

A documentary about police brutality in Chicago, focusing on the policy of torture and abuse under Commander Jon Burge and the long and difficult fight to hold him and the Chicago Police Department accountable for their decades of violence towards the city's Black and Latino populations.

01:43Copy video clip URL Introductory titles: A Presentation of the Grassroots Video Production Fund. Funding Provided by The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

01:53Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “There is more law in the end of a policeman’s nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court.” – Alexander “Clubber” Williams. Lieutenant, N.Y.P.D. 1877. 

02:04Copy video clip URL Images of Chicago streets as people of color describe physical abuse at the hands of police officers. “Makes me feel like walking down the street you can get attacked by a police officer at any time for any reason, and they can make up their own reasons and the court’s gonna believe it because they’re police officers.”

03:31Copy video clip URL Title card: The End of the Nightstick: Confronting Police Brutality in Chicago.

03:46Copy video clip URL “May 12, 1990. Area 3 Police Headquarters, Chicago.” A protest outside of the station. 

03:59Copy video clip URL Lewis Myers, Community Activist: Myers addresses the systematic abuse of the rights of African-Americans by the Chicago Police Department. 

04:43Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “In Chicago, between 1973 and 1986, over 30 African-American men reported they were tortured or severely abused while in police custody by Commander Jon Burge and/or other Area 2 police officers. Viewing torture as an extreme example of system-wide police brutality, a coalition of activist groups, including the Task Force to Confront Police Violence, has organized for the removal of Commander Burge, and an end to all forms of abuse by the Chicago Police Department. 

05:18Copy video clip URL Eddie Read, Chicago Black United Communities: “Why we have police brutality, I think that it is the same reason we have many injustices that are heaped upon the Black community, and that is because of biases, because of prejudice, and because of blatant racism that continues to persist in this country.” 

05:47Copy video clip URL Jeffrey Haas, Task Force to Confront Police Violence: “Almost all of the victims of police brutality are Black and Latin, and we think it is condoned and tolerated by the police department because it is a method of controlling Third World people in Chicago. So we have always tried to show the connections between the racist attitudes in society, the racist attitudes in the police department, and the existence, tolerance, and policy of police brutality in Chicago.”

06:13Copy video clip URL Prexy Nesbitt, Urban Studies Program, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, discusses the CPD’s role in perpetuating injustice and repression.

06:47Copy video clip URL Ed Bannister, Community Activist, Nephew shot and killed by police, asserts that Chicago is an Apartheid city. 

06:58Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “Near West Side, 1990. Aaron Jackson witnesses police beating 2 youths. He protests, is arrested, beaten, and has his front teeth knocked out.” Jackson details the abuse he suffered at the hands of police officers and the threats they made if he told anyone what he’d witnessed. He says he knows at least ten people who have been beaten by the same officer who attacked him. 

08:06Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “Near North Side, 1989. Greg Neylon, while performing at a Chicago nightclub, is assaulted by a white patron and is arrested and beaten by police.” Neylon describes his attack by police office and the scars that he received from it. “To tell you the truth about it, I think they’re hired to protect the white people from us.” 

08:59Copy video clip URL Nesbitt describes the radically different experiences of white people in Chicago, who know nothing about the daily realities of the oppressed communities on the South and West sides of the city. 

09:58Copy video clip URL Michael Myatt describes a police officer violently attacking him, holding a gun to his head, and threatening to shoot him. Onscreen text: “North West Side, 1989. Michael Myatt, while trying to use his college library, is threatened and beaten by an off-duty police officer.” Myatt: “If my friends weren’t there I think he would have killed me, because there were too many people around. From what they told me, they say he would’ve.” 

10:52Copy video clip URL Haas discusses the lack of value placed on Black lives in America.

11:19Copy video clip URL Bannister compares police brutality to the beating of a slave to control an enslaved population. 

11:40Copy video clip URL Mary Powers, Citizens Alert Police Accountability Group, discusses the impact of the Rodney King video, which forces everyone to admit the reality of violent police attacks on citizens. 

12:05Copy video clip URL Kai Muni, Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement, emphasizes just how common attacks like the LAPD’s attacks on Rodney King are. 

12:22Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “Uptown, 1991. Tyrell Turner, 14, driving a stolen car, is chased, pulled over and severely beaten by a group of police officers.” Turner, visibly scarred, details the violence of the attack, as does a woman and a young boy who witnessed it. 

13:33Copy video clip URL Haas observes that people should not feel that they are in danger when a police officer arrives, even if they are a criminal. Nesbitt describes the police as being responsible for terrorizing the population. 

14:10Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “Bucktown, 1990. Edgardo Fuentes, while walking home with friends, is verbally assaulted and beaten by the police. Fuentes describes the assault. Photographs of Fuentes, face covered in blood, from immediately after the attack. 

15:14Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “Canaryville, 1989. Calvin McLin and Joe Weaver, both 14, while waiting for a bus after a ballgame, are picked up and beaten by two white police officers. The police drop them in a white gang’s neighborhood, where they are chased and Calvin is severely beaten.” McLin and Weaver vividly describe their assault.

17:18Copy video clip URL Haas details the aftermath of the police attack on McLin and Weaver. WTTW news footage of the demonstrations against police violence on October 21, 1989. Onscreen text: “April 1, 1991. Trials of Officers James Serio and Kathleen Moore – accused of beating Calvin and Joe.” Demonstrators outside of the courthouse, including Bob Wells, Task Force to Confront Police Violence. 

18:33Copy video clip URL Powers describes the trial as a “fiasco.” 

18:52Copy video clip URL Jennifer Modell, Task Force to Confront Police Violence, talks about the longterm effects of police violence towards children. 

19:10Copy video clip URL CBS reporter Walter Jacobson on a February 9, 1982 news broadcast and other reporters describes a police manhunt for the suspects who allegedly shot two police officers, arresting brothers Andrew Wilson and Jackie Wilson. 

20:20Copy video clip URL Dr. John Raba, Cermak Hospital – Cook County Jail, describes Andrew Wilson’s extensive and unusual injuries after his arrest. 

20:47Copy video clip URL Dale Coventry, Public Defender, describes meeting Andrew Wilson, detailing the injuries all over his body, showing the photographs taken at the time. Wilson’s testimony about his assault and torture is read. It includes beating, burning, suffocation, and electrocution. He describes being tortured until he signs a statement confessing to the shooting. “We’re gonna fry your Black ass now,” an officer told him after he signed it. 

23:22Copy video clip URL Dr. Robert Kirschner, Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture, confirms that Andrew Wilson was tortured at Area 2 police headquarters. He describes the electrocution, which is elaborated by Flint Taylor, Wilson’s lawyer. Taylor identifies the type of generator used to torture Wilson. 

25:01Copy video clip URL Kirschner and Coventry discuss the consistency of Wilson’s testimony. 

25:41Copy video clip URL Taylor describes Wilson’s conviction and his appeal, based on his confession being tortured out of him. Kirschner and Coventry discuss the unreliable nature of a confession produced under torture. 

26:38Copy video clip URL Marjory Byler, Amnesty International, discusses the use of torture to terrify and punish, asserting that it is not an effective way to listen or to determine the truth. 

27:09Copy video clip URL Howard Saffold, Chicago Police Officer – Retired, African American Police League, says that there’s no way to justify injuring a suspect after they’re in custody. He asserts the damage that “terrorist tactics” employed by the police do to the law. 

27:42Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “Andrew Wilson is tried again without the confession, is convicted and given a life sentence. He files a civil rights suit against the city, the police department, and Jon Burge based on his torture.”

27:55Copy video clip URL Taylor relates that they had, at the time of the civil rights suit, only known of one other case of torture being alleged against Burge. An anonymous letter identified another of Burge’s victims, Melvin Jones. That began the effort to uncover the individual cases that had not previously been recognized as a pattern of torture. 

28:48Copy video clip URL Coventry and Kirschner describe Area 2’s persistent program of torture under Burge. Such abuse was openly known, they say, as “standard operating procedure.” 

29:35Copy video clip URL Burge’s history of torture, with suspects repeatedly registering accusations while Burge climbed the ranks of the department to the rank of Commander.

30:08Copy video clip URL Incarcerated person Shadeed Mu’min describes police officers torturing a confession out of him by playing Russian Roulette with a gun to his head and suffocating him. 

32:05Copy video clip URL Description of tortures perpetrated by the CPD, a list of the CPD’s victims: Anthony Holmes, 1973: Electric Shock, Severe Beating; Lawrence Pore, 1973/79: Electric Shock, Suffocation by Bag; Howard Collins, 1979: Russian Roulette; Raymond Golden, 1979: Severe Beating; Willie Porch, 1979: Russian Roulette; George Powell, 1979: Electric Shock, Suffocation by Bag; Timothy Thompson, 1979: Severe Beating; Tony Thompson, 1979: Suffocation by Bag; Edward James, 1980: Severe Beating; James Lewis, 1980: Severe Beating; Roy Brown, 1982: Suffocation by Bag, Severe Beating; Michael Johnson, 1982: Electric Shock; Walter Johnson, 1982: Suffocation by Bag; Melvin Jones, 1982: Electric Shock, Russian Roulette; Larry Milan, 1982: Suffocation by Bag; Donnell Traylor, 1982: Suffocation by Bag; Donald White, 1982: Electric Shock, Suffocation by Bag; Andrew Wilson, 1982: Electric Shock, Russian Roulette, Suffocation by Bag, Severe Beating; Jackie Wilson, 1982: Russian Roulette; Leroy Kidd, 1984: Electric Shock; Lawrence Orange, 1984: Electric Shock; James Daniel, 1985: Severe Beating; Shadeed Mu’Min, 1985: Suffocation by Bag, Russian Roulette.

33:20Copy video clip URL The jury finding a de facto policy of torturing suspects accused of killing police officers in the CPD, but also finds that Wilson’s civil rights were not violated. Mariel Nanasi, Task Force to Confront Police Violence, discusses the ruling and the lack of consequences for Burge indicating the city’s and the legal system’s explicit support of the torture policy. Footage of the July 15, 1990 protest in front of Chicago City Hall.

34:08Copy video clip URL Haas discusses the aims of the Task Force to Confront Police Violence. Bob Wells details the efforts to provoke a real investigation into Burge’s crimes from the city. Interrupting a City Council meeting. The council “reluctantly” agreeing to a hearing but scheduling it to take place on Christmas Eve. Footage from the hearing and from news broadcasts. 

36:35Copy video clip URL Amnesty International’s report chronicling the CPD’s history of torturing suspects. Press response to the report and to the clear evidence supporting the accusations of torture. 

37:22Copy video clip URL Powers, Byler, Nesbitt, and Modell relate CPD’s tactics and rhetoric around torture to state violence around the world.

38:09Copy video clip URL An April 1991 press conference for the Task Force at which Modell announces a month of protest and a protest march in Bridgeport. 

39:15Copy video clip URL April 16, 1991 – The Task Force meets with local activists. A living room discussion of how to proceed and what’s been effective. Demanding that Burge be fired.

40:04Copy video clip URL Calvin McLin and others, including Biz Shabazz, hand out flyers for the upcoming rally. 

40:56Copy video clip URL Making signs for the protest. The large police presence as the protesters start to arrive. The march proceeds through the streets. 

42:31Copy video clip URL Haas speaks from in front of Mayor Daley’s house. 

43:00Copy video clip URL Discussion of the Office of Professional Standards, and their lack of independence from the CPD. 

44:33Copy video clip URL The lack of accountability for police officers unless their abuses are witnessed by unaffiliated civilians. Police Superintenent LeRoy Martin, Burge’s supervisor at Area 2 from Feb-Dec 1983, sat on the findings of a systematic program of torture, finally releasing the results 16 months after it was received. Calls from the Task Force to discipline Martin.

45:26Copy video clip URL News reports about the CPD’s torture program, including footage of Martin denying the existence of a cover-up. A press conference in front of the Office of Professional Standards on July 2, 1991. 

46:23Copy video clip URL Discussion of the Chicago press’s failure to report on Burge’s crimes. The mayor’s implication in the initial cover-up of Wilson’s torture and his defense of the CPD. 

48:05Copy video clip URL February 10, 1992 – Police Board hearings begin. A protest outside of CPD headquarters. 

48:56Copy video clip URL The expression of solidarity for Burge among white CPD officers after the evidence against was revealed with a rally in his support. A counter-demonstration on February 25, 1992. News footage of the police officers supporting him at rallies and fundraisers. 

50:40Copy video clip URL The delay of the decision from the police board, possibly because the city fears a citizen uprising in the manner of the response to the Rodney King verdict. Burge as “the tip of the iceberg” and the pro-brutality message that failing to hold him accountable sends. 

51:47Copy video clip URL The importance of organization and agitating to hold Burge accountable, but the need to understand police brutality in relation to broader societal oppression. The need and obligation for citizens to keep the CPD’s abuses in the public discourse to try to prevent future crimes. 

53:27Copy video clip URL “On February 11, 1993, the Police Board fired Commander Jon Burge, based on the abuse of Andrew Wilson. Jon Burges appealed his firing in the circuit court of Cook County. On Feb. 10, 1994, the court upheld Burge’s firing.”

53:53Copy video clip URL End credits: Produced, Directed, & Edited by Peter Kuttner, Cyndi Moran, Eric Scholl as part of The Grassroots Video Series of Community TV Network in Cooperation with The Task Force to Confront Police Violence. Executive Producer: Denise Zaccardi. Production Manager: Deb Ellis. Music: Tom Yore. Andrew Wilson testimony read by Issa. Other testimony read by Larry Adigun, Don Jackson, Van Jackson, Okoro Harold Johnson, Johnathan Powell, Sid Simmons, from the Paul Robeson Theatre Company. Camera: Golden Watkins, Ed Scott, Robert Benavides, Bill Hardin, Chris Bayard. Sound: Luis del Real, Doris Garcia. Production Assistants: Milton Brown, Veronica Esquivel, Kiyoko Lee, Larry Price, Desiree Webster. Transcription: Linda Turner, Nancy Watrous. Production Facilities: Video Services/CTVN. Post Production Facilities: IPA – The Editing House. Title Design: Rich DuCasse. News Sources: The Chicago Defender, The Chicago Reader, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Southtown Economist, CNN, WBBM-TV, WFLD TV-Fox, WLS-TV, WGN TV, WMAQ-TV, WTTW. Additional Funding: American Friends Service Committee “200 Years of the Penitentiary” Project. Thanks to: Coalition to End Police Torture and Brutality, Citizens Alert, Leonard Bannister Defense Committee, CBUC – Chicago Black United Communities, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Amnesty International, Bridgeport Volunteers, NAACP, ACT-UP, Horizons Community Services, Mary Johnson, Gregory Banks, Curly Cohen, Tara Hardy, Patrick Mayer, Dino McNeal, Roman Figun, Joseph Gump, Judy Hatcher, Okoro Harold Johnson, Rev. Gordon McLean, H.D. Motyl, Brett Stockdill, Linda Turner, Jane Brody Casting, New Crime Productions. Special Thanks to: Scott Jacobs, Maggie Magee, JMarc Group, Inc., Kartemquin Films, Grassroots Advisory Panel, Michael Bennet, Tom Carlson, Nora Moreno, Lucy Smith, CTVN Board of Directors. Copyright 1993 Community TV Network.  



You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Copyright © 2024 Media Burn Archive.
Media Burn Archive | 935 W Chestnut St Suite 405 Chicago IL 60642
(312) 964-5020 | [email protected]