On November 1, 1984 Stanley Howard was arrested and subjected to torture by Chicago Police detectives James Lotito, Ronald Boffo, John Byrne and Robert Dwyer under the command of former Chicago Police Department (CPD) Commander Jon Burge. Jon Burge. Under Burge’s command, over 120 people, predominantly Black men were kidnapped and tortured into producing confessions to crimes not committed. Burge was a Vietnam War Veteran and used war torture interrogation tactics from Operation Phoenix on the survivors, such as racial epithets, electric shock, suffocation, and brutal beatings. After being forced to give false confessions, the survivors of torture spent years, some decades incarcerated. Public officials at the City, County, and Federal level refused, and continue to refuse to take action to stop the torture although concrete evidence documents the torture. Neither Commander Burge, nor any officer under his command, have been criminally charged with torture.
Stanley was tried in 1987 and convicted and sentenced to death. However, after reviewing the facts, Governor George H. Ryan found the evidence underwhelming and, on January 10, 2003, granted pardons based on actual innocence to Stanely and others on death row. Referring to false confessions under torture, and the unreliability of the eyewitness testimony, the Governor stated, “I have reviewed these cases and I believe a manifest injustice has occurred. I have reviewed these cases and I believe these men are innocent.”
However, Stanley remains incarcerated along with hundreds of others. We demand the immediate release of Stanley Howard and all torture survivors.
Survivors, family members, lawyers, and community organizers continue to fight. Milestones in the fight for justice for the torture survivors include:
– Four of ten Burge torture survivors on death row had sentences overturned;
– Community organizers testified at the United Nations Committee Against Torture and they recommended that the U.S. Government bring Burge accompanying perpetrators to justice;
– Burge was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2010 and served four years in federal prison;
– In May 2015, Chicago City Council passed a Reparations Ordinance for the Burge police torture survivors and their family members.
Hundreds remain incarcerated.
Read and support Stanley Howard’s and other torture survivors’ book, Tortured by Blue: The Chicago Police Torture Story.
DP – Guillaume Le Mezo
Edited by Sensitive Visuals
Photos by Michelle Howard & Love and Struggle Photos
1st AC – Igor Cedeno
2nd AC – Joshua Smith
Sound Mixer – Jason Culver
Additional footage by Sensitive Visuals