Source: AP/Don Babwin
CHICAGO — A police brutality scandal that remains one of the most shameful episodes in the history of Chicago and continues to haunt the city decades after it ended is about to become a topic taught to every student in the nation’s third largest school district.
On Monday, the Chicago Public Schools announced that it had launched last year a pilot program in six schools in which students were taught about police torture inflicted on African American suspects for years by a group of detectives under the command of former Police Commander Jon Burge.
The story of what happened — the dozens of men who were tortured into confessing of crimes they didn’t commit — will be part of the curriculum for every 8th grader and high school freshmen in the city’s public schools. The rollout comes more than two years after the City Council approved an ordinance that called for the city to pay $5.5 million in reparations to the torture victims, issue a formal apology, provide other benefits such as free tuition to the victims and their families, and teach the students of the city about the scandal.
At a news conference, educators and others including the torture victims themselves said it was especially important to roll out the curriculum at a time when the city’s police are trying to win back public trust that was shattered with the 2015 release of a video of a white police officer fatally shooting black teen Laquan McDonald 16 times. It also comes at a time when the U.S. is confronted by rising white nationalism.