Episode 55 — Burge, Torture, and Reparations

“Lady Law never stands so tall as when she stands on someone’s hand.”

In November of 1983, Darrell Cannon was awakened by the Chicago police smashing through his apartment door, hell-bent on clearing a homicide case from their docket. Taken to a remote location in south-side Chicago’s industrial waste-land by officer Jon Burge and an eager crew of homicide detectives, Cannon was tortured into saying whatever was needed for a “confession”. Convicted on the basis of this “evidence”, Darrell Cannon spent the next 24 years in prison, much of it in isolation at the TAMMS Super-Max prison.

Chicago DSA’s Bill Barclay interviews Darrell Cannon about how he eventually was able to get his conviction overturned, the campaign for reparations for survivors of Chicago Police torture (stemming from a complaint to the United Nations), and most especially the terms of the reparations passed by the Chicago City Council and the consequences for policing in Chicago.

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About Darrell Cannon

Darrell Cannon is an activist, inspirational speaker and leader in the movement for reparations for the Chicago Police Torture survivors. Darrell was tortured on November 2, 1983 by white detectives working under the supervision of the torture ring-leader, the notorious former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. After being electrically shocked on his genitals with a cattle prod, subjected to mock execution with a shot gun, hung by his handcuffs and tormented with racist slurs and epithets, he confessed to being an accomplice to a murder.   The confession led to his wrongful conviction for murder and twenty-four years of incarceration, ten of which he spent in Tamms Correctional Center, a super-max prison that he worked with scores of others to close in 2013.

He has testified before Chicago’s City Council in support of the reparations ordinance. He also has spoken to countless numbers of people, in small, intimate audiences to wide lectures halls, at high schools, universities, churches including Operation Rainbow Push, as well as national gatherings convened by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

He has also appeared on numerous television shows, including on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera, and his work and story have been covered in numerous articles in print media including Mother Jones and the Chicago Reader, and he has been quoted at length in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Reporter, DNAinfo, Final Call and other news outlets.

For More Information

Reparations, Torture, and Echos From the ‘House of Screams’

Reparations Won!

Reparations: A Blueprint to Address Systemic Police Violence by Joey Mogul

Chicago’s Reparations for Police Torture Victims Offer a Glimpse of the Power of #BlackLivesMatter by Kirsten West Savali

Good Cop? Bad Cop? No Cop! Queer Resistance to Policing by Therese Quinn and Erica R. Meiners

Poverty Crime, Privileged Crime by Kristian Williams


Published by

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

The Chicago Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, 3411 W. Diversey, Suite 7, Chicago, IL 60647