Burge tor­ture sur­vivor on Chicago po­lice: ‘What have we seen dif­fer­ent from 1981 to 2020?’

Hundreds rally to de­mand re­sources be shifted from CPD to com­mu­nity pro­grams

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY NADER ISSA, STAFF REPORTER nissa@sun­times.com | @NaderDIssa

Mark Cle­ments was tor­tured at a Chicago po­lice sta­tion as a teenager and forced to ad­mit to a quadru­ple mur­der.

He was 16 at the time. De­tec­tives work­ing un­der now-dis­graced Lt. Jon Burge pulled the con­fes­sion out of him. He was 44 when his con­vic­tion was over­turned in 2009.

And af­ter all that time, he sees the same Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment op­er­at­ing to­day.

“Jon Burge may be dead, but his tor­tures still ring on,” Cle­ments said Fri­day at a protest in Ho­man Square out­side a CPD fa­cil­ity that has been crit­i­cized as a so-called

“black-site” where of­fi­cers il­le­gally de­tain and abuse peo­ple — a claim the po­lice dis­pute. Since his re­lease, Cle­ments has spent much of his time work­ing as a po­lice ac­count­abil­ity ac­tivist.

“What have we seen dif­fer­ent from 1981 to 2020? We haven’t seen much dif­fer­ent,” he said. “Why do I take this per­sonal? I lost 28 years of my life. I’ve seen how much the city of Chicago cares about the peo­ple.”

A few hun­dred peo­ple gath­ered Fri­day to call for the re­di­rect­ion of re­sources from CPD to com­mu­nity pro­grams that would pro­vide bet­ter ed­u­ca­tional, trauma and health sup­port. They also con­tin­ued a long-stand­ing de­mand for a civil­ian po­lice ac­count­abil­ity coun­cil to put over­sight of CPD in the hands of the com­mu­nity.

Af­ter a few peo­ple ad­dressed the crowd at the start, mu­si­cians took turns play­ing songs while peo­ple passed out wa­ter, snacks, masks and hand san­i­tizer. Across the street, a few dozen of­fi­cers stood in riot gear at the en­trance of the con­tro­ver­sial po­lice site. Of­fi­cers on the roof of the five-story build­ing watched the crowd with binoc­u­lars.

Af­ter ral­ly­ing for a cou­ple of hours, about 1,500 pro­test­ers started march­ing through Ho­man Square and Lawn­dale with of­fi­cers in hel­mets walk­ing along­side them.

Af­ter reach­ing Dou­glas Park, the pro­test­ers marched back, re­turn­ing to Ho­man Square shortly af­ter 9 p.m.

A man who played a key role in the fed­eral cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion that helped lead to last year’s in­dict­ment of Ald. Ed­ward M. Burke pleaded not guilty in an un­re­lated fraud case Fri­day.

See Y. Wong, 61, was ex­pected to be ar­raigned in March, but that was be­fore the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. So in­stead, he en­tered his plea Fri­day dur­ing a tele­con­fer­ence.

Wong made a se­cret 2014 au­dio and video record­ing for the feds of then-Ald. Danny Solis and House Speaker Michael Madi­gan, ac­cord­ing to court records and sources. That record­ing be­came part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that per­suaded Solis to then se­cretly record Burke.

Wong co­op­er­ated with the feds in hopes a judge would one day go easy on him in the fraud case filed in March. Wong’s al­leged scam re­volved around the Canal Cross­ing con­do­minium devel­op­ment in Chi­na­town. Wong is ac­cused of ly­ing to buy­ers and to Cathay Bank. The bank lent $13.7 mil­lion for the pro­ject to Emer­ald Homes, of which Wong was an owner. The feds say the scheme cost the bank $1.8 mil­lion and buy­ers of the con­do­mini­ums $1 mil­lion.

Specif­i­cally, the feds pointed to a $170,000 wire trans­fer Wong made 10 years ago, on May 18, 2010. On Fri­day, Wong was told he could face up to 20 years in prison if con­victed of the single count of fraud. He re­mains free on a $10,000 bond.


Mark Cle­ments, a Jon Burge tor­ture sur­vivor, speaks to a crowd of pro­test­ers in Ho­man Square on Fri­day.

See Y. Wong

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