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
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