Survivor Stories

Imagine you're driving down the road in your car and you are stopped by the police. They take you to a police station and place you in a room and begin questioning you about crimes you've never heard of. They say the names of people you don't know, claiming you're responsible for killing them. You're confused because you were just coming home from school or your girlfriend's house or work or wherever. You know nothing of what they are saying. They then begin pulling your hair. They may chain you to a desk or a radiator. They start kicking your back, your stomach and head. After the kicking they bring out an electrical box and start shocking your ears, hands, thighs. You plead for a lawyer. So, the police leave you for hours, denying you food, water, and access to a bathroom. They come back, and the beating continues for more hours. Finally, they say you can leave, but only if you sign a piece of paper that they may not even let you read. You sign it because you are so tired, hungry, in pain, and you just want to go home.

The story above seems like something made up or something you would see in a movie, and most certainly doesn't seem like something that could happen in your community at the hands of your local police. But, sadly, that has been the harsh reality for hundreds of individuals in Chicago. Chicago has a long history of torture, police violence, and cover-ups by police officers that dates back to the 1960s. The murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in 1969 were a notorious example of the brazenness of police brutality in Chicago.  In 1968 Mayor Richard J. Daley ordered Chicago Police to shoot to maim and shoot to kill "looters" in the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. 

Chicago has rightly earned the title: "Torture Capital of the World" (Taylor, 2013). For years, these false confessions were used to make convictions.

Activists and torture survivors began to share their stories and make the issue public in the media, the courts, and the international community.

On May 6, 2015, the Chicago City Council passed historic legislation that provides reparations to the survivors of police torture in Chicago, making it the only city in the United States that has ever passed legislation of this kind.

Our goal is for all individuals who went through such a horrific  experience to be granted justice.  These 22 individual cases have all been reviewed by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, a state agency.  It was created by statute as a result of mass pressure, especially by Black People Against Police Torture, whose President, Attorney Standish Willis, played an instrumental role in drafting the measure.

Twenty of the 22 individual cases described here have been reviewed by the Torture Commission, and they have found sufficient evidence to warrant a new hearing for each of these survivors.   Of the 22 survivors of torture, 17 were under the age of 25, and 6 were younger than 18 at the time of their arrest and torture. All 22 survivors are African American or Latinx. All of them are sons. All of them were community members. None deserved to be tortured.

We demand that the Governor pardon all the torture survivors, immediately.

The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression will continue to actively work on these cases, attending court and Torture Commission hearings and staying involved with family members. We will continue to work on more fact sheets and will put these on our the CFIST website,, as they become available.

If you are moved by these stories and would like to find out how to help, contact the Chicago Alliance  Against Racist and Political Repression by phone at 312-939-2750.


Harvey Allen

James Gibson

Ivan Smith

Robert Allen

Anthony Jakes

Robert Smith

George Anderson

Jerome Johnson

Sean Tyler

Tony Anderson

Scott Mitchell

Vincent Wade

Darryl Christian

Kevin Murray

Shawn Whirl

Javan Deloney

David Randle

Marcus Wiggins

Nick Escamilla

Gerald Reed

Jackie Wilson

Darrell Fair

Clayborn Smith



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