Chicago to pay reparations to police torture victims

On April 15, 2015, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel publicly supported reparations for the men and women who were tortured under former Police Commander Jon Burge. Under the direction of former police Chicago Commander Jon Burge, over 100 men and women of color were tortured.

As a result of  many years of lawsuits and grassroots activism, there is, finally, some measure of justice and recognition of the support the victims need to reestablish their lives. The reparations include:

  • Education on police torture in public schools
  • Formal apology from the Chicago City Council
  • Free college education or vocational training for survivors and their families
  • $5.5 million in financial compensation
  • Public memorial to torture survivors
  • A counseling center for survivors of Burge and their families – the U.S.’s first center for survivors of domestic police torture

This is a first in the United States and Chicago can be proud of taking this first step in recognizing not only the illegality of torture, but also the lifelong trauma that it causes.

Over the past few months, our film has traveled beyond U.S. borders to screenings in Japan, Africa, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland and Canada and Ireland.  Multiple screenings have taken place throughout Australia as part of Amnesty International Australia’s Campaign Against Torture. We are happy that our film continues to play a role in the fight against torture.

“Beneath the Blindfold is an invaluable resource to put faces to global statistics by telling the powerful and inspiring stories of torture survivors. It will help us engage everyday Australian in their communities and inspire them to take action for people who are at risk of torture right now.”  Belinda Lowe, Activism, Growth and Development Coordinator, Amnesty International Australia

With  screenings at the University of Notre Dame, the Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference in California, the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, and the Amnesty International Reel Awareness Film Festival in Toronto, our film continues to inspire and encourage engagement.

“Torture is often a difficult subject to talk about. Yet the prevalence of torture and its long term impact means we have a responsibility to bring it to the forefront of people’s consciousness. Films like Beneath The Blindfold bring the conversation forward, acting as a great resource for initiating understanding, dialogue and action towards ending torture.” -Renee Saviour, Amnesty International Reel Awareness Human Rights Film Festival, Toronto


Many of  you saw the updated epilogue in our film about Don Vance, the American torture survivor. In case you didn’t catch it, we wanted to let you know that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal from the Seventh Circuit ruling.  Don’s attorney, Mike Kanovitz, Esq. of Loevy and Loevy, brought his case against Donald Rumsfeld to the U.S. Supreme Court asking them to set aside the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. That ruling stated that U.S. citizens who are tortured by members of the military cannot sue them for violating their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny the petition for appeal means the Seventh Circuit Court decision – a blow to the civil rights of every American citizen – is now reaffirmed.

Read about the chilling ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit: