Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chicago: A Torture-Free City?

NOTE: Chicago City Council voted UNANIMOUSLY on January 18, 2012, to make Chicago a torture-free city.]

What might we be able to accomplish if we could hold the unanimous passage of this resolution up as an example to people in other cities, to encourage them to take similar action? Can we start a movement for a torture-free WORLD?

* * * * *

On January 18, 2012, Chicago City Council will vote on a resolution to make Chicago a torture-free city. This vote will be a CRITICAL MILESTONE in the movement in Chicago and throughout the Midwest to resist the abuses of our government (including the national mobilization for the closure of Guantanamo, Bagram, and other sites, and the end of illegitimate detention practices, January 11, 2012). YOUR SUPPORT of UNANIMOUS PASSAGE at the January 18 Chicago City Council meeting can make the difference in getting the resolution passed!

Action Steps
The Resolution
Contact Your Alderman on Twitter!
Key Background

We are on our way to making Chicago the first city in the United States to publicly oppose torture. This is great and it could not have happened without your work and support! Now we need you to stick with it to get the resolution passed!

(1) Review the notes on the January 12 hearing on the resolution. Note that the resolution's sponsor, Alderman Joe Moore, has stated that he expects the UNANIMOUS passage of this resolution.

(2) Lobby your alderman. Call or write your alderman to tell him/her how important this resolution is to you. (Want to make some noise? Most aldermen are now on Twitter, so you can tell them in public!)

(3) Sign the petition. Thousands of people have already signed this ICAT petition to urge passage of this resolution (including hard copy and online versions). Please join them!

(4) Tell your friends! Email, Facebook, Twitter, you know the drill! (Just think about the impact if each person who supported this resolution told just ten friends!)

(5) Attend the January 18 vote! City Council meets at 10 a.m., January 18, 2012, to vote on the resolution. Come early to be assured a seat in Council chambers.

WHEREAS, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention) defines torture as: “Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”; and

WHEREAS, the United States signed the Convention in 1988 and the United States Congress ratified the Convention in 1994, thereby making it a law; and

WHEREAS, torture violates our nation’s and our city’s most cherished ideals and violates the rights of all individuals, in contravention of the Convention and provisions of the United States Constitution, including the Fifth Amendment ban on self-incrimination, the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law; and

WHEREAS, incidents of torture and degrading practices perpetrated by agents of or on behalf of the United States government have been documented in Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere abroad since the signing of the Convention; and

WHEREAS, many Chicagoans are being held in prolonged solitary confinement in Illinois prisons in conditions which often lead to physical and psychological breakdown and are a form of torture; and

WHEREAS, former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and Chicago police officers under his command tortured scores of African-American men, which resulted in false confessions leading to wrongful convictions and imprisonment; and

WHEREAS, the City of Chicago and its taxpayers have paid and continue to pay millions of dollars to defend lawsuits arising from those torturous acts; and

WHEREAS, torture survivors require comprehensive care and assistance, such as that provided by the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center; and

WHEREAS, torture degrades everyone involved—perpetrators, survivors of torture, their families and communities, and officials and the public which turn a blind eye to such practices; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Chicago in 2002 declared June 26th a day of support for torture survivors in accordance with the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Chicago stand firm against all forms of torture and inhuman treatment, and hereby proclaim Chicago to be a torture free zone; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Chicago voice their strong and unwavering support for all survivors of torture, and will hold all perpetrators accountable for their actions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Chicago support and will take all necessary steps to enact the following: 1. The City of Chicago declares that it will not tolerate, support or allow torture to be practiced by its employees or residents. 2. The City of Chicago affirms that all prisoners under city, state or federal governmental control are entitled to have their human rights respected, including their right to be free from torture. 3. The City of Chicago supports the observance of December 10th, International Human Rights Day, as a day to reaffirm that the human rights of all people must be respected and to publicly denounce the practice of torture, wherever it occurs.

1st - Joe Moreno @Alderman_Moreno
2nd - Robert Fioretti @FiorettiChicago
3rd - Pat Dowell (not on Twitter)
4th - William Burns @Ald4_WillBurns
5th - Leslie Hairston (not on Twitter)
6th - Roderick Sawyer @RoderickTSawyer
7th - Sandi Jackson @SandiJackson1
8th - Michelle Harris (not on Twitter)
9th - Anthony Beale (not on Twitter)
10th - John Pope @AldermanPope
11th - James Balcer (not on Twitter)
12th - George A. Cardenas @ald12
13th - Marty Quinn (not on Twitter)
14th - Ed Burke (not on Twitter)
15th - Toni Foulkes (not on Twitter)
16th - JoAnn Thompson (not on Twitter)
17th - Latasha Thomas (not on Twitter)
18th - Lona Lane (not on Twitter)
19th - Matthew O’Shea @mattoshea19
20th - Willie Cochran @ALDERMANWBC
21st - Howard Brookins Jr.(not on Twitter)
22nd - Ricardo Munoz @AldermanMunoz22
23rd - Michael Zalewski (not on Twitter)
24th - Michael Chandler (not on Twitter)
25th - DanielSolis @AldermanSolis
26th - Roberto Maldonado (not on Twitter)
27th - Walter Burnett, Jr. @AldermanBurnett
28th - Jason Ervin @AldermanErvin
29th - DeborahGraham (not on Twitter)
30th - Ariel E. Reboyras @Ald_Reboyras
31st - Ray Suarez (not on Twitter)
32nd - Scott Waguespack (not on Twitter)
33rd - Richard F. Mell (not on Twitter)
34th - Carrie Austin (not on Twitter)
35th - Rey Colon (not on Twitter)
36th - Nicholas Sposato @AldermanSposato
37th - Emma Mitts @EmmaMittsAld37
38th - Timothy M. Cullerton (not on Twitter)
39th - Margaret Laurino (not on Twitter)
40th - Patrick J. O'Connor @40thWard
41st - Mary O’Connor @OCONNORfor41
42nd - Brendan Reilly (not on Twitter)
43rd - Michele Smith @MicheleSmith43
44th - Thomas M. Tunney @AldTomTunney
45th - John Arena @johnarena445
46th - James Cappleman @jamescappleman
47th - Ameya Pawar @alderman_pawar
48th - Harry Osterman (not on Twitter)
49th - Joseph A. Moore @joemoore49
50th - Debra Silverstein @Debra4Alderman


Chicago Police Torture
Chicago Police Torture Archive
Chicago Police Torture Justice Memorials

Solitary Confinement as Torture
Atul Gawande, Hellholes, The New Yorker - "The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?"

Chicago as a Haven for Survivors of Torture
Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center

Related posts

More than any other part of the day, I was moved by the assurance with which Alderman Joe Moore, the resolution's sponsor, stated, "I expect this resolution will pass UNANIMOUSLY."

(See summary of testimony offered in Why Chicago Must Become a Torture-Free Zone )

It is perhaps the signal achievement of the film "Beneath the Blindfold" that it portrays four different survivors, each of whose experience of torture was distinct from that of any of the others, and each of whom has an otherwise unique personality, and yet each makes clear that they share a long-lasting trauma. One leaves the film with a deeply-felt sense of the lasting trauma caused by torture of any kind.

(See The Revelations of "Beneath the Blindfold" )

The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo holds weekly vigils at Dearborn and Jackson in Chicago every Friday at 4:30 p.m. to support the Guantanamo Hunger Strikers and to demand that Guantanamo be shut down. (Learn more about weekly vigils by the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo.)

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