New CPS curriculum will highlight atrocities of police torture scandal

- Starting this year, thousands of Chicago Public School students will learn about a dark chapter in the city's history, the torture and abuse of suspects in police custody.

The history of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and the hundreds of people who accuse him of abuse will now be taught in the classroom.

It originally started as a pilot program at just six Chicago Public Schools

Both public school and CPD officials said 8th and 10th grade students across the city will be learning about Burge, who is accused of leading the abuse and torture of hundreds of African-American suspects, some by use of a cattle prodder or suffocation by plastic, forcing confessions from dozens. 

“This is a great thing, to teach our children what happened so that we don't repeat it,” Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

Burge's abuse is said to have happened during the 70's, 80's and parts of the early 90's while running a group of detectives.

He was fired from the department in 1993 but it wasn't until an investigation led by a special prosecutor, more than a decade later, confirmed the allegations.

However, it left no time for victims of the abuse to sue because the statute of limitations had expired.

A reparations package passed by City Council in 2015 approved $5.5 million to be given to his victims, as well as the curriculum to be taught in history classes.

“It is very timely that this kind of curriculum is being rolled out. It talks about what actually happened. It's straightforward. It's factual. It's true,” said Frank Clark, president of the Chicago Board of Education

In a statement, the city's police union disputed some claims of wrongful conviction, writing "Until the full review of the wrongful conviction movement is completed, the FOP does not believe the Burge mythology should be codified into public school curriculum."

Students are expected to learn about the abuse, itself, as well as hear from victims.

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