Chicago will pay a total of up to $5.5 million to dozens of people tortured by the city’s police in the 1970s and 1980s and make other reparations such as a memorial to torture victims under an ordinance approved by the city council on Wednesday.
“We are strong enough to say we were wrong,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said after the vote. “Chicago will finally confront its past and come to terms with it.”
The ordinance also calls for the city to provide psychological counseling, job placement aid and other services to torture victims.
Chicago and Cook County already have paid about $100 million in settlements and verdicts for lawsuits related to disgraced former Chicago police Commander Jon Burge, who was fired in 1993 and later convicted of lying about police torture in testimony he gave in civil lawsuits.
“Chicago has taken a historic step to show the country, and the world, that there should be no expiration date on reparations for crimes as heinous as torture,” Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.
Hawkins said the ordinance will help set a precedent for holding torturers accountable in Chicago and elsewhere in the United States.