CHICAGO — “Justice delayed is justice denied,” shouted the crowd at a rally and picket line here April 24 in front of Special Prosecutor Edward Egan’s downtown office.

Egan was appointed by an appellate judge in 2002 to investigate allegations that former Police Commander Jon Burge and others under his command tortured suspects to obtain confessions. But four years and $5 million later, according to some estimates, a report has yet to be issued.

Burge is believed to be responsible for leading a corrupt police brutality ring on the city’s South Side that used electroshock devices, Russian roulette, near-suffocation and beatings to get false confessions out of more than 135 African American men during his tenure. Some of the torture victims, known as the Death Row 10, were sentenced to death, while many others continue to serve long prison terms.

Neither Burge nor any of the officers who worked under his command have faced prosecution, and Burge, fired in 1993, still collects a full pension.

Rally-goers held signs that read, “Torture by Chicago’s finest,” and “Jail Jon Burge.” Another read, “Stop police torture.”

Julien Ball, an organizer with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, told the World, “We’re here today to say enough is enough and that it’s time to bring indictments against Jon Burge and his officers.” Ball said Egan is expected to release his report in three weeks. “We hope that’s correct and we hope that he brings charges,” he said.

Gloria J. Johnson-Ester, an African American, attended the rally-related press conference to show her support for the issue. Her son Montell Johnson was on death row until former Gov. George Ryan commuted his sentence to 40 years.

She said her son, who suffers from chronic progressive multiple sclerosis and advanced dementia since age 40, was wrongfully convicted. Even the mother of the victim has sided with her, she said.

“There is injustice in the system,” she told the World. “There is something wrong when they don’t believe the mothers. You don’t put them to death because they’re poor and minority. This is not slavery.”

Johnson-Ester said there are currently 196 cases in Illinois where the state is seeking the death penalty. Of these prisoners, 155 are Black, 25 Latino and 16 white.

Larry Kennon, an attorney and original petitioner to appoint Egan to investigate Burge, told the World, “We are here today to see that justice be done and that Egan prosecute Jon Burge, who is a brutal torturer.”

Kennon later told the rally, “I hope that Egan will not allow himself to be a part of the general institutional racism of the Chicago police system.”

Darby Tillis, a former death row inmate who was exonerated, said, “I’m a political prisoner, used and abused. People don’t know what it’s like to lay in a cell and rot. It’s time to get justice for these men.”

The Rev. Calvin Morris from the Community Renewal Society said, “We are urging him [Egan] to speak and present his report. We believe that justice, morality and ethics require it. We are all here because our traditions seek justice, and we will continue to raise our voices.”

At the end of the rally a small delegation went up to Egan’s office to deliver an open letter and make contact with the special prosecutor. No one answered the door.

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