Dear Letter's Editor:
Thank you to John Conroy for the excellent article, "Town Without Pity" and for
Michael Miner's warning of the proposed legislation, "Cops Want Watchdogs Leashed."
In 1989 I traveled to Central America with a group of Chicagoans, including Mary
Powers, Coordinator of Citizens Alert. My eyes and mind were opened to see
places where torture is rampant and condoned to protect international business
interests and the lifestyle of the oligarchy. The unspeakable and inhuman treatment of the
military police toward anyone suspected of working toward changing the system is common. People know about it but don't do anything. One obvious reason is fear, but often the people of privilege convince themselves that law enforcement acts are justified to protect their way of life.
When we returned from that trip, Mary Powers called and said, "If you think
police torture only happens in Third World countries, come with me to hear about
torture in the Chicago precincts." With that invitation, I became a regular observer during two trials of Jon Burge and have been involved in several other cases of police brutality.
Press coverage was very minimal. Even a story from the taxpayer's interest point of
vie w (the amount of money paid each year by the City of Chicago to settle cases of police
b rutality) has been ignored.
When we were going to City Hall to demand hearings, Mike Royko wrote a column
saying that the liberals trying to help a convicted cop killer should "get a
life ." So, it was more than press indifference; there is actual hostility toward those opposing torture.
Many people believe victims of torture have done something to deserve this
treatment. Innocent people are abused by the police. Ask a person of color if he or she has
ever been or has known anyone who has been harassed, beaten, threatened, or arrested
unjust ly by the police. Almost all will answer "yes." Look again at the military regimes
and how they justify torturing people by calling them subversives, troublemakers, pinkos. The same thing happens in this country. Buzz words like "illegals," "gang bangers,"
"terrorists," "punks" are examples of words used to condemn entire groups of people and imply their guilt.
I believe the main reason people don't challenge acts of torture is because they
would have to question their whole value system and think about institutionalized evils
(i.e . racism, class issues, power, legal representation, the entire justice system,
international policies) that allow us to condone this type of behavior.
Nancy Fleck Myers
1005 Mohawk Rd.
Wilmette, IL 60091