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Tue, 24 Jan 2023 08:01
Civil rights attorneys take on a risky case against Jon Burge. As they press their fight in court, an official in the police department launches an official investigation.
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Hey, prime members, you can listen to American Scandal add-free on Amazon music, download the app today. A listener note, this episode contains descriptions of racial violence and other graphic material. It may not be suitable for a younger audience. It's April 1987 on a cold, gray morning in Chicago. The attorney Flint Taylor is rushing into work. He takes a sip of coffee and rubs his eyes. It's been a long few days and springtime in the upper Midwest can still be brutally cold. But even with the dreary weather in cloudy skies, Taylor can't afford to feel groggy or risk falling behind on his work. Not with everything he and his law firm are trying to accomplish. Taylor is one of the head attorneys at a firm known as the People's Law Office. They're a civil rights firm and they work on cases involving police abuse and racial injustice. Like Taylor, the other attorneys in the firm are driven by a sense of justice. They want to make the world a better place. And they've taken on some high-profile cases, including working with clients like the Black Panthers. For Taylor, the work has a deep and personal meaning. Even as a kid, he was already committed to the civil rights movement. He wanted to make the world a little more fair, and that's why he co-founded the People's Law Office when he was only 23. Over the years, his commitment to the cause has only grown deeper, especially with all the atrocities he's witnessed. Taylor finally gets to his office and grabs a seat. Taking another big sip of coffee, he gets ready to dive back into work. He has a lot to do and a lot of clients whose rights have been violated by the government. Taylor opens a file cabinet and pulls out a folder. He begins paging through a legal brief when suddenly his phone rings. Hello, this is Flint Taylor. Hello, I'm trying to find a lawyer. Well, I mean, I have the right guy. Who am I speaking with? My name is Andrew Wilson. I'm here at Pontiac Correctional. I'm Pontiac's rough. Yeah, you could say that again. Well, Mr. Wilson, I'm sure your time is limited to how can I help? You probably remember my name, don't you? Andrew Wilson, uh, Taylor searches through his memory when it hits him. Andrew Wilson was the man who killed two police officers during a traffic stop. He went on the run and that led to a citywide manhunt with police terrorizing black residents on the south side. Uh, I do remember you're on death row, right? Yeah, that's right. So what can I do for you? Are you trying to appeal? Did something happen? Well, something did happen. After the police caught me, they... Uh, take your time, Mr. Wilson. Uh, it hurts just to think about it. It's okay. Whenever you're ready. Yeah, you. After they brought me in, they put me in this small room. You know, at first it was the usual stuff they hit me. They kicked me. Uh, and Mr. Taylor, I'm just judging by your voice. You're a white man. I am, yes. Well, you have to understand if you're black, and if you live in Chicago, you know it's coming at some point. Police are going to beat you. Beat you senseless. But this... after they finished hitting and kicking me, they took out a box, a bunch of wires. They helped them up to my face, and then they started shocking me. I'm sorry, Mr. Wilson, you saying the police electrocuted you? Yeah, not just my face. They shocked me, you know, down below in my private area. It did it until I started coughing up blood, and they pressed me up against a hot radiator and burned my skin. I couldn't hold out anymore, so I told them I did it. I confessed. Taylor pauses, stunned. This is a horrifying story. But Taylor wouldn't put a pass that Chicago PD to do something so heinous. Still, Taylor is an attorney, and he knows that sometimes inmates can grow desperate. They make up stories, thinking it could get them out of prison. So Taylor has to probe a little to see if Wilson is telling the truth. Well, Mr. Wilson, who did this to you? Oh God, there's a bunch of them. The leader though, he was a guy named John Birch. Okay. And do you have any proof of these allegations? You don't believe me? I'm not saying I don't believe you. You're going to turn out just like the rest of them, aren't you? Mr. Wilson. You want to see proof? You come on down. You come look at the burns of my chest on my face. Mr. Wilson. No, no, no, you listen to me. I know I did a bad thing. I know I've told a lot of lies. But I'm not lying about this. Okay, okay, Mr. Wilson. I believe you. I promise I do. I need to know more though. What I need to know is if you're going to take my case. Taylor runs hand through his graying hair. There's always a chance Wilson is lying, but it doesn't sound like a tall tale. And if there's even a shred of truth in this story, Taylor has a moral obligation to do something. Yes, Mr. Wilson. I'll represent you. I'll be in touch soon. Taylor sets down the phone. He has no illusion about the enormity of these accusations. Or the challenges this case is going to present. Andrew Wilson killed two cops. He's one of the most reviled criminals in the city's history. But if what he's saying is true, if he was tortured into giving a confession, none of that matters. Because there's only one issue at stake. The police broke the law in a spectacular way. And they have to be held accountable for their crimes. This episode is sponsored by Audible. Audible lets you enjoy all your audio entertainment in one app. You'll always find the best of what you love or something new to discover. That's because Audible is the home of storytelling. You'll discover thousands of podcasts from popular favorites to exclusive new series, guided wellness programs, theatrical performances, comedy and exclusive Audible originals from top celebrities, renowned experts, and exciting new voices in audio. The Audible app makes it easy to listen anytime, anywhere. While traveling, working out, walking, doing chores. You decide. Plus, new members can try Audible free for 30 days. Visit audible.com slash WonderingPod or text WonderingPod to 500-500. That's audible.com slash WonderingPod or text WonderingPod to 500-500. The British Royal family might be one of the most powerful institutions on Earth. But even they have got a weakness, divorce. With Wallace Simpson and Camilla Parker bowls, they may have met their match. And in our new series, Royal Scandal from Wallace to Camilla will tell you all about it. Listen to even the rich on Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts. From Wondering, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American Scandal. In 1982, the Chicago Police Commander John Burge secured a major victory. When he arrested Andrew Wilson on charges of killing two police officers. Wilson was eventually transferred to a maximum security prison. And with the case closed, Burge assumed that that was the end of the story. But everything would soon change. The civil rights attorney Flint Taylor agreed to represent Wilson in a civil lawsuit against Burge. And as he worked the case, the attorney uncovered shocking evidence, revealing that Burge and fellow officers had tortured not just Wilson, but numerous suspected criminals targeting black suspects in particular. And Burge and the other officers appeared to receive protection from higher ups and the police department in city government. Soon the truth began to emerge, and local activists rallied to the cause. But John Burge wouldn't stay on the sidelines. He began preparing for a major battle in court. And with his life and legacy on the line, Burge grew determined to win. Again, no matter the cost. This is episode three, Civil trial. It's February 3rd, 1989 in Chicago. The attorney Flint Taylor is paging through a series of shocking legal documents. As he flips from one page to the next, sense of horror begins rising from the pit of his stomach. A feeling Taylor has never had his entire career. Two years ago, the civil rights attorney in his firm agreed to represent Andrew Wilson, the criminal who was convicted of killing two police officers. At first, Taylor was a little skeptical of his new client. But as he began developing the case, any hesitation quickly vanished. In their research, Taylor and his colleagues uncovered documents painting a damning portrait of the Chicago police department. They found evidence showing not only that the department turned a blind eye to torture, but they might have even encouraged the practice. And that the police department's superintendent had full knowledge of his officer's crime. The scope of the abuse is almost unimaginable. And that's why Taylor and his law firm felt confident moving forward with a lawsuit on behalf of Andrew Wilson. They're now suing the city and demanding $10 million in damages. But even with the horrifying evidence, Taylor knows this lawsuit is going to be an uphill battle. He works for an understaffed civil rights law firm. And they're going up against a city with almost unlimited resources, and no intention of admitting the truth. With the case now on its way to trial, Taylor has a lot of work in front of him. So he hunkers down his desk and continues to read through stacks of depositions and department memos. If he's lucky, he'll find some golden piece of evidence that will sway the jury and guarantee a victory in court for Andrew Wilson. Taylor is sifting through yet another police report. When an envelope suddenly drops on his desk, Taylor looks up and finds his colleague, John Stainthorpe, standing over him. Televery for Mr. Flint Taylor returning at law. John, what's this? I don't know. Yeah, the envelope doesn't have a return address. Figure diet, drop it off, and we could unseal the mystery together. Alright, let's take a look. Taylor opens the envelope and begins reading. Oh, John, you're not going to believe this. The lottery, huh? No. Well, kind of. Whoever wrote this, he says he has firsthand knowledge of Andrew Wilson's case. What kind of knowledge are we talking about? Um, he says the detectives in CPD had a history of using what he called torture machines. And they did it in front of the superintendent and state prosecutors. What? The superintendent and state officials knew what was happening? Oh, that's what this guy's saying. Oh, you're not going to believe this. Taylor continues staring at the letter, absorbing what might be the most shocking allegation yet. Mayor Jane Byrne. She knew what was happening, too. Oh, wait. Yeah, yeah. This is a cover-up. It's a conspiracy. Stainthorps suddenly looks pale. He grabs a chair and takes a seat. What do we do with this? Well, whoever this guy is, he says he's willing to hand over more information but he wants us to place and add in the South Town economist. The South Town economist? Yeah, I guess that's how we're supposed to communicate. Ah, Flint, this is... This sounds outrageous. I don't think this is a good idea. I mean, really, what do you make this guy's offering inside information? He can blow open the whole case. Yeah, but that's exactly what's bothering me. It's a little too convenient, a little too cloak and dagger. You think we're being set up? Well, is that crazy? A lot of people in this city don't really like us that much. Maybe they're pretending to be some kind of whistleblower, but actually feeding us bad information. They could humiliate us in court. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's a possibility. But, John, I have this feeling. It's the same one when Andrew Wilson first called me. Something in my guts telling me that there's something here. I don't think we can just ignore it. Stainthorps exhale slowly. All right, well... I guess let's go place a classified ad in the South Town economist. And we'll see what happens next. Taylor nods and feeds a sheet of paper into his typewriter. And he begins typing up the language for the ad, requesting additional information about Andrew Wilson. Taylor knows his colleague is right. They could be getting played by someone loyal to the police, but they can't ignore the lead. Because if it pans out, Taylor and the firm could get exactly what they need to take down John Burge. A month later, Flint Taylor steps out of a courthouse in downtown Chicago. He crosses a busy street that's choked with taxis and pedestrians. And as Taylor approaches the train station, he stops, shuts his eyes, and gives himself just a moment to rest. Today was yet another grueling session in court. Andrew Wilson's trial is underway, and Taylor has been fighting tooth and nail against the entire city of Chicago. He's pressing the case that his client was tortured by city police. And it's his job to convince the jury that Andrew Wilson, a convicted murderer, should be awarded millions of dollars in damages. Taylor knew the case would be tough, but he didn't think he would be this bad. The judge seems already to have made up his mind about the case. He keeps denying Taylor's motions and putting up unnecessary roadblocks and what seems like an effort to make sure Wilson loses. And at times, things have even gotten personal. One day, Taylor called his client to the stand and began walking the jury through his story. Wilson was visibly pained as he recounted being tortured. And at one point, he was so overwhelmed Taylor had to ask for a recess. But the judge just rolled his eyes and accused Wilson of being on drugs. Then he went on the shame and belittle Wilson in front of the jury. Taylor was shocked to see a judge of all people act so biased and cruel. And while there's more to a trial than a bad judge, Taylor has also been struggling to expose the truth about John Burge. The police commander took the stand and Taylor questioned him under oath. But time after time, Burge lied through his teeth, denying everything. So Taylor is feeling a bit deflated. He's well aware that the entire system of justice is stacked in favor of the police and so far. It appears that his trial strategy isn't panning out. It also doesn't help that his mysterious whistleblower has gone silent and hasn't yet offered any kind of silver bullet that could incriminate John Burge. Which is why tonight, Taylor and his colleague John Stainthorpe are heading back to the office instead of going home. They're exhausted from a very long day in court. But if they want even a long shot of winning this trial, they have to regroup and figure out a new strategy. Taylor and his colleague hop on a train and begin the short ride back to the firm's office. About a half hour later, the two step off the platform, make their way to the headquarters of the People's Law Office. As Taylor approaches the front door of the building, he stops at the mailbox. He swings it open, reaches inside, and pulls out a pile of bills and letters. But as Taylor flips through the envelopes, he spots something unusual. One of the letters has the insignia of the police department. But it does not have a return address. Taylor looks up at Stainthorpe. He doesn't want to get too excited, but this could be something from their mysterious informant. Taylor races into the office and opens the envelope. Standing side by side, he and his colleague begin reading. And Taylor wasn't mistaken, it is from their informant. The letter begins by explaining that Birg is an unapologetic racist. According to the whistleblower, the police commander has a deep-seated hatred of black Americans. Taylor lets out a snort, which nothing surprising or especially helpful in that. But as he continues reading, Taylor stumbles on a bombshell. The informant says there's a man named Melvin Jones, who's locked up in County jail on charges of murder. He's a potentially serious offender. But just like Andrew Wilson, Jones was tortured by John Birg, and he could be willing to talk. Taylor's hands begin to tremble as he looks up at Stainthorpe. This could be their silver bullet. Melvin Jones could back up every claim they've made in court and prove definitively that John Birg is guilty of torture. Stainthorpe rings his hands, saying he's not so sure. He doesn't have faith that this is the right approach. Taylor pleads his case, saying that every member of the jury needs to hear this testimony. Their client is a convicted murderer. They need to build credibility. Another similar story would help. But Stainthorpe pushes back. He says he agrees in principle, but it's an issue of process. They've already finished presenting their evidence against Birg. It's too late to bring in more witnesses. There's no way the judge will allow it, especially this judge. Taylor looks down at the floor, disappointed. His colleague is just being honest and practical. Because they both know, this judge is not interested in doing the right thing. But Taylor also knows he can't give up. Not now, not with everything they've discovered about John Birg and the department's history of torture. So Taylor folds up the letter and puts it in his pocket. It may be a losing cause, but this new witness, Melvin Jones, is all it got. They have to go for it. So Taylor reaches for his rolodex and grabs the phone number for the county jail. He's going to track down this man who may be their star witness. With any luck, Jones will be willing to come forward and tell the truth about John Birg. Several days later, the attorney's Dale Coventry and Alan Sincock approach a tall brick compound surrounded by fences and barbed wire. They pass through a security gate and show their IDs. And as the attorneys walk toward the entrance, they shoot each other in knowing look. It's time to step into Cook County jail in southwest Chicago. It should be a straightforward visit for the two attorneys. But Coventry also knows that when it comes to Chicago's criminal justice system, nothing ever seems to go as planned. That's been especially true of his client, Andrew Wilson. Coventry is a public defender. He represented Andrew Wilson a few years ago, back when he was charged with killing two police officers. In the end, Wilson was found guilty and sent to prison. And that should have been the end of it. But recently, there were some unexpected developments. Wilson has been working with another team of lawyers and brought a civil case against the Chicago Police Department. As they developed their case, the civil rights attorney somehow made contact with a whistleblower. They learned about another man who may have been tortured by John Birch. If these accusations turn out to be true, he wouldn't be just a gold mine for the civil case. It could potentially change Wilson's criminal conviction. So as Wilson's criminal defense lawyer, Coventry agreed to help out and meet with his potential star witness. But Coventry would have to meet with a witness in County jail, where he's now locked up. Outside the jail, Coventry checks his watch. Visitation hours are just about to begin. And as Coventry steps inside the compound, he and his colleague begin making their way through a long break-walled hallway with dim lighting. Coventry looks around, trying to find the registration desk. And that's when a correctional officer approaches. The officer demands to know what they're doing, wandering around. Coventry begins to explain that their visitors, here to see an inmate named Melvin Jones. But the guard cuts them off and tells Coventry to go away outside. That's where the line starts. Coventry pushes back, explaining he's an attorney. But the officer cuts them off again and points to the exit. Coventry just nods. He's not going to argue with a guard in jail. But when Coventry and his colleague step back outside, they find a long line of people waiting. They all look tired and beaten down. Coventry knows the criminal justice system isn't just hell for the inmates, but also for their families. And right when the morning seems like it couldn't get worse, Coventry hears the appeal of thunder off in the distance. Soon, rain begins to fall. First is just a drizzle, but then a downpour. The family members and visitors are all completely exposed, as the rain begins falling in sheets. An old woman shouts at the guards demanding to be let inside. But the guards don't budge, saying if people want to see an inmate they have to stand outside and wait. It's a stupid and cruel power play. Coventry almost tells his colleague that it's time to take off. They can do it another day. But soon the line starts lurching forward, and Coventry and his colleague are allowed inside. Standing, sopping wet in front of a pair of guards, Coventry announces he's here to see Melvin Jones. Guards nod and then a few minutes later, Coventry and his colleague are escorted to a row of glass booths that separate visitors from the inmates. The two attorneys take a seat, and soon another guard leads in a slender black man with a short half-row. He takes a seat on the other side of the booth, and leaning forward, Melvin Jones introduces himself, and begins telling his long and horrifying story. It began in February of 1982, just days before Andrew Wilson was arrested. The police had accused Jones of committing murder and brought him to the station, but Jones refused to confess. So John Burge became savage. The electrocuted Jones' leg, his foot, his genitals. He had the gun to Jones' temple, and said he was going to blow his black head off. But still, Jones would not confess. Burge suggested that if he did not talk soon, there was more pain on its way. Burge admitted that he didn't hesitate to electrocute a couple other criminals. Eventually, Jones says the torture stopped, but he's never forgotten the pain, and he'll never forget John Burge. As Jones finishes telling his story, Coventry sits back in shock. He wants to somehow console Jones all these years later, but he knows their time is limited, and he has to ask the most important question. Would Jones be willing to repeat this story in front of a jury? Jones doesn't hesitate. He says he'd be glad to. He'd do anything to stop John Burge. But before Coventry can say another word, a guard approaches and says their 20 minutes are up. It's time to go. Coventry rises, thanking Jones for his strength and courage. And he says they'll be in touch. As Coventry steps back out into the fresh air he looks up, sees the clouds have parted. The sun is out, and Coventry feels hopeful. This seems like a crap shoot, but is clear they now have a new witness. And if Andrew Wilson's lawyers can get this witness on the stand, they'll have a real shot at getting justice, finally exposing the truth about John Burge. There are moments in history that will never be forgotten. Like December 1st, 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on that bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Or January 27th, 1945, when Soviet forces liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Hi, I'm Lindsey Graham, host of the podcast History Daily. Every weekday we explore a momentous event that happened on this day in history. History Daily not only brings you more details of the days we remember, but also digs into the overlooked and forgotten human stories of history. New episodes post every weekday with some even on Saturday, so you can dive deep into a broad mix of historical topics from around the globe, learn about the last emperor of China, or the first man on the moon, the fascinating events in science, technology, religion, politics, and sports that have made our world all in 20 minutes or less. Follow History Daily wherever you get your podcasts, and you can listen ad-free on the Amazon Music or Wonder Yap. History Daily, make today historic. Americans scandal a sponsor by Tommy John. You know what's coming up. Even if you have no idea what I'm talking about somewhere deep inside your brain, a clump of neurons is screaming, trying to get you to pay attention and realize it's Valentine's Day soon. But don't panic. You have plenty of time still to find a gift that brings warmth, comfort, and a feeling of being loved. 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New members can try Audible free for 30 days. Visit audible.com slash AS or text AS to 500-500. That's audible.com slash AS or text AS to 500-500. It's March 30th, 1989 in Chicago. In a courtroom in downtown, the attorney Flint Taylor sits waiting at the plaintiffs table. He can't help but fidget with a stack of notes and even though he knows it's not going to speed anything up, he keeps clancing at the jury box hoping they'll come back soon. Today is the big day. In just a few minutes the jury is going to return with the decision in Andrew Wilson's civil trial. Taylor is praying they'll do what's right and award damages to Wilson. He might be a convicted murderer but the law is the law. He never should have been tortured into giving a confession. Still Taylor knows that the outcome is by no means guaranteed. The attorney put up a good fight but in the end the judge made everything difficult. He wouldn't let Taylor call his star witness Melvin Jones even though Jones's testimony would have revealed that John Burge had a history of torture. But even with a biased judge, Taylor is holding out some hope because the final decision isn't up to the judge. It's in the hands of the jury and they should have all the evidence they need to rule in favor of Wilson. A few minutes later the judge and jury re-entered the courtroom. Everyone takes their seat and the courtroom falls silent as the jury form and steps forward. The judge turns to the jury box and asks for their decision. With his voice flat, the form and announces that the jury failed to reach a verdict. They cannot agree whether John Burge tortured Andrew Wilson. Taylor blinks and surprises. He wanted to get justice for his client but they didn't lose. It's a hung jury. And that means they'll have a retrial, a second chance to win. Taylor glances around the room where John Burge is sitting beside his attorneys. All throughout the trial the police commander has maintained an air of cockiness like nothing could touch him. But now his face is red and he looks humiliated. He didn't get the full exoneration he seemed to believe was his god-given right. The judge banks his gowl and a minute later Taylor grabs his notes and rises. This case took a lot out of him and he knows the next trial won't be any easier. He's still going to face a court system that's biased in favor of the police. And even with a strong case John Burge could still walk away completely unscathed. But that's something Taylor can't let happen. Burge is too violent, too dangerous. And if the courts won't stop John Burge, maybe there's another way, something that doesn't depend on a judge or jury. It's June 1989 in Chicago and the activist Mary Powers is standing over a Xerox machine. The hulking device winds and rumbles as it spits out hundreds of brightly colored flyers. When it finally comes to a stop, Powers grabs one of the sheets and smiles. The flyer does a good job advertising her upcoming event, which is going to focus on police brutality and racial profiling. And although she has a lot of flyers to put up and the afternoon is going to be long, Powers doesn't mind. At 66 years old she spent the better part of her adult life fighting for social justice. Powers leads an organization called Citizens Alert and she's done a lot of good work in Chicago helping organize the public and holding the police accountable. Sometimes the work can be draining, even to moralizing, but Powers knows even if you're exhausted you have to keep going and keep fighting the good fight. Even if the good fight means spending the afternoon running around Chicago, stapling flyers to telephone poles. As Powers rounds a corner, she hears someone open the front door of the office, but she's not expecting anyone. She heads to the front and there she finds Flint Taylor, a civil rights attorney who Powers has a lot of respect for. Flint, you didn't tell me you were coming today? Oh, kind of a spur of the moment decision. Well I was about to go put up some flyers on the south side. You want to join me? Oh no, you don't want my help. I'll be complaining about my feet in 15 minutes. Oh you. You might be an attorney, but I can see it. Somewhere deep inside you, there's a grassroots organizer. Grab a staple gun. Let's go. Powers picks up her bag and heads for the door. But Mary, could we just stop for a second? I'm here to ask you something. Well, well sure. Does this have anything to do with Andrew Wilson? It does, and I need your help. You want my help? Flint, I'm an activist, not a lawyer. Well that's the thing. We're going to try his case again, but the first trial was a good reminder. The system is rigged. That's why we need organizers and activists like you. Grassroots actions can't change a jury's decision. That's up to you. No, Mary, I'm not asking you to help with the case. What I'm asking is for you to mobilize your people. March, do whatever it takes to get the public to stand with Andrew Wilson. Oh gosh. What would that accomplish? Well we may not win in court. Even the second time around. Now we have to find some way to stop John Burge and get him fired. Oh. Well Flint, I hear you. I'm sympathetic. But I don't know about this one. Why not Mary? Power stares into the distance as she weighs her words. Well, what happened to Andrew Wilson is terribly wrong. But he committed double murder. And the fact is it would be no small task to get people on his side. We're a small organization. We have to choose our battles. Mary, don't tell me you're okay with John Burge staying on the force. No, of course I am not okay with that. And help me get him fired. Andrew Wilson, he may be guilty, but there are other people out there. Innocent people who John Burge is willing to torture. It's not about Andrew Wilson. It's about them. We have to stop Burge. We don't have a choice. Howard runs a hand through her gray hair trying to make her mind. She wasn't lying. Her organization is stretched in. They can only do so much. But on the other hand, Taylor is right. John Burge is a menace. He can't remain a decorated member of the Chicago PD. A torture out on the street. So powers reaches out for a handshake that says she's in. She'll get the gears moving. And in the coming weeks, every activist in Chicago will know the name John Burge. It's August 17, 1989, and a warm summer evening on the south side of Chicago. Outside the headquarters of the Chicago Police Department, large crowd of protesters have gathered in the streets. Some of them carry signs with the slogan, Torture is Un-American. Others mill about, chanting loudly for the removal of the police commander John Burge. As she looks out over the crowd, the activist Mary Powers grins. She didn't expect the crowd to be so large, but with strength and numbers, they might be able to force Chicago's police officials to take meaningful action, maybe even fire John Burge. Powers calls after the crowd, ordering them to start moving into police headquarters. Their target is the regular meeting of the Chicago Police Board, the group that oversees the entire department. That's who they have the pressure, because that's who has the power to fire John Burge. Hearing the command that protesters burst into the building and begin making their way through long corridors toward an auditorium, they stream in and start taking seats. Powers look around the room, and notices that the police officials are startled and shocked, they're surrounded. But Powers is only concerned with one of the officials, Lee Roy Martin, the current superintendent of the police. Powers begins to address Martin, explaining why she and her fellow activists have stormed the auditorium. They're here to make demands, and they need to be taken seriously. Superintendent Martin just cracks his knuckles in size. He asks what powers wants and why she and her band of protesters are disrupting a government meeting. Powers says it's simple. The police commander John Burge is guilty of torture. He committed unspeakable acts of abuse, all in the name of getting confessions. Burge electrocuted people in his custody. He burned them, beat them, tortured them until their lives were shattered. Powers declares the police board has a moral and legal duty to fire John Burge and lead a full investigation of his crimes, and they have to do it now. Powers pauses and locks eyes with the members of the police board, but the men all remain silent and wait for the superintendent to answer for them. Clearing his throat, Martin says he does not have the legal power to take that kind of unilateral action. Powers pushes back, saying that's not true, and everyone knows it. The police board has the responsibility to punish officers. Firing an officer who commits torture is well within the scope of their authority. The superintendent gays is at his fellow board members and what seems to be an attempt to buy some time. And after a long pause, he tells powers that he's not just sitting around doing nothing. He's already requested a transcript of Andrew Wilson's most recent trial. He's going to read the transcript, and after that he'll decide whether to punish John Burge. Powers nods and says that's a good start, but she wants the superintendent to know that she and her fellow protesters are not going to forget his promise. They're going to return the following month. They're not going to let up. They're going to keep making noise until the board does the right thing and gets rid of John Burge. It's March 27th, 1990, in Chicago. Inside the headquarters of the Chicago Police Department, David Vogel moves through his office, packing up all of his belongings. He takes a couple of photos off the wall. He grabs his favorite pen, his favorite mug, and one by one he sticks everything into an open cardboard box, one small enough that he can carry it out the front door of the building. Vogel stops and looks at one of the photos. Breaks his heart to pack it away. But whether or not he wants to admit it, Vogel's time at the Chicago Police Department is coming to a close. As the head of the department's office of professional standards, Vogel is one of the lead watchdogs overseeing the police department. It's been his responsibility to make sure police officers follow the law and do their jobs the right way. Vogel has always taken the job seriously. He knows that police have to be held to the highest standards of conduct. Still as he packs up his office, Vogel can't help but feel like he's failed. A while back he tried to bring attention to John Burge, an officer accused of torture. Vogel even contacted the new superintendent to police in Chicago's mayor. But nothing came of his efforts, and that left Vogel feeling bitter and disappointed. As far as he could tell the city and the police department would do whatever they could to cover up an officer's crimes. They were not interested in listening to the department's own watchdog, and it didn't matter that social activists like Mary Powers had begun a public campaign to get John Burge fired. The department just continued to act like it always has, protecting their own, even if they're guilty of horrifying crimes. Vogel drops another photo into the cardboard box and size. He takes a moment to let the bile settle down, and realizes he only had one choice. He had to leave the job. It's a sad moment. But at his core, Vogel is an idealist. And now that he's in his last moments on the job, he's going to make one last effort to hold John Burge accountable for his crimes, and to force the department to do the right thing. That's why Vogel is happy to see Francine Sanders and Michael Goldston in his doorway. They're both civilian investigators who work for Vogel. They're good at their jobs and trustworthy. Which is why Vogel invites them into his office, shuts the door, and begins explaining a very sensitive assignment. Vogel tells Sanders and Goldston that it's now their job to conduct an official investigation of John Burge, as well as the department more broadly. Vogel explains that the task is crucial. Burge very likely committed torture. He has to be held accountable, tried as a criminal, or at the very least fired. The two investigators, Francine Sanders and Michael Goldston, exchange a look. Sanders frowns and runs a hand through her Auburn hair. She says that while the accusations are shocking, she's having a hard time believing that a veteran officer like Burge would commit torture. Doesn't seem possible. Vogel knows that Sanders is thoughtful and a critical thinker. He tells her that he had similar doubts when he first heard the accusations. But he's seen the evidence and it changes mind. He's confident that she'll feel the same way. But Goldston, the other investigator, says they have another problem. Officers maintain a strict code of silence. Even if Burge is guilty, no one's gonna round on him. Vogel nods again and says he knows this is going to be a challenge. But the people of Chicago and especially the city's black community deserve justice. Police have to be held to high standards. The public's trust is all they have. And that means the truth has to come out. Sanders and Goldston still seem a little wary. And Vogel understands their hesitation. It could be a dangerous mission going up against a decorated police officer, the whole city of Chicago. But eventually both investigators say they're on board. They'll dig into the evidence. And if it's as damaging as Vogel claims, they'll make sure the department and the public learn the difficult truth. A year later, John Burge walks down along hallway in the headquarters of the Chicago Police Department. His heavy footsteps echo against the marble walls. He stops in front of an office door, takes just a moment, and then reaches for the doorknob. As Burge steps into the office, he finds a police superintendent, Leroy Martin, sitting behind his desk. John, have a seat. Burge collapses into an impulsored chair and squins at the superintendent. He's a middle-aged black man with a thin mustache and a cold stare. Burge has never trusted him. So what's all this about? Why am I here? John, we've got a problem. What kind of problem? Well, this kind of problem. Martin opens a drawer and pulls out a thick stack of documents. What is this? A case you want help on? No, John, I'm not the one who needs help. I call you here as a courtesy. I wanted to let you know that you've been investigated. What? Me? Yeah, OPS. What are the boys in the office of professional standards have to say? Well, that you've been breaking the law, abusing criminals to get confessions. And apparently everyone's been covering it up. This again, is this about Andrew Wilson? I beat that case. Look, I don't think there's anything more to say. I've got a lot more to say. Well, I don't know if I want to hear, Leroy. It's superintendent Martin, and you're here to listen. Look, I gave you free reign when I was working at Burnside, and I followed the code. No one said anything. But now, the report's going public. And I can't keep a lid on it. What does that mean? It means that after this comes out, you're going to face the day of reckoning, John. You could get suspended or even fired. So that's the way it's going to be, huh? And you, you're going to sit back and do nothing? Things are what they are. Oh, you're a coward. Look at you. You should have known you'd turn. John, I'm sorry, I can't help you. Might be at the end of the line. Burge snorls as he stares at the superintendent. This isn't right. Comps are supposed to protect each other. That's part of the code. And the head of the police, the superintendent himself, won't stick to it. Burge feels a rage rising up inside. He's shaking. He wants to leap across the desk. But Burge manages to calm himself down. He knows lashing out isn't going to help him. Striking a superior officer? Now that would get him in trouble. But this report, even if it does go public, it won't be trouble. The jury in his civil case proved it. He won. John Burge is a hero cop, a defender of the city. People of Chicago notes us versus them out there. And they don't need or want to know how Burge does it just so long as he keeps them safe. So that's what Burge will keep doing. And no report. No judge, no jury will be able to stop it. From Wondering, this is episode three of the Midnight Crew from American Scandal. In our next episode, Mary Powers works to overturn state legislation that would protect John Burge. And back in the courtroom, Burge gets ready for a trial that could send him to prison. Hey, prime members, you can listen to American Scandal ad free on Amazon Music, download the Amazon Music Cap today, or you can listen ad free with Wondering Plus and Apple Podcasts. Before you go, tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at Wondering.com slash survey. If you'd like to learn more about John Burge and the Midnight Crew, we recommend a book beyond the usual beating by Andrew S. Bear and the torture machine by Flint Taylor. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited and executed produced by me, Lindsay Graham for airship audio editing by Molly Bach, sound designed by Derek Barrett's Music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Hannibal DS, edited by Christina Malsberg. Our senior producer is Gabe Riven. Execute producers are Stephanie Jens, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and Marsha Louis for Wondering.