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A lawyer for the people, Flint Taylor has spent nearly fifty years fighting for justice, from the courtrooms of Cook County to the US Supreme Court. With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city’s corrupt politic A lawyer for the people, Flint Taylor has spent nearly fifty years fighting for justice, from the courtrooms of Cook County to the US Supreme Court. With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city’s corrupt political machine. The Torture Machine takes the reader from the 1969 murders of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and Panther Mark Clark—and the historic, thirteen-years of litigation that followed—through the dogged pursuit of commander Jon Burge, the leader of a torture ring within the CPD that used barbaric methods, including electric shock, to elicit false confessions from suspects. Joining forces with community activists, torture survivors and their families, other lawyers, and local reporters, Taylor and the PLO gathered evidence from multiple cases to bring suit against the CPD officers and the City of Chicago. As the struggle expanded beyond the torture scandal to the ultimately successful campaign to end the death penalty in Illinois, and obtained reparations for many of the torture survivors, it set human rights precedents that have since been adopted across the United States.


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A lawyer for the people, Flint Taylor has spent nearly fifty years fighting for justice, from the courtrooms of Cook County to the US Supreme Court. With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city’s corrupt politic A lawyer for the people, Flint Taylor has spent nearly fifty years fighting for justice, from the courtrooms of Cook County to the US Supreme Court. With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-ups within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city’s corrupt political machine. The Torture Machine takes the reader from the 1969 murders of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and Panther Mark Clark—and the historic, thirteen-years of litigation that followed—through the dogged pursuit of commander Jon Burge, the leader of a torture ring within the CPD that used barbaric methods, including electric shock, to elicit false confessions from suspects. Joining forces with community activists, torture survivors and their families, other lawyers, and local reporters, Taylor and the PLO gathered evidence from multiple cases to bring suit against the CPD officers and the City of Chicago. As the struggle expanded beyond the torture scandal to the ultimately successful campaign to end the death penalty in Illinois, and obtained reparations for many of the torture survivors, it set human rights precedents that have since been adopted across the United States.

30 review for The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This book is a tough read because even if you aren’t someone naive to police corruption in Chicago (it’s been reported on for decades) the extent of corruption may still surprise you. Though the book touches on different cases, the story of corrupt cop Jon Burge is a common theme and was hard for me to wrap my mind around. Burge was known to use torture devices, his experience with torture coming from his days seeing combat in Vietnam. But the exploitation of power doesn’t start and stop with hi This book is a tough read because even if you aren’t someone naive to police corruption in Chicago (it’s been reported on for decades) the extent of corruption may still surprise you. Though the book touches on different cases, the story of corrupt cop Jon Burge is a common theme and was hard for me to wrap my mind around. Burge was known to use torture devices, his experience with torture coming from his days seeing combat in Vietnam. But the exploitation of power doesn’t start and stop with him. It runs square into politics, with Richard M Daley prominently featured. Author Flint Taylor knows a thing or two since he was the lawyer fighting this cess pool of injustice. At one point in the book investigative journalist John Conroy poses a question of why the US attorney wasn’t getting involved in the case of accused cop killer Andrew Wilson’s alleged torture by police. His answer was “perhaps because no one believes it can happen here. Perhaps there is no investigation simply because, as other nations have found, torture is an intimate affair, something that happens among a few adults behind a closed door, something that is hard to prove afterward because the accused—often decorated soldiers who have served their country in a time of crisis—deny the allegations, and the victims are terrorists or alleged terrorists, associates of terrorists...dissidents, criminals, rioters, stone throwers, sympathizers, or relatives of the above”.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    If the author can spend his entire working life litigating the same set of police torture cases to expose the truth and get partial justice , you can slog through this tome and learn about the cover-up and how hard it was to expose it. An important chapter in recent American history, showing the power of the police over black lives, the difficulty of teaching interrogation tactics to citizen soldiers and then bringing them back home, and how the bias and personal beliefs of some judges affects t If the author can spend his entire working life litigating the same set of police torture cases to expose the truth and get partial justice , you can slog through this tome and learn about the cover-up and how hard it was to expose it. An important chapter in recent American history, showing the power of the police over black lives, the difficulty of teaching interrogation tactics to citizen soldiers and then bringing them back home, and how the bias and personal beliefs of some judges affects the supposed impartiality of our justice system. Among other things.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    Flint Taylor is not a prose stylist. This book is light on narrative and heavy on names and small details, making the reading slowgoing. But it's a comprehensive historical account of the activism and legal fight against the Chicago Police Department's systemic torture of Black men, when such accounts are rare. An invaluable resource for anyone studying or writing about Chicago police torture.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dan Cotter

    Flint Taylor has lived in the trenches of civil rights cases for years. In this book, Taylor sets out the pursuit by him and his colleagues at the People’s Law Offices of police brutality and especially the Burge torture.

  5. 5 out of 5

    lilias

    In 2018 reading Just Mercy cemented my admiration of Bryan Stevenson. In 2019 it was Ronan Farrow for his Catch and Kill. Now in 2020 I’ve just added Flint Taylor to my list of men who are making the world better. Like Just Mercy, Flint Taylor’s The Torture Machine documents injustices inflicted on black and Latinx men by the justice system, and he is also an attorney. The Torture Machine, however, was much, much more difficult to read, and I think that was intentional. I’ll back up a little and In 2018 reading Just Mercy cemented my admiration of Bryan Stevenson. In 2019 it was Ronan Farrow for his Catch and Kill. Now in 2020 I’ve just added Flint Taylor to my list of men who are making the world better. Like Just Mercy, Flint Taylor’s The Torture Machine documents injustices inflicted on black and Latinx men by the justice system, and he is also an attorney. The Torture Machine, however, was much, much more difficult to read, and I think that was intentional. I’ll back up a little and say why it was so difficult to read. Taylor speaks of his decades fighting in the courts on behalf of men who had been tortured by police officers in Chicago. In terms of a timeline, it spans one year short of fifty years, starting with the murder of Fred Hampton in 1969 and going all the way to 2018. Taylor is extremely detailed. Thus the reader is taken through one night of torture to the next, page after page, chapter after chapter. This makes for a very long and dense and draining book with detailed accounts of torture mixed in with many names to keep track of and trials and hearings and appeals. But, as I said before, I think that the fact that it’s a difficult read is intentional. It should not be an easy read. In choosing to release this book with its detail and density, Taylor finally made me come closer to realizing the horror of systematic racism in the American judicial system. It is not just about the policeman who tortured men; everyone from prosecutors to judges to politicians covered for them and even benefitted from their acts. I’ve read many books that cover this subject, but none have forced me to look at it like The Torture Machine did. The cover of the book is a picture of the box rigged up to electrocute various body parts in acts of torture, and the title of the book at first seems to refer to that piece of equipment. As you read, however, you realize the real torture machine is the system that allows the torture to happen and even encourages it. I don’t think a lot of people have read this book, and I have a feeling that in this time of pandemic, fewer emotionally draining books will be read. I hope I’m wrong. I hope people continue to bear witness as much as they can. This story needs to be common knowledge. I recommend this book to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge on the subject but with a trigger warning. I recommend it to anyone whose interest was sparked by episode 134 of the Criminal podcast “Call Russ Ewing.” I think the biggest recommendation, though, would come from someone like Netflix. I was very glad when Just Mercy was made into a movie because it meant that more people would know Bryan Stevenson’s work. I hope a limited series gets made about Flint Taylor’s work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Keith Grace

    A must-read to understand the true horrors the Chicago Police Department delivered and the City if Chicago helped to cover up, while Taylor and his legal team fought for decades to deliver justice. There is a book within a book here as well, when you come to understand there is an element in this story involving police officials who inflicted unspeakable torture on other humans were also veterans of the Vietnam War. To fully understand this piece and factor of this awful time in history for Chic A must-read to understand the true horrors the Chicago Police Department delivered and the City if Chicago helped to cover up, while Taylor and his legal team fought for decades to deliver justice. There is a book within a book here as well, when you come to understand there is an element in this story involving police officials who inflicted unspeakable torture on other humans were also veterans of the Vietnam War. To fully understand this piece and factor of this awful time in history for Chicago, I would recommend reading Bring the War Home, by Kathleen Belew as well. The interviews Amy Goodman has done with Taylor are also an excellent compliment to this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Pierson

    A great, yet difficult, book. This book should be in the library of every lawyer, activist, clergy and educator. While the context is Chicago and unique, many of the issues would supply in major metropolitan areas across the nation. Perhaps the most difficult part was reading this book and coming across names of people I knew well in the late 1980's. The seeds that were sown through abuse, torture, and the over-policing of communities of color have come to fruition in today's entrenched societal A great, yet difficult, book. This book should be in the library of every lawyer, activist, clergy and educator. While the context is Chicago and unique, many of the issues would supply in major metropolitan areas across the nation. Perhaps the most difficult part was reading this book and coming across names of people I knew well in the late 1980's. The seeds that were sown through abuse, torture, and the over-policing of communities of color have come to fruition in today's entrenched societal challenges.

  8. 4 out of 5

    T.J.

    https://streetlogicblog.com/2019/07/0... https://streetlogicblog.com/2019/07/0...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sonia Allison

    Just finished reading The Torture Machine Is 542 pages of healing medicine justice words. Wishing everybody read this book. Is so important in our struggles to abolish policing and Prison Imperialism.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sonia Allison

    Just finished reading The Torture Machine Is 542 pages of healing medicine justice words. Wishing everybody read this book. Is so important in our struggles to abolish policing and Prison Imperialism.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ike

  12. 4 out of 5

    Violeta

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim Stehlin

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

  15. 4 out of 5

    Reclaimthefields

  16. 5 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alaina Dulecki

  18. 5 out of 5

    Derek Barthel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peter Kuttner

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ben Chleboun

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  24. 5 out of 5

    Classic

  25. 5 out of 5

    Miguel L Molina

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andre Smith

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Anderson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Duane

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan Taylor

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