Chairman Fred Jr. on Lt. Jon Burge, Dr. Conrad Worril and race/class contradictions
At a rally outside Chicago City Hall during the trial of former police commander Jon Burge for perjury – lying about the torture he ordered for at least 110 prisoners – Dardy Tillis calls for jailing Burge. – Photo: AP/WideWorldPhotos
JR: You are listening to another edition of POCC Block Report Radio with the Minister of Information JR. Today we are going to be talking to Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, a former political prisoner and founder of the organization. He is going to be talking to us about the Jon Burge torture trials – basically, some police torture trials that are going on in the city of Chicago in Illinois. Chairman, free ‘em all!
Chairman: Free ‘em all, Minister. Free ‘em all.
JR: I know that you and the POCC have been involved in this Jon Burge issue for many years, particularly in reference to Aaron Patterson but also Jackie and Andrew Wilson and a number of other people that have been victims of Lt. Jon Burge and his House of Screams and the police department. First off, before we get into the trial, who is Jon Burge and what is his significance and what is the significance of this trial?
Chairman: First, the revolution appreciates you again for giving me an opportunity to update you on this pressing issue that has impacted not only Chicago but the entire world and the African community in particular.
Former Lt. Jon Burge of Area Two, I believe, Violent Crimes (Division) of the Chicago Police Department, was equipped, let’s say for a lack of a better term, with a special unit like a local Navy Seals group of policemen. Some of his infamous henchmen included individuals such as Joe “Machine Gun” Gorman. And you may recall the name Joe “Machine Gun” Gorman, who directly participated in the raid that we refer to as the Massacre on Monroe, Dec. 4, 1969, in which the United States government via the Chicago Police Department assassinated Chairman Fred and Defense Captain Mark Clark. In fact, that is how Joe “Machine Gun” Gorman got his moniker “Machine Gun.”
These are the caliber of criminals that Lt. Jon Burge had amongst his team. They implemented a lot of his tactics that became known as the House of Screams on the South Side of Chicago, on 39th and California.
You mentioned some of the individuals that were tortured by Lt. Jon Burge but the list goes on and on. Some of his tactics included but were not limited to: handcuffing individuals to radiators, stripping them naked, dousing their bodies with water, placing typewriter bags over their heads, electro-shocking their sex organs. You name it, they did it.
He was trained in Fort Benning, Georgia, where he learned a lot of these interrogation tactics. In many senses of the word, this is the real definition of what should be defined as a home-grown terrorist. He later enacted these tactics in South Korea and Vietnam and brought these tactics back to Chicago. During the reign of his terror, now mayor of Chicago Richard Gangsta Daley Jr. was then a state attorney of Chicago. These torture tactics was common knowledge in the community.
As of recent, on May 24, 2010, there was a federal trial where charges were brought forth by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald for the Northern District, but I would like to make note they were not charges for torture but actually for perjury. So in essence, what the government is saying is that it’s no crime for the electric shock of the sex organs of Jack and Andrew Wilson, David Bates, Anthony Porter, Aaron Patterson and they aren’t counting so many other individuals. The government is taking the position that it is more of a crime that you lied about it. The U.S government’s defense is that the statue of limitations is up so they can charge him with perjury. But we understand very clearly that basically what they are saying is that it is OK to torture and execute Black men but don’t “lie to white folks.”
This case has a number of different contradictions that we have been dealing with since the beginning. Struggles with not only the state directly but even with forces such as the different white left forces and organizations such as the campaign to end the death penalty who have brought out their whole position of fighting against African people having the right of self-determination, in other words, being able to speak for ourselves. In these cases, this has been one of the struggles – for the victims themselves to be able to speak on their own terms.
So a lot of these contradictions are being brought out. This past May 24 the federal (prosecutors) were supposed to start questioning jurors. We expected it to go for at least a week and a half or two weeks until they found potential jurors. But they did it real quickly, within a couple of days, so this is a message to us that they pretty much have this stuff this staged and set on how they plan on going forth with this.
I also want to point out that since he has been dismissed from the Chicago Police Department, Lt. Jon Burge has been running a catfish farm and at one point had a security firm in Chicago, living the lavish life down in Florida on his pension which taxpayers are still paying for. He comes inside the court wearing tailor-made suits – the whole get up.
There are a lot of ramifications that goes with this Jon Burge case because it wasn’t just him alone. This is something that the white left or a lot of people who don’t really want to address this whole system in general – they just want to question if he was “bad policemen.” We, the POCC, amongst other forces, are attempting to make the concrete connection between Gangsta Daley being the state’s attorney and all the players that was involved in this. This was and remains to be the rule of thumb with the police.
And even the question of Negro police. One Negro police, who I can’t recall his name, whose grandson was later tortured and then that’s when it became a problem to him – he later admitted how it was common that the Negro police would be on the first floor and the screams coming from Jack and Andrew Wilson and so many other victims were so loud on the third floor that the paneling from the ceiling would fall down. They never spoke about this but when his grandson was tortured, that’s when this former Chicago police department officer spoke about it.
Legendary singer Erykah Badu, POCC Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and up and coming songstress Janelle Monae shared a moment to politic at a recent Monae/Badu show in Chicago. – Photo: POCC
So we must also address the question of the Negro police because a lot of times people question if they are “good police” vs. “bad police.” These Negro pigs never said nothing and, once again, like I said, it was common knowledge in our community. Negro politicians sat back; they rewarding them. This is a commonality that has been going down in our community and we must seize the time to make sure it is not incorrectly assessed as just a question of Jon Burge being a “bad police” but as being a major player of the infamous Gangsta Daley machine.
JR: What is the significance of particularly the African community watching and being aware of this case and seeing its outcome?
Chairman: It is extremely important because a lot of times we have discussions about torture or even hear words such as terrorism; our minds automatically think of the Nuremberg trials in Nazi, Germany. Or we identify with the violations that happened in Abu Ghraib prison where the prisoners were stripped naked and photographed. It’s ironic that Black people, the African community, as we, the POCC, put out over and over again, we are the OVs, not the OGs but the OVs – the Original Victims of terrorism. But crazy as it sounds, when we hear about these atrocities, we automatically sympathize with other communities and what they go through.
The reality is that there is terrorism. There is torture. There is executions going on in our communities under the guise of the police mistakenly thought it was his stun gun when he gunned Oscar Grant down. Under the guise of the police murdering this young sista Aiyana in Detroit, Michigan, under the mistaken drug raid. Under the guise they thought some brother was reaching for a gun but was reaching for his wallet. Under the guise of just coming through and doing a mass execution in Brazil for population control but saying they are trying to attack the gangs.
So there is a war on our community. There is torture going down in our communities. There are executions going down in our communities that we don’t want to speak about. And when it is spoken about, it has to come through some sorts of sanitized individuals who do not come from our community. They pick out certain “safe negroes” to sit there and validate it. And we have to let someone benefit from it through a book deal or they get some great tenure or position at some university as our great white hope or our great white spokesperson.
There is a war on our community. There is torture going down in our communities. There are executions going down in our communities that we don’t want to speak about.
It is important that we, the ones who were handcuffed to those radiators on 39th and California, we, the ones that get strip searched and police stick screw drivers up young brothas rectums on the south side of Chicago, we the people who were gunned down at BART in California – the people themselves have the opportunity to address and speak on our own terms.
JR: It is very interesting that at this particular time, you are attending the Jon Burge trial members of the POCC in California are working on the Oscar Grant Campaign and I know of other members in the Midwest that are affiliated with the POCC are working with Aiyana, among other campaigns that are going on throughout the country. How do you assess the African community and all of this activity around police terrorism right now? What do you think is going on? How should we look at it? Is this a time that is beneficial for us because all of this is coming to light? Or how should we look at this particular time with all this scrutiny around police terrorism in the Black community going on?
Chairman: I believe that historically, we have been resisting. Contrary to what they teach us in our history classes and throughout the colonial schools – that we have always been the submissive slave. When we go back through the era of chattel slavery, there were so many forces other than the Rev. Nat Turner and the great Harriet Tubman. Resistance was common and we can fast forward up to the Black Power movement of the ‘60s. But, however, there is a continuous effort to give us the impression that we either 1) have been a submissive slave or 2) that someone else had to be our spokesperson, in particular, like the primitive petty bourgeoisie forces or the white left.
So the masses we are seeing now down in the valley – we have always been fighting back.
But it is so important that I extend a clenched fist to our Ministry of Information department through the vehicles that it utilizes. In fact, we have a saying: “Let’s make history. Let’s take history and let’s tape history.” Because generation after generation, after we fight back and resist, someone comes along from the ruling class and picks a sanitized spokesperson and says we are going to present you as the person that led the struggle and so forth. This is demoralizing to potential future freedom fighters.
When I stress how important it is that we make clear who does what, it is not that we are ego-tripping. It is so important for a generation to understand that such organizations as the Black Panther Party that came from the valley – brothas and sistas that basically ranged from ages of 14-24 years old – stood up and fought on their own terms. You see even with that organization in particular, day after day, month after month, they are attempting – I say “they,” meaning this government and those who work within this government – they will grab certain forces to water down the history of the Black Panther Party, similar to the resistance of the Red Army in China. The British would grab certain forces like the Kuomintang, the reactionary forces, to counter the actual resistance that was led by the Chinese and the Red Army. They would say, OK, let’s go grab the “softballs” out of this organization, out of these people, and prop them up as leadership.
So again, to answer your question, I think historically, we’ve been getting down, we’ve been fighting back but there has been a continuous attempt to hijack the history of revolutionary resistance.
JR: Specifically, we have talked vaguely about these different “softballs,” whether they are in the Black community or whether they are white left. Can you speak about these spokespersons that they usually put up when the resistance gets hot on their ass?
Chairman: Well, Malcolm, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, spoke in particular about the initial March on Washington. He did a powerful presentation about the Big 6. I’m paraphrasing him, but he talked about how the government’s position was when they can’t stop it. That’s their initial move: Let’s stop it, let’s crush any resistance because they understand like we understand that you can cut a chicken’s head off and there still is going to be some fighting back. So resistance is going to happen. So when the state says let’s stop it, and when they can’t impede resistance or straight out cease the struggle, they say OK, let’s coopt it. Let’s water it down. Let’s change it. Let’s make it something it ain’t meant to be.
He talked about how the March on Washington initially was a planned mobilization for the masses, just to say we are going to shut it down. I’m talking about ain’t no planes leaving the fly away, none of that, we are just going to shut it down.
I point out the Kennedys, the so-called great White hopes, the John F. Kennedys, the ones who a lot of our great grandmothers sat in Sunday church service with John and Robert Kennedy and Dr. King on the fan. When they waived the pictures, they sent word to a lot of these individuals – people who don’t necessarily have to be deemed as a sellout but who had a different class interest. They met with the Dr. Kings and everyone else and said well, if you can’t stop, let’s coopt it. Water it down. Change it. Make it something it ain’t meant to be. Now, we feel it’s very important to say very clear that not only in the Black community but in any community, we aren’t all going to have the same interest.
POCC Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Hip Hop producer Pharrell and rapper Lupe Fiasco chop up some politics back stage at a recent Lupe/Pharrell concert in Chicago. – Photo: POCC
Fast forward and let’s go to Chicago in particular. I’m saying this. I don’t know if I’m ego-tripping but this is known in the headquarters of every Black organization you can think of and every name you can think of. Whenever there is struggle to raise up, they don’t only grab these white left organizations, they literally make organizations. You have individuals who they prop up that have no history of struggle. They just pick ‘em up, such as Dr. Conrad Worrill, who literally and figuratively did work for the government. It’s documented. This is not subjective slander. They will grab these individuals, build up organizations and set up situations like the National Black United Fund, which he controls as his political piggy bank to dictate to other organizations and individuals because he has been placed in a position of “power” by the ruling class.
As Malcolm said, the masses will be out their protesting, engaged in struggle, and you go home and watch the news, and you would think you were at an entirely different protest. There’ll be campaigns out here that the POCC and other organizations on the ground are organizing. You get back and look up and think, “Wait, who are these people?” They’ll grab these “softballs” that you never see in the community – these individuals such as Dr. Conrad Worrill – they will go grab him. The Rev. Pfleger, who is held up as the great white hope in Chicago and in fact throughout the World. These individuals need a GPS map, you know what I’m saying, if you drop them in the hood. If you drop them in the neighborhood, they are literally lost, but (if) you turn the news on, these are the people working on the violence, dealing with the crimes.
JR: In Cali, we got Mandingo Hayes that they was trying to push.
Chairman: Mandingo Hayes! The individual the POCC in general and the Ministry of Information department had went to great lengths to expose. An individual who was propped up without no background check or nothing, who said he was a resident of Oakland and a member of the New Black Panther Party. Who was brought in initially – this is documented by the Oakland Police Department – they said they brought him in to infiltrate the prostitution rings inside California.
Post the rebellions that happened in response to the execution of Oscar Grant, a lot of bogus organizations were just popping up left and right. And many people either out of their naivety or their liberalism didn’t call or question nothing. It was shocking. I’ve seen even some individuals who were in the Black Panther Party say, “I think he is a revolutionary. I think he is doing something good.” And you seen a million and one poverty pimp organizations just jump up, acknowledging these type of forces.
Their role was not only to hijack but to impede struggle, stop resistance and slander the legacy of real deal organizations that were getting down in the past. Man, people were taking pictures of him in front of the infamous Alameda County Courthouse. This courthouse is known for the campaign that was led to free the visionary Minister Huey P. Newton. So it was strategic that a lot of white left forces and petty bourgeois forces try to validate these individuals.
It is an agenda also that is pushed forward. You got when Mayor Daley in Chicago, who literally told us in City Hall, he said, “OK, I grant you that there are some cases of police misconduct,” and I’m quoting him. He told us, if we have a problem, we have to talk to Michael. He was referencing Rev. Michael Pfleger. So this is the Don. This is the Teflon Don himself, Gangsta Daley, telling us that if we have a problem with the police murdering us, we are supposed to get up under the coattail, in this case, under the cloth of Rev. Michael Pfleger. This is an historical tactic that is used throughout the country and throughout the world. Historically, they are giving you a spokesperson so you can push their political line. Rev. Pfleger now has a whole generation of elderly people wearing shirts saying, “I’M PROUD TO BE A SNITCH.”
Chairman: We called him and questioned: “Well, do you snitch on the pedophile priests in the Catholic church? Do you expose that?” They become silence of the lambs. They don’t say anything about that. The same church that is in the press, demoralizing the community, has enough resources. He has a modern day bounty hunter program where they give $5,000 out to people just to turn individuals in, in the community.
But they never say anything about the police gunning the people down in the community. They never say anything about these pedophile priests inside these schools. So this is the type of stuff that goes down in our community and again the state will grab these designated spokespersons or these sanitized spokespeople to liquidate the question.
If you recall, we were organizing around the case when they executed Stanley Tookie Williams, and the struggles that we had with so many white left organizations, so many petty bourgeois organizations. We didn’t knock them for taking their position that their thing was just to simply “Save Tookie” because a lot of them had book deals planned. They had movies planned. They had all that planned.
But they really took an adamant position against the POCC speaking or when we said, “Free Tookie Williams!” Just that statement alone goes further to expose the whole idea that we have no faith in this corrupt judicial system. Our position is that we say, “Free ‘em all.”
The United States Marines, they say: “Kill ‘em all. Let God sort ‘em out.” The POCC says, “Free ‘em all. Let the People sort ‘em out.” We know that we have to deal with some contradictions but we have no faith in what Richard Pryor referred to as this “Just Us” system.
If this system was interested in stopping crime, people like George Bush and BP Oil would be buried under the penitentiary right now. So we are very clear that it is a war on our community. For us to validate it in any way for “such and such” to be locked up, under this system, we say naw, not today, not tomorrow, not yesterday.
JR: Chairman Fred, we are getting to the last few minutes of the interview. Do you have any last words that you want to leave the people with?
Chairman: Last words. Definitely, we always say: “What’s our call? Free ‘em all.”
Self-determination is such a precious entity that we got to fight for, to be able to fight on our own terms and deal with contradictions on our own terms. We are not trying to fight to get up from under one oppressor to get up under someone else to oppress us and dictate to us what happens in our community.
People who live and have to deal with the brutal realities in these communities, they should be able to speak for themselves. And we must understand what Steven Biko said on the Black Consciousness Movement. Steven Biko articulated that Black people in particular must learn the ability to distinguish intelligence from the ability to articulate.
In other words, the masses, they are very intelligent. They know this is not right, for Oscar Grant to be getting gunned down like this. We know this ain’t right, for plungers to be stuck up our rectums. We know this ain’t right, for 17-year-old sistas in Cook County Jail to be forced to rinse out their sanitary napkins. We know this ain’t right, the infant mortality rate we are going through as opposed to white people. We know in these colonial schools what’s going down. And no matter how they dress it up, I don’t care if they throw Barack Obama’s face on it, whoever’s face they throw on it, it just don’t make no sense. We can’t make sense out of nonsense, and we got to fight on our own terms.
A criminal psychologist said when you go to a crime scene, you got to look at who benefits. Everybody is benefiting on the oppression of our people. I’m not just talking about the police or the government per se – I’m talking about those who they present as sages, who come through and get the book deals and the profits and claim to be our spokesperson.
Man, if we feel it, we can speak it. This is a bastard language to all of us, English. It is a bastard language to all of us. But man, even if we can’t articulate it correctly, in the words of Tupac: “We feel this shit. We can speak this shit.”
JR: Free ‘em all, Chairman.
Chairman: Free ‘em all!
Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org and visitwww.blockreportradio.com.