09/22/2010 12:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jonathan Jackson: Jon Burge's Cops Need to Be Brought to Justice

Jonathan Jackson, National Spokesman for the Rainbow Push Coalition, says hope is not lost, and that the trust between the cops and the community can be restored.

And just like his civil rights activist father, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, this Mr. Jackson has an agenda to get the ball rolling.


How prevalent is police misconduct?

We have many great police officers and we can trace this police misconduct to less than two percent of the officers. The Chicago Reader reported that between 2005-2008, the city of Chicago--with a population of 2.5 million people--paid out more in police misconduct and settlements than Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Dallas, cities that, when combined, have a population of 10.1 million. Chicago is not more violent, but something is happening that is rather peculiar.

What is at the root of this disconnect between the police and the community?

The police have had this code of silence, which is wrong, and is corrosive to trust and to building a great community. A great community starts with trust and with the community talking to the police. When I was growing up, there was Officer Friendly; we had more park districts so the children can have organized play and recreation. We need to build up the park districts and not just build up the police precincts.

Jon Burge has been convicted; is it time to put this behind us if we want to repair relations?

There are still officers on the force that worked under and for former Commander Jon Burge. Burge did not create these atrocities and put these men on death row by himself. They absolutely need to be brought to justice as we try to rebuild the trust between the police and the community. And violence can become a disease.

Is police brutality an issue only in the Black community?

For what we know about police brutality in the Caucasian community is that it certainly happens. We've seen that with bartender Karolina Obrycka; the attack was caught on surveillance videotape, so it is certainly happening. What we haven't seen is Caucasian young men being put on death row by African American officers. That's something that happened in the city of Chicago when former Commander Jon Burge and his cronies put 12 men on death row, wrongfully, and four of those men were completely innocent. There's brutality but there has never been torture that has been alleged for as long and confirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court Federal Judge Ward Kimball Wood, U.S. District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Chicago City Council have not paid out 20 Caucasians because it's never happened to them.

What is hindering progress to weed out the abusive police?

There's no transparency in the executive branch of the municipal government. The mayor, as chief executive officer, appoints the superintendent of police. The mayor also appoints the Chicago Police Board. So, if you have a complaint against the police, you have to call the Police Department's Internal Affairs and that complaint is sent to the Office of Professional Standards, and to another person that the mayor appoints--and then it goes to the superintendent of police.

Equal protection and equal justice is a reasonable expectation for all citizens to want to achieve. And most cultures and civilizations collapse because of the collapse of the judicial system. Be it the coalmine workers in West Virginia, or the offshore oil workers in the Gulf of Mexico, or the men in Chicago that were put on death row, it speaks to a lack of regulation and an enforcement of our laws. We have laws to protect against these acts, but we need honorable people to enforce those laws.

What do YOU think is needed to repair relations between the cops and the community? Can it be done?