A very serious question has been posed to and among Chicagoans recently in light of the city's legacy of police torture: how do you truly repair or correct a wrong? Legal practice teaches us to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." In order to understand what has happened in Chicago, we must give full credit where credit is due. It may be hard to believe that all the aforementioned breakthrough strategies in the Chicago police torture conspiracy are directly attributable to the ideas and actions of a small, tenacious, group of Black people of all ages and backgrounds, but those are the facts. The thought, leadership, actions, and inspiration of Black People Against Police Torture and its members' continuing role in the movement for justice in the torture conspiracy and broader issues, underscores the importance of building a people-centered human rights movement. Moreover, it is part of reparation *251 to accurately teach the full reality of what helped get us all this far in the fight against Chicago police terror and torture.
Symposia and articles for the legal community are meritorious in providing critical analyses and methodology regarding expanded approaches to legal issues and complex cases. In addition, the grassroots community and people of all races, need to understand the full measure of the movement toward justice and, in this case, a measure of reparations as originally proposed and defined by the impacted community. The lesson of BPAPT for us all is that it is not only correct, prudent, and fair to respect and support the self-determination and empowerment of affected communities in leading solutions to problems impacting them--it is vitally important and ultimately wise. Why? Those who are directly impacted by circumstances, in this case the tragic crime of institutionalized racism played out by the Chicago police torture perpetrators and protectors-- that is, the torture victims/survivors, families and the Black community--will inevitably devise solutions that others would never think of because they are not affected in the same way.
One example of that necessity is seen as the stories of how partial reparations were secured continue to be framed and the requisite Chicago Public School curriculum is developed to include the police torture saga and victories to date. It is a moral imperative that an accurate account of the role and agency of the affected community be taught. This must include the hundreds of voices of those tortured, their families, and community response. It means accurately reflecting the leadership and still-unfolding legacy of BPAPT, which organized to support the victims and families of police torture through its successful path-breaking local, national, and international work. Whether legal professionals, educators, or lay members of society, the model Frederick Douglass and Attorney Standish E. Willis provide for our collective benefit is that to know the full history of circumstances, legal cases, strategies, and outcomes including the seminal role of the oppressed people, better prepares us - together - to defend the future.
Vickie Casanova Willis is a doctoral candidate and educator who uses cultural arts activism to empower youth and families from marginalized communities.
Standish E. Willis, Esq. is a civil and human rights litigator and activist. His legal practice, The Law Office of Standish E. Willis handles civil rights, personal injury and medical malpractice cases.
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