Most people in Chicago probably accept as true the torture allegations against retired Chicago police commander Jon Burge and mostly wonder what took so long to indict him, says Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown, quickly adding, “That was not always the case.” From the time the accusations were raised in 1983 until fairly recently, the collective attitude was of disbelief, of not wanting to believe such a thing possible and perhaps worse — not caring enough to demand the truth.
At the Chicago Reader, John Conroy wrote more than 100,000 words about the police torture scandal between the time he started looking into it in 1989 and when he was laid off last December because of budget cuts. Brown says Conroy was probably as responsible as anyone for keeping the police torture issue in Chicago’s consciousness during that time. “It seemed be a matter of life and death,” he explained. “There were guys on Death Row that were going to die.” Said Conroy, 57: “I was the first one  to point out the flaws in the police testimony.” “To think that this happened in Chicago, this sophisticated city, nobody wanted to believe it. It took us a long time to actually suspend our disbelief and look at the evidence.”