Police torture, 1919

Claims that police in Chicago tortured suspects date back to at least 1919. That year, Charles Johnson, one of two Black teens charged with a murder during the riot, testified he was threatened and hit until he confessed to the crime. Walter Colvin, the teen tried with Johnson, added that he was beaten while in custody, too.

The jury and judge disregarded their claims. The Illinois Supreme Court said that if their testimony was true it was ’a gross outrage,’ and their confessions should be thrown out. But that court didn’t believe them either.


Writer. Formerly civil rights attorney. Currently professor. Working on new book about mental disability and criminal law in the 20th century.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s