At a city council meeting Wednesday, the mayor said the settlements are “a way of saying all of us are sorry about what happened here in the city.” He referred to the torture legacy as “a stain on the city’s reputation” and “a dark chapter in the history of the City of Chicago.”
“We have to close the books on this. We have to reconcile the past.... This is not who we are,” he said. "Let us all now move on."
The apology may sound inconsequential in the face of the length and extent of the abuse, but victim advocates say it is an important step for the city in moving toward full reconciliation.
Flint Taylor, an attorney who represents the majority of the victims, said those tortured under Burge were “grateful that Mayor Emanuel has heeded [their] demand for an apology,” which he said is in “sharp contrast” to former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s “repeated refusal to apologize in the past.”
Mr. Taylor is calling on the city to create a $20 million fund to provide job training, health care, and other compensation benefits for victims who, for varying reasons, are unable to bring their cases to court.
Mr. Daley has played a significant role in the Burge saga because the allegations first surfaced under his watch as Cook County state’s attorney. Daley was named in the majority of lawsuits, but the settlements prevented him from testifying under oath. He has dodged, or remained silent, about the revelations as they grew during his tenure as mayor. In 2006, he told reporters he would “take responsibility” for it, but never made an official apology.