Racism and Police Violence in Chicago

Flint Taylor

Haymarket Books (Spring 2018, world English rights)

Paper • ISBN-13: 9781608468959 • US $27 • 8.5 in x 5.5 in • 350 pgs.


A warrior for the people, Flint Taylor has spent nearly fifty years fighting for justice, from the courtrooms of Cook County to the United States Supreme Court.

With his colleagues at the People’s Law Office (PLO), Taylor has argued landmark civil rights cases that have exposed corruption and cover-up within the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and throughout the city’s political machine, from aldermen to the mayor’s office.

The Torture Machine takes the reader from the 1969 murders of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and Panther Mark Clark—and the historic, thirteen-year trial that followed—through the dogged pursuit of chief detective Jon Burge, the leader of a torture ring within the CPD that used barbaric methods, including electric shock, to elicit false confessions from suspects.Taylor and the PLO gathered evidence from multiple cases to bring suit against the CPD, breaking the department’s “code of silence” that had enabled decades of cover-up. The legal precedents they set have since been adopted in human rights legislation around the world.


“In this compelling book, Taylor details the high-profile Black Panther case and the 31 years the PLO pursued another notorious situation, the use of torture by Chicago police to secure false confessions. The legal pursuit of Chicago police detective Jon Burge and his accomplices crossed paths with the ambitions of Chicago politicians, including mayors Jane Byrne and Richard M. Daley. Taylor chronicles the winding course of the investigation and prosecution, including conflicts with a biased judge, surreptitious help from a police officer PLO dubbed Deep Badge, and the unveiling of the police practice of “street files,” unofficial reports not made available to defense attorneys as required by the U.S. Constitution, files that might have exonerated the accused. Through a long series of attempts in a quest that gathered more and more accusers, the PLO steadily built a case that ultimately triumphed with numerous exonerations and a far-reaching influence on international human rights.”

Booklist, Starred Review


Flint Taylor is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. He is one of the lawyers for the families of slain Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, has represented many survivors of Chicago police torture over the past 30 years and is counsel in several illegal search and wrongful death cases brought against the Milwaukee Police Department.


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