Black People Against Police Torture (BPAPT) held their first gala event, Nov. 17, honoring Illinois legislators. The event was held at Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago. BPAPT is a coalition of individuals and groups who represent all aspects of Chicago’s diverse community and a support group for lawyers seeking prosecution of former Chicago police commander Jon Burge. One of their missions is justice for victims who were tortured by Burge; another is reparations for torture victims.

The organization wanted to recognize some of the legislators who have supported their efforts over the years. The honorees were Cong. Danny K. Davis, state representatives Kenneth Dunkin, Constance Howard, and Arthur Turner, Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr., and Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins.

Davis was honored because of his continuing work in drafting legislation that supports the prosecution of Jon Burge, former commander of Area 2. Turner was honored for his aggressive support of, drafting and lobbying for The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission Act, also known as House Bill 765. Howard was cited for her outstanding commitment to correcting the criminal justice system via numerous bills as well as her support of the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission Act. Dunkin has been an aggressive lobbyist and supporter of The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission Act. Brookins has addressed key issues on crime, economic development and employment opportunities. He also showed dedication and commitment to his constituents by providing a listening ear to their concerns and an avenue to brainstorm ideas. Collins showed leadership on the Cook County board, which led to the board voting unanimously against furthering the financial gain of Burge.

BPAPT members decorated Noyes Hall in the African colors of red, black and green. Food was catered by retired police officer Pat Hill’s newly opened cafe Ms. Sis Place (1401 E. 75th St).

Master and mistress of ceremonies were James Daniels and Menjiwei Latham; call to order was delivered by attorney Lawrence Kennon; and attorney Stan Willis gave a brief history of BPAPT.

Awards were presented by BPAPT members Duane Savage, Shikilia Tukes, Doris Lewis, Alphonso Jones, Larry Kennon and Pat Hill.

This was the first awards event for the organization. Last year in September they held a large march in Chicago’s Loop protesting against Burge, Mayor Daley and State’s Atty. Dick Devine.

BPAPT is committed to keeping the Burge incidents before the public eye. Attorneys Kennon and Willis have put in many years and man-hours trying to obtain justice for those who were tortured, along with people like Mary Powers, Mary Johnson and attorney Flint Taylor. One of the torture victims, Darryl Cannon, spoke at the awards event and his story brought many people to tears.

One of the goals of the organization is to develop a facility that will allow torture victims to more smoothly re-enter society. Everyone is invited to become a member and no dues are required. BPAPT meets the first and third Thursdays, 7 p.m., at Inner City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd.