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Andrew S. Baer

Beyond the Usual Beating

The Jon Burge Police Torture Scandal and Social Movements For Police Accountability in Chicago

University of Chicago Press 2020

NBN Book of the DayNBN Special SeriesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Sociology July 23, 2020 Patrick Reilly

In the 1970s and 1980s, a group of Chicago police officers routinely tortured criminal suspects in their custody, while fellow cops, state attorneys and...

In the 1970s and 1980s, a group of Chicago police officers routinely tortured criminal suspects in their custody, while fellow cops, state attorneys and elected officials looked the other way. In his book, Beyond the Usual Beating: The Jon Burge Police Torture Scandal and Social Movements For Police Accountability in Chicago (University of Chicago Press), Andrew Baer explains how the eponymous detective and others hid their violence, and the arduous struggle to get Burge fired and win reparations for survivors.

He blends legal and social history with ethnography to chronicle the labyrinthine legal system that concealed this torture, and the challenges of political coalition-building across class, race, and prison walls. The result is a history of the fraying reform discourse with which we live.

Andrew S. Baer is assistant professor of history with a secondary appointment in African American studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


Patrick Reilly studies US history, race, and civilian cooperation with police at Vanderbilt University.