Chicago Free Press
This week's Chicago Free Press has a very supportive editorial about Terry Phalen, who was gay-bashed at Cook County Jail. It reads as follows:
On Nov. 8, 1999, Terry Phalen filed a report with the Cook County Department of Corrections Internal Affairs Division describing an alledged attack by sheriff's deputies. The document stated that while in custody he'd been thrown to the floor in handcuffs and repeated beaten and kicked by two deputies who called him "fag" and "cocksucker."
A Nov. 4 intake form on Phalen from Cermak Health Services of Cook County supported his accusations. It lists "broken bones" as part of his medical review.
This brutal, hate-motivated crime allegedly occurred Oct. 27, 1999. It's February, and no formal complaint has been filed against the officers involved. Apparently the only action that's been taken is the reassignment of four deputies to positions requiring limited contact with prisoners, according to a sheriff's office spokesman.
It does indeed appear, as Phalen and the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network charge, that the sheriff's office is stalling in its investigation and attempting to cover up the incident. Phalen has received little of the documentation he requested. That inaction alone is enough to raise suspicion.
The inspector general has had ample time to locate and talk to witnesses. According to the sheriff's office, as many as 70 people saw the attack. Presumably many of them are quite easy to find--they either work for the county or are in county custody.
Three months is entirely too long to leave bigots guilty of the kind of brutality Phalen alleges on the public payroll. It's time for officials to fully investigate and report on the incident and to prosecute any wrongdoing that is found.
The people we pay to protect us should be held to a higher level of accountability under the law, not a lower one. It is up to the administrators in charge to see that suitable standards are maintained throughout every level of county government. If they can't or won't, it is up to the citizens of Cook County to elect officials who will.