UDHR Campaign 2015: No One Shall Be Subjected to Torture: Standish Willis and Joey Mogul

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This week's post is the final posting of our 2015 U.S. Human Rights Movement Builder Awards recipients and 2015 UDHR Campaign. For this last post we are spotlighting the incredible work of Standish Willis of Black People Against Police Torture and Joey Mogul of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, two lawyers who played major roles in the successful campaign to win reparations for survivors of police torture in Chicago. The campaign was built on decades of organizing from the survivors and their families, Black community members, and allies that used local movement building and actions as well as international human rights mechanisms. We look forwarding to honoring two of the leaders of this campaign at  Advancing Human Rights 2015. We hope you can join us!

Learn more about the campaign & our awardees with the video "Chicago wins reparations for police violence" from the Laura Flanders Show, featuring Joey Mogul and Darrell Cannon, survivor of Chicago police torture; and the detailed and insightful article on the history of the campaign by Flint Taylor, "How Activists Won Reparations for the Survivors of Chicago Police Department Torture". 

No One Shall Be Subjected To Torture: Standish Willis and Joey Mogul


Stan Willis is an attorney in the City of Chicago specializing in personal injury, criminal defense and federal rights cases. Most of his civil rights and human rights practice involves suits against police for acts of violence and civil abuse. He chairs the Chicago Chapter of The National Conference of Black Lawyers, and is a member of the Cook County Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild.

Stan earned baccalaureate and master’s degrees from The University of Chicago. He studied graduate economics at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and earned a Jurist Doctorate from The Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago Kent College of Law.

During his student/labor activist years, Stan led the movement that resulted in naming a campus within one of the largest public community colleges in the U.S. after revolutionary Black leader Malcolm X. In this same time period, Stan, as a young union member and bus driver, was also one of the organizers of the largest bus drivers’ strike in Chicago’s history.

Stan was a member of the Durban 400, a group of African- Americans who participated in the United Nation’s Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa in late August and early September, 2001. The Durban 400 successfully lobbied the United Nations to resolve that the Atlantic Slave Trade was a crime against Humanity.

During the summer of 2005, Stan led a group of lawyers and community activists in an effort to focus international attention on police torture in Chicago. In September 2005, Stan presented evidence of police torture before the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He supported the participation of a colleague in the next UN delegation to Geneva, due to his own appellate court conflict.  In May 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture sharply criticized the US for failing to bring the officers responsible for torture in Chicago to justice and called for a criminal prosecution in these cases.

In 2006, Stan founded and co-chaired a group called Black People Against Police Torture “BPAPT”, a grass-roots, community based organization whose missions are to mobilize the African-American Community to insure justice in the Chicago police torture cases, and to build a Human Rights movement within the community.

In February 2008, Stan presented evidence of police torture before the United Nations Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination “CERD” in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon his return from Geneva, Stan and BPAPT held town-hall meetings to report to the community about how his trip helped advance the Human Rights Movement in the United States. In January 2009, Stan drafted a bill titled “The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission Bill.” The Torture Commission, comprised of eight civilians, would have the authority to review the cases of those torture victims who remained in prison. BPAPT, under Stan’s leadership, took two bus loads of community activists to Springfield, Illinois to educate legislators about the Torture Bill, and held several town-hall meetings to educate the community about the legislation. On August 10, 2009, the Torture Bill was signed into law.  

As an active member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and chair of its Chicago Chapter, Stan authored a Stakeholders’ Report on COINTELPRO Political Prisoners which was submitted to the UN Periodic Review of the United States in 2010. He led the effort as a member of the US Human Rights Network to elevate this issue within the criminal punishment and mass incarceration work which continues. Stan’s research, writing, and speaking commitments have helped bring a new level of awareness and effectiveness to our local struggles by accessing the International Human Rights Movement. In an effort to continue to build a “people centered” Human Rights Movement, Stan has organized several Town Hall Meetings and given countless media interviews to report back to the community on work done in the international arena.

In 2014, Stan and his wife Vickie Casanova-Willis coauthored a Report to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) critiquing the United States’ Report on the Burge Torture cases and urged the CAT to conclude that the United States should declare a moratorium on extended periods of isolation and segregation of inmates throughout the United States’ prison system. In 2015, Stan authored a Report to the UN Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) of the United States on the Human Rights violations suffered by African-Americans due to the massive closures of public schools and privatization of Public Schools in African-American Communities throughout the country. This Report was filed in conjunction with the Stake Holders’ Report filed by the International Human Rights Association for American Minorities, IHRAAM.

He maintains an active public speaking schedule on issues related to the criminal justice system, the death penalty, police brutality, community-control of police, the prison-industrial complex, the mass incarceration of Black Men and Women, America’s political prisoners, racism and the American legal system, and International Human Rights.

Joey L. Mogul is a partner at the People’s Law Office in Chicago, Illinois and co-founder of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM).  For the last eighteen years, Mogul has fought, both as an attorney and activist, for justice for those tortured and harmed by notorious former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his ring of detectives.  Mogul’s legal advocacy has included representing several of the torture survivors in criminal post-conviction proceedings, civil rights cases and obtaining appointed legal counsel for those tortured who continue to languish behind bars.

In May of 2006, following the brilliant vision of Standish Willis, Mogul travelled to Geneva, Switzerland and successfully presented the Burge torture cases to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) obtaining a specific finding from the CAT calling for the prosecution of the perpetrators and accountability in the Burge torture cases. 

Armed with the CAT finding, Mogul in concert with scores of other organizers continued to push for Burge’s prosecution, and a year and half later, Burge was indicted for his crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice for falsely denying the crimes of torture he and others committed.  He was convicted in federal court in June of 2010.

In the wake of Burge’s conviction, Mogul co-founded CTJM, a volunteer, grassroots group of artists, activists, torture survivors, educators and attorneys.  Responding to Standish Willis’ and Black People Against Police Torture’s revolutionary call for reparations, CTJM mounted a campaign seeking reparations and Mogul drafted the original reparations ordinance.  In the course of the campaign, CTJM worked with the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights to submit a shadow report to the CAT and the CAT in November of 2014 called on the U.S. Government to support the passage of the reparations ordinance.

Emboldened by the CAT finding, CTJM joined forces with Amnesty International, Project NIA and We Charge Genocide, to lead an inspirational, multiracial and intergenerational campaign, waged within the larger context of the #BlackLivesMatter movement to pass the ordinance in the course of the hotly contested Mayoral and aldermanic election in Chicago. 

On May 6, 2015, Chicago’s City Council passed reparations legislation, becoming the first city in the U.S. to provide reparations for racially motivated police violence.  The reparations legislation, in addition to the establishment of a $5.5 million Reparations Fund for Burge Torture Victims, will provide survivors and their families specialized counseling services, free enrollment in City Colleges, and priority access to job training, housing and other city services. Additionally, a history lesson about the Burge torture cases will be taught in Chicago Public schools and a permanent public memorial will be erected to commemorate the torture and survivors.   


Chicago wins reparations for police violence