Oct 03

Rap Brown, Police Repression, and the Torture Machine


This October marks the 50th anniversary of Rap Brown’s autobiography; and it is also Rap Brown’s birthday. Join Arun Kundnani, Flint Taylor, and Simon Balto for this discussion of Rap Brown (Jamil Al-Amin), the Black Power movement, and government repression -- including police violence, FBI surveillance, and the torture machine.


  • Simon Balto

    The University of Iowa

    Simon Balto teaches, researches, and writes about African American history in the United States. His first book, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), explores the development of a police system in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods that over the course of the mid-twentieth century became simultaneously brutally repressive and neglectful. His writing has also appeared in TIME magazine, The Washington Post, The Progressive, the Journal of African American History, Labor, and numerous other popular and scholarly outlets.

    Professor Balto is currently co-editing (with Erik Gellman) a volume that highlights new scholarship on the history of Black Chicago. He is also at work on two new solo-authored projects, one that explores the history of white criminals donning blackface in the commissioning of crimes, and the other on Fred Hampton—the twenty-one-year-old leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was assassinated by the Chicago Police Department in 1969.

    Professor Balto earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin in 2015, where he also earned a Master’s Degree in African American Studies. He has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation, among others.

  • Arun Kundnani

    New York University

    Arun Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror (Verso Books, 2014) and The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain (Pluto Books, 2007). He is a Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University and is a former editor of the journal Race & Class.

  • Flint Taylor

    People's Law Office

    G. FLINT TAYLOR, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for 45 years. Among the landmark cases that Mr. Taylor has litigated are the Fred Hampton Black Panther case; the Greensboro, North Carolina case against the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis; the Ford Heights Four case in which four innocent men received a record $36 million settlement for their wrongful conviction and imprisonment; and a series of cases arising from a pattern and practice of police torture and cover-up by former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, former State’s Attorney Richard Devine, and numerous other police and government officials, five of which have been settled against the City of Chicago and Cook County for a total of approximately $26 million.

    He obtained a multi-million dollar settlement for a seven year old boy who was falsely accused by the Chicago Police of the murder of 11 year old Ryan Harris and has represented, and continues to represent, numerous other wrongfully convicted persons who have spent decades in prison and on death row, including Burge torture victims. He also worked with the movement to obtain reparations for 60 survivors of Chicago police torture.

    Mr. Taylor is a longtime National Lawyers Guild member, a founding editor of the Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Reporter, has extensively written and lectured in the field of civil rights litigation and police torture, and frequently appears on radio and television and at other public forums to discuss these topics. He has authored four law review articles on these subjects, and his articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, The Nation, In These Times, the Huffington Post, Truthout, and Portside. His book, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago (Haymarket Books) was published in 2019.

    In 2002 he was named by Chicago Magazine as one of Chicago’s “30 Toughest Lawyers;” and by his peers as a “Leading Lawyer” in 2003, and 2015, as a “Super Lawyer” in 2007, 2008, and 2009, in 2015 as a member of the “Nation’s Top One Percent” by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, and in 2016 as a “Top Lawyer” in the Global Directory of Who’s Who.



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