Books for changing the world

Police Violence from the Black Panthers to Attica

Heather Ann ThompsonFlint Taylor and Darrell Cannon discuss the 1969 murders of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and Panther Mark Clark—and the historic, thirteen-years of litigation that followed—through the dogged pursuit of commander Jon Burge, the leader of a torture ring within the CPD that used barbaric methods, including electric shock, to elicit false confessions from suspects. The three panelists will further delve into the events leading up to and the legacy surrounding the 1971 Attica prison uprising when 1,300 prisoners took over the facility.

These event will be framed in the context of the paperback release of Taylor’s book Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago and Thompson’s Pulitzer-prize winning book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy.



Heather Ann Thompson is a Collegiate Professor of History in the departments of Afro- American and African Studies, History, and in the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She is the Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971. Blood in the Water won five other major book prizes and was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Silver Gavel Award, and the Cundill Prize in History. The book has also been optioned by Sony Pictures and Thompson is also the lead advisor on Stanley Nelson’s forthcoming Showtime documentary on Attica. Thompson is also a public intellectual who writes extensively on the history of protests, policing, prisons, and the current criminal justice system more broadly. On the policy front, Thompson served on the historic National Academy of Sciences blue-ribbon panel that studied the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the U.S. She currently serves on the standing Committee on Law and Justice of the National Academies. She is currently writing her next book on the MOVE Bombing of 1985. @hthompsn

Flint Taylor is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago. He is one of the lawyers for the families of slain Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, has represented many survivors of Chicago police torture over the past 30 years and is counsel in several illegal search and wrongful death cases brought against the Milwaukee Police Department.

Darrell Cannon is a Chicago police torture survivor who was subjected to electric shock and a mock execution at a remote torture site on the far southeast side of Chicago by two of notorious Chicago police commanderJon Burge’s main henchmen. As a result he gave a false confession, was wrongfully convicted, and spent 24 years in prison, 9 in a supermax prison, before he was exonerated in 2007. After his release, he became a powerful leader in the successful movement to obtain reparations for 60 Chicago police torture survivors.