By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Nearly 60 people tortured by Chicago police decades ago have begun receiving $5.5 million in reparations from the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Tuesday.
The news comes as the city faces renewed criticism for police treatment of minority suspects.
Last May, aldermen in the nation's third-largest city approved the payments to 57 people tortured by city police in the 1970s and 1980s and agreed to make other reparations such as a memorial to torture victims.
The torture, mostly of blacks, took place under former Commander Jon Burge, who was fired in 1983 and later convicted of lying about police torture in testimony he gave in civil lawsuits.
"We stand together as a city to try and right those wrongs, and to bring this dark chapter of Chicago's history to a close," Emanuel said in a statement on Tuesday.
The payments come during almost daily protests over police treatment of minority suspects, following the release of a video in late November showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times.
The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder for the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17. The protests have included calls for the resignation of Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, who has been criticized for waiting more than a year to file charges.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Chicago Police Department over its use of deadly force, especially against minorities. The shooting deaths of a 19-year-old college student and a 55-year-old grandmother, both black, by a police officer late last month has increased tensions.
The use of force by law enforcement against minorities has become the focus of national debate in the last 18 months due to high-profile killings of minorities by mainly white officers.
After reparations for police torture victims were announced in Chicago last year, 98 people have sought funds, the mayor's office said.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)