Chicago fights release of another police shooting video

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black Lives Matter Protesters Shut Down Chicago, Call For Rahm Emanuel Resignation.

CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel, known for keeping vise-like control over Chicago and his own political image, finds himself in the weakest position of his long public career as he struggles to respond to a police scandal, claims of cover-ups at City Hall and calls for his resignation. Black Lives Matter protesters are filling the streets of Chicago Wednesday, blocking traffic and disrupting the city to protest police actions relating to the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.CHICAGO — The latest developments in the city of Chicago’s efforts to deal with fatal police shootings and police accountability (all times local): Chicago officials are asking for another investigation into the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer, a video of which was released last month and sparked several protests.

Several hundred protesters marched through the city’s downtown loop at midday, chanting “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Rahm Emanuel has got to go,” and “Justice for Laquan.” They were flanked by police on foot and on bicycles. Supervision and leadership in the Police Department and the oversight agencies that were in place failed, and that has to change,” Emanuel said, referring to the night McDonald was shot and killed by Officer Jason Van Dyke. “I am the mayor. Sharon Fairley, the new head of the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, said it was important for “public confidence” that the inspector general get involved.

I take responsibility for what happened, because it happened on my watch, and if we’re going to fix it, I want you to understand it’s my responsibility with you, but if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step is my step, and I’m sorry,” he added. Weakened and embarrassed by a string of police shootings caught on video, an apologetic mayor delivered a special address to the City Council, describing how he plans to lead the city and Police Department forward from here. Instead, he used Wednesday’s speech to appeal to Chicagoans, police officers and elected officials. “The first step in that journey is my step—I’m sorry,” the mayor said, apologizing for the killing of Mr. McDonald. “Nothing less than complete and total reform of the system and culture it breeds will meet the standards we have set for ourselves as a city.” Mr. Police and police union officials said after the shooting thatMcDonald, who was holding a knife and had PCP in his system when he was killed, lunged at Van Dyke.

The video also led to the forced resignation of the city’s police chief and multiple investigations, including a pending civil rights inquiry by the U.S. Protesters angered over the video of the shooting have demanded Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez resign over their handling of the case. Cook County’s chief prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, admits the timing of the charges against the officer involved are to make the shooting less of a scandal.

Prosecutors announced they were charging Van Dyke on the same day that the video was released by the city, more than 13 months after McDonald was gunned down on a city street. There was a small bit of pushing and shoving with officers on Wednesday afternoon as the protesters tried to get to one of downtown’s main streets, but eventually police let them through. The mayor has denied the claim and acknowledged Wednesday that he should have pressed for prosecutors to wrap up their investigation sooner so the video could be made public. They want to at least be able to say the officer is being charged so as to stymie outrage after people saw the video. “With release of this video it’s really important for public safety that the citizens of Chicago know that this officer is being held responsible for his actions,” she told Reuters in November. Emanuel had long resisted releasing the dashcam video, citing ongoing federal and state criminal probes, but was forced to after an independent journalist successfully sued the city for the video under the state’s Freedom of Information law.

Emanuel spoke of black residents’ mistrust of Chicago police, saying it’s unacceptable that some officers treat black people — particularly young men — differently than they do whites, and that there are parents in Chicago who feel they must warn their children to be wary of officers. “It is not something I would ever tell my children. When an African-American mother or father or grandparent feel it is necessary to train their sons and daughters to behave with extreme caution when they are pulled over by police, to have both hands on the wheel and visible, what does that say? A Guardian investigation exposed in February that Chicago police have the equivalent of a domestic black site where they allegedly torture detainees who they often hold illegally and keep from legal counsel. She said she was “denied access” to the council’s chamber Wednesday until she produced ID — “even though my picture was on the wall.” Her white colleagues walked in without having to show ID, said Hairston, whose ward encompasses parts of the South Side, including the University of Chicago.

More than 51% of likely voters said Emanuel should resign, while 29% said he should not step down, according to the poll commissioned by The Insider, a newsletter published by the Illinois Observer. He also reversed course on whether the Justice Department should launch a civil-rights investigation, saying he would welcome it only after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other top Democrats endorsed the idea.

In the nearly 40-minute speech, Emanuel vowed the city would not “shrink from the challenge” of making reforms needed to bolster public trust in a department that has been beset for years by allegations of torturing and beating suspects and targeting the city’s black and Latino residents. In news conferences, he has appeared worn down, fumbling answers to reporters’ questions or avoiding them entirely by walking away, with cameras rolling. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him grapple with anything quite like this,” said longtime ally and adviser David Axelrod, who also served with Emanuel in the Obama White House. The most likely effect of the crisis will come in the form of pushback from aldermen, who have long been considered a rubber stamp for the mayor’s initiatives, said political consultant Delmarie Cobb.

The Emanuel administration also established a reparations program earlier this year to benefit victims of torture under former Chicago police commander Jon Burge. Days of protests and marches followed, including one on the busiest shopping day of the year that partially shut down the city’s most famous shopping district, Michigan Avenue. The officers used electrical shock, burning and mock executions to elicit confessions from suspects, mostly African-American, from the early 1970s through the early 1990s. A few days later, Emanuel announced that he had demanded and received the resignation of McCarthy, created a new task force and expanded the use of body cameras.

The mayor won re-election in April by a healthy margin, but only after suffering the embarrassment of not getting a majority in a five-candidate February election, forcing the first mayoral runoff in decades. Permitting and protecting even the smallest acts of abuse by a tiny fraction of our officers leads to a culture where extreme acts of abuse are more likely, just like with what happened to Laquan McDonald,” he said. “We cannot ask citizens in crime-ravaged neighborhoods to break the code of silence if we continue to allow a code of silence to exist within our own police department. In the months that followed, his public schools CEO, who oversaw closings of about 50 schools that angered many residents, was indicted on corruption charges. He called more broadly on changes in criminal justice systems, while decrying what he called the second-class treatment of Chicagoans by police because of race. His administration has warned of massive mid-year layoffs in the public schools and is in the midst of rocky contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union.

Emanuel said that in addition to better community policing, Chicago must confront “underlying challenges of family, of poverty, of joblessness, or hopelessness.” The mayor was near tears when he recalled a question from a young man who had had run-ins with the law. He said gun violence has become “normalized” as the city grapples with gang violence and how to reform a police force with a decades-old reputation for brutality. A review by the city’s quasi-independent police watchdog agency showed that of 409 shootings involving police since 2007, the agency found only two with credible allegations against an officer. “We have to be honest with ourselves about this issue.

While a police review board previously found the officers’ actions justified, Emanuel said he did not see how the treatment of the man — who later died following a reaction to an antipsychotics drug — could “possibly be acceptable” and said he did not consider the investigation closed. Chicago has seen nearly daily protests following the release of the video, including the shutdown of stores by demonstrators along Michigan Avenue’s famed shopping district on Black Friday. At least four different groups are planning protests throughout the day in and around Chicago’s City Hall to draw attention to cases of alleged abuse by police officers.

He has never experienced that type of thing, and so to him it is foreign, and until you see it on videotape, and it can’t be refuted, and you’ve heard it over and over and over again, I think now he gets it,” said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st). “If we didn’t have social media, we wouldn’t be talking about the reform and the change that we’re talking about right now,” said Ald.

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