Chicago officer charged with murder; city braces for video of shooting

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago officer charged with murder in killing of teen.

As the Chicago Police Department prepares to release a potentially explosive video that shows an officer killing a 17-year-old black teenager named Laquan McDonald, some police-transparency activists have taken a new and curious position: They want the video to remain secret.An Illinois state prosecutor charged Jason Van Dyke, a white Chicago police officer, with first-degree murder on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014.

The plan is not unprecedented, and similar plans have been made in the past when the department expects massive protests or potential for civil unrest. “We are prepared for demonstrations, let’s put it that way,” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Tuesday morning. “My mantra is going to be the same one that it always is, which is really simple. The video, which is reportedly disturbing, is expected to be released Wednesday despite opposition from the police department, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Laquan’s family, and some activists.

City officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the video, fearing an outbreak of unrest and demonstrations similar to those that occurred in cities including Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody. That there should be pushback against transparency after a year when videos have been integral in a nationwide policing reform movement, experts say, comes partly out of concern for the slain teenager’s family. “From a public opinion perspective, it’s interesting because people are very supportive of cameras in the interest of transparency, but they’re much less supportive of the general public having access to video,” says William Sousa, director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. “It ties back to this idea that transparency is a very good thing, but we have to also balance the rights of the officers, the rights of citizens and respect due process in terms of the way that we treat evidence – and it’s all a balance that cities are really struggling with now.” Cities aren’t the only ones grappling with such questions – transparency and free speech have become issues on campuses across the country this fall. State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said she moved up her announcement of charges after a Cook County judge ruled last week that police dash-cam video of the incident should be released to the public. “I don’t think there’s any such thing as a good video of a police shooting,” McCarthy said. “We’re talking about a loss of life here, and no matter what the circumstance, I don’t know how you could characterize it as good.” Detectives, tactical teams and other officers in the city who normally wear civilian clothing were ordered to wear uniforms through Nov. 29, according to an internal department order obtained by the Tribune.

This week, Pew found that 40 percent of Millennials support government censorship of some views and ideas that they find offensive or oppressive, a far higher rate than older generations. In Chicago, the video’s graphic nature, as well as its potential to inspire unrest, means that activists and the police find themselves on the same side of the issue. Emanuel called on community and religious leaders Monday to prepare for the public reaction to the video. “It’ll be out there and people will see it dozens and dozens and dozens of times. Then you have to go to that same population and select a jury pool,” said Dean Angelo, president of the Chicago lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans.” “This is a panicky reaction to an institutional crisis within the criminal justice system,” said the Rev. Foot patrol officers assigned to the two downtown districts — which cover roughly the area between Fullerton Avenue and 31st Street, east of the Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways — were told they may have their hours adjusted or extended. Van Dyke’s arrest is a monumental step for Chicago – one of the most segregated cities in America that has emerged virtually unscathed as Black Lives Matter protests rocked New York, Baltimore, Ferguson and Minneapolis. The city’s hurried attempts to defuse tensions also included a community meeting, official statements of outrage at the officer’s conduct and an abrupt announcement Monday night that another officer who’s been the subject of protests for months might now be fired.

Activists and journalists have long pressed for the video’s release only to be told that it had to be kept private as long as the shooting was under investigation. After the judge’s order to release it, the investigation was quickly wrapped up and a charge announced. “You had this tape for a year and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm,” the Rev. That’s even though the city has a history rife with police abuses, including more than $500 million in settlements and reparations for a period in the 1970s and ’80s when some officers were found to have abused, even tortured, African-Americans. Van Dyke is pleading innocent to first-degree murder charges and claims he was acting in self-defense after McDonald brandished a 3-inch folding knife.

Two suspects have been arrested. “Everything is being taken from us, nothing is being given to us and everyone is trying to tell us how to act and respond to that,” Timothy Bradford with Black Youth Project 100 told the Chicago Tribune. “There’s always focus on how black people perform and respond to being abused and exploited and oppressed politically, economically and socially. Mayor Emanuel met with officials on Tuesday to ready for potential unrest. “The question for many is, once the video is there, what do you do with it? There’s all kinds of situations where a video can inflame a legal situation where you’d rather it be dealt with more quietly,” says Michael Kazin, a historian of US social movements at Georgetown University in Washington.

She said he opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his vehicle and kept firing even though McDonald dropped to the ground after the initial shots. Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Delaney said at Tuesday’s hearing that the shooting lasted 14 to 15 seconds and that McDonald was on the ground for 13 of those seconds.

If [a police officer kills me], I don’t want my body turned into a viral video.” Those sentiments echoed calls by growing social justice movements on US campuses to censure uncomfortable or potentially hurtful thoughts or speech. Herbert said the case needs to be tried in a courtroom and “can’t be tried in the streets, can’t be tried on social media and can’t be tried on Facebook.” Chicago police also moved late Monday to discipline a second officer who had shot and killed an unarmed black woman in 2012 in another incident causing tensions between the department and minority communities. And earlier this month, a University of Missouri communications professor was widely criticized for calling for “muscle” to oust reporters trying to cover a protest.

The fears of unrest stem from long-standing tensions between Chicago police and its minority communities, partly due to the department’s dogged reputation for brutality, particularly involving blacks. Last week, Smith College protesters barred reporters from covering a sit-in unless they were willing to pledge allegiance to their cause, “in an effort to create a safe space from potential insensitivity,” as a MassLive reporter who was turned away wrote. Dozens of men, mostly African-American, said they were subjected to torture from a Chicago police squad headed by former commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, and many spent years in prison. Other social historians argue that the impulse to keep the McDonald video out of public view may be more the result of Americans uncertainly crossing a new legal frontier, enabled by technology and now questioned by even those energized by what some of those videos have revealed. “This sounds like it’s unnecessary [from the viewpoint of activists] since clearly what they want is results,” which they have achieved with murder charges faced by Van Dyke, adds Mr.

Kazin at Georgetown. “What’s happening on campus is somewhat different, where it’s a matter of people being part of an institution that they feel has not treated them equally, and where there’s a history of racism or at least condescension based on race.

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