Many Superintendents Have Tried to Reform The Chicago Police (TIMELINE)
Families with loved ones shot by Chicago police seek help.
CHICAGO (AP) — The latest developments in the fallout from fatal police shootings in Chicago and a federal civil rights investigation into the city’s police department (all times local): An attorney for a white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the shooting of a black teenager says he is considering asking for a change of venue after comments Mayor Rahm Emanuel made about his client. Department of Justice wants Chicago to know exactly how to submit complaints about the Chicago Police Department in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and has distributed those details to community leaders. She’s handed out fliers to drum up interest in his death and maybe get someone to believe that the gun police said Childs fired at officers was planted near his body after he was shot in the head. With labels such as “false tears,” “injustice” and “cover-ups,” the boxes were meant to be Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s, ready to go his hoped-for moving day.
He faces six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct in 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s death. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File) Jason Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct in 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s death. In a news conference last month to release the video, Emanuel told reporters it was clear “Van Dyke violated both the standards of professionalism that come with being a police officer but also basic moral standards that bind our community together.” Friday’s hearing in a Cook County criminal court follows Jason Van Dyke’s indictment by a grand jury earlier this week. Sabina Church, said Thursday that he and about 15 others were given copies in a meeting held Wednesday with attorneys from the department’s civil rights division, and are spreading the word. “I want as many people as possible in Chicago to use it,” he said. “We need to make sure that they hear from everybody in the community, and the best way to do that is for people to tell their story . . . The Nov. 24 release of police dashcam video of a white officer gunning down black teenager Laquan McDonald last year has caused political fallout dwarfing previous outrages against Emanuel, including ones over the closing of almost 50 public schools, the shuttering of public mental health clinics and the privatization of city services.
They’re pressuring the city’s beleaguered Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA, to reopen inquiries into their family members’ deaths, and see the federal Department of Justice’s investigation of the Police Department as a chance — maybe the last one they will get — to be heard. Dana Cross’ family received a $2 million lawsuit settlement from the city after IPRA ruled the 2011 shooting death of her son, Calvin Cross, who was black, was justified. He was forced into a runoff election with upstart progressive candidate Jesús “Chuy” García and then beat Garcia by a margin of only 12 percentage points despite a massive fundraising advantage. IPRA has already opened one investigation after a video showed a man being dragged by police from a jail cell and the agency’s new head has asked the city’s inspector general to again look at the McDonald case.
A bill has been introduced in the state legislature that would establish procedures for a recall election if 15 percent of the number of voters in the last mayoral election sign a petition — in this case, about 86,000 people. Plus, there are at least two dozen disputed police-shooting cases that have triggered lawsuits and have received some media attention and likely dozens more where lawsuits are contemplated or filed with little notice. “That video showed what we are going through out here, what these police officers are covering up,” said Gloria Pinex, whose son, Darius, was killed by Chicago police in 2011.
When Garry McCarthy resigned as police superintendent on Dec. 1, Emanuel said that McCarthy could no longer lead because he had lost the public’s confidence and trust. Attorney’s Office with a written demand for investigations into several shootings by police and alleged police torture cases — handing over pretty much the same document they said the same office ignored last year.
The one thing that might drive a resignation is hard evidence that Emanuel orchestrated keeping the video hidden until after the election, in part by negotiating a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, which was announced and approved by the City Council just days after the election. A federal jury ruled against her in a lawsuit earlier this year, but new evidence came out — some in the middle of the trial — that contradicts an officer’s statements that he stopped Darius Pinex’s car because it matched the description of one that police were looking for in an earlier shooting.
Chicagoans have a long and curious history of tolerating and even rewarding corruption, neglect and cover-ups from their leaders, especially where police abuse is concerned. There’s a slim chance that Chicago will become a model for police accountability and transparency and that Emanuel will embrace the challenge of aggressively reforming a department that was known for racism, brutality and impunity long before he took office. Even as Emanuel, the son of a civil rights activist, closed schools in black neighborhoods and slashed city jobs held largely by black people, he has seemed to relish portraying himself as a champion of the black community. That business will include opening a front in his ongoing battle with the Chicago Teachers Union, whose members recently voted overwhelmingly to support a strike early next year.
His war with the teachers — including a 2012 strike that the teachers were widely seen as winning — has a major racial component, since a large percentage of public school teachers and students are black. The teachers will surely invoke the McDonald shooting to bolster their argument that Emanuel is a 1 percent mayor who slashes school spending and neglects poor neighborhoods while selling off the schools and other pieces of the city to his friends in high finance. Then there’s the other scandal that was seemingly kept under wraps until just a week after the April election — corruption by Emanuel’s handpicked schools CEO, Barbara Byrd Bennett. A federal investigation was announced April 15, and then Byrd Bennett resigned and pleaded guilty to charges that she took up to $2.3 million in kickbacks for steering more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to a principal training academy co-owned by a reported adviser to the Emanuel administration. But this is politics, and he is a consummate politician, so it’s probably safe to assume that he will do only what his constituents and other politicians force him to do.
Daley, sailed to re-election multiple times even as it became clear that under his watch, Chicago police perpetrated and oversaw the systematic torture of black men, leading to multiple wrongful and questionable convictions, including some that took place while Daley was a state’s attorney. So will Chicago residents and City Council members force Emanuel to become more responsive and transparent, not only on policing but also on education, labor, finance and services?
Kari Lydersen is a Chicago journalist and the author of “Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99%.” She is a leader of the Social Justice News Nexus reporting fellowship at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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