POLITICO Illinois Playbook: PROTESTS rock Chicago — EMANUEL under pressure …

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago police officer who fatally shot teen due in court.

CHICAGO (AP) — A white Chicago police officer charged with murder after a squad car video caught him fatally shooting a black Chicago teenager 16 times returns to court to learn whether he’ll be offered bond. BOSTON (CBS) – Any union in America worth its title has a consistent message to its members’ employers – we expect you to treat us fairly, to respect the rules and the law, and to think of more than just yourselves when making important decisions; to be decent, ethical and moral.The sickening sight of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being gunned down as he walked away from a line of police cruisers in Chicago only begins to expose the outrage of this story.

In an article on the Poynter.org website headlined “How the media blew reporting the Chicago cop’s shooting of a teen,” we learn that reporters on the scene of the alleged murder of Laquan McDonald last year were diverted from the apparent truth of what happened by a former spokesman for the Chicago Police Department who has continued to show up at crime scenes and spin the story to the press in his new role – as spokesman for the Chicago police union. Laquan McDonald, whose name demonstrators have shouted for two days and will shout again during a planned rally to disrupt the city’s famed Magnificent Mile shopping corridor Friday, lived a troubled, disadvantaged life and had at least one previous brush with the law.

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ records show that was a ward of the state when he died, having spent years being shuttled between different relatives’ homes and foster care from the time he was 3 years old. Now we see that the union is complaining that the first-degree murder charge against their member is over-charging, that it’s all political, and of course they’ll see that he has the best defense money can buy. School officials and the McDonald family lawyer say there were signs Laquan was trying to get his life in order, though prosecutors say he had drugs in his system and was burglarizing cars on Oct. 20, 2014 — the night a squad-car video captured officer Jason Van Dyke shooting him. “It takes a while to get a life back on track,” said Thomas Gattuso, the principal at the alternative high school that McDonald was attending. “With Laquan, we unfortunately never got to finish his story.” Protesters and civil rights activists are demanding more investigations and police reform after Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder this week. This horrific killing, captured on a patrol car’s dash-cam video, was followed by more than a year-long effort to suppress the evidence from public view.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Tuesday she’d hoped to make a joint announcement with federal authorities about charges against Van Dyke, but decided to charge him earlier in the hopes of calming what she knew would be an angry response to the video. Jesse Jackson and others have called for a “massive” march on Black Friday along Michigan Avenue, a swank downtown boulevard that’s normally packed with post-Thanksgiving shoppers. McDonald’s family has appealed for calm, and his mother at least initially opposed the public release of the graphic dashcam video showing his death, attorney Michael Robbins said.

Because the dashcam footage is so graphic, we instinctively understand why police and city officials worked tirelessly to prevent the video from ever being seen by the public, but it nonetheless is outrageous that it took so long and a judge’s order for it to be released last week. Chicago police said that four people were arrested during the second night of largely peaceful demonstrations following the release of a video showing last year’s shooting of McDonald by a police officer. McDonald’s mother had been making efforts to regain custody of her son before he was killed and had been granted permission to take a younger sister back into her home, Robbins said. The Chicago Tribune reports that parents have received a letter from Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson assuring them the video won’t be shown in schools.

Two gorgeous barmaids provided an even more gorgeous sandwich while I was enveloped among very friendly if mildly intoxicated strangers who were interested in who I was and why I was there. Community frustration over the actions of Chicago police has been building for years, and last week it manifested itself in the form of protests and marches. At the recommendation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s City Council approved a $5 million settlement to the victim’s family even before a lawsuit was filed. Like any defendant, Officer Van Dyke should be presumed innocent, but the good people of Chicago can take solace in the fact that his conduct finally will be subject to scrutiny in a court of law.

It should give pause to those who have suggested a “Ferguson effect” is making officers more reticent to confront suspicious people because of public scrutiny — and their apprehension could be producing a crime surge. From around age six to 16, he lived with his great-grandmother and then stayed in the same house with an uncle after his great-grandmother died in 2014. If not for the video — and the mighty efforts of those who pushed to release it — his killing would be just another statistic in the category of “justified use of force.” Gattuso said McDonald took the initiative to attend Sullivan House High School, a school for at-risk students and high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 21.

Why would an officer, 37, with 13 years on the force, in front of witnesses, empty his pistol into a 17-year-old who was walking away, and whose only weapon turned out to be a 3-inch pocket knife found closed? Thwarting abuse by police may come down to two fundamental issues: Who do we get to do this work, and what is the job’s accumulated effect on their psyche? The initial challenge is to hire the best from among those willing to put on a gun and spend every workday looking for trouble in exchange for pay easily matched in safer pursuits. Applicants must accept rotating shifts, including weekends and holidays, in whatever weather, doing a job that marks them as physical and emotional prey in an unending tour of gore, filth, savagery and insanity.

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