MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the head of the nation's third largest city, is standing by his deadly pronouncement that police officers need to return to "pre-Ferguson" non-transparent and "aggressive” policing. This is the racist policing style that not infrequently results in brutality, the targeting of people of color and law enforcement officers literally getting away with murder.
As reported in The Chicago-Sun Times on October 9, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is blaming a record-setting bloodletting September in Chicago on police officers allegedly becoming less aggressive. Emanuel contemptuously - and puzzlingly - complains that the murder spike among citizens occurred in the wake of the video revelations of police around the nation murdering people of color and harassing them:
Chicago’s police union is taking exception to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s description of Chicago cops as being “fetal” and not proactively policing because they’re afraid of getting in trouble when citizens post YouTube videos of their interactions with the public.
Emanuel’s comments came as he urged support for police during a private meeting [last] Wednesday with big-city police chiefs, the U.S. attorney general, the head of the FBI and other law-enforcement and elected officials, according to a Washington Post reporter who was there.
“We have allowed our police department to get fetal and it is having a direct consequence,” Emanuel told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict . . . they don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”
Emanuel's pushback on the outrage over police harassing and brutally treating people of color is an astonishing and repulsive position. In trying to defend his own culpability for a rising murder rate in Chicago, he is blaming what he and his chief of police derisively call "a Ferguson effect." The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Emanuel have previously referred to a “Ferguson effect,” a theory that suggests cops have stopped policing aggressively for fear of being disciplined. It refers to the August 2014 shooting death of a black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white officer in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury investigated the shooting and did not find any criminal wrongdoing by the officer.
Many of Chicago's Black alderpersons have a different outlook according to The Chicago Tribune:
September was Chicago's deadliest month since 2002, with 60 homicides. Through Sept. 27, homicides and shooting incidents had risen 21 percent from the year-earlier period, Police Department numbers show. Most of the City Council's black aldermen last week called for Emanuel to fire police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, but the mayor said he supports his top cop.
Make no mistake about the implications of Emanuel's taunting of the Chicago Police - known for its history of plantation policing in communities of color, including torture, beatings, killings and ongoing harassment. While so many advocates of justice and building safe spaces for people of color see the visual and audio recordings of police misconduct - including the use of lethal force - as a vehicle for building transformative change, Mayor Emanuel sees the revelations of police brutality as a negative development that has put police, as he hyperbolically stated, in a "fetal position."
One needs to take a deep breath to comprehend the malicious, racist, violent and bullying implications of Emanuel's words. Instead of addressing the root causes of violence in Chicago, Emanuel is reverting to advocating policies of keeping vast swaths of economically distressed urban neighborhoods of color from exploding through feeding the mass-incarceration system and "aggressive" policing.
"Aggressive" policing, as we know, is a euphemistic phrase that allows cops to take actions toward people of color knowing that the mayor, police chief and district attorneys will back them up. It implicitly includes a license to kill people deemed disposable by society.
Take the recent “investigation” into the shooting of a Black youth by another Midwestern police force, this one in Cleveland.
On October 10, The New York Times reported on "outside" studies issued on the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun, by Cleveland police:
Two outside investigators looking into the death of Tamir Rice have concluded that a Cleveland police officer, Tim Loehmann, acted reasonably in deciding last year to shoot when he confronted the 12-year-old boy carrying what turned out to be a replica [i.e. toy] gun....
“The question is not whether every officer would have reacted the same way,” Kimberly A. Crawford, the retired F.B.I. agent, wrote in her report, which noted that Officer Loehmann had no way of knowing Tamir’s gun was fake. “Rather, the relevant inquiry is whether a reasonable officer, confronting the exact same scenario under identical conditions could have concluded that deadly force was necessary.”
That language is so reassuring to the likes of Mayor Emanuel and dangerous proponents of "pre-Ferguson" policing. The New York Times emphasizes in its headline that the "reviews say Cleveland officer acted reasonably" in fatally shooting Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun in a park in November of 2014. For proponents of a policing system that is inextricably intertwined with a corrosive mass incarceration system and institutional racism, the word "reasonable" provides a rational sounding justification of their policies.
Leaders like Emanuel who are proponents of using the police to maintain white privilege see those who insist that Black lives matter and who expose the racism of our criminal legal system as agitators and alarmists.
This past week, Emanuel has taunted the Chicago police, accusing them of cowardice. He's unleashed them to attack people whom the government deems disposable with impunity in order to maintain the status quo of white privilege. He has cravenly evaded any responsibility for the murder rate in Chicago due to his disdain for communities of color.
That is a dangerous precedent, a high-profile big city mayor intimidating his police department to unleash the dogs of Hell on those whom the white power structure wishes to cast away.
Not to be reposted withtout the permission of Truthout.