From a reader:

The Spark of Outrage Continues Burning—Will It Lead to Appropriate Action?

Police Brutality in the Execution of Laquan McDonald and Much More

December 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following is a translation from Spanish, done by Revolución, of a letter from a reader.


Chicago, Illinois, December 1, 2015

Laquan McDonald
Laquan McDonald

The protests and demands for justice continue in the wake of the execution of Laquan McDonald, after it became known yesterday that officer Jason Van Dyke was free after paying the $1.5 million bail set by the judge based on the argument that Van Dyke does not represent a public threat. If their goal is to placate the social outrage, I am afraid that they will achieve the opposite with this decision and argument. Especially in this paradigmatic case, such an argument does a disservice to justice because this is not only about police brutality. In context, the following seven considerations deserve consideration to enable our social transformation:

The police officer as an individual:

1. If a police officer, ostensibly hired to protect order and social peace, treacherously shoots and kills a minor as shown in the video, isn’t this contrary to the oath Van Dyke took when he became a police officer? How, then, are we supposed to understand “public threat”? The judge’s decision deserves a great deal of attention. If the social organizations or congressmen themselves fail to object, it will pass unnoticed and establish a legal precedent. This is not merely a matter of police brutality against an individual. It is a violation of the Rule of Law itself for Laquan McDonald to be denied due process and to be executed by someone who is sworn to uphold said Rule of Law. Of course this goes beyond the individual and clearly makes Van Dyke a public threat.

2. If a police officer has been on active duty for 14 years, during which time he has generated more than 20 complaints without receiving any disciplinary action until a murder like that of Laquan McDonald, can it still be considered that he is not a public threat? Shouldn’t this be seen as the culmination of his entire record up to this latest point—or should the murder that he committed against Laquan be considered an incident isolated from his record? Do police have a license to kill?

Police as a body:

3. If the story that Van Dyke and the police maintained for 14 months was that he acted in self-defense, lying consciously, how can there be confidence in a police force that conspires against the society that they are sworn to protect? It took a court order to release the video and disprove the story that had been maintained the whole time. Thank God that there is still the separation of powers, otherwise the lie would have continued to prevail. What if there had not been a decision to release the video? What if those who should maintain social peace disrupt it with their evil actions? All the police, as a body, have lied to the citizenry.

4. Fourteen months collecting a salary with nobody bothering him, while he and some 20 police officers knew of the crime that he had perpetrated—does this not tell us of a culture of dishonesty and cynicism? Are the police a body that covers everything with the same blanket? What nurtures in them a culture lacking transparency and accountability? Why did another branch of government have to intervene to demand the release of the video? As part of a system whose purpose is to obtain justice, where is their sense of justice?

The police as part of the system

5. The fact that a settlement of $5 million was offered to Laquan McDonald’s family, without them even filing a lawsuit, undeniably leads us to further reflections. If disasters caused by the police are paid out of the city’s pocket, when will the police as a body learn a lesson? Or, will the police themselves pay for it? And if they don’t, isn’t the system just protecting itself and remaining incorrigible?

6. After the video was released, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on the city to keep the peace. Isn’t that precisely the primary job of the police? Does the system now blame the victims instead of targeting the real culprits? Cover-up or conspiracy, or both?

7. If the video had been released prior to the elections, would it have affected the outcome? This was a question that a reporter from Univision asked Commissioner Chuy Garcia (video, in Spanish, here.)

In conclusion, this is not just about police brutality—as my reasoning above demonstrates, I argue strongly that the evil is greater: it is systemic. Society itself, in its outrage and protest, has recognized accurately that officer Jason Van Dyke, the police as a body with their chief Garry McCarthy, and the system itself, with its mayor as leader, cannot be tolerated when what they protect is evil.

Contrast this with the flashes of joy and hope that have emerged from this disaster. I am referring to the many actions in solidarity with the African-American community demanding justice for the murder of Laquan. The ability to have turned around in order to see each other as equals without racial distinction is invaluable. However, we need to move our protests and outrage to appropriate action to achieve a greater good: organizing forceful corrective actions to set a historic precedent and ensure that horrors like this never happen again in the city of Chicago, or in the entire United States.


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