January 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Department of Justice Report on Chicago Police:
Description of an Occupying Army Terrorizing the People

The Department of Justice has issued a 164-page report on the practices of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the second largest police department in the country. The city has entered into a consent decree to allow federal supervision of policing practices.

Scathing, excoriating, deeply disturbing, damning are just some of the words being used to describe the report’s findings of excessive and lethal force used against African-Americans and Latinos. It is a description of an occupying army terrorizing people. It is difficult to capture what all this has meant for real people over many years, deeply scarring and traumatizing generations.

Here are just a few of the findings that illustrate the general practices of excessive force, cover-ups, and overtly racist mind-set of the CPD police detailed in the DOJ’s report IN THE DOJ’s OWN WORDS (entire report available here):

CPD will take a young person to a rival gang neighborhood, and either leave the person there, or display the youth to rival members, immediately putting the life of that young person in jeopardy by suggesting he has provided information to the police. Our investigation indicates that these practices in fact exist and significantly jeopardize CPD’s relationship with the community....

One officer we interviewed told us he personally had heard co-workers and supervisors refer to black individuals as monkeys, animals, savages and “pieces of shit.”

One CPD officer posted a picture of a dead Muslim soldier laying in a pool of his own blood with the caption: ‘The only good Muslim is a fucking dead one.’ Supervisors posted many of the discriminatory posts that we found [on social media]....

We found many circumstances in which officers’ accounts of force incidents were later discredited, in whole or in part, by video evidence. Given the numerous use-of-force incidents without video evidence ... the pattern of unreasonable force is likely even more widespread....

In one case, a man had been walking down a residential street with a friend when officers drove up, shined a light on him, and ordered him to freeze, because he had been fidgeting with his waistband. The man ran. Three officers gave chase and began shooting as they ran. In total, the officers fired 45 rounds, including 28 rifle rounds towards the man. Several rounds struck the man, killing him. [The report notes he was unarmed. Yet IPRA (Independent Police Review Authority) found the shooting justified.]....

[Regarding the use of Tasers] An incident we reviewed, a man died after hitting his head when he fell while fleeing because a CPD officer shot him with a Taser. The man had only been suspected of petty theft from a retail store.... We saw other unnecessary use of Tasers against people fleeing after committing minor violations including a man suspected of urinating in public, and a 110-pound-juvenile who fled after officers caught him painting graffiti on a garage....

CPD’s pattern or practice of excessive force also includes subjecting children to force for non-criminal conduct and minor violations. In one incident, officers hit a 16 year old girl with a baton and then Tasered her, after she was asked to leave school for having a cell phone in violation of school rules....

It also appears that officers have been instructed on the language that they should use to justify force. We saw many instances where officers justified force based on a boiler plate description of resistance that provides insufficient specificity....

Our review of files for complaints [against police] that were investigated revealed consistent patterns of egregious investigative deficiencies that impede the search for the truth.... We also found that investigations foundered because of the pervasive cover-up culture among the CPD officers....

IPRA [Independent Police Review Authority] itself actively undermines the integrity of its investigations by actively enabling officers to receive coaching during the course of an investigative interview....

IPRA reports sometimes omitted mention of crucial physical evidence that appeared to undermine officer accounts. One ... involved an officer who shot an unarmed suspect in the back at close range. The officer had reported to arriving detectives that the man had pointed an object she mistook for a gun and opened fire.... However, less than 24 hours later, IPRA had obtained police video footage that showed the confrontation... recorded at close range, it showed the suspect running away from the officer. Nonetheless, IPRA issued a report that accepted the officer’s story at face value. The report did not even acknowledge the police video.

Protestors in Chicago shut down Michigan Avenue, a well-known high-end shopping and tourist area, on Black Friday in 2015 in protest of murders by Chicago police.

Some Truths That Must Be Said About the Report on Chicago Pigs

The first thing that must be said about the Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the Chicago police is that the DOJ would not even have conducted this investigation if people in the thousands had not taken to the streets, day after day, night after night, in the wake of the release of the video in November 2015 that showed a Chicago pig pumping 16 bullets into an unarmed teenager, Laquan McDonald. The DOJ report also covers one of the most recent police shootings, that of Paul O’Neal, who was shot as he ran away from police in the summer of 2016. Again, if it were not for people in the community taking to the streets in outrage over Paul’s murder, blocking trains and traffic on the South Side of Chicago, overcoming gang divisions to protest Paul’s murder, it likely would have been swept under the rug.

The second thing that must be said is that there is a pattern and practice on the part of the DOJ to NOT deliver justice. The DOJ drags out investigations, slaps on some cosmetic changes, and NOTHING fundamentally changes. IF there were really justice, the DOJ report would result in hundreds of arrests of police officers and city officials for crimes ranging from outright murder to manslaughter to torture to aiding and abetting such crimes.

A Chicago pig pumped 16 bullets into Laquan McDonald, who was unarmed. People took to the streets day after day in the wake of the release of the video of this murder.

The third thing that must be said about the DOJ report’s finding that the police are not supported and supervised by the department and that the police are poorly trained, is that it is a stinking load of manure. The report itself makes clear that the brass goes to great lengths to cover up and protect the rampant lawlessness of the police force. This IS what police on all levels are trained to do. And it’s proven by the very fact the police have “low morale” because they can’t terrorize the community with complete impunity.

The fourth thing that must be said is that as bad as things have been already for the people, the police union is openly salivating about the incoming Trump administration. Pigs on steroids with the backing of law-and-order Trump and his neo-Confederate attorney general Jeff Sessions. Sessions has come out strongly against the DOJ consent decrees as blaming a whole department for a few bad apples. So even the current appearance of reforms (or maybe even the reality of some minor reforms) is going to be wiped out. (The ugly reality of the CPD in the Trump era was on display on election night in Mt. Greenwood, an almost all-white neighborhood where many cops live. See “After Chicago Pigs Murder Unarmed Black Motorist on Way Home From Funeral...People Stand Up Against Killer Cops and Neighborhood Trumpite Goons.”)

Paul O'Neal, left, was shot and murdered by police as he ran away in the summer of 2016. People took to the streets, blocking trains and traffic on the South Side of Chicago.

The fifth thing that must be said about the DOJ report is that what it reveals was not hard to “uncover.” Many credible exposures had already been done about the Chicago Police Department by the media and even the city’s own task force. See, for instance, Code of Silence by the Invisible Institute. And yet through all the murders, all the torture, all the brutality, all the false arrests, all the complaints, and all the cover-ups documented—how many indictments? One—the cop who murdered Laquan McDonald. All the agencies implicated—the mayor, the city legal department, the police investigatory agency... all have blood on their hands. One after another those implicated are allowed to retire or resign with full pensions.

The sixth thing that must be said is that while no pigs and accomplices in city agencies will be indicted as a result of a scathing, deeply disturbing, excoriating report, there are a number of high-profile activists against police murder and brutality who are facing multiple felony charges and lengthy prison sentences for courageously leading protests against police terror. If there was any justice, their charges would be dismissed IMMEDIATELY.

But the most important thing that must be said is that what is revealed in the DOJ report on the Chicago police is universal to all police departments—and that these police are but the spear point enforcing a whole system of high unemployment and low wages when there is work... of piss-poor education... of terrible health care and epidemic levels of high blood pressure, diabetes, AIDS, and cancer... of mass incarceration and mass eviction and homelessness... of saddling people with onerous debts from court cases and then jailing them again when they cannot pay for court costs... of the terrible demoralization and hopelessness that leads people to lash out against others who look like them... and so much more. Yes, this is a system—a system of white supremacy that lies close to the heart of this larger capitalist-imperialist system—a system that MUST be overthrown at the soonest possible time, and the ground cleared to do away with all traces of this white supremacy.

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