Revolution #242, August 14, 2011

Chicago Police on a Murderous Rampage: 42 people shot


Thirteen. Just graduated from sixth grade. Thirteen. A child becoming a teenager. Thirteen. Summer time fun with family and friends. Thirteen. An evening in the neighborhood, relief from the daytime’s horrid heat.

Thirteen. Shot eight times by Chicago police. Thirteen. Handcuffed at the ankle to a hospital bed. Thirteen. Awake in pain to see a cop there 24/7, the whole time spent recovering from the shooting. Thirteen. Questioned by police in a hospital room without parents or a lawyer there. Thirteen. Charged with felonies because the police shot you.

Emmett Till was 13 years old when he traveled from Chicago to Money, Mississippi, where he was beaten and shot to death by white racists for simply being full of life. It was 1955. Emmett Till lived in the era of Jim Crow. It was a time of KKK terror when Black people were second-class citizens by law. If you were Black you were forced to sit in the back of the bus, you were not allowed to use white only facilities like bus stop waiting rooms or swimming pools and even beaches.

Jimmell Cannon was 13 years old when he was shot by Chicago police simply for being full of life. Jimmell was attending a cousin’s birthday party with family members when the police appeared on the scene claiming he had a gun and shot him eight times. Jimmell Cannon lives in the era of the New Jim Crow. It is a time of police brutality and murder, wholesale criminalization and mass incarceration, and legalized discrimination against those who get out of prison (and their families) in jobs, in housing and in a thousand other ways. This is the face of the oppression of millions of Black people today.

Jimmell Cannon and Joe Banks, 21 years old, were both shot by police on the west side of Chicago within days AFTER a full-page cover of the Chicago Sun-Times blared on July 24 that more 40 people had been shot by Chicago police in 2011: “SHOOTINGS BY CHICAGO COPS SOAR—BUT WHY?”

This was the first time it became widely known that the police were shooting people at double the rate of the previous year. The new mayor and former White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, was silent. His new hand-picked police chief took to the airwaves to proclaim that the shootings were all justified, claiming the victims were criminals who “pull out guns and shoot at police officers... with wanton disregard.” These are BIG lies. Eyewitnesses say Jimmell had his hands in the air and there was no gun. The police later claimed Jimmell had a BB gun. Jimmell’s bullet wounds show that both of his hands were shot while open. The wounds to the back of his shoulder and leg confirm he had his back turned toward the police just as eyewitnesses said... hardly a threatening position.

The new police chief, Garry McCarthy, left the Newark, New Jersey, police department this past spring just as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) succeeded in forcing the Department of Justice to investigate the Newark police’s excessive use of force, discriminatory policing and poor treatment of detainees. The ACLU had collected evidence of rampant misconduct. Garry McCarthy is also an adherent of a police theory called “broken window.” The essence of this is that if a community “allows” (!) neglect as evidenced in broken windows, graffiti, or abandoned cars—it is not long before serious crime follows.

The Chicago Police Department version of the “broken window”: police receive a complaint about school windows being shot out with a BB gun. Police arrive on the scene and proceed to shoot with wanton disregard, hitting Jimmell Cannon eight times and then turn around and charge him with felony damage to property.

Further, the police chief justifies the police shootings, blaming it on the victims by asking, “why would you run?” Think about this. Since when do the police have the legal right to shoot a person who is not hurting anyone—and who is trying to leave an area, especially if there seems to be a bad scene developing? There is no such law.

What does this say about police terror in oppressed communities? The practice is so common that when Revolution newspaper asks young people in minority communities in Chicago about it, they reply that there is a law that says the police can shoot if you run from them.

As Bob Avakian put it: “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.” (BAsics 1:24)

Genocide by Police

Since the magnitude of police shooting people has come to light, followed immediately by the police shooting a 13-year-old and another unarmed young man, the police have been on the offensive to whip up reactionary and very visible support for the police department. The news is filled with police department memorial tributes to fallen cops. An annual “Ride to Remember” swelled from a few hundred in the previous year to over 1,000 motorcycle bikers parading up the drive along Lake Michigan riding in a show of support for police.

The police blog “Second City Cop” is very popular among cops and the people who back them to the hilt. It has been named one of the top 50 police blogs in the U.S. It is written by at least one active-duty cop. Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a column by one of their editorial board members that said the police should at least express some regret for having to shoot a 13-year-old. The SecondCityCop blog, responded to the column, branding the Sun-Times as the “Slum Times.” SecondCityCop writes, “Express regret? For what? For following Department Orders? For following the Illinois Statutes? For raising a miniature gang banging piece of crap and future drain on society as a whole? Oh wait, that would be the parent(s) who should be expressing regret in that example... Anyone want to clue us in as to what the police have to express regret for?”

It gets worse. In response to a columnist’s concern that police disrespect is going to alienate the entire Black community, the Chicago cop writes: “Well, it’s kind of hard to ‘respect’ a community that praises the criminal and refuses to accept responsibility for the actions of spawn it has produced and failed to raise within the norms of a civilized society. You work on that and then come back so we can talk, maybe in about thirty or forty years. Jimmell will just about be finishing his sixth or seventh stint in prison about then.”

Anyone who knows the history of Nazi Germany and the logic that led to the extermination of millions of Jews should recognize this as the same mentality. Or anyone who remembers and thinks it sounds like Vietnam, you are right, it does. The Vietnamese were dehumanized as gooks and killed with wanton disregard. Or now in Iraq where the people are called rag-heads and whole families are shot down at check points and bombs are dropped on wedding parties. It sounds the same because it is the same basic mentality of an occupying military force that views the people it is occupying as the enemy.

The fact that a working Chicago cop can flaunt such racist and genocidal views on a popular police blog and not get suspended or fired or disciplined in any way speaks volumes about the role of the police.


People in some of the neighborhoods where this police rampage is concentrated have reported to Revolution that the People’s Neighborhood Patrols have been seen frequently. These patrols, in an organized and disciplined way, witness, call out, and stand up to any and all illegal actions by the police against the people.

This is a significant thing which should be supported.

People are finding ways to stand up. Demonstrations have been called on the spot in the neighborhoods where people have been shot. Revolutionaries have attended these demonstrations, as well as press conferences, and held Stolen Lives banners outside funerals at the families’ request. Thousands of copies of a flyer put out by the Revolutionary Communist Party (Chicago branch) have been widely distributed by people throughout the city. (The flyer is available online at As that flyer says: “IT IS TIME FOR US TO WAKE UP. The days when this system can just keep doing what it does to people, here and all over the world ... when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness ... those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.”

As a part of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution... revolutionaries are distributing Revolution newspaper and building organization around it. Many more people need to become part of the movement for revolution we are building. In different neighborhoods, the revolutionaries are working to find people and places (churches/stores) to step forward to get Revolution each week so a network can be built up throughout the city. Meantime, the cops have been trying to intimidate people for simply having the newspaper. Friends and relatives of a young man killed in June reported the police demanded to know where they got copies of Revolution. It has also been reported that youth have also taunted the police who harass them for having a communist newspaper—”we’re communists, what of it?”

Looking ahead, October 22, 2011, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, looms as the day on which there must be an outpouring of broad—and determined—resistance across the country to police brutality and murder, to the torture of prisoners, to mass incarceration and the criminalization of a generation, and to the increasing repression of those who dare to speak out against this system. People must unite and step out to stop these outrages! “Enough is enough—no more!”


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