Fred Hampton, Jr., right, at a Nov. 24 press conference held at the Chicago site where Laquan McDonald was murdered last October. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 || By Michael Romain
CHICAGO | During a Nov. 24 press conference held at 41st and Pulaski in Chicago, near the spot where the body of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald lay smoldering last October from Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s 16 rounds, the Rev. Jesse Jackson fielded a question that, by now, has become standard fare at these kinds of gatherings.
Before comparing McDonald’s murder last October to the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, Jackson urged a federal investigation into the city’s conduct. He said an investigation should be held that includes those who saw the tape and worked to suppress it, in addition to the police officers who were at the scene of the killing.
“Not just black people, but people of goodwill everywhere must say no to this,” Jackson said. “The tape told the story.”
After his comments, Jackson and the bevy of community members and activists flanking him, took a question from a white reporter, who wanted to know what he had to say about the code of silence that exists in the black community when it comes to black-on-black crime.
The question roused the ire of one large man with black shades and a skull cap, who had been exhausting himself, it seemed, to contain his smoldering anger before it finally boiled over.
“The Chicago police is the biggest gang in this city!” he said indignantly, lunging his argument forward, along with his body. It seemed like a physical confrontation might erupt between him and the white reporter.
There was more back-and-forth between the man and the reporter before Jackson calmly intervened. He explained, as he has time and again during press conferences like these, that there’s a wall of mistrust between the police and black people.
“Some people fear the police, because they don’t trust them,” he said, without explicitly pointing out the gaping bias in the question.
During a press conference called to raise awareness about the brutal police killing of a mentally ill man who posed no immediate danger to an officer who, nevertheless, shot him 16 times; and about what appears to be a massive attempt by the police and city government to cover up the crime (a cover up largely dependent on a code of silence among police officers, government employees and elected officials) a white reporter asked about a putative code of silence among relatively powerless black people.
The black man on Jackson’s left side was enraged. After all, he is the son of Fred Hampton, the Maywood native who was killed by the police in 1968 during a raid on his West Side home. His death is often described by many legal and law enforcement experts as an execution.
After the press conference ended, Hampton, Jr., spoke more about McDonald’s murder.
“We are at war. It’s a continuous war being waged on our people. They may call it a war on drugs, a war on gangs; it’s actually a war on our people. And its not police brutality, its police terrorism.”
When asked whether or not he anticipated a violent backlash to the video among black Chicagoans on the West and South Sides, he stuck to his narrative.
“The violent backlash is what we deal with on a day to day basis. We’re concerned with 15-year-old brothers on 79th Street being stripped naked with these drug searches. The violent backlash is grandmothers getting their doors kicked in.
“This is the continuous violence we’re subject to on a day to day basis. We’re subject to state violence. The media has to start looking deeper at who are the criminals and who are the victims.”
If this is the case, Hampton, Jr., was asked, then why do some people seem so blind to the reality?
“They can afford the luxury not to,” he said. “They can afford not to.” VFP